Weekend Preview:  The Easter Holidays mean one thing… the Whitehead 5!

Weekend Preview:  The Easter Holidays mean one thing… the Whitehead 5!

The Easter Holidays are upon us and that means one thing – no, not chocolate… it’s time for one of Northern Ireland’s most traditional and longest running events, the Whitehead 5 mile road race.

This year will be the 94th annual running of the event, which started out as the ‘Great Harrier Race’ back on the 12th January 1924.  The hard working race committee have adjusted the course slightly for 2018 to ensure that it does infact measure exactly 5 miles in distance.

There are a number of other races on over the long weekend, with Atlas Running’s Belfast 2 Dublin Ultra being the other highlight – the Beragh 5 mile road race is also in there.  As always, we’ll include a list of the events taking place over the next few days.

Atlas Running Belfast 2 Dublin Ultra:

Before we discuss Whitehead – the weekend action will kick off later today (Friday 30th March 2018), when 71 hardy athletes will depart The Crown Bar in Belfast (hopefully sober!) and embark on an 107 mile journey to St James’ Gate in Dublin, Ireland.

At the head of the pack will be recent Last One Standing winners and ultra-distance specialists Peter Cromie of Roe Valley CC and Louise Smart of County Antrim Harriers.

The talented pairing clocked up 147 miles and 105 miles respectively for victory.  It’s hard to see anyone beating the pair, although Louise will have respected ultra-runner Fran McFadden (Springwell Running Club) on her tail.

Other athletes to look out for include Phelim McAllister (Larne AC), Mark Walker (Unattached) and Emma-Louise Kirk (North East Runners).

More information on the event can be found HERE.

Whitehead 5 mile Road Race:

On Monday 2nd April 2018 (Easter Monday), hundreds of athletes are expected to descend on the picturesque town of Whitehead in County Antrim for the 94th annual running of the long established Whitehead 5 mile road race.

In 2017, North Belfast Harriers man Andrew Annett secured victory after a close race with John Black (North Belfast Harriers) and Jonathan McKee (Springwell Running Club).  All three of the men could return and have the potential to win on their day.

The aforementioned North Belfast Harriers duo could be joined on the start line by their club mate Mark McKinstry.  Mark secured an impressive win at last week’s Jimmy’s 10k road race and would start as a strong favourite here should he make use of the on the day entries.

Stephen Prentice (Annadale Striders), a two time winner of the race, could also return, while in-form Keith Shiels (Foyle Valley AC), runner up at last weekend’s Larne Half Marathon, may also start.  Jonny Steede (Glens Runners) and Kent Swann (North Belfast Harriers) should also play a part at the front.

Judith Lonnen (City of Lisburn AC) has enjoyed success at this event in the past winning in 2016 and also claiming a podium place a few years earlier.  Aside from Commonwealth Games marathoner Gladys Ganiel O’Neill (North Belfast Harriers), another potential competitor, Judith is one of the fastest ladies around the three lap route in recent years, after running 29:46 for the win.  Gladys blasted her way to victory in 2013 with a 27:40 effort.

Julie Murphy (Lagan Valley AC), Amy Bulman (Willowfield Harriers), Ruth Perioli (Lagan Valley AC) and last years winner, Leanne Sands (Acorns AC) could all toe the line.  Ballymena Runners quartet Paula Worthington, Kerry Bamber, Geraldine Quigley and Judith Worthington may also start.

The Whitehead 5 mile road race will kick off at 12:30pm, with the 1.6 mile race starting at 12pm.  Entries for the event are AVAILABLE on race day from 10am.

Other events taking place in Northern Ireland this weekend…

Saturday 31st March 2018:

  • Beragh 5 mile Road Race: St Mary’s Park, Beragh – 11am (Entries AVAILABLE on race day!)
  • Solas 5k: Main Street, Toomebridge – 6:45am (Entries AVAILABLE on race day!)

Sunday 1st April 2018:

  • Ballygalget Community 10k Road Race: Ballygalget Road – 12pm (Entries AVAILABLE on race day!)
  • Clogher Valley 5k: Clogher Village Community Centre – 10am (Entries AVAILABLE on race day!)


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.