Weekend Preview: TQ10K, Omagh HM and more…
This week, the local sporting world has enjoyed the opening ceremony and early competition at the Commonwealth Games in Australia – already, some local runners have been in action, with Russell White (Dromore AC) and James Edgar (City of Lisburn AC) impressing in the Triathlon.
The athletics competition kicks off this Sunday (8th April 2018) and of course, like many, we are excited to see how our top local stars perform on the big stage.
However, back home, it’s business as normal, with two major events taking place this weekend. The TQ10k and the Omagh Half Marathon will attract close to 5,000 athletes onto the local roads between them.
Locally, there is also the re-scheduled Slieve Gullion Mountain Race to look forward to, while further afield, a number of familiar faces will be in action in Athlone and Dublin.
Lets take a look at what is in store over the coming days…
Omagh Half Marathon:
On Saturday 7th April 2018, approximately 3,500 athletes will take on the Omagh Half Marathon in County Tyrone. The increasingly popular event covers a pleasant undulating route, which holds personal best potential.
Stephen Scullion (Clonliffe Harriers) and Ann-Marie McGlynn (Letterkenny AC) will play a major part in proceedings if they make it to the start line as planned.
Stephen had initially been pencilled in to compete at the TQ10K this weekend, but also features on the Omagh start-list; we believe that he may start in Omagh. After claiming a top-100 finish at the recent 13.1 mile World Championships, where he recorded 1:05:19, the Northern Ireland and Ireland international will start as favourite in the strong men’s field. Earlier this year, he ran 1:03:16 at the Houston Half Marathon in America.
A host of Spartan talent will be chasing Stephen, with Larne HM winner Mark Long and Ballyliffin Coastal Challenge winner Greg Roberts, both of City of Derry AC, set to compete. In Larne two weeks ago, Mark clocked an excellent personal best of 1:09:22 for the win. Last weekend, Greg showed his current form with a 54:26 finish over the tough Ballyliffin 10 mile course.
Fellow City of Derry AC man and current NI & Ulster Senior XC Champion, Declan Reed, can never be ruled out and will feature alongside another noteworthy competitor, Omagh man Stephen Duncan (Omagh Harriers). Emmet McGinty (City of Derry AC), Kyle Doherty (City of Derry AC), Mark Mullan (City of Derry AC), Steven McAlary (Springwell RC) and Pierce McCullagh (Sperrin Harriers) should all make the top ten.
In the ladies race, Ann-Marie McGlynn will prove hard to beat, especially after the confidence boosting 10k road personal best of 33:50 to win the Hyde Park Spring 10k outright two weeks ago.
In-form Kerrie McIlmoyle (Springwell RC) and Natasha Henderson (County Antrim Harriers) will both start, as will Louise Smith (North Belfast Harriers), Pauline Thom (Ballymena & Antrim AC), Lyndsey Tyro (Orangegrove AC) and Jackie McMonagle (City of Derry AC).
TQ10K Road Race 2018:
NI & Ulster Intermediate XC Champion Craig McMeechan (North Down AC) and AAI National Marathon Champion Laura Graham (Mourne Runners) will head a 1,400 strong field at this weekend’s TQ10K, in Belfast (Sunday 8th April 2018).
The Athletics Northern Ireland hosted event, which covers a flat and fast course around the iconic Titanic Quarter, will attract an abundance of local talent.
Up and coming star Craig McMeechan has come to the fore at senior level over the last twelve months, with several notable performances. His dominant run and win at the NI & Ulster Intermediate XC Championships at the turn of the year, was backed up with personal bests over 3k (8:43) and 5k (15:05) at the Armagh International and Queen’s 5k respectively – the latter was enough to see Craig pick up a silver in the NI & Ulster 5k Championships.
Podium finisher at the TQ10k in 2017, Chris Madden (City of Lisburn AC), will lead the chasing pack and is sure to be podium contender once again. Twelve months ago, Chris recorded 31:49 over this course and he went on to reduce his 10k best with a 31:18 finish at the Seeley Cup at the back end of 2017. Two weeks ago, at the Queen’s 5k, the City of Lisburn AC star crossed the line in 15:14 for 6th place.
Current NI & Ulster 10k Champion Scott Rankin (Foyle Valley AC) will also start and should challenge for a top three finish. Other men who will feature at the front include Neill Weir (Willowfield Harriers), Chris McGuinness (Foyle Valley AC), Barry Harron (Finn Valley AC), Stephen O’Gorman (Dromore AC) and the fast improving Vincent McKenna (QUB AC).
In the ladies race, Laura Graham will be keen to make it third time lucky after having finished as runner up at this race in 2017 (34:30) and third place in 2016 (35:24). Two weeks ago, the Kilkeel based athlete, who represented Northern Ireland at the Armagh International, made her Ireland debut in Spain, running 1:16:27 at the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships.
Laura will come up against a host of top talent, with Gladys Ganiel O’Neill (North Belfast Harriers), Rachel Gibson (North Down AC), Katie Moore (North Down AC) and current NI & Ulster 10,000m Champion Marina Murphy (Derry Track Club) all set to compete.
Commonwealth Games marathoner Gladys won the recent Craic 10k on St Patrick’s Day, leading the ladies home in 36:34. Rachel has also shown good form recently, with a personal best of 17:13 at the Queen’s 5k and a silver medal at the NI & Ulster Senior XC Championships. Katie ran a personal best of 17:57 at Queen’s 5k, while Marina, won last weekend’s Beragh 5 mile road race in 30:53.
Sarah Lindsay (North Down AC), Debbie Matchett (Ballydrain Harriers) and Ann Terek (City of Lisburn AC) will also be amongst the top finishers.
Slieve Gullion Mountain Race:
The re-scheduled Slieve Gullion Mountain Race, an event hosted by Armagh AC, will take place on Saturday 7th April 2018. The traditional season opener (not this year!), covers 3.9 miles in distance, with 340 metres of ascent.
Numbers will no doubt be affected due to the clash with the WMRA trial race – however, a strong turnout is still expected.
Amongst the front runners could be NIMRA podium regulars Jonny Steede (Glens Runners), Seamus Lynch (Newcastle AC) and Zak Hanna (Newcastle AC). Armagh AC’s own Paul McAnespie, who ran well at the Glenariffe Mountain Race, may also feature.
In the ladies race, in-form athlete Esther Dickson (Newry AC) should make use of home advantage, while fellow Northern Ireland international runners Shileen O’Kane (Lagan Valley AC), Gillian Wasson (Ballymena Runners) and Mari Troeng (Newcastle AC) could start.
Events taking place outside Northern Ireland this weekend…
Commonwealth Games (Australia):
In Australia, the athletics competition at the Commonwealth Games kicks off on Sunday 8th April 2018.
Team Northern Ireland athletes Leon Reid (Birchfield Harriers), Amy Foster (City of Lisburn AC) and Dempsey McGuigan (Finn Valley AC) will all be in action on Day 1 of the programme.
A full schedule for the athletes representing Team NI in track and field is available HERE.
Irish Life Health Juvenile Indoor Championships (Ireland):
A host of local junior talent will make the now familiar journey to Athlone (Ireland) for the re-scheduled Day 1 of the Irish Life Health Juvenile Indoor Championships at the AIT Arena (Saturday 7th April 2018).
Anna McCauley (City of Lisburn AC), James Kelly (Finn Valley AC), Niamh McCorry (Annalee AC) and Erin Fisher (City of Lisburn AC) will be amongst those chasing National titles. Full details of the event, including provisional entry list and timetable are available HERE.
Maurice Mullins Ultra and Maurice Mullins 25k Trail Race (Ireland):
In Ireland on Saturday 7th April 2018, a large number of athletes from Northern Ireland will be in action at the Maurice Mullins 51k Ultra and associated 25k Trail Race just outside Dublin. The 25k race is also a trial for the Ireland World Mountain Running Association (WMRA) Long Distance Championships team.
The tough ‘out and back’ Ultra route from the legendary Johnnie Foxes Pub in Glencullan to Ballinastoe will take athletes along trails, forest paths and even a ‘board walk’ as they negotiate 51k in distance and 1,940 metres of ascent. The 25k course will see participants start in Ballinastoe and make their way to Glencullen for the finish at Glencullen Golf Club.
The 51k ultra race has proved successful for local athletes in the past, in the previous four years, East Coast AC’s Justin Maxwell (2014), Glens Runners’ athlete Jonny Steede (2015), Carnethy HRC’s Eoin Lennon (2016) and most recently Ian Bailey of Newcastle AC have triumphed, with Jonny clocking a course record of 3:56:47 to win in 2015. Again, this year Northern Ireland will be well represented throughout the field.
In the Ultra, known participants include Dave Evans (BARF), Jonathan Gibson (Unattached), David Hicks (Newcastle AC), Mark King (Newcastle AC), Dale Mathers (Mourne Runners), Eugene McCann (Newcastle AC), Stuart Maxwell (BARF), John McCann (BARF), Johnny McKinley (Dromore AC), Nicki McPeake (North Coast Ultra Team), Martin Mullan (BARF), Colm Murtagh (Newcastle AC), Billy Reed (East Antrim Harriers), Simon Reeve (North Belfast Harriers), Ivan Sadlier (Unattached), Aaron Shimmons (BARF), Jackie Toal (BARF), Paulette Thomson (Newcastle AC) and Hazel McLaughlin (Lagan Valley AC).
Whilst in the 25k event, Ian Bailey (Newcastle AC), Chris Collins (East Antrim Harriers), David Bell (Mourne Runners), Ricky Hanna (Mourne Runners), Martsje Hell (North Belfast Harriers), Beverley Herron (Mourne Runners), Justin Maxwell (East Coast AC), Eoin Lennon (Carnethy HRC), Denise Mathers (Mourne Runners), Sarah Steer (Orangegrove AC), Stewart Cunningham (Mourne Runners), Andrew Tees (Orangegrove AC) and Elizabeth Wheeler (Glens Runners) will all take part.
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.