Weekend Preview: From 1 mile to Marathon Distance!
This Bank Holiday weekend brings with it an abundance of quality events to tempt the local running fraternity – from 1 mile to marathon distance is covered on the Athletics NI calendar. Carmen Runners Road Relays, Runher Coastal, Mayfair 10k ad Newry City Marathon events will be considered as the highlights.
Local runners will also be in action at the IMC Bertie Quinn Track & Field Meeting in Tullamore and the AAI Games at Santry, Dublin.
Runher Coastal 10k & 5k:
On Friday 26th May 2017, local running shop Pure Running will welcome hundreds of athletes to their annual Runher Coastal 10k and 5k races on the County Down shoreline.
The longest event of the evening, the 10k, will start at Seapark close to Hollywood and take competitors along the scenic coastal path, past Rockport (where the 5k starts) and onwards to the atmospheric finish at Crawfordsburn Country Park near Bangor.
City of Lisburn AC’s Judith Lonnen, winner of the event twelve months ago, should start. Since winning here in 2016, Judith has improved even further, picking up a medal at the NI & Ulster 10k Championships at the back end of 2016 – more recently, the international triathlete won the Les Jones 10k with an excellent display of front running.
Amy Bulman (Willowfield Harriers) will feature prominently at the front should she decide to follow on from her podium place at this week’s Buncrana 5k, where she ran 17:40 for third place. Cathy McCourt (Unattached), a regular at the Runher events, may also use this race as a step back into competitive action after being out with injury. Other ladies to look out for include Debbie Matchett (Ballydrain Harriers), Catherine Roberts (North Down AC) and Gillian Logan (Orangegrove AC).
In the 5k event, North Down AC track star Jessica Craig may return and will prove hard to beat if she does. Although focusing on shorter track events now, Jessica still tends to turn out for the Runher Series events and will be a welcome addition to the line-up. In terms of competition, that could come from fellow NDAC athletes Sarah Lindsay and Jodi Smyth – Jodi has been out for a while, but this race would provide a perfect opportunity for a return.
Carmen Runners 4×1 mile Road Relays:
Also on Friday 26th May 2017, Carmen Runners will host their popular Road Relays in Carrickmore, an event which is growing in prestige each year. The one mile route is considered to be fast, aside from one notable hill – each team will consist of four athletes.
Derry Track Club will return and will be hoping to replicate their impressive haul from 2016 when they picked up both the men’s and ladies titles. However, the DTC athletes will have to be in top form if they want to defend their titles, with a competitive field set to start.
Gavin Corey and Pierce McCullagh will lead Sperrin Harriers’ challenge in the men’s event, while Natalie Hall, Leanne Sands, Lisa Simpson and Sandra McKeown make up an excellent Acorns AC team. In the mixed team competition, Springwell Running Club quartet Fran McFadden, Kerrie McIlmoyle, Bryan Edgar and David Shiels should go well.
The action kicks off at 7.30pm and entries will be available on the night at Patrician Hall, Carrickmore between 5.30pm and 6.30pm.
Mayfair 10k & 5k:
On Saturday 27th May 2017, a record number of nearly five hundred competitors should take to the start line of the Mayfair 10k and associated 5k, an event organised by County Antrim Harriers in their home town of Ballyclare.
Reigning Champion Dan Tanui (Project Africa Athletics) is a likely starter and will be amongst those chasing top honours. Dan has won the Les Jones 10k and Lough Neagh Rescue 5 mile race in recent weeks but he’ll have to work for the victory here with St Malachy’s AC man Ben Branagh, a 31:33 10k runner, set to compete; this will make for an interesting race. David Turtle (East Antrim Harriers), Garry Morrow (Willowfield Harriers), John Neill (Larne AC), Kevin Lynch (East Coast AC) and Nigel McClintock (Ballymena Runners) will all finish well up the field.
Like the men’s race, it’s highly likely that the reigning Champion will return for the ladies event – in this case, that is the exceptionally talented Heather Foley (Unattached). Heather has been in fantastic form over the last number of weeks, with wins at the Ballygalget 10k and Ballynahinch Lions 10k – the Commonwealth Games athlete also became National Duathlon Champion.
Heather will come up against tough opposition this time around, with North Belfast Harriers’ Gladys Ganiel O’Neill also set to start. Gladys, who like Heather, has represented Northern Ireland at the Commonwealth Games, is capable of a low 34-minute finish here and that would make her hard to beat. Sarahjane Guiney (Unattached), Beverly Mitchell (Albertville Harriers) and Natasha Henderson (County Antrim Harriers) will also be worth watching should they race.
Newry City Marathon Events:
On Sunday 28th May 2017, athletes from all over Northern Ireland, and beyond, will take part in the annual Newry City Marathon and associated events, which include Half Marathon and 10k races.
Well-respected local athlete Don Travers (Newry City Runners) was a popular winner of the marathon last year and the Northern Ireland international will be out to retain the top prize. Despite picking up a niggle mid-event, Don recorded 2:50:18 at the Belfast Marathon earlier this month – but he is more than capable of a sub-2:40:00 finishing time – that should be enough to secure victory.
Don may well be joined on the start line by fellow Newry City Runners man Chris Devine, who has enjoyed an excellent year. Albertville Harriers’ Colum Gaile could also return, as may Dermot Mathers (Unattached) and Mark Walker (Unattached).
Looking at the ladies field, in-truth, it’s a hard one to call – last year’s winner Diane Watson (City of Lisburn AC) has the potential to win, but if the likes of Fiona Prue (Ballydrain Harriers) and Gillian Cordner (Seapark AC) run, things could be different.
In the half marathon event, which is part of the Pure Running Half Marathon Series, North Belfast Harriers’ Eamonn White and Slieve Gullion Runners’ Paddy Hamilton could race. Andrew Considine (North Belfast Harriers) and Aaron Woodman (PACE Running Club) could also challenge at the front. Meanwhile, in the ladies 13.1 mile race, North Belfast Harriers’ Louise Smith and Amanda Jackson (Ballydrain Harriers) could both go well.
Other events taking place in Northern Ireland this weekend:
Saturday 27th May 2017:
– Blackwatertown 5 mile Race – Blackwatertown – 12pm (Entries AVAILABLE on the day!)
Sunday 28th May 2017:
– Glenoe 5k – St Mary’s Greenlough Primary School, Clady – 12.30pm (Entries AVAILABLE on the day!)
Events taking place outside Northern Ireland this weekend:
IMC’s Bertie Quinn Track & Field Meeting (Tullamore, Ireland):
On Saturday 27th May 2017, a host of familiar faces will be in action at the IMC’s Bertie Quinn Track & Field Meeting in Tullamore, Ireland.
Decorated Paralympic Champion Jason Smyth (Derry Track Club) will lead a large local contingent at the event, which will include Mark Hoy (Finn Valley AC), Chris Madden (City of Lisburn AC), Johnny Foster (Annadale Striders), Zoe Carruthers (City of Lisburn AC), Claudia Jolan (A.D Marathon), Rachel Gibson (North Down AC), James Hamilton (Ballymena Runners), Max Travers (Annadale Striders), Conor McIlveen (Derry Track Club), Jonathan Whan (City of Lisburn AC), Luke Dinsmore (Springwell Running Club), Tom Baird (City of Lisburn AC) and Ryan Sharkey (Lagan Valley AC). A full start list for the event is available HERE.
AAI Games (Dublin, Ireland):
Less than 24 hours later, on Sunday 28th May 2017, at the Morton Stadium in Santry, Dublin (Ireland), nearly all of the local athletes who travelled to Tullamore will be in action a little closer to home at the AAI Games.
In addition to many of those mentioned for the IMC Bertie Quinn Meeting, the following athletes will be in action: Andrew Graham (North Down AC), Tom Reynolds (North Down AC), Josh Armstrong (City of Lisburn AC), Neil McCartan (East Down AC), Jack McCloskey (City of Derry AC), Conan McCaughey (Derry Track Club), Conal McCambridge (North Belfast Harriers), Shane McGowan (Derry Track Club) and Anna McCauley (City of Lisburn AC). A full start list for the event is available HERE.
As always, Northern Ireland’s twenty four parkrun events will take place this weekend, for more information on these, or to locate your nearest event, please visit our dedicated ‘parkrun’ section within our fixtures page.