Weekend Preview: IMC Belfast GP, Euro Team Championships and more…
After a busy midweek of action, which included the NI & Ulster Half Marathon Championships in Lisburn, the well-organised St Joseph’s 5k in Derry/Londonderry and the Grant Thornton 5k at George Best City Airport, it’s now time to look ahead to the weekend… and it’s another exciting one!
The IMC will return to Belfast and work alongside Beechmount Harriers and West Belfast Coolers at MPT, while the always popular Dromore 10k & 5k will take place in County Tyrone.
There will also be plenty of NI interest at the European Team Championships over the weekend – on top of this, there will be a sizeable local contingent travelling to mountain-trail races in Italy and France over the coming days.
Irish Milers Club (IMC) Belfast Grand Prix:
On Saturday 24th June 2017, the Irish Milers Club (IMC) will team up with Belfast based clubs Beechmount Harriers and West Belfast Coolers to promote the annual IMC Belfast Meeting at Mary Peters Track.
The programme of events, which includes 100m, 200m, 400m, 800m, 1500m and 3,000m races, will kick off at 1pm with several primary school junior races.
There will be a plethora of athletic talent on show, with multiple Paralympic Champion Jason Smyth (Derry Track Club) headlining the sprints – Irish international Molly Scott (St Laurence O’Toole AC) will be worth watching in the ladies 100m.
Local man Craig Newell (Ballymena & Antrim AC) will be hoping to continue his recent good form in the 400m competition. The Ian Neely coached athlete has bettered his one-lap personal best on several occasions of late; it now stands at a speedy 47.31 which he set when taking the NI & Ulster Senior title earlier this month. In the ladies race, Irish athlete Mollie O’Reilly (DSD AC) and Scotland’s Stacey Downie (Edinburgh AC) will feature at the front.
Robert Tully (Star of the Sea AC), John Fitzsimons (Kildare AC) and NI & Ulster 800m Champion Mark Hoy (Finn Valley AC) will battle it out for the 800m top prize. It’s hard to look past Alana Lally (UCD AC) and Amy O’Donoghue (Emerald AC) as potential winners of the ladies 800m event.
The 1500m races have attracted a total of 56 athletes, but it will more than likely be Andrew Coscoran (Star of the Sea AC), Danny Mooney (Letterkenny AC), Sarah Healy (Blackrock AC) and Ellie Hartnett (UCD AC) who lead the way – Danny Mooney could well be gunning for a Commonwealth Games standard of 3:41:10.
Conor Dooney (Raheny Shamrock AC), Pierre Murchan (Dublin City Harriers) and Thomas Moran (Dunshaughlin AC) will be aiming for top honours in the 3,000m race, while Chris Madden (City of Lisburn AC) and Conor Duffy (Glaslough Harriers) will be aiming to head the local charge for prizes.
Other events taking place in Northern Ireland this weekend…
Friday 23rd June 2017:
Killyleagh 5 mile Road Race – Bridge Centre, Killyleagh – 7.15pm (Entries AVAILABLE on the night!)
Saturday 24th June 2017:
Dromore 10k & 5k Road Race – Main Street, Dromore (County Tyrone) – 12pm (Entries AVAILABLE on the day!)
Sunday 25th June 2017:
Hell 4 Leather Race – Moneyglass Community Centre, Moneyglass – 1pm (Entries AVAILABLE on the day!)
Other events taking place in Northern Ireland this weekend…
European Team Championships (Finland):
At least eight runners from Northern Ireland will represent Ireland at this weekend’s European Team Championships in Vaasa, Finland from the Friday 23rd – Sunday 25th June 2017.
Newcastle AC Olympian Kerry O’Flaherty will captain the ladies team and will compete over her favourite 3,000m Steeplechase event. After suffering a calf injury last month, Kerry has returned to action and will be hoping to impress on the international stage once again.
Fellow Northern Ireland senior record holders Ben Reynolds (North Down AC), Amy Foster (City of Lisburn AC) and Emma Mitchell (QUB AC) will also be in action at the event. Ben will race over the 110m hurdles, while Amy will feature in the 100m and 4x100m events. Recent double record breaker Emma will compete in the 1500m.
Other familiar faces will include Ann-Marie McGlynn (Letterkenny AC) – 5,000m, Christine McMahon (Ballymena & Antrim AC) – 400m hurdles, Andrew Mellon (Crusaders AC) – 4x400m and Christian Robinson (QUB AC) – 4x100m. In the field, NI’s Adam McMullen (Crusaders AC) will compete in the Long Jump.
When announcing the squad (which is available HERE), Athletics Ireland’s Paul McNamara explained, McNamara said: “The European Team Championships is an incredibly important competition for Irish athletics and it is heartening to see so many of our big name competitors embrace the opportunity to contribute points to a team score.
We have an excellent record of fielding our strongest teams at this event and this year is no exception. While in recent editions we have fared very well on the track, we have the potential to make a real impact in the jumps and throws this year also. Youth is a strong characteristic of this year’s squad, with a significant number of Junior’s and U23’s earning their selection across the spectrum of events.”
World Mountain Running Association Youth World Cup (Italy):
On Saturday 24th June 2017, a team of young mountain runners from Northern Ireland will be in action at the World Mountain Running Association Youth World Cup in Gagliano del Capo, Italy.
Tony McCambridge (St Malachy’s AC), Tom Magee (Lagan Valley AC), Brendan McKey (St Malachy’s HS) and Miceal McCaul (St Colmans) will take on the world’s best up and coming mountain running talent at the prestigious competition.
Lavaredo Ultra-Trail (Italy), Mont Blanc Marathon (France) and more…
In terms of ultra-distance Mountain racing, this weekend (Thursday 22nd to Sunday 25th June 2017) will see some of the iconic trail races throughout the world take place.
Lavaredo Ultra-Trail (and associated events), Mont Blanc Marathon, 80k and ‘Cross’ races, the legendary Western States 100 and closer to home, the 95 mile West Highland Way Race will all keep the Northern Ireland ultra-running fraternity either busy on their feet or in front of a computer screen over the next few days.
Starting in Italy, with the Lavaredo events, hosted in Cortina D’Ampezzo and quaint town nestled in the beautiful Dolomities Mountain range the ‘Cortina Skyrace’ took place last night (Thursday 22nd June 2017). Husband and Wife duo Dale and Laura Smith (pictured above) took on the technical 20k course, incorporating 1,000 metres of cumulative ascent/descent. Dale and Laura, who are on holiday in the area, both produced impressive performances – Dale covered the route in 2:25:51, with Laura following in 3:17:24.
Later tonight (Friday 23rd June 2017), at 11pm (local time) a host of Northern Ireland’s best known long distance runners will take on the Lavaredo Ultra Trail race. The event covers 120k of the scenic trails of the aforementioned Dolomities. Nicki McPeake (Unattached), Ron Peacock (Unattached), Richard McLernon (Unattached), Ivan Sadlier (Unattached), Brian Linton (BARF), Gregg McCann (LVO), accompanied by BARF ladies Joanne Curran and Tayrn McCoy will all take on the tough route, incorporating 5,800 metres of ascent/descent.
Still in Italy, on Saturday 24th June 2017, Chris Collins (East Antrim Harriers), Thomas Leitch (Victoria Park & Connswater AC) and James Carr (BARF) will race the 6th edition of the 48k Cortina Trail Race. Starting in Cortina, the course will take in 2600 metres Ascent/Descent and again showcase some of the best trails the Dolomities have to offer.
In Chamonix (France), the very popular Mont Blanc Marathon events will take place, starting with the 80k Ultra race on Friday morning at 4am (local time). The course, which is actually 83km in distance starts with the massive climb to Brevent, before taking in the views of the Mont Masif, Lake Bossan and the Chamonix valley before returning to the busy town to finish. In total, competitors will have to climb and descend 6,000 metres throughout their journey. Although the Mont Blanc events have provided a hit with Northern Ireland runners, the only identifiable name on the start lists in 2017 is that of multiple Garmin Mourne Skyline MTR finisher Geoff Smyth (BARF). Geoff has made significant progress over the last few years and will be in good shape going into this.
Having reviewed the start lists of Western States 100 (USA) and West Highland Way (Scotland), no Northern Ireland competitors were obvious, however that’s not to say none are taking part – should this be the case, we wish everyone good luck in the respective events.
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.
Mallusk Harriers 24 in 24 Challenge:
Athletes from Mallusk Harriers will attempt to complete Northern Ireland’s 24 parkrun routes inside 24 hours! That’s approximately 74.4 miles in distance… and that’s just the running part! There will be some miles clocked up on the vehicles as well! Check out the Mallusk Harriers facebook page for further details.