Weekend Preview: Record breaking field set for 17th annual Rathlin Run 2018!


A capacity field of four hundred athletes will take on this weekend’s Rathlin Run (Saturday 25th August 2018), a Bank Holiday special brought to you by www.nirunning.co.uk in association with highly respected charity Belfast Activity Centre (BAC).

The unique race, which is sponsored by Rathlin Island Ferry Company, Clif Bar and Rejuvenate Massage Therapy, offers competitors the option of a tough, undulating and incredibly scenic 10 mile course as well as a scenic and less hilly 5k; all of this after a pleasant ferry crossing from Ballycastle.

This year, for the first time – prizes have been introduced for the first local male and female athletes to finish in the 10 mile and 5k races.  To be considered from this, athletes must have listed an address from Rathlin Island on their entry form.

Full information about the event is available on the official race website at www.rathlinrun.co.uk

The 10 mile course takes competitors from Church Bay, the hub of the island, inland in the direction of the East Light House before they negotiate a steep downhill and uphill section and join the main road towards the popular RSPB Seabird Centre and the West Lighthouse.  After turning at the RSPB Seabird Centre, the field will make their way back towards the atmospheric finish area in Church Bay.

Leading the way will be course record holder Philip Goss (North Belfast Harriers), podium regular Neill Weir (Willowfield Harriers) and the ever-improving Darrel Cooper (PACE Running Club).

Philip will be aiming for a hat-trick of wins at the event after taking top honours in 2016 and 2017 – last year he set an incredible new course record of 57:57 after a solo run.  Given the quality of the chasing pack, his winning time from twelve months ago could well be bettered.

Recently, Neill Weir recorded a new 10 mile personal best of 56:13 on his way to victory at the Portaferry Gala 10 mile road race.  Although the Rathlin course will prove more of a test, he will go well under the hour which makes him a strong contender.

At the aforementioned Portaferry 10, Darrel Cooper finished closely behind Neill in third place, running 56:28.  Again this showed the immense potential Darrel has as he continues to establish himself amongst the best endurance athletes in Northern Ireland – last year he made his mark on the marathon scene with 2:42:29 outing in Dublin.

Add David Noble (Larne AC), a previous podium finisher at the Rathlin Run and Peter McCloskey (Wimbledon Windmilers), a two-time high end finisher at the event, to the mix and it should prove to be an excellent battle for the top places in the men’s race.

Ballycastle Runners AC’s Gemma McDonald, a two-time winner and course record holder of the Rathlin Run 5k (under her maiden name) will step up in distance and take on the 10 mile race; an exciting prospect.  The current ladies course record, set by Martsje Hell (North Belfast Harriers), sits at 1:11:13.

Could Gemma beat this and be the first person ever to hold both the 5k and 10 mile course records at the same time? The form book suggests this is possible, with Gemma running 29:56 for 5 miles and 37:54 for 10k this year (2018).

In pursuit of the pre-race favourite will be several talented and respected athletes, including podium finisher from 2017, Helen F Weir (North Belfast Harriers), previous Rathlin Run 5k podium finisher Maria Morris (Beechmount Harriers), endurance specialist Colette McCourt (Dub Runners) and the always impressive Helen Byers (North Down AC).

Given her experience over this course, Helen F Weir should lead the chase pack and Collette McCourt, who boasts a 1:07:33 best over 10 miles, won’t be far behind.  However, both will need to be in good form with Maria Morris’ track pace and Helen Byers’ recent impressive run at the Giants Trail Race likely to give both confidence.

Other ladies to look out for include Catherine McLaughlin (Glens Runners), Nicola Wylie (PACE Running Club) and Kirsten Montgomery (Glenlough Running Cub).

In the associated Rathlin Run 5k, athletes will make their way from Church Bay towards Rue Point, over a hilly outward section.  After turning, the field will enjoy a predominantly flat and downhill second half which offers stunning coastline views as they race back towards Church Bay and the finish line.

Beechmount Harriers athlete Catherine Diver, winner of the ladies race in 2017 after taking second place overall, will feature at the front of the field and should take the ladies title.

Robert Irvine (North Belfast Harriers), Peter Fleming (Ballymena Runners) and Brian Maltman (East Coast AC) could take a podium place, while in the ladies race, Verity Cornford (Orangegrove AC), Ruth Maltman (East Coast AC) and junior athlete Hannah Clements (East Coast AC) will challenge for prizes.

Other events taking place in Northern Ireland this weekend…

For a list of other events taking place in Northern Ireland this weekend, please click HERE.

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.

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 2018 between Thursday 23rd August 2018 and Monday 27th August 2018.