Weekend Preview: It’s all about the Laganside (10k) and Waterside (Half Marathon)…


Weekend Preview: It’s all about the Laganside (10k) and Waterside (Half Marathon)…

This time last year, we mentioned the ‘predictably unpredictable Summer weather’ and ironically, that statement could not sum up the last few weeks better in terms of weather.  However, this weekend’s fixtures will most definitely brighten things up.  A quick look at the official Athletics NI calendar presents you with three very significant events, the Laganside 10k, the Waterside Half Marathon and also the NI & Ulster Multi-Events Championships.

Laganside 10k and Waterside Half Marathon will attract in excess of 3,400 competitors in total, hence they will form the basis of our weekend preview!

Elsewhere, a large contingent of runners from Northern Ireland will travel to France for the UTMB weekend of events (which has already started!) and Scotland for the annual Ben Nevis Mountain Race.  Local runners will also be in action in Ireland and Slovakia.

Pure Running Laganside 10k Road Race:

On Sunday 3rd September 2017, well over one thousand competitors will descend on Ormeau Park, in Northern Ireland’s capital city, Belfast, for the sell-out Pure Running Laganside 10k road race.  The race is part of the ongoing Novosco 10k Grand Prix.

The revised course proved very popular with athletes last year as it offers the same personal best potential as the notoriously fast route previously used.  As always, there will be a plethora of athletic talent taking to the start line.

All athletes taking to the start line will have their own ambitions, but at the front end of the field, it looks like being a close contest between several of Northern Ireland’s top athletes.

The host club’s Mark McKinstry (North Belfast Harriers) will lead the charge for honours, but he’ll have to see off Derry Track Club’s Conan McCaughey and City of Lisburn AC’s Chris Madden, amongst others.  Mark has raced sparingly this year but has shown real focus on the events that he has planned for – he’ll go well here and an improvement listed personal best (via Power of 10) of 31:31 is almost inevitable.  Meanwhile, NI & Ulster Intermediate XC Champion Conan will most definitely be in the mix given his 30:53 personal best.  Over the last few years, Chris Madden has shown real improvement under the guidance of respected coach Mark Kirk – looking back to 2013 when he was running 35 minutes for the 10k distance until now, when there is a very real possibility that Chris could go into the 30’s.

Speaking about improvements – John Black (North Belfast Harriers) will be one to watch and could well continue his excellent year with another personal best.  Another ‘Stag’, Lindsay Gordon (North Belfast Harriers) had an excellent run at last week’s Frank Duffy 10 in Dublin, where he took 7th place with 53:53.  Lindsay will play a major part in proceedings here.

Stephen O’Gorman (Dromore AC), winner of the recent Tandragee 10k, will also start and will more than likely feature alongside the likes of Dennis Scott (North Down AC), Gavin Corey (Unattached) and Craig McMeechan (North Down AC).  Other men chasing a top ten place and a Francis Marsh (North Down AC), Matthew Hewitt (East Coast AC), Aaron Meharg (Acorns AC) and Victoria Park & Connswater AC duo Stephen Wylie and John Craig.

The ladies race will also be a highly competitive event and one which is hard to call.  Last year’s winner, Laura Graham (Mourne Runners), returns and will line up alongside the always impressive Gladys Ganiel O’Neill (North Belfast Harriers), who took third place here in 2016.

Laura has returned to competitive action in recent weeks with an overall win at the Dambusters Half Marathon and a win at the Frank Duffy 10, where she ran a new personal best of 58:50.  Commonwealth Games marathoner Gladys has won the Rock N’Roll Half Marathon (1:17:07) and the Fingal 10k (35:33) in recent months.  The talented duo will more than likely battle it out for top honours – this leaves the final podium place up for grabs – potential contenders? That could very well be Sarahjane Guiney (Unattached).  Sarahjane has been in fantastic form recently and will more than likely feature alongside Catherine O’Connor (East Down AC), Natalie Hall (Acorns AC) and Paula Worthington (Ballymena Runners).

In the race for a top ten finish, Dromore AC’s Susan Smyth and East Down AC’s Niamh Kellett will place well, as will Storming the Castle 10k winner Ann Terek (City of Lisburn AC).  Jodi Smith of North Down AC is a welcome addition to the ladies line up.

Waterside Half Marathon:

Also on Sunday 3rd September 2017, athletes from all over Northern Ireland (and beyond!) will take to the streets of Derry/Londonderry for the 36th annual running of the famous Waterside Half Marathon.

As always, the race will attract some top runners from Northern Ireland and Ireland, but there will also be a huge local interest, with many of the North West’s clubs likely to be well represented in the 2,000 strong field.

Race organisers provided us with the following race preview…

A record entry of around 2,200 runners will line up at Ebrington’s Clock Tower on Sunday morning for the 36th staging of the ever popular Waterside Half Marathon, organised as usual by the Local Council in association with local running clubs.

Over a 13.1 mile course straddling the River Foyle and making major use of the city’s Greenways and Paths, runners will cross from the East Bank via the Foyle Bridge and return from the West Bank across the Peace Bridge, to the finish in the St Columbs Park track.

Start time is 10am with Wheelchair athlete Karol Doherty going at 9:55am and the leading finishers are expected in the finish straight shortly after 11am.

Women’s Champion for the last two years Catherine Whoriskey (City of Derry AC), will start as favourite to make it three in a row and two other locals Scott Rankin (Foyle Valley AC) and Declan Reed (City of Derry AC) look the most likely challengers to 2016 male winner, the Kenyan Freddie Sittuk (Raheny Shamrock AC).

Many other intriguing battles will be fought out all the way down through the massive field as runners from far and near jostle for PB’s, places and pride in the blue riband event of the local running scene.

The lead runners will be on the Waterside Greenway at Waterfoot Park by 10:10am, crossing the Foyle Bridge from 10:30am, in Bay Road Park by 10:35am and swinging left at Fort George to pick up the riverside path from around 10:45am.

By 10:50am they will be closing in on the John Street roundabout en-route to Coshowen/ Daisyfield where they will swing left tO pick up the riverside path and run back towards the city centre. They are expected to cross the Peace Bridge from just after 11am and then it’s the final mile or so along the Greenway to the finish in the St Columbs Park track.

NI & Ulster Multi-Event Championships (preview by Athletics NI):

2014 Commonwealth Games Bronze Medallist Jessica Taylor-Jemmett and UK based Nigerian International Moe Sasegbon are making the trip to this weekend’s NI & Ulster Multi Event Championships at the Mary Peters Track (Saturday 2nd and Sunday 3rd September 2017).

Taylor-Jemmett, coached by Mike Holmes, has a seasons best Heptathlon of 5702 points set in poor conditions when finishing 6th in the European Team Combined Events Super League in Talinn, Estonia last month. The Sale Harriers Manchester athlete will need to get very close to her 2016 PB to reach the tough English Commonwealth Games Standard of 5900. If successful she will join Katarina Johnson-Thompson and prodigious junior Niamh Emerson who have both achieved the standard.

Both athletes have some outstanding individual events with Taylor-Jemmett having achieved 6.18m in the Long Jump, 13.81 100m Hurdles and most impressively a 200m of 23.63. Moe has a best of 1.84m in the high jump, an event in which she represented Nigeria in the 2015 African Games.

For more information on the NI & Ulster Multi Event Championships this weekend CLICK HERE.

Other events in Northern Ireland this weekend:

Saturday 2nd September 2017:

  • Run for the Hills – Moneyleck Road, Rasharkin – 10:15am (Entries are AVAILABLE on the day!)
  • Stairway to Heaven – Cuilcagh Mountain – 12pm (Entries are NOT available on the day!)
  • Moneymore 10k & 5k – Moneynore GAC – 11am (Entries are AVAILABLE on the day!)
  • Garrison 5 mile Road Race – Gurteen Road, Garrison – 12pm (Entries are AVAILABLE on the day!)

Sunday 3rd September 2017:

  • BK10k – Commons Road, Ballykinlar – 10am (Entries are AVAILABLE on the day)

Events outside Northern Ireland this weekend:

Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc Events (France):

Further afield, today (Friday 1st September 2017) and into tomorrow (Saturday 2nd September 2017), a number of athletes from Northern Ireland will be in action at the famous Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc in Chamonix, France.  The world iconic event, which includes four individual races (the OCC, TDS, CCC and UTMB) as well as a team event (PTL) will attract the best long distance runners from across the globe and when you couple this with the incredibly scenic courses, it makes for an epic few days of competition.

In the OCC, which covers 56k and 3,500m of ascent in the Swiss Valais Region, Willowfield Harriers athlete Neil Weir progressed well through the field, finishing in 62nd place (6:38:50) amongst a competitive field of over 1000 participants.

The CCC an UTMB races will start today (Friday 1stSeptember 2017). Created in 2006, the CCC (Courmayeur-Champex-Chamonix) has become as popular as its big sister (upwards of 45 nationalities represented in each year), the UTMB. The CCC® is considered by many runners to be “the little one” nevertheless it too, constitutes one of the most difficult challenges in ultra-running.

The CCC® should not be taken lightly; more than one runner has ‘burnt’ their thighs there.  A semi-tour of Mont-Blanc, starting from Courmayeur with 101k and 6,100 metres of positive height gain and in semi-autonomy.  Starting in the centre of Courmayeur at 9am will be north coast man Richard McLernon (Unattached).

Later in the day (Friday 1st September 2017), the UTMB (Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc; the original Queen of the races!) will take place.  The UTMB is a complete tour of the Mont Blanc and passes through three countries: France, Switzerland and Italy, making it a race that every Ultra Trail enthusiast should finish at least once in their life.  Le tour of Mont-Blanc, starts from Chamonix and covers 170k with 10,000 metres of positive height gain. Starting in the centre of Chamonix at 6pm (local time) will be: Declan Faulkner (Knockmany Runners), Ivan Sadlier (Unattached), Martin Mullan (BARF) and a lady on form, Jacqueline Toal (BARF).

World Masters Mountain Running Championships (Slovakia):

On Saturday 2nd September 2017, a number of mountain runners from Northern Ireland will be in action at the World Masters Mountain Running Championships in Pruske (Slovakia).

Up against 700 athletes who have enrolled in the masters races and the associated open races, the local athletes will face tough opposition; to be specific, around 25 countries including host’s Slovakia will be represented.

In the uphill only race, which will take place on Sunday and cover 9.6k and include 606m of ascent, the familiar faces include Lagan Valley AC trio Anne Sandford, Shileen O’Kane and Hazel McLaughlin. The men’s event, over the same course, the only local athlete hoping for honours will be Peter Bell (Pegasus AC).

Ben Nevis Race (Scotland):

On Saturday 2nd September 2017, in Scotland, Northern Ireland’s top mountain running talent will take on the annual Ben Nevis mountain race.  After some excellent results in the last few years, much is expected of the familiar faces as they take on this famous race.

Ben Nevis is the highest mountain in the UK.  Standing at 1,344 metres (4,409ft) above sea level, it is located at the western end of the Grampian Mountains in the Lochaber area of the Scottish Highlands, close to the town of Fort William. The mountain is a popular destination, attracting an estimated 100,000 ascents a year, the first of which was back in 1771, by James Robertson.  Now in 2017, almost 30 Northern Ireland runners hope to make the gruelling ascent to the famous Summit.

Both of Northern Ireland’s most established mountain running clubs, Mourne Runners and Newcastle AC will be well represented.  Mourne Runners will have NIMRA Champion William McKee present, accompanied by the talented David McKee, Sam Herron, Ricky Cowan, David Bell, Ricky Hanna, Darren Herron, Garth McGimpsey, Ciaran McAleenan, Jonny Scott and Claire Withers taking to the start line, while Brian Wilson, Pete Grant, Paul Carlin, Declan Magee, Sean Rice, Ronan Barr and Martin Brogan are expected to don their Newcastle AC vests.

Former NIMRA Champion Jonny Steede (Glens Runners) will return to the mountains for this event, boasting some good road times of late, Jonny stormed to victory at the shorter Lurig Race three weeks ago.  Ballymena Runners Connor Reid and Tim Lowry will represent the County Antrim based clubs, as well as a sub 2 hour time, Connor will be hoping to return to Northern Ireland without a broken arm, having injured himself here in 2015. Former Ben Nevis Champion Diane Wilson (Dromore AC) will again take on the top British competition, along with club mate Alan Elwood.  In 2015, Diane produced the performance of her life to seal a memorable victory.  Declan McCrory (Armagh AC) will be another fimilar face.

Multiple winner of the Ben Nevis race, local Lochaber AC member Finlay Wild will return, but will have to look out for former British Fell Running Champion Rob Jebb (Bingley Harriers).  Interestingly, both the male and female course records for this race have stood since 1984 and by members of the same club, Keswick AC. The legendary Kenny Stuart set a male record with a time of 1:25:34, whilst club-mate Pauline Haworth ran the course in a time of 1:43:25.

Kerry Way Ultra Lite (Ireland):

On Saturday 2nd September 2017 (9am) Newcastle AC duo Victoria Canavan and Rita Devlin will join engaged couple Gary Connolly and Gillian Cordiner (both Seapark AC) on the start line of the Kerry Way Ultra Lite event.  Although a shortened version of the 200 kilometre Kerry Way Ultra, competitors will be challenged over the 58k scenic route from Sneem to Killarney.

Glendalough Clover (Ireland):

Also South of the Border on Saturday 2nd September 2017 (6am), the inaugural running of the Glendalough Clover will take place in the Wicklow hills.  The course, which was designed by Irish Ultra Team Manager Adrian Tucker, will be an 80k mountain based route, taking in three out and back section (hence the ‘clover’) on the Wicklow Way and St Kevin’s Way.  Taking on the tested will be Aaron Shimmons (BARF), Billy Reed (East Antrim Harriers), Dale Mathers (Mourne Runners), Dave Evans (BARF), and Paul Nesbitt (Unattached).


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.