Weekend Preview: Record numbers set for NI & Ulster Road Relay Championships!

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Weekend Preview:  Record numbers set for NI & Ulster Road Relay Championships!

This coming weekend is just one of those weekend’s that you look forward to for ages!  A weekend when road, mountain and track athletes all come together to represent their club’s in one place – that is of course the NI & Ulster Road Relay Championships.

Orangegrove AC will host the 7th annual running of the event, which has become a firm favourite amongst the local running fraternity, and that is proven in the record number of entries taken this year.

Given its stature and prominence, the NI & Ulster Road Relay Championships will form the basis of our weekend preview.  Although, as always, we’ll mention what is happening around the province over the next few days – that includes the prestigious and always popular Armagh 10 mile road race… an important fixture for those athletes aiming for Dublin Marathon at the end of this month.

NI & Ulster Road Relay Championships 2017:

A record number of 179 teams will contest this weekend’s NI & Ulster (Road) Relay Championships at Victoria Park in Belfast (Saturday 7th October 2017).

The event, hosted by Orangegrove AC, will attract a plethora of talent from across the province as athletes battle it out for senior and master’s honours; the festival of running will also include a number of junior races.

The unique nature of the Relay Championships creates an excellent atmosphere; the event provides runners who would normally represent their club over various terrains (and distances) the opportunity to come together for one day, with all aiming to earn the bragging rights associated to being the province’s ‘fastest club’.

Race Director Robin Montgomery spoke with enthusiasm ahead of the 7th annual running of the event, “Saturday is going to be a fantastic day with a high likelihood that at least one course record will be broken due the favourable course conditions and the quality of athletes competing.”

The Masters Ladies’ (35:55) and Senior Men’s (39:22) records were set last year by City of Lisburn AC and Derry Track Club respectively.  Both clubs will again be well represented this year.

Last year the Newcastle AC Senior Ladies retained their title from 2015, but failed to break their own course record of 34:30. The Masters Men’s record (41:51) was also set in 2015 by Willowfield Temperance Harriers.

In terms of potential winners, there will be no shortage of athletic talent on show throughout the day.  Northern Ireland 10,000m and 5,000m record holder Emma Mitchell will head a strong QUB AC team as they aim to secure NI & Ulster gold in the Senior Ladies 3 x 3,380m competition.  Emma will be joined in the team by Rebecca Henderson and Sinead Sweeney as they chase top honours.  The trio will face 2015 and 2016 winners Newcastle AC, who will look to Olympian Kerry O’Flaherty for inspiration; Nicky McKeag and Mari Troeng will join Kerry on the Newcastle AC team.  Ballymena Runners (Kerry Bamber, Gillian Wasson and Paula Worthington) and Letterkenny AC (Ann-Marie McGlynn, Noeleen Scanlon and Sinead Peoples) will also feature, as will last year’s bronze medallists, North Down AC (Sarah Lindsay, Rio Catney and Jodi Smith).

In the Senior Men’s 4 x 3,380m race, Belfast City Half Marathon and Bangor 10k winner Gideon Kipsang will represent Derry Track Club alongside Conan McCaughey, Shane McGowan and Steeplechaser Adam Kirk-Smith, making a strong quartet.  Chasing the maiden city men will be their North West counterparts Letterkenny AC (Danny Mooney, Eoghain McGinley, Eoin Hughes and Karol Duggan) and City of Derry AC (Matt Doherty, Declan Reed, Fintan Stewart and JP Williamson).

Newcastle AC (Eoghan Totten, David O’Flaherty, Zak Hanna and Patrick McNiff) and North Belfast Harriers (John Black, Mark McKinstry, Lindsay Gordon and Andrew Annett) will also challenge for a podium place.  North Down AC (Dennis Scott, Craig McMeechan, James Budde and Alex Donald) and Springwell Running Club (Neil Johnston, Luke Dinsmore, Johnny McKee and John Gordon) cannot be ruled out given their strong line-ups, while the Dromore AC team of Russell White, Stephen O’Gorman, Daniel Dawson and Nigel McKibbin will also be worth watching.

The Masters Ladies 3 x 3,80m race, which will be the first adult race of the day, will include another strong line up from reigning Champions City of Lisburn AC – Kelly Neely, Judith Lonnen and Ann Terek will be out to retain their title.  However, they will face the toughest of opponents in the form of Ann-Marie McGlynn, Natasha Adams and Fionnuala Diver, a formidable trio from Letterkenny AC.  Derry Track Club will also contest a podium place, with current NI & Ulster 10,000m Champion Marina Murphy spearheading their line-up, which includes Elaine Connor and Deirdre Haigney.

The Masters Men’s 4 x 3,380m event will also be a closely contested affair, with a number of teams more than capable of taking home the silverware. Willowfield Harriers and Acorns AC, winners over the last two years, will again be in the mix.  Willowfield Harriers will field a strong quartet, consisting of Garry Morrow, Chris Moren, David Proctor and Duncan Bell.  Acorns AC will hope to match that with Darrell McKee, Glen Donnelly, Colm Mullan and the in-form Vincent McAlister taking to the start line. Ballymena Runners (Ben Morrow, Michael Bennett, Richard Agnew and James Turtle) and Larne AC (David Noble, Martan Keane, Wayne Morrow and John Neill) will be vying for the final podium place.

Primary and Junior race schedule:

Primary school races are registration on the day and Under 13/15/17 categories are pre-registration only:

  • 11:10am – Race 1 Primary school girls’ race 800m
  • 11:20am – Race 2 Primary school boys’ race 800m
  • 11:30am – Race 3 Under 13 boys & girls 1680m
  • 11:45am – Race 4 Under 15 boys & girls 1680m
  • 12:00pm – Race 5 Under 17 boys & girls 3380m

Senior and Masters race schedule:

Pre-registration only:

  • 12:30pm – Race 6 Masters Ladies 3 x 3380m
  • 1:30pm – Race 7 Masters Men 4 x 3380m
  • 2:45pm – Race 8 Senior Ladies 3 x 3380m
  • 3:45pm – Race 9 Senior Men 4 x 3380m

Armagh 10 mile Road Race 2017:

Another significant fixture taking place this coming weekend is the annual Armagh 10 mile road race (Sunday 8th October 2017).  The event, hosted by Armagh AC alongside the local council, never fails to attract some of the biggest names on the local scene – it is also an event used by many as the final race before the Dublin Marathon.

Slieve Gullion Runners athlete Paddy Hamilton will compete and he’ll be hoping to show some of the form that saw him secure an impressive runners up spot at last week’s Bangor 10k, where he covered the distance in 31:30.  Paddy is of course the reigning Champion here and took the title in a speedy 51:26 in 2016; he also won in 2015 (51:49) – his personal best for the distance is an exceptional 49:35.

NI & Ulster 10,000m Champion Eoghan Totten will also compete and considering his recent form, which included a 30:38 10k in Swansea, he is sure to challenge for honours.  North Belfast Harriers’ Mark McKinstry, a fourth place finisher at the Bangor 10k last week, will also race.

The ladies race will see two of the provinces top female athletes go head to head.  The always impressive duo of Laura Graham (Mourne Runners) and Danielle Fegan (Armagh AC) will contest top honours.  Laura has been in exceptional form recently, with her 2:37:05 personal best at the Berlin Marathon two weeks ago and a 34:35 for victory at the Bangor 10k last week.  Last month, the Mourne Runners athlete won the Frank Duffy 10 in a personal best of 58:50.  That personal best could be further reduced if a battle ensues with England based Danielle, another classy competitor.  This term, Danielle has won the Alderley Bypass 10k (35:59) and claimed the runners up prize at the Salford 10k (35:11).  Danielle’s last effort over 10 miles was back in 2014, when she took second place at this event in 1:00:13; there is a good chance that the Northern Ireland international will go well under the hour mark this time around.

Other events taking place in Northern Ireland this weekend:

Saturday 7th October 2017:

  • Conquer the Cairn – Knockmany Forest Lower Car Park – 11am (Entries AVAILABLE on race day)

Sunday 8th October 2017:

  • Born 2 Run Cultra Challenge 10k & 5k – Ulster Folk & Transport Museum – 11am (TBC whether entries will be available on race day. Check brn2runevents.com for more information).
  • 10KM na Ceathrún Gaeltachta 2017 – Cultúrlann McAdam Ó Fiaich – 9am (Entries AVAILABLE on race day!)
  • Mickey Annette Memorial 10k – Mayobridge GAC Old Road, Mayobridge – 12pm (Entries AVAILABLE on race day!)

Events taking place outside Northern Ireland this weekend:

There is expected to be a fairly sizable NI contingent competing at the County Donegal Novice XC Championships this weekend (Sunday 8th October 2017).  An entry list for the event is available HERE.

Parkrun:

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.