Weekend Preview:  North Down AC to host NI & Ulster 10k (Road) Championships 2018!

Weekend Preview:  Bangor 10k, Buzzards Roost Mountain Race, TJ McElmeel XC and more!

This week brings the first of two NI & Ulster Championship weekends, with the 10k road Championships in Bangor; then next week we have the Road Relays in Belfast.

There’s a busy weekend of action ahead, which includes the final race of the Northern Ireland Mountain Running Association (NIMRA) Championships, the Buzzards Roost, and the first senior cross country event of the season, Armagh AC’s TJ McElmeel Memorial  XC taking place.

We’ll look at the Bangor 10k and the NIMRA Championship finale and provide the official press release for the Armagh XC.  As always, we will also provide a list of other events taking place over the next few days.

Bangor 10k (inc NI & Ulster 10k Championships):

North Down AC will host the Northern Ireland & Ulster 10k (Road) Championships this coming weekend (Saturday 29th September 2018).

The event, which is supported by the George Best City Airport, will attract over 1,000 competitors to County Down, with an abundance of athletic talent set to compete.

Northern Ireland’s Kevin Seaward (St Malachy’s AC), a fourth-place finisher in the Commonwealth Games marathon earlier this year, will take on Kenyan star Gideon Kipsang (Derry Track Club), who eased to victory at last week’s Belfast City Half Marathon.

Reigning Champion Gideon clocked 30:02 for victory twelve months ago and will need to show the same form if he is to compete with local star Kevin, who has a personal best of 29:36 over the distance.

The battle for top honours will be fierce, as will the charge for the final podium place.  Contesting this will be current NI & Ulster 10k and 10,000m Champion Scott Rankin, last year’s Bangor 10k runner up Paddy Hamilton (Slieve Gullion Runners), recent Storming the Castle 10k and Laganside 10k winner Ben Branagh (St Malachy’s AC) and North Belfast Harriers trio Mark McKinstry, Conan McCaughey and Andrew Annett.

Like the above mentioned chasing pack, decorated City of Derry AC man Declan Reed should finish in the low 31 minute region, which will also make him a contender.  Current NI & Ulster Intermediate XC Champion Craig McMeechan (North Down AC) will lead the way for the host club and should be in the mix for a medal.

Recently crowned NI & Ulster 5,000m Champion Jessica Craig (North Down AC) was so close to providing a home town winner at this event in 2017.  After taking the runners up spot on that occasion, Jessica will return as pre-race favourite with a personal best of 35:51 and should add the 10k gold to her 5,000m title.

However, like the men’s race, the ladies competition will be a closely contested race, with highly respected athletes Gladys Ganiel O’Neill (North Belfast Harriers) and Rachel Gibson (North Down AC) likely to lead the chasing pack.

Gladys has enjoyed an excellent year, with the highlight being a strong performance over marathon distance at the European Athletics Championships.  More recently, the North Belfast Harriers athlete won the Laganside 10k in 37:00.  Meanwhile, track star Rachel reduced her 10k best at the TQ10K in the Spring, clocking 36:57.

Laura Bickerstaff (Dromore AC), Denise Logue (Ballydrain Harriers), Catherine Diver (Beechmount Harriers) and winner of last week’s Belfast City Half Marathon, Gerrie Short (Beechmount Harriers) will all play a part at the front.

Other ladies to look out for include Sarah Lavery (Beechmount Harriers), Sarah Grant (North Down AC), Amanda Perry (Ballydrain Harriers) and Jodi Smith (North Down AC).

Buzzards Roost Mountain Race:

On Saturday 29th September 2018, local mountain runners will take on the final race of the Northern Ireland Mountain Running Association (NIMRA) Championships, the new Buzzards Roost race; an event hosted by Mourne Runners.

The race, which is classed as ‘Medium’ for Championship purposes will cover 7.4 miles with approximately 3,000ft of ascent.

This years Champion Seamus Lynch (Newcastle AC) could turn out given that this is the grand finale of what has been another excellent season.  Should he do so, Seamus will more than likely face club mate Zak Hanna (Newcastle AC) and talented Mourne Runners man William McKee.

Colm Murtagh (Newcastle AC), David Hicks (Newcastle AC), Timothy Johnston (Mourne Runners) and Kieron Kelly (Newry AC) will also finish well up the field should they toe the line.

In the ladies race, Champion Esther Dickson (Newry AC) will lead the way if she decides to compete.  However, as per previous races, the Newry AC athlete will be chased by fellow Northern Ireland internationals Martsje Hell (North Belfast Harriers), Sarah Graham (Mourne Runners), Shileen O’Kane (Lagan Valley AC) and Gillian Wasson (Ballymena Runners), all of whom have had an excellent season.

TJ McElmeel Memorial XC:

On Sunday 30th September 2018, Armagh Athletic Club will promote their first cross country open event in many years commemorating a great Armagh athlete of the 1930s, Tommy John McElmeel.

The club are delighted that the prestigious local firm of White’s Oats has come on board to sponsor the event along with the McElmeel family who have donated a perpetual Cup and prizes for the combined Senior, Junior and Veteran 9k event at the Palace Grounds.

Stuart Best, Business Development Manager at White’s said: “White’s Oats are extremely excited to be sponsoring the inaugural T.J McElmeel Memorial Cross Country Race on September 30th in association with Armagh Athletic Club. We endeavour to support our local male and female runners and athletes, and we are delighted to be a part of this highly anticipated cross country event, being held in Armagh City and in the wonderful Palace Demesne. Our oat-based products are a mighty superfood for athletes of all ages owing to their complex carbohydrates, which are the body’s primary fuel source, and vital for optimal training and performance. Our ActivOat High Protein Porridge is made from wholegrain oats with added soy protein and is an athlete favourite for pre-and post-race.”

There will be a full day’s programme of cross country races commencing at 12.30pm on Sunday 30th with the first of a series of underage events.

The Senior Women’s race including Veteran categories starts at 2.20pm while the Senior Men’s event, sponsored by the McElmeel family, starts at 3.00pm.

Pre-race entries can be emailed to [email protected] and paid for on race day when collecting your number. On the Day entries will be accepted from 10.00am at City of Armagh Rugby Club located beside the Armagh City Hotel on the edge of the Palace Demesne.

Raymond Donnelly Development Officer for Armagh Rugby Club has facilitated the use of their new cross-sport/cross-community club as a base for the event.

Armagh, Banbridge & Craigavon Council has made available the unique and spectacular setting of the Palace Grounds for the event.

Other events taking place in Northern Ireland this weekend…

Saturday 29th September 2018:

  • Annaghmore Running Festival: Annaghmore Community Hall – 10am (Entries AVAILABLE on race day!)
  • Brocagh 10k & 5k: St Brigid’s PS, Brocagh – 11.30am (Entries AVAILABLE on race day!)
  • Kells & Connor Running Festival: Kells Village – 11am (Entries AVAILABLE on race day!)
  • Ford 5k Road Race: Bryansford GAC, Newcastle – 11am (Entries AVAILABLE on race day!)

Sunday 30th September 2018:

  • Kirkistown Race Track Half Marathon, 10k & 5k: Kirkistown Race Track – 2pm (Entries AVAILABLE on race day!)
  • Cavehill 5 mile Trail Race: Cavehill Country Park, Antrim Road, Belfast – 11am (Entries AVAILABLE on race day!)


As always, Northern Ireland’s twenty six parkrun events will take place as normal. For more information on parkrun, or to locate your nearest event, please visit our dedicated ‘parkrun’ section within our fixtures page.