Weekend Preview:  Local runners prepare for a weekend of Championship action…

Weekend Preview:  Dublin Marathon, NI & Ulster Even Age Group XC / Bobby Rea XC…

A busy weekend of Championship action awaits, with two major fixtures taking place this weekend.

On a National level, hundreds of local athletes will travel south to Dublin for the annual SSE Dublin City Marathon, which also incorporates the AAI National Marathon Championships.

Closer to home, over one thousand competitors are set to take part in the Bobby Rea XC races and the NI & Ulster Even Age Group Championships in Antrim.

Our weekend preview will focus on these events, but as always, we’ll keep you up to date with what is happening around Northern Ireland this weekend.

SSE Airtrcity Dublin City Marathon (inc AAI National Marathon Championships):

Thomas Frazer (St Malachy’s AC) and Catriona Jennings (Letterkenny AC) will head the local charge for honours at this weekend’s SSE Airtricity Dublin City Marathon (Sunday 28th October 2018).

The event, which attracts hundreds of local runners, incorporates the AAI National Marathon Championships.

Thomas Frazer, who recorded 2:17:34 over marathon distance in Japan last year, will come up against reigning Champion Gary O’Hanlon (Clonliffe Harriers) and Olympian Mick Clohisey (Raheny Shamrock AC), amongst others.

City of Derry AC Spartans Declan Reed and Mark Long, both of whom have impressed over marathon distance this year, will also toe the line. Vincent McKenna (QUB AC / Acorns AC), Kyle Doherty (City of Derry AC) and Patrick Higgins (Newcastle AC) should also be amongst the top local finishers.

Other men to look out for include Michael Fox (Armagh AC), Matthew Hewitt (East Antrim Harriers), Gordy Graham (East Down AC), Pierce McCullagh (Sperrin Harriers), Dave Slater (Enniskillen RC) and Andrew Considine (North Belfast Harriers).

In the ladies race, a new Champion is guaranteed with Northern Ireland’s Laura Graham (Mourne Runners) being a notable absentee as she makes her way back from injury.

Catriona Jennings will come up against fellow Irish international Lizzie Lee (Leevale AC) in what should be an excited race for gold. Gerrie Short (Beechmount Harriers), a previous podium finisher at the Belfast Marathon, should also place well.

Louise Smith (North Belfast Harriers), Liosa McKeown (GymTech), Natalie Hall (Armagh AC) and Tara Malone (1Zero1) all have the potential to dip under the famous 3-hour mark, which will ensure a high finishing position.

Diane Watson (City of Lisburn AC), Amanda Perry (Ballydrain Harriers) and Maria Morris (Beechmount Harriers) will also be worth watching.

In the lead up to the Dublin Marathon 2018, www.nirunning.co.uk have followed the progress of Paul Pollock’s #DreamRunDublin18 team.  Nine of the ten athletes who started the journey will line up in Dublin this weekend hoping to break the 3-hour mark.  The are: Conor Hogarth, Adam Ferguson, Eamonn O’Reilly, Peter Thompson, Philip McBride, Wesley McDowell, Peter Morrison, Liosa McKeown and Michael Broadhead.  Alongside everyone else competing at the event, we wish the a massive GOOD LUCK.

Full details, including a start list, live stream and tracking links are available on the Athletics Ireland website HERE.

Bobby Rea XC and NI & Ulster Even Age Group XC Championships:

Athletics Northern Ireland will host the Northern Ireland & Ulster Even Age Group Cross Country Championships and the Bobby Rea Cross Country at CAFRE Greenmount Campus, Antrim, this weekend (Saturday 27th October 2018).

The Halloween weekend action will kick off at 11:15am with the Under 10 1,000m race and culminate at 3pm with the Senior and Masters Men’s 8,000m event. In total, over one thousand athletes will take to the start line in what should be an excellent day of competition at the former IAAF Antrim International XC venue.

After the first round of the Athletics NI XC League 2018/19 at the Comber XC last week, North Belfast Harriers and North Down AC are the early leaders in their respective male and female tables.

Both teams will be well represented in the Bobby Rea XC races, with John Black, a podium finisher at last week’s league opener leading the line for North Belfast Harriers and Sarah Grant, runner up in the ladies race in Comber, part of a sizeable North Down AC contingent.

In the men’s 8,000m, NI & Ulster Intermediate XC Champion Craig McMeechan will play a prominent part in proceedings.  The young Northern Ireland and Ireland international excels over the country and will contest top honours alongside the aforementioned John Black, Willowfield Harriers’ Neill Weir and Foyle Valley AC’s Chris McGuinness.

Neill and Chris will also have strong backing in terms of squad depth for the team prize, with their respective club fielding big numbers.  Victoria Park & Connswater AC and North Down AC will also feature in the team competition.

Shalene McMurray (Newcastle AC), winner of last week’s Comber XC, will start as favourite in the Ladies 6,000m race.  The Newcastle AC athlete, who won both the NI & Ulster Senior and Intermediate XC titles in 2017, will face some tough opposition.  This includes Rebecca Henderson and Sinead Sweeney, two members of the QUB AC NI & Ulster Road Relay Championships winning team.

Rebekah Nixon (Dromore AC), Catherine Diver (Beechmount Harriers) and Fermanagh’s Edel Monaghan (Dublin City Harriers) will also challenge for podium places.

On the day entry is available for senior and masters races on race day at Race HQ within CAFRE Campus Hall from 1pm.

The preceding junior races will build things nicely, with an abundance of up and coming talent due to compete.

The Under 10 athletes will get their first experience of Championship competition, while from Under 12 upwards, the competitors will not only battle it out for medals, but also for places at the All Ireland XC; the top twelve in each race will gain automatic selection for the event.

In the Under 12 category, Clara Casey (City of Derry AC), Anna Hogg (Lagan Valley AC) and Zara Donnelly from the Flahavans XC Squad will be amongst those chasing honours. In the boy’s race, Luke McCausland (City of Lisburn AC), Coalan McFadden (Cranford AC) and Daniel McLornan (Flahavans XC Squad) should be in the mix for a podium place.

East Down AC trio Lauren Madine, Kirsti Foster and Lucy Foster will compete in the Under 14 category alongside Katie McCleery (City of Lisburn AC), while in the boy’s event, City of Derry AC duo Oisin Duffy and Finn O’Neill will challenge at the front.

Under 15 Champion in 2017, Cara Laverty (City of Derry AC), will race in the Under 16 girls race and will have Sarah Bradley (Finn Valley AC), Hannah Cochrane (Lagan Valley AC) and Amy Greene (Rosses AC) for company.  Sean M McGinley (Olympian YC) and Dylan McBride (Willowfield Harriers) should contest the boy’s race – Oisin Toye (Finn Valley AC) will also place well.

In the Under 18 event, Rebecca Wallace (Lagan Valley AC) should play a part at the front alongside Katie Agnew (Ballymena & Antrim AC), Bethany Nixon (Dromore AC) Karen Gallagher (Finn Valley AC) and Jessica Scott (North Down AC). The boy’s race will see St Malachy’s AC men Conall McClean and Adam Ferris battle it out with North Down AC’s Alex Boyd and Omagh Harriers’ Matthew Smith, amongst others.

Full details, including timetable and course map, are available HERE.

Other events taking place in Northern Ireland this weekend…

Friday 26th October 2018:

  • Spooktacular 5k Road Race: Belmore Street, Enniskillen – 7:30pm (Entries AVAILABLE on race day!)


As always, Northern Ireland’s twenty six 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.