Weekend Preview:  NI & Ulster Uneven Age Group and Novice XC Championships and more…


Weekend Preview:  NI & Ulster Uneven Age Group and Novice XC Championships and more…

The cross country season is now well underway and NI & Ulster Championships action is back on the fixture list this weekend, with hundreds of competitors set to battle it out for honours at the NI & Ulster Uneven Age Group and Novice XC Championships.

There are of course several other events taking place, and we will give these a mention, but given the lack of information available for several of these, our focus will be on the aforementioned Athletics NI event.

NI & Ulster Uneven Age Group and Novice XC Championships 2017:

The impressive Finn Valley Complex in Stranorlar (County Donegal) will play host to this weekend’s Northern Ireland & Ulster Uneven Age Group and Novice Cross Country Championships (Sunday 12th November 2017).

Hundreds of athletes will be in action on the second day of the Age Group Championships – two weeks ago, Day 1, which covered the Even Age Groups brought some excellent competition to Kilbroney Park in Rostrevor.  Many of the medal winners from that day will return as the province’s up and coming stars contest podium places; many will have one eye on qualification for the All Ireland XC Championships.  The Novice XC Championships also add further excitement to what will be a packed programme of events.

In the battle for Novice XC honours, Derry Track Club’s Conor McIlveen and John McQuade will play a part at the head of the field – Letterkenny AC’s Ciaran McGonigle, who ran well at last week’s Donegal XC Championships, should also feature.  Meanwhile, in the ladies race, Edel Monaghan (Enniskillen RC), Amy Hamill (Glaslough Harriers), Elaine Connor (Derry Track Club) and Leoni Mullen (Finn Valley AC), will be amongst those chasing a podium place.

In the Age Category competition, there will be an exciting dual between Under 19 stars Patrick McNiff (Newcastle AC) and Craig McMeechan (North Down AC) – both men have impressed in the senior ranks this year.  Sean Corry (Omagh Harriers), Jack O’Farrell (St Colman’s Newry) and Fintan Stewart (City of Derry AC) add further depth to the field.  In the ladies race, Enya Haigney (Derry Track Club) and Under 18 silver medallist Grace Carson (Mid Ulster AC) will be chasing silverware.

It is a similar situation in the other age categories, with a plethora of talent set to compete.  Under 16 Champion Rebecca Wallace (Lagan Valley AC) will again go head-to-head with club mate Aoife McGreevy, this time in the Under 17 race, while another Lagan Valley AC athlete, Cormac O’Rourke will feature in the Boy’s race – he will line up against St Malachy’s AC duo Conall McClean and Adam Ferris.

Under 16 gold medallist Sean McGinley (Olympian YC) and Under 14 Champion Oisin Kelly (Cranford AC) will both compete in what should be an exciting Under 15 race.  Joel Chambers (Loughview AC), Dylan McBride (Willowfield Harriers) and Joseph Haynes (Armagh AC) are also set to start.  Hannah Cochrane (City of Lisburn AC), Cara Laverty (City of Derry AC) and Sarah Bradley (Finn Valley AC) will feature in the Under 15 Girls race for podium places.

Boyd Russell (Olympian YC), winner of the Under 12 Championships in Kilbroney Park will toe the line in the Under 13 Boy’s race, with Philip McGee (Letterkenny AC), a medallist at the same event, also due to toe the line.  East Down AC pair Lauren Madine and Kirsti Foster, and Shercock AC’s Hazel Hughes, will race in the Girl’s event.

In the Under 11 category, Cait O’Reilly (Annalee AC) and Emma Boner (Letterkenny AC) will feature prominently in the Girls race, as will Miah Fletcher (Cranford AC), while recently crowned Under 10 Boy’s Champion Harry Shields of Letterkenny AC will be hoping to complete the Under 10 and Under 11 double in the Boy’s race; Harry will be up against Conor Gallagher (Finn Valley AC) and Luke McCausland (City of Derry AC), amongst others.

A full timetable and further information about the event are available HERE.

Other events taking place in Northern Ireland this weekend…

‘The Wedding Marathon’:

Later today, (Friday 10th November 2017), experienced marathon runners Gary Connolly and Gillian Barnhill, both from Seapark AC, will be in action at the East Antrim Marathon Series ‘Wedding Marathon’, an event organised specifically to celebrate their wedding, which will take place at Carrickfergus Castle this morning!

After the ceremony, the pair will leave the castle and run their first marathon together as Mr and Mrs!  As well as the marathon, the competitive running event will include a 5k,10k and a half marathon. The route will take competitors on an out and back section along the Belfast Road towards Loughshore Park, and back. A special medal has been designed by Gillian and Gary as a memory for the day.

Sperrin Harriers ‘Winter League’ – Race 1: Davagh Forest 10k

On Saturday 11th November 2017, the Davagh Forest 10k will mark the beginning of the 9th annual Sperrin Harriers Winter Series, an event which has grown into one of Northern Ireland’s best loved set of trail races, attracting all types of runners from the beginner to top athletes. Its popularity is testament to the scenic venues, great atmosphere, and warm welcome which make the Series so unique.

Last year’s Winter Series was the most successful to date, attracting almost 900 entries, with well over 400 individual athletes taking part in one or more of the five races.

Runners from across Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland took part, with the Lough Fea 5k showing particular growth, experiencing more than a 40% increase in attendance. The Series drew a significant number of high profile athletes, making for strong competition in what is now considered to be one of the premier fixtures in the winter running calendar.

The variety of races remains the same as last year, with a 5k, two 10k courses in two different venues, a 5 mile, and a 10 mile run.  Full details for the event are available HERE.  Entries are AVAILABLE on race day!

26extreme Tollymore Trail Marathon Events:

On Saturday 11th November 2017, events management company 26extreme will host their Tollymore Trail Marathon Events in Tollymore Forest Park, just outside Newcastle.  Entries for the event are now CLOSED.

King of Gullion 10k:

On Sunday 12th November 2017, the annual King of Gullion 10k Trail Race will take place in Slieve Gullion Forest Park, with the race kicking off at 10am.  Entries are AVAILABLE on race day!

Outside Northern Ireland this weekend…

Three NI & Ulster based athletes will represent the Irish Schools team at this weekend’s SIAB Combined Events International at the Emirates Arena, Glasgow (Scotland) today (Friday 10th November 2017).

Troy McConville (North Down AC / Brendan McConville), Jordan Cunningham (City of Lisburn AC / Phil McIlfatrick) and Niamh McCorry (Annalee AC) are part of a strong Ireland team.

Further afield, Rio Olympian Kerry O’Flaherty (Newcastle AC / Richard Rodgers) and training partner Zak Hanna (Newcastle AC / Richard Rodgers) will be in action at the famous Burgos XC in Spain.  The local pair will have fellow Ireland international and former European XC Champion Fionnuala McCormack (Kilcoole AC) for company on the start line.

Stephen Scullion (Clonliffe Harriers) will represent his English club Aldershot, Farnham & District AC at the British Athletics Cross Challenge in Milton Keynes (Saturday 11th November 2017)


As always, Northern Ireland’s twenty-five 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.