Weekend Preview: NiRunning’s Rathlin Run 2017 takes centre stage…


Weekend Preview: Rathlin Run 2017 takes centre stage…
They say time flies when you’re having fun, but after stepping onto the Rathlin Island Ferry, it’s hard to believe that a year has passed since the last time we were on the amazing Rathlin Island.

The new ferry, named ‘Spirit of Rathlin’ provoked some thoughts – it couldn’t sum the Rathlin Run up better! For one weekend of the year the island is taken over by runners – the team spirit, the camaraderie and the sense of post-race achievement is something that will stick with you forever… well, at least long into the night at the famous McCuaig’s Bar! It really is Northern Ireland’s most unique running event. That’s proven by the record number of well over 300 competitors who have signed up for this year’s event, spread over the 10 mile and 5k races.

We’ll again welcome our friends from Belfast Activity Centre (BAC), who will assist us in hosting the races.

Of course, there are numerous other races taking place over this August Bank Holiday weekend – this particular weekend has always been considered busy in terms of events, but this year seems to be exceptionally busy. Given our team’s commitments over the coming days, this weekend’s preview will focus on the Rathlin Run. However, we will list all of the races taking place over the weekend, just incase we can tempt you into lacing up those racers!

Rathlin Run 2017:

On Saturday 26th August 2017, a record number of athletes and spectators will descend on Rathlin Island for the 16th annual Rathlin Run, an event organised by NiRunning alongside Belfast based charity Belfast Activity Centre and sponsored by Rathlin Island Ferry Company and Clif Bar. The unique race offers competitors the option of a tough, undulating and incredibly scenic 10 mile course as well as a scenic and less hilly 5k.

In the 10 mile race, North Belfast Harriers man Philip Goss will return and should play a major part in proceedings. Last year, Philip won in an impressive 1:00:40 and this year everything is in his favour as he goes to break the hour – the technical terrain at the back end of the course has been re-surfaced over the winter and will bring fast times!

Chasing Philip will be one of this year’s surprise packages (with the greatest respect). Springwell Running Club’s Steven McAlarey burst onto the scene with a 1:15:43 for the win at Cookstown HM, then he narrowly missed a podium place at the competitive Jude Gallagher Memorial 10 mile road race with a 55:12 for fourth – he’s one to watch! Patrick Higgins (Newcastle AC), a podium finisher in 2016, and David Noble (Larne AC), who finished in fourth place twelve months ago (also runner up in 2015), both return. Add David Turtle (East Antrim Harriers), Marc Jennings (North Belfast Harriers) and Michael Magee (Beechmount Harriers) to the mix and you have the best field assembled during our (NiRunning) time organising the race! Our own Justin Maxwell (East Coast AC), winner of last week’s EAMS 50k (3:44:50) may race and will feature at the front end if he does. Mark Alexander (Ballymena Runners), David Allen (Albertville Harriers) and Steven Beggs (East Antrim Harriers) add further depth to the field.


Runners making use of the natural recovery methods available at the Rathlin Run!

The ladies 10 mile race will see 2015 runner up and 2016 winner Mari Troeng (Newcastle AC) take to the start line. Despite a classy ladies field, it’s hard to look past Mari – the NI international mountain runner has all of the attributes to perform well over this tough undulating course.

However, if the always impressive Newcastle AC athlete wants to make it two in a row, she will have to fend off the likes of Helen Weir (North Belfast Harriers) and Beverley Mitchell (Albertville Harriers); both claimed podium places here in 2016.  Like Mari, Helen is pretty good over all terrain – this course will suit her; we seen that last year. Beverley is a consistent performer and will be there or there abouts.

Beechmount Harriers’ Gerrie Short is a class act – the Northern Ireland international narrowly missed a sub 3-hour finish at the London Marathon this year and clocked 1:24:43 at the Omagh HM. Gerrie has also shown in cross country events that she has the strength it takes to do well; she will make the podium!

Other ladies to look out for include Elle Forrest-Reid (Ballymena Runners), Deirdre Bradley (Acorns AC), Helen Byers (North Down AC) and Susan Lambe (BARF).

In the 5k race, James Robinson (East Coast AC), Paul Magee (Beechmount Harriers), Peter Fleming (Ballymena Runners) and Brian Maltman (East Coast AC) will be amongst those chasing podium place, while in the ladies race, Catherine Diver (Beechmount Harriers) should top the podium.

Other events taking place in Northern Ireland this weekend:

Friday 25th August 2017:
• Strangford Festival 10k – Inverbrena Community Centre – 7pm (Entries are AVAILABLE on the day)
• Portrush 5 mile Road Race – Dunluce Road, Portrush – 7.30pm (Entries are AVAILABLE on the day)
• Magheralin 5 – St Michael’s GAC – 7.30pm (Entries are AVAILABLE on the day)
• Crebilly 5k – Woodside Road, Ballymena – 7pm (Entries are AVAILABLE on the day)

Saturday 26th August 2017:
• Great East Run Half Marathon – Bridge Centre, Killyleagh – 10am (Entries are AVAILABLE on the day)
• Athletics NI Track & Field ‘Team Trophy’ & Senior Relays – Mary Peters Track, Belfast – Note: Contact Athletics NI for entry information.

Sunday 27th August 2017:
• Armagh City Marathon – The Mall, Armagh – 8am (Entries are NOT available on the day)
• Storming the Castle 10k – Carrickfergus Amphitheatre, Carrickfergus – 2pm (Entries are NOT available on the day)
• Carmoney Hill 5k – Rathfern Activity Centre – 11am (Entries are AVAILABLE on the day)

Other events taking place outside Northern Ireland this weekend:

Hundreds of Northern Ireland based athletes are expected to travel south for the annual Frank Duffy 10 mile road race, which takes place in Dublin (Ireland) tomorrow (Saturday 26th August 2017).

Amongst those competing will be Belfast City Marathon winner Laura Graham (Mourne Runners) and a number of athletes from Paul Pollock’s #DreamRunDublin17 programme.  Northern Ireland and Ireland international Gladys Ganiel O’Neill (North Belfast Harriers) and club mates Eddie Cooke, John Black and Conor Curran could also toe the line.

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.

Please be aware that there may be significant delays in the uploading of race results and/or summaries this weekend, this is because our entire team will be dealing with the Rathlin Run 2017 between Thursday 24th August 2017 and Monday 28th August 2017. We would expect to have all results online by Monday 28th August 2017, summaries will then follow as soon as possible.