Northern Ireland Running

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Foyle Valley AC celebrate double victory in Athletics NI XC League 2015/16:

Athletics NI Cross Country League 2015/16:

Foyle Valley AC have emerged victorious in both Men’s and Ladies sections of the Athletics NI Cross Country League 2015/16.  The North West based club scored consistently well across all nine events of the exceptionally popular league which spanned nearly five months from early October 2015 until the end of February 2016.


The race for top honours had been very close in both sections for much of the campaign but in the end, Foyle Valley AC pulled clear of the opposition, winning by 19 points from Acorns AC (2nd place) in the Ladies standings and by 25 points from Newcastle AC (2nd place) in the Men’s.


This season’s league proved to be very popular with record numbers taking part in most of the nine events in the Series.  A total of 18 clubs scored points in the Ladies section and 22 in the Men’s.  Athletics NI will be awarding prizes to the top six teams in each section.


The final standings for the Athletics NI XC League 2015/16 are available HERE.

Champions set to return for SSE Airtricity Walled City Marathon 2016:

Champions return for Airtricity Walled City Marathon 2016:

There are just over 13 weeks to go until the latest installment of the SSE Airtricity Walled City Marathon on Sunday 5th June 2016 in Derry/Londonderry, both 2015 winners Pauline Curley and Freddy Sittuk have confirmed their intentions to defend their crowns!

 

Tullamore Harrier and former Irish Olympian over the classic 26.2 mile distance, Pauline ran a new female WCM course record 2:47:29 last year and also has two Waterside Half Marathon wins from previous trips to the North West in 2007 and 2009.  Her 2007 time of 1:17:18 was the quickest.

 

Part time Irish resident Freddy Sittuk will be chasing three WCM wins on the spin in June, the affable Kenyan posting winning times of 2:25:44 in 2014 and a new male course record of 2:22:34 last year. 

 

This is great news for the WCM organisers who have built the iconic WCM into a top class event since it was inaugurated back in 2013 during the City's City of Culture celebrations.  The online closing date is looming, it is Sunday 13th March 2016 so interested participants should move quickly and get on board asap.

 

Full information is on www.thewalledcitymarathon.com  

Athletes look forward to increasingly popular Hill & Dale Series 2016:

Hill and Dale Series 2016:

Next month (April 2016) will see the return of the annual Hill & Dales Series, hosted by County Down based club and newly crowned NI & Ulster Senior XC Champions, Newcastle AC.


Seen by many as a gradual introduction to Mountain Running, the popular Series takes competitors to the gentle slopes of Castlewellan and Tollymore prior to the challenge of the tougher climbs and open mountain.  Last year, record numbers took part in the Series, many for the first time – so much so, that registrations for the Series are ONLY available online HERE.  


Please Note:  There will be NO on the night entries.  All races (except the Slieve Donard race) will start at 7.30pm SHARP.   All fee's will be payable on the night of each race.


The 2016 Hill & Dale Series calendar looks like this:


Race 1 on Thursday 14th April 2016Castlewellan (5 miles – 900ft ascent)

Race 2 on Thursday 21st April 2016Tollymore (5 miles – 1,050ft ascent)

Race 3 on Thursday 28th April 2016 Slieve Martin (4.25 miles – 1740ft ascent)

Race 4 on Thursday 5th May 2016Slieve Binian ‘to the top’ (2 miles – 2,000ft ascent)

Race 5 on Thursday 12th May 2016Rocky (4.25 miles – 1,600ft ascent)

Race 6 on Thursday 19th May 2016Loughshannagh (5 miles – 1,700ft ascent)

Race 7 on Saturday 28th May 2016Slieve Donard (5.5 miles – 2,796ft ascent)

Race 8 on Thursday 2nd June 2016 Millstone (4 miles – 1,500ft ascent)

Race 9 on Thursday 9th June 2016Hen & Cock (3.5 miles – 1,600ft ascent)

Race 10 on Thursday 16th June 2016 Meels (3.5 miles – 1,800ft ascent)

Race 11 on Thursday 24th June 2016Drinahlly (3 miles – 1,080ft ascent)


Further information, including specific information on each race can be found on the Newcastle AC website HERE.

QUB Sport launch Deep RiverRock Queens 'Race Round the River' 5k:

Queens 5k and 3k 2016:

At the recent launch of the Deep RiverRock Queen’s 5k ‘Race around the River’ which will take place on Wednesday 20 April 2016 at 7.30pm, it was announced that this year’s event will include a new 3k ‘warm up race’ starting at the earlier time of 6.50pm. 


The already popular road race, which is organised by Queen’s Athletics Club and Queen’s Sport has grown considerably over the last number of years and this new race will allow more competitors to try out a shorter route along the fast and unique course beside the River Lagan. The flagship 5k race has again been granted NI and Ulster Championship status from Athletics NI and organisers look forward to another fast and competitive race with Queen’s Sport, Physical Education Centre (PEC) acting as the race HQ for pre and post-race requirements.


Kevin Murray, Sport Development Officer at Queen’s said, “The expansion of the event to include a 3k ‘warm up race’ is testimony to the work of the Athletics Club and Queen’s Sport over the last number of years in making this one of largest events in the University sporting calendar and with continued support from Deep RiverRock and Belfast City Council this year, the event planning team are looking forward to a great evening of running”.  Robby Rankin, Captain of the Athletics Club added, “We encourage those interested in taking part to enrol early to be guaranteed the specially branded Queen’s 5k T-shirt.  We are also encouraging more junior athletes, University and College students to get involved and challenge themselves over the 3k or 5k course routes.’


Councillor Deirdre Hargey, Chair of Belfast City Council’s City Growth and Regeneration Committee, which oversees the ‘Support For Sport’ funding stream, said:  “At the Council, we are committed to making sport as accessible as possible to as many people as possible, and the ‘Race Round The River’ is an event which does just that.  The addition of the new 3K race can only make the event even more attractive for those who are interested in taking up running as an inexpensive way of getting fit and taking the first towards improving their health and wellbeing.”


Oonagh Gildea, Marketing Manager for Deep RiverRock said, “I am delighted to announce our continued sponsorship of the Queen’s 5k Race for 2016. Deep RiverRock is passionate about encouraging athletes to stay hydrated and on top of their game, and will be keen to support all participants on the day with refreshment and more.  “With its roots in the glacial hills of County Antrim, locally sourced water brand Deep RiverRock is a perfect fit for this community event, and as a company we are also committed to investing in initiatives that foster active and healthy lifestyles. I hope that our support for this event can incentivise even more people to get out and active, and I urge anyone thinking about taking on the challenge, to sign-up today,” she concluded.


For more information on the races, entry fees and the course visit www.queenssport5k.com.  For further information please contact: Kevin Murray [email protected] 07804249181 or visit the Queen’s Sport Website: www.queenssport.com

Local runners enjoy success in Scotland, England and Ireland:

Local runners impress outside Northern Ireland:

Over the course of the weekend (Saturday 27th and Sunday 28th February 2016), a number of local athletes have enjoyed success outside the province, most notably at events in Ireland, England and Scotland.


Scottish XC Championships (Scotland):

On Saturday 27th February 2016, Northern Ireland’s Conan McCaughey (Derry City Track Club) was in action for his nominated Scottish club Central AC at the Scottish XC Championships in Falkirk.  


Up against the highest calibre of opposition, the former NI & Ulster Novice XC Champion produced an outstanding performance to secure 14th place after covering the tough 12k course in 42:18.  This was enough to see the humble student assist his Central AC club mates, including race winner Andrew Butchart (1st place – 40:02), claim the prestigious team trophy; an excellent achievement.


Ballina Marathon (Ireland):

Also on Saturday 27th February 2016, another familiar face produced a winning performance at the Ballina Marathon in Ireland, an event which was part of a 3 marathons in 2 days challenge.  On Day 1 of the event, County Antrim Harriers’ Christine Murray led the ladies home in 4:25:25 (1st place).

Inter-Area Masters Indoor Track & Field Meeting (England):

On Sunday 28th February 2016, a number of Northern Ireland Masters Athletics Association (NIMAA) members were in action at the Inter-Area Masters Indoor Track & Field Meeting at the Lee Valley Stadium in England.


Derry City Track Club’s Tim Shiels was the fastest Vet40 athlete in his 400m event, clocking 54.72secs (1st place Vet40).  Barry Morris (City of Lisburn AC) recorded personal bests over 400m and 800m – in the 400m, he crossed the line in 70.34secs (1st place Vet65) and in the 800m, the well-respected master’s athlete covered the distance in 2:37.02 (2nd place Vet65); Richard Marks was the leading Vet65 800m runner in 2:34.61 (1st place Vet65).  


Anne Maguire (NIMAA) took 2nd place in her Vet65 60m event, after running a new personal best of 10.84secs; Sally Hine (Midland Masters) was the leading Vet65 athlete in 10.04secs (1st place).  Anne then went on to record 41.04secs over 200m, again taking 2nd place to fellow Vet65 lady Sally Hine (1st place – 34.94secs).


Vet55 athlete Robert Bigger (Derry City Track Club) added to the local prize haul when he covered 800m in 2:18.35 (1st place Vet55) and the 1500m in 4:46.27 (1st place Vet55).  Fellow Derry City Track Club athlete Cathal McLaughlin was in good form over 1500m, leading the Vet45 athletes home in 4:20.80 (1st place Vet45).  Joy McAleer (Orangegrove AC) claimed 3rd place in the Vet50 category over 800m, crossing the line in 2:50.75; the leading Vet50 competitor was West Suffolk AC’s Christine Anthony (1st place Vet50 – 2:39.45).


Darryl Coulter (NIMAA) ran a seasons best of 11:21.61 to finish in 3rd place in his Vet40 category over 3,000m – Adrian Lewis (Aberdare Valley AC) was the fastest Vet40 athlete in the race, running 10:23.76 (1st place Vet40).  The always impressive Emma Smith (Orangegrove AC) clocked a personal best in the 60m hurdles, recording 10.54secs to finish in 2nd place in the Vet35 category; Diana Norman (Southern Counties Vets) was the leading Vet35 athlete in 9.55secs (1st place Vet35).  In the 4x200m relay, the Northern Ireland Masters relay team claimed 3rd place in the Vet35 category, covering the distance in 1:44.35; EVAC won in 1:37.95 (1st place).


Full Results:  Scottish XC Championships 2016 ResultsBallina Marathon 2016 ResultsInter-Area Masters Indoor T&F Meeting 2016 Results

David Simpson and Diane Watson secure victory at Den Dearg 10k:

Ben Dearg Coast 10k 2016:

On Sunday 28th February 2016, hundreds of athletes and spectators descended on the County Down village of Kilclief for the annual Ben Dearg Coast 10k road race, an event co-hosted by local club East Down AC.


This year, athletes were treated to better running conditions than the wind and rain they faced twelve months ago, and that showed in the fact that Newcastle AC’s David Simpson slashed over five minutes of the winning time for 2015 when he clocked 32:59 (1st place) to secure a comprehensive victory.  James Brown (Unattached) crossed the line in 35:25 for 2nd place, while East Down AC’s own Ciaran Denvir completed the top three finishers in 36:23 (3rd place).


City of Lisburn AC’s ever consistent Diane Watson put in a strong performance and was rewarded with top spot in the ladies race.  The half marathon specialist dipped under the infamous sub 40 minute barrier to win in 39:54 (1st place).  Larne AC’s Kirsty Sharratt replicated her finishing position from 2015 when she claimed 2nd place in 43:10, just over a minute ahead of Cheryl Denvir; Cheryl ensured that the host club was represented on the ladies podium after recording 44:23 (3rd place).


In the associated 5k race, a mixture of youth and experience took the start line.  It was the latter who prevailed though, with young Letterkenny AC star Eoin Hughes leading the field home in 20:21 (1st place).  Claire Miskelly (Unattached) topped the ladies final standings when she covered the distance in 29:37 (1st place).


Top 3 Men:  1st David Simpson (Newcastle AC) – 32:59, 2nd James Brown (Unattached) – 35:25, 3rd Ciaran Denvir (East Down AC) – 36:26


Top 3 Ladies:  1st Diane Watson (City of Lisburn AC) – 39:54, 2nd Kirsty Sharratt (Larne AC) – 43:10, 3rd Cheryl Denvir (East Down AC) – 44:23


Full Results:  Ben Dearg Coast 10k 2016 Results

Gavin Corey and Siobhan Brown win Desertmartin 10k:

Desertmartin 10k 2016:

On Sunday 28th February 2016, nearly two hundred competitors took on the annual Desertmartin 10k (and associated 5k) in the heart of the Sperrin Mountains, close to Magherafelt in County Derry/Londonderry.


Gavin Corey (Sperrin Harriers) and Shane Donnelly (Acorns AC) looked a class above the rest as they battled it out for the top prize.  In the end, it was the Sperrin Harriers man who edged it, claimed the win in 35:42 (1st place).  Mountain runner Shane followed in 35:47 (2nd place), while his Acorns AC club mate Sam Linton secured the final podium place after crossing the line in 37:03 (3rd place).


In the ladies race, it was Acorns AC athlete Siobhan Brown who stole the headlines, easing her way to victory in 45:52 (1st place).  The battle for the runners up prize was an exciting one, with Kristian McCoy (Unattached) and Brenda Kelly (Enniskillen Running Club) enjoying an excellent dual. Eventually, Kristian took charge and sealed 2nd place in 51:28, just four seconds ahead of Brenda who recorded 51:32 for 3rd place.


In the associated 5k race, Paul McCrystal (Unattached) led the field home in 22:02, while Therese Connery (Magherafelt Harriers) saw off Challenge Fitness athlete Mairead Quinn (2nd place – 25:46) to win in 25:36 (1st place).


Top 3 Men:  1st Gavin Corey (Sperrin Harriers) – 35:42, 2nd Shane Donnelly (Acorns AC) – 35:47, 3rd Sam Linton (Acorns AC) – 37:03


Top 3 Ladies:  1st Siobhan Brown (Acorns AC) – 45:52, 2nd Kristian McCoy (Unattached) – 51:28, 3rd Brenda Kelly (Enniskillen Running Club) – 51:32


Full Results:  Desertmartin 5k Race and 10k Race 2016 Results

Hughes, Quinn, Purvis and Guiney win at inaugural Mid Ulster 5k & 10k:

Mid Ulster 5k & 10k 2016:

On Sunday 28th February 2016, over one hundred and fifty athletes turned out for the inaugural running of the Mid Ulster 5k and 10k races, which started and finished at the Meadowbank Sports Arena in Magherafelt, County Derry/Londonderry.


In the 5k event, young Acorns AC athlete Cathaoir Purvis (pictured left) showed no signs of fatigue from his outing at yesterday’s Stormont XC as he sealed a comprehensive victory in 17:59 (1st place).  Albertville Harriers’ Sarah-Jane Guiney led the ladies home in 20:18 (1st place).


The 10k race brought further success for local club Acorns AC, with Eoin Hughes breaking the tape in 34:57 (1st place).  His club mate, Diarmuid O’Kane (Acorns AC) claimed 2nd place in 35:45; Matthew Mooney (Club Unknown) completed the top three in 38:44 (3rd place).


Helena Quinn (Termoneeny Running Club) looked strong as she secured top spot in the ladies 10k race, breaking the tape in 39:06 (1st place). Kathleen Diver (Unattached) clocked 41:51 for 2nd place, while Laura McErlain (Unttached) ran 43:56 for 3rd place.


Top 3 Men:  1st Eoin Hughes (Acorns AC) – 34:57, 2nd Diarmuid O’Kane (Acorns AC) – 35:45, 3rd Matthew Mooney (Club Unknown) – 38:44


Top 3 Ladies:  1st Helena Quinn (Termoneeny Running Club) – 39:06, 2nd Kathleen Diver (Unattached) – 41:51, 3rd Laura McErlain (Unattached) 43:56


Full Results:  Mid Ulster 5k & 10k 2016 Results  

Local athletes secure Gold at AAI National Indoor Championships in Athlone:

GloHealth AAI National Senior Indoor Championships 2016:

Over the course of this weekend (Saturday 27th and Sunday 28th February 2016), a large number of athletes from Northern Ireland have been in action at the GloHealth AAI National Indoor Track & Field Championships, held at AIT Arena in Athlone, Ireland.


Amongst the plethora of impressive outings has been seven Championship medal winning performances, of which, three were gold medals!  Arguably the most impressive overall performances of the weekend came from Rio bound athlete Kerry O’Flaherty (Newcastle AC), who picked up two medals.  In a competitive 3,000m event on Day 1, Kerry looked strong in the latter stages as she powered to victory in a new indoor personal best of 9:11.17 (1st place).  


Then on Day 2, the Newcastle AC athlete impressed again with silver medal winning performance over 1500m – Kerry recorded 4:24.39 for 2nd place, behind race winner Claire Tarplee (St Coca’s AC) who clocked 4:23.21 (1st place).  There was also a welcome return to form for Newry AC’s Irish junior international Aislinn Crossey in the same race; Aislinn claimed an eight second indoor best of 4:30.07 (5th place).


The seemingly unstoppable Ciara Mageean (UCD AC) was in dominant form over 800m.  After running the fastest qualifying time in the heats, Ciara went on to secure the National title when she broke the beam in 2:03.76 (1st place).  After the race, Ciara told Athletics Ireland “I’ll take a bit of down time and then build up the mileage. It’s been a good indoor season and hopefully a good indicator for the outdoor season ahead.”  City of Lisburn AC’s Erin McIlveen ran the race of her life to take 3rd place and the associated bronze medal in 2:05.83.  Meanwhile, Kelly Neely bettered her Irish Vet35 800m record when crossing the line in 2:06.13 for 4th place.


There was no stopping Irish record hurdler Ben Reynolds (North Down AC) in the 60m hurdles.  On his return to action, Ben powered to victory in 7.73secs (1st place), narrowly missing the World Indoor Championships qualifying standard.  There were also medals for Andrew Mellon (North Down AC) and Christine McMahon (Ballymena & Antrim AC) in the 400m event.  Andrew (2nd place – 47.59secs) finished well to claim silver in the men’s race won by Crusaders AC’s Richard Morrisey (1st place - 47.51secs), while Christine clocked 54.77secs to take 3rd place in the ladies race won by Sinead Denny (DSD AC) in 53.57secs (1st place).  There was also a gold medal for Northern Ireland’s Adam McMullen (Crusaders AC) in the long-jump.


Full results for the GloHealth AAI National Indoor Track & Field Championships can be found HERE.  Well done to all of the local athletes who took part in the prestigious event.

Kerr, Logan, Campbell and Lindsay win at Resolution Run 2016:

Resolution Run 5k & 10k 2016:

On Sunday 28th February 2016, hundreds of runners descended on the sun soaked Queen’s Sport Complex on the Upper Malone Road in Belfast for the fourth annual running of the increasingly popular and well-organised Resolution Run 5k & 10k races, hosted by Stroke Association NI.


In perfect running conditions, competitors set off on the one (5k) and two (10k) lap course, which would take them around the QUB Complex towards Barnetts Demesne and Shaws Bridge, along the Lagan Towpath and uphill into the Mary Peters Track, before making their way back to the QUB Complex; the 5k participants would finish and the 10k runners would complete their second and final lap.


Unattached athlete Gavin Campbell started quickly and held the pace well as he led the field, but more importantly the 5k competitors, the whole way, before sealing a well-deserved victory in 18:18 (1st place); interestingly, this saw Gavin defend his 2015 title in exactly the same finishing time as twelve months ago.  Ian Keys (Unattached) followed in 18:29 (2nd place), while the always impressive Sarah Lindsay (Foyle Valley AC) secured the ladies top prize in 20:54 (1st place), showing no signs of fatigue after a good run at yesterday’s Stormont XC.  Paul Murphy (Unattached) competed the men’s podium in 21:26 (3rd place), before Unattached athletes Laura Rogan (28:57) and Mairead O’Cuinn (29:22) took 2nd place and 3rd place in the ladies 5k respectively.

In the 10k race, Connor Kerr (Unattached) produced an excellent display of front running as he led through 5k and went on to claim top spot in 39:47 (1st place).  Finbar Keary (Unattached), who had pursued Connor throughout, took the runners up prize in 40:12 (2nd place), just ahead of William Gordon (Unattached), who crossed the line in 40:15 for 3rd place.


Pre-race favourite Gillian Logan (Larne AC) lived up to her billing as she cruised to victory and retained her title from 2015.  Gillian was the first lady through 5k and went on to increase her lead before breaking the tape in 47:20 (1st place).  Emma McAdam (Unattached) saw off a late challenge from Kathryn Maguire to take 2nd place in 49:30, with Kathryn clocking 49:34 for 3rd place.


Podium Places – 5k Race:

Top 3 Men:  1st Gavin Campbell (Unattached) – 18:18, 2nd Ian Keys (Unattached) – 18:29, 3rd Paul Murphy (Unattached) – 21:26


Top 3 Ladies:  1st Sarah Lindsay (Foyle Valley AC) – 20:54, 2nd Laura Rogan (Unattached) – 28:57, 3rd Mairead O’Cuinn (Unattached) – 29:22


Podium Places – 10k Race:

Top 3 Men:  1st Connor Kerr (Unattached) – 39:47, 2nd Finbar Keary (Unattached) – 40:12, 3rd William Gordon (Unattached) – 40:15


Top 3 Ladies:  1st Gillian Logan (Larne AC) – 47:20, 2nd Emma McAdam (Unattached) – 49:30, 3rd Kathryn Maguire (Unattached) – 49:34


Full Results:  Resolution Run 5k & 10k 2016 Results - Photos from the Stroke Association NI Resolution Run 5k & 10k are now available within our Photo Gallery.

Ben Morrow and Paula Arthur-McCarthy win ABO Wind NI Raceview 10k:

ABO Wind NI Raceview 10k 2016:

On Saturday 27th February 2016, the 19th century restored building of Raceview Mill in Broughshane played host to a brand new 10k road race, sponsored by ABO Wind NI and in association with local events management company, 26extreme.


The scenic route comprised of 95% tarmac and 5% pathways, taking in quiet rural roads, and the Buttermilk Bridge Riverside path, which meanders with the Braid River.  At the sharp end of the pack, pre-race favourite Ben Morrow (Ballymena Runners) proved his worth; the Glenarm man led the field home in 35:22 (1st place).  The ever improving Aaron Woodman (PACE Running Club) followed in 35:47 (2nd place), while versatile athlete David Turtle (East Antrim Harriers) completed the top three in 36:06 (3rd place).


It was a similar story in the ladies race, with favourite Paula Arthur-McCarthy stepping up to the mark, just like her club mate Ben.  Paula, who kicked off this year with a superb performance at Race Over The Glens, clocked 41:34 to secure 1st place.  Behind, Springwell Running Club’s Karen McLaughlin (42:42) and PACE Running Club’s Nicola Swinson (44:53) claimed 2nd place and 3rd place respectively.


Top 3 Men:  1st Ben Morrow (Ballymena Runners) – 35:22, 2nd Aaron Woodman (PACE Running Club) – 35:47, 3rd David Turtle (East Antrim Harriers) – 36:06


Top 3 Ladies:  1st Paula Arthur-McCarthy (Ballymena Runners) – 41:34, 2nd Karen McLaughlin (Springwell Running Club) – 42:42, 3rd Nicola Swinson (PACE Running Club) – 44:53


Full Results:  ABO Wind NI Raceview 10k 2016 Results

Mourne Runners duo William McKee and Laura Graham win in Castlewellan:

Born 2 Run Castlewellan 10k 2016:

On Saturday 27th February 2016, nearly seven hundred athletes turned out for the final race of Born 2 Run’s Run Forest Run Winter Series, the Castlewellan 10k.


The course took athletes through the spectacular high trails of the scenic Castlewellan Country Park, before finishing beside the lake.  As expected, it was pre-race favourites William McKee and Laura Graham, both from Mourne Runners, who dominated proceedings.


On this occasion, William faced tough competition from fellow mountain runner Jonny Steede (Glens Runners) at the front.  However, despite an excellent run from the returning Jonny, it was William who ran out as clear winner, breaking the tape in 33:29 (1st place).  Jonny clocked 34:31 for 2nd place, before fast improving St Peter’s AC man Gerard Heaney finished in 35:22 (3rd place).


In the ladies race, Laura secured a gun to tape win, crossing the line in 37:47; this not only secured 1st place in the ladies race, but also saw the talented athlete take 8th place overall.  Louise Smith (North Belfast Harriers) recorded 39:30 for 2nd place, while Seapark AC’s Elisoa Crawford claimed 3rd place in 42:54.


Top 3 Men:  1st William McKee (Mourne Runners) – 33:29, 2nd Jonny Steede (Glens Runners) – 34:31, 3rd Gerard Heaney (St Peter’s AC) – 35:22


Top 3 Ladies:  1st Laura Graham (Mourne Runners) – 37:47, 2nd Louise Smith (North Belfast Harriers) – 39:30, 3rd Elisoa Crawford (Seapark AC) – 42:54


Full Results:  Born 2 Run Castlewellan 10k 2016 Results 

Dennis Scott and Karen Alexander win ANI XC League finale at Stormont:

NICS AC Stormont XC 2016:

On Saturday 27th February 2016, hundreds of athletes descended on the home of Northern Ireland’s government, Stormont Estate, for the final event of this year’s Athletics NI XC League, the Stormont XC.


Athletes were greeted by perfect conditions and the junior race programme set things up for the adult races to follow.  The first of which was the Ladies and Veteran Vet60+ Men’s 3.2 mile race.  


North Down AC’s Jodi Smith led the ladies in the early stages, with Karen Alexander (Acorns AC), Martina McMullan (Foyle Valley AC) and a group containing Denise Logue (Ballydrain Harriers), Debbie Matchett (Ballydrain Harriers), Laura Gardiner (East Down AC), Shileen O’Kane (Lagan Valley AC) and Sharon Leetch (Ballymena Runners) in pursuit.  


As the race progressed, Karen Alexander closed the gap at the front and eventually overtook Jodi – despite Jodi’s efforts, it was Karen who descended into the finishing straight first, covering the final meters quickly to claim victory in 19:35 (1st place).  Jodi took 2nd place in 20:02, while Martina McMullan completed the top three in 20:18 (3rd place).  North Belfast Harriers’ Paul Elliot was the first of the men to cross the line, securing 1st place in 19:35 after an excellent display of front running.

The final race of the day saw the men take to the start line for their 4.8 mile race, which covered 3 laps of the now cut up course.  Newcastle AC’s David O’Flaherty was the comfortable early leader, with Chris McGuinness (Foyle Valley AC), Darrell McKee (Foyle Valley AC), David Simpson (Newcastle AC) and Dennis Scott (North Down AC) all in contention.  However, after a nasty collision with another athlete as he turned a corner David (O’Flaherty) was forced to withdraw.


Chris McGuinness then led the way before Dennis Scott moved through the field well and took charge towards the final stages.  The North Down AC athlete emerged from the wooded section of the course first, powering downhill and into the finishing area; he crossed the line in 25:29 for 1st place.  David Simpson secured the runners up spot in 25:45 (2nd place), closely followed by Chris McGuinness, who recorded 25:48 for 3rd place.


Top 3 Ladies (3.2 miles):  1st Karen Alexander (Acorns AC) – 19:35, 2nd Jodi Smith (North Down AC) – 20:02, 3rd Martina McMullan (Foyle Valley AC) – 20:18


Top 3 Men (4.8 miles):  1st Dennis Scott (North Down AC) – 25:29, 2nd David Simpson (Newcastle AC) – 25:45, 3rd Chris McGuinness (Foyle Valley AC) – 25:48


Full Results:  Stormont XC 2016 Results - Photos from the Sotrmont XC are available within our Photo Gallery.

Weekend Preview:  A busy weekend ahead for local athletes...

Weekend Preview: A busy weekend ahead for local athletes!

Over the last number of weeks the increase in fixtures/events has been obvious, but this week we take a big step forward towards the spring and summer season with further options for athletes wanting to put their winter training to the test.  There are no less than nine local events over the course of Saturday and Sunday, while the GloHealth AAI Nation Indoor Track & Field Championships will span across both days.


It’s impossible to offer each event the same exposure but we’ll try our best and provide some information in relation to who we feel will be the front runners in what should be a busy and exciting weekend of action.


Stormont XC:

On Saturday 27th February 2016, hundreds of athletes are expected to descend on the home of Northern Ireland’s government, Stormont Estate, Belfast, for the annual Stormont XC, hosted by Northern Ireland Civil Service AC.  The event, which offers an exciting race programme for all ages, kicks off at 11am and is the final race of the popular Athletics NI XC League 2015/16.  A map of the Senior/Veteran courses are available HERE.


In terms of the XC League, North West based club Foyle Valley AC lead both the men’s and ladies team standings, and are expected to be well represented here.  In the absence of Scott Rankin, Chris McGuinness, Stephen Connor and Pius McIntyre are likely take charge as they attempt to secure top spot for the team; all three will feature well in the individual chase for honours.  Neill Weir (Willowfield Harriers) should also play a prominent part at the front following an excellent winter of racing over all terrain – just last week, Neill ran well to take fifteenth place at the NI & Ulster Senior XC Championships in Lurgan.  North Down AC men Dennis Scott and Francis Marsh will also go well, while David McNeilly (Newcastle AC), Amando Bamisile (Willowfield Harriers) and Michael Kerr (Carmen Runners) will have high hopes of finishing in the top ten.


In the ladies race, North Down AC’s fast improving Jodi Smith will be the one to watch.  Following an impressive cross country season, Jodi finished just outside the podium places when taking fifth place at last weekend’s NI & Ulster Senior XC Championships.  Jodi was in the mix for a medal right up until the final stage last week and the Northern Ireland international will definitely feature amongst the front runners here.  However, she will face tough competition in the form of Lauren Quee (Lagan Valley AC), Sharon Leetch (Ballymena Runners), Denise Logue (Ballydrain Harriers), Debbie Matchett (Ballydrain Harriers) and Martina McMullan, who will lead a strong Foyle Valley AC contingent, which should include Trish McClintock, Gemma McGinty, Sarah Lindsay, Denise Ward and Annalisa Mullan.  Young East Down AC athlete Laura Gardiner will also perform well, as will the likes of Sinead Kerr (Carmen Runners), Shileen O’Kane (Lagan Valley AC) and Heather Kelly (Ballydrain Harriers).

Run Forest Run – Castlewellan 10k:

Also on Saturday 27th February 2016, Born 2 Run will host the final race of their Run Forest Run Series, the Castlewellan 10k trail race.  The Series has attracted thousands of competitors and this race alone will bring over seven hundred athletes to the picturesque Castlewellan Country Park in County Down.


It’s hard not to mention the outstanding performances of Mourne Runners duo William McKee and Laura Graham when discussing the popular Series, but their class has been evident throughout.  At the last race (Antrim Castle 10k), William was pipped by Mark McKinstry, but other than that, he has dominated the Series.  On this occasion, William will face former NIMRA Champion Jonny Steede (Glen Runners) in what should be a very close battle as both men prepare for the upcoming mountain running season, which starts in Slieve Gullion next weekend. Alongside William and Jonny, St Peter’s AC man Gerard Heaney looks like a possible podium finisher, while Michael McKeown (East Down AC), Mark Gaskin (Newry City Runners) and Gary Connolly (Seapark AC) should all finish well up the field.


London Marathon bound Laura Graham will start as pre-race favourite in the ladies race, especially considering the quality she has shown to secure victory in every race of the Series so far.  However, North Belfast Harriers athlete Louise Smith, who has been the only lady to really challenge Laura, may again provide good competition.  Behind, Gillian Cordner (Seapark AC), Donna Owens (Dub Runners), Attracta Magennis (Newry City Runners) and Natalie Bowbanks (Unattached) will all battle it out for the remaining podium place, barring any late entries.

ABO Wind Raceview 10k:

In Broughshane, County Antrim on 27th February 2016, the 19th century restored building of Raceview Mill will play host to a brand new 10k road race, sponsored by ABO Wind NI and in association with local events management company, 26extreme.


The scenic route comprises of 95% tarmac and 5% pathways, taking in quiet rural roads, and the Buttermilk Bridge Riverside path, which meanders with the Braid River.  The course is predominately flat, and according to organisers, provides “a great platform for a PB 10k for the keen road runner, and a great starting point for those yet to attempt an official running event.”  On the day of the event, Raceview Mill will be hosting their market; there will be plenty on offer for the family. 


Given the location of the event, it may suit Northern Ireland international Mark McKinstry (North Belfast Harriers), who secured his second NI & Ulster Senior XC medal in as many years in Lurgan last weekend.  Although allegedly disappointed not to better his silver from 2015, Mark will have been happy to again take his place on the podium.  It is the confidence from this that will make him hard to beat here!  PACE Running Club duo Oliver Cook and Aaron Woodman have both been progressing well over the last year or so and will play a part at the front here.  The same can be said for ever-consistent triathlete Wayne Morrow (Larne AC) – Wayne may well be joined on the start line by his older brother Ben Morrow (Ballymena Runners), who will contest a podium place if he does make use of the late entry system.  Larne based athletes Billy Thompson (Larne AC), Naoise McLoughlin (Unattached) and James Robinson (East Coast AC) will all chase personal bests. 


In terms of potential winners in the ladies race, Race Over The Glens podium finisher Paula Arthur-McCarthy (Ballymena Runners) will be there or there abouts.  Paula produced an excellent performance on New Year’s Day, taking third place, and will be hopeful of hitting the same standard here. Natasha Henderson (County Antrim Harriers), Patricia Blair (Larne AC), Caroline Urwin (Springwell Running Club). Gillian Cordner (Seapark AC) and Catherine Pinkerton-Moore (Springwell Running Club) will all have their eyes on a prize-winning place.


Valleys 5k Series - Ness Woods Country Park 5k:

On the same day (Saturday 27th February 2016), athletes from the North West of the province will turn out for Race 1 of the annual Valley 5k Series, which will take place at Ness Wood Country Park in County Derry/Londonderry.


We would expect Springwell Running Club, Pulse Running Club and Derry City Track Club to be well represented as per 2015.  Amongst those who will contest top spot could be Chris Millar (Springwell Running Club), Adam Campbell (Springwell Running Club), Darragh Crossan (Derry City Track Club) and Martin O’Doherty (Springwell Running Club).  Meanwhile, in the ladies race, Ciara McSherry (Springwell Running Club), Amy McDaid (Derry City Track Club) and Kerrie McIlmoyle (Springwell Running Club) could all feature.

GloHealth AAI National Indoor Track & Field Championships (Ireland):

On Saturday 27th and Sunday 28th February 2016, hundreds of Ireland’s top track and field athletes will travel to Athlone (Ireland) for the prestigious GloHealth AAI National Indoor Track & Field Championships, which will be held at the AIT Arena.


Amongst the competitors will be a large contingent from Northern Ireland - Multi Irish middle-distance record holder Ciara Mageean (UCD AC) will be once of NI’s top medal hopes as she takes to the boards for both the 800m and 1500m events.


The 23 year old Portaferry lady is as yet undecided as to which event she will compete in coming directly after her recent eye catching performances, which produced Irish records at 1500 metres in Germany and the Mile in America.  It is highly unlikely further records will be in the offing at Athlone given Ciara's inevitable travel weariness plus the lack of a pacemaker at a Championship event.


In the 800m, Ciara will face fellow City of Lisburn AC athlete Kelly Neely and QUB AC’s Katie Kirk.  Ciara has a minimum two seconds advantage here in best times this year. There is a bigger time gap in the 1500m, where her main opposition could be Newbridge AC’s Rose-Anne Galligan who is now qualified to compete in next month's IAAF World Indoor Championships in Portland (USA).  Defending 1500m Champion Kerry O'Flaherty (Newcastle AC) is also entered but she will only take a decision about competing after her 3,000m race.  There, Kerry faces tough opposition from recent Armagh road race winner, Irish international Sara Treacy and Letterkenny AC’s Ann-Marie McGlynn.  


Northern Ireland based athletes were firm favourites to win both 60m sprints titles but City of Lisburn AC’s Amy Foster has decided to end her indoor season to concentrate on possible qualification for this summer's Olympics in Rio.  This leaves Ballymena & Antrim AC’s in-form Jonathan Browning, who will be disappointed if he doesn't secure his first Senior Indoor title.  His recent winning time of 6.80secs to take the IUAA title was just enough to edge out arch rival Craig Lynch of Shercock AC.  North Down AC’s 60m hurdler Ben Reynolds should also make light work of the opposition in his first outing of the year following injury.


In the 400m, North Down AC’s Andrew Mellon will fancy his chances over Zak Irwin after his recent bronze medal in the BUCS Indoor Championships in a personal best of 47.82secs.  In the ladies event Ballymena & Antrim AC title holder Christine McMahon will be pressed hard despite her recent good time of 54.82secs - Christine is likely to face the highly talented Jenna Bromell who recently set an Irish Junior record of 54.19secs over the distance.


Other local athletes to look out for include James Hamilton (Ballymena Runners), Craig Newell (Ballymena & Antrim AC), Christian Robinson (City of Lisburn AC), Scot Rankin (Foyle Valley AC), Conor Duffy (Glaslough Harriers), Gareth Thompson (Ballymena & Antrim AC), Jonathan Carleton (Ballymena & Antrim AC), Tom Reynolds (North Down AC), Mark Patterson (North Down AC), Callum Crawford-Walker (Lagan Valley AC), Rachel Gibson (North Down AC), Aislinn Crossey (Newry AC), Jessica Craig (North Down AC), Kirsty McBarnett (Ballymena & Antrim AC), Maeve Lavery (City of Lisburn AC), Megan Marrs (City of Lisburn AC), Naomi Morgan (City of Derry AC) and Erin McIlveen (City of Lisburn AC).  


Note:  Some information for the GloHealth AAI National Indoor Track & Field Championships preview was taken from the Athletics NI website.

Resolution Run 5k & 10k:

On Sunday 28th February 2016, a record number of athletes will take on the 2nd annual running of the popular and well-organised Resolution Run 5k and 10k races at the Queen’s University Sport’s Complex on the Upper Malone Road, Belfast.


The event, hosted by the Stroke Association NI, is organised to raise funds for the worthwhile Charity, but has already built a strong reputation for mixing the competitive nature of running with the atmospheric and meaningful aspect of a charity race.


At the competitive end of the field, it appears that reigning Champion Kent Swann (North Belfast Harriers) will not return to defend his title.  


Therefore it will be an open affair – Gerard Walls (Club Unknown), Chris Davis (East Coast AC), Emmett Woods (Larne AC) could all feature at the front, while 2015 ladies winner, Gillian Logan (Larne AC) should retain her title.  Twelve months ago, Gillian produced an excellent performance to lead the field home; since then the Belfast based athlete has improved further, so she’ll be the one to watch here.


In the 5k event, men’s winner in 2015, Gavin Campbell (Unattached) will return and should once again lead the way.  In the ladies 5k, Karen Hewitt (Unattached) will be considered as pre-race favourite given her podium finish at the event last year.


Ben Dearg – Kilclief 10k:

Also on Sunday 28th February 2016, local club East Down AC will welcome athletes from across Northern Ireland to the County Down village of Kilclief as they cost host the annual Ben Dearg 10k road race.


In the past, athletes of the calibre of Brendan Teer (East Down AC) and David O’Flaherty (Newcastle AC) have enjoyed success at the event, and both men could well toe the line this weekend.  Add 2015 Champion James Savage (East Down AC), podium finisher Martin Melville (Newcastle AC) and the likes of Brian Young (Lagan Valley AC) to the mix and you have the recipe for an excellent race.  


In the ladies event, Northern Ireland international and reigning Champion Catherine O’Connor (East Down AC) will prove hard to beat should she decide to take part.  Catherine kicked off 2016 with a podium place at the Rollercoaster Road Races earlier this month and should be amongst the prize-winners once again.  Lisa Milligan (East Down AC), Kirsty Sharratt (Larne AC), Sam McNeilly (Newcastle AC) and Mary Mackin (Dromore AC) will also be worth watching if they make us of the on the day entry.

Mid Ulster 5k & 10k:

This weekend, Sunday 28th February 2016, will see the first ever running of the Mid Ulster 10k road race (and associated 5k) in Magherafelt, County Derry/Londonderry.  The event will start and finish at the Meadowbank Sports Arena and will profits will go to a local amateur sports club.


The race will attract a good mixture of seasoned athletes and fitness enthusiasts alike, with recognised names Michael Crawley (Unattached), Eoin Hughes (Acorns AC), Martin McVey (Acorns AC), Blaidhan Glass (Acorns AC) and Cathaoir Purvis (Acorns AC) all likely to be podium contenders in the men’s event.  In the ladies race, Sarah-Jayne Guiney (Albertville Harriers) will prove hard to beat, with club mate Tracey Atkinson (Albertville Harriers) also a potential prize-winner.


North West Triathlon Club (NWTC) 5k:

On the same day (Sunday 28th February 2016), North West Triathlon Club (NWTC) will host the final race of their popular NWTC Winter 5k Series in Derry/Londonderry.  As with the previous three events, the race will take place over a flat and fast course along the banks of the River Foyle in the Maiden City.  


Based on the previous Series events, a high turnout is expected, with Paul McCafferty (City of Derry AC), Mark Mullan (City of Derry AC), Matt McLaughlin (Foyle Valley AC), Aidan Devine (Springwell Running Club) and Mark Melarkey (NWTC) will should contest the men’s top prize, while Karen Cutliffe (City of Derry AC), Katherine Woods (Springwell Running Club), Hannah McGowan (Derry City Track Club) and Patricia McLaughlin (Inishowen AC) should take charge in the ladies race, if they decide to participate.


St Malachy’s GAC Desertmartin 5k & 10k:

Also in County Derry/Londonderry, St Malachy’s GAC will host the Desertmartin 10k (and associated 5k) in the village of Desertmartin, close to Magherafelt at the foot of Slieve Gallion.  Given the other races occurring in the area over the weekend, it’s hard to predict who will take to the start line here, but we would expect local clubs Sperrin Harriers, Magherafelt Harriers and Acorns AC all to be well represented.  Gavin Corey (Sperrin Harriers), Brian Taggart (Sperrin Harriers), Delfim Pimentel (Unattached), Esther Dickson (Unattached) and Pauline McGurren (Sperrin Harriers) are amongst those who could feature in what should be an excellent event.


Parkrun:

As always, Northern Ireland’s twenty one 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.

4th annual Deep RiverRock Belfast City Half Marathon launched:

Deep RiverRock Belfast City HM 2016 launched:

The organisers of the Belfast City Half Marathon are delighted to OPEN entries for their 2016 Deep RiverRock Belfast City Half Marathon which was launched today (Tuesday 23rd February 2016) and takes place on Sunday 18th September 2016.

 

The event is an extension of the hugely popular May Day Bank Holiday Marathon which enjoys its 35th running this year on Monday 2nd May 2016 - organisers are pleased to confirm that Mencap will be the Official Nominated Charity for both events.

 

David Seaton MBE, Chairman of the Belfast City Marathon organising committee, commented: “We are overwhelmed with the success of the last three years with regards to the half marathon event, so much so that we are delighted to offer this to everyone on annual basis. 


"For the 2016 event, we are welcoming back our title sponsor, Deep RiverRock. With their experience and support as title sponsor of the Full Marathon we look forward to working together to increase participation numbers on Race Day.  For the 2016 event, we have chosen to start and finish in Ormeau Park. The site lends itself to running events like our Full Marathon May Day Event, as well as being located close to the City Centre for convenience for participants and spectators alike.  Our route will again showcase the city of Belfast by passing major landmarks including Belfast City Hall, Albert Clock and the Titanic Quarter to help raise money for our official charity.” David remarked.

 

For more details on the route and to sign up, please our website www.belfastcitymarathon.com.

 

Rob Crabbe, Sponsorship Manager with Deep RiverRock said; "As Northern Ireland’s favourite water brand with its roots in Tullynacross, Co. Antrim, Deep RiverRock is delighted to continue its long standing partnership with Belfast City Marathon for their secondary event; the Half Marathon in September 2016.  With a shared vision to encourage more people to lead active and hydrated lifestyles, Deep RiverRock’s partnership with Belfast City Half Marathon is a perfect fit. Deep RiverRock is proud to be associated with such a world class event that resonates so well with the local community and as a company we are honoured to have played a part in the success of what is now a key event in Northern Ireland’s sporting calendar.”

 

Vanessa Elder, Fundraising Manager highlighted, “We are absolutely delighted to work with Deep RiverRock Belfast City Half Marathon for the next 3 years.  More importantly, Mencap is particularly  proud to come together with all of the event's sponsor to ask that everyone get involved on 18th Sept -to make a huge difference to children, young people and adults with a learning disability, right here in Northern Ireland.  With Deep RiverRock City Half Marathon- we will continue to highlight that no matter your ability, we can all take on a marathon challenge.  To complete a half marathon is a huge achievement, but it will be even more fulfilling knowing that this accomplishment will help more children and young people with a learning disability across Northern Ireland. So I urge you to sign up and #doit4mencap this year and help more children like Daire.”


Online entry for the 2016 Deep RiverRock Belfast City Half Marathon is now OPEN now at www.belfastcitymarathon.com

Amy Foster and Andrew Mellon continue to impress:

Amy Foster impresses in France:

On Sunday 21st February 2016, Northern Ireland’s Amy Foster (City of Lisburn AC) once again narrowly missed her personal best and IAAF World Indoor Championships qualifying mark of 7.32secs when racing in Metz, France at the weekend.  


The multiple Northern Ireland and Ireland record holder clocked 7.37secs to secure 3rd place in her heat, before clocking yet another consistent run of 7.34secs to finish 6th in the final; the race was won by French athlete Marie Josee Ta Lou in 7.09secs (1st place)


Mellon adds BUCS bronze to IUAA Gold:

Over the course of the weekend (Friday 19th to Sunday 21st February 2016), a number of athletes from Northern Ireland were in action at the British Universities and College Sports Indoor Track & Field Championships in Sheffield, England.


Andrew Mellon (North Down AC) produced a classy performance to take a bronze medal in an extremely competitive Men’s 400m event. The fast improving Queens University athlete set an outright personal best of 47.82secs in the final to finish behind Bath University’s Cameron Chalmers (1st place – 47.40secs) and defending champion David Hall (2nd place – 47.66secs) from Brunel University in London.  Andrew also recorded 7.11secs over 60m at the Championships. 


A trio of 2015 Athletics NI Youth Academy athletes who progressed to universities in the UK mainland also had impressive performances.  Cardiff based Andrew Wright (Willowfield Harriers) was just short of his personal and a podium place in the 3,000m, finishing in 4th place in 8:22.68. Another Cardiff based athlete Karl McClean (City of Lisburn AC) was just short of his personal best, set this season, when he ran 7.01secs in the heats of the 60m and then ran 7.10secs in the semi-final.  Heptathlete Sarah Connolly (North Down AC) won her heat of the 60m hurdles with 9.00sces but sadly failed to finish in the semi-finals.  City of Lisburn AC athletes Adam Hill (8.79secs in the 60m hurdles) and Gareth Thompson (7.23secs and 7.28secs in the 60m) couldn't quite reach their seasons bests but performed well none the less.


Full Results:  BUCS Indoor Track & Field Championships 2016 Results and Metz Indoor Track & Field Meeting 2016 Results (Note: Some information used in the above article was taken from Athletics NI website)

Bobbie Irvine crowned 'last one standing' after 126 miles of running:

Atlas Running - Last One Standing 2016:

Over the course of this weekend (Saturday 20th and Sunday 21st February 2016), Atlas Running, the brainchild of running enthusiasts and brothers, Sammy and Adrian Daye, hosted the inaugural ‘Last One Standing’ endurance race at the scenic Castle Ward Estate in County Down.  As part of the race programme, there were also two associated events, the Castle Ward 4.2 mile and 8.4 mile Trail Races.


The unique endurance spectacle, saw 104 athletes take to the start-line at 12pm on Saturday – the runners had one hour to complete a 4.2 mile lap and then had to be back at the start line ready to go again at 1pm, then again at 2pm and so on.  Any runner not finishing the 4.2 mile lap inside the time limit and back on the line ready to start again on the next hour was disqualified.  


This happened every hour until only one runner returned to the start line, at which point that runner had to complete a solo lap inside the time limit to be crowned the winner.  All runners with the exception of the winner were awarded an official DNF (did not finish) medal and any competitor still in the race at 24hrs (100.8 mile) received an Atlas Running 100 mile medal.


After 12 hours of running, the 104 starters had whittled down to 40, then by 24 hours, just 5 hardy souls remained in the event; they were Bobbie Irvine (Separk AC), Pat Staunton (Club Unknown), Helena Dornan (Ballycastle Runners), Peter Cromie (Roe Valley CC) and Brian Ankers (Club Unknown).  Brian Ankers dropped on lap 25 (105 miles), while Helena continued one more lap before finsihing on 109.2 miles – Helena finished safe in the knowledge that she was the ‘last lady standing’.  This left Bobbie Irvine, Pat Staunton and Peter Cromie to battle it out for the prestige of being the ‘last man standing’.  


Bobbie and Peter ran together for their 26th lap, with Bobbie covering the distance in 51:56 and Peter 51:58; at this point, Peter decided to withdraw. It was then down to just two athletes, Bobbie and Pat.  Bobbie slashed three minutes off his lap time as he recorded 48:20 for lap 27 and went on to keep his pace at this level as Pat gradually began to drop off the pace.  Unfortunately, by lap 29, Pat had dropped outside the one hour time limit, running 1:01:35 – this meant that Bobbie just had to complete one solo lap to win.  He did this with apparent ease, recording his fastest 4.2 mile lap of the event, 45:12.  Bobbie was therefore crowned the ‘last man standing’ for 2016 – his 30 x 4.2 miles laps equalled an impressive 126 miles.


Approximately one hundred athletes supported the associated 4.2 mile and 8.4 mile trail races, which covered one and two laps of the same route as the 'Last One Standing' event.  Full results for all races are available below.


Full Results:  Last One Standing 2016 Results - LOS 8.4 mile Trail Race 2016 Results - LOS 4.2 mile Trail Race 2016 Results

Gladys Ganiel hits Rio standard in Spain as Paul Pollock wins in England:

Seville Marathon and Wokingham Half Marathon 2016:

On Sunday 20th February 2016, two Northern Ireland athletes impressed at major events outside the province.  Gladys Ganiel O’Neill (North Belfast Harriers) achieved the Rio Olympics Marathon qualifying standard at the Seville Marathon, while Paul Pollock (Annadale Striders) won the Wokingham Half Marathon.


In Spain, Gladys took a positive step towards this summer’s Olympic Games with a new personal best of 2:38:53 (13th place) at the Seville Marathon.  This betters the Olympic standard of 2:40:00 and leaves Gladys with the fourth fastest qualification time from the Irish athletes who have already reached the standard; this includes her North Belfast Harriers team mate Breege Connolly (North Belfast Harriers), who clocked 2:37:29 at London Marathon last year (2015).


Paul Pollock, one of the Northern Ireland men who has reached the Rio Marathon standard, continued his preparation for the upcoming World Half Marathon Championships and the London Marathon, when he recorded 1:03:46 (1st place) to win the Wokingham Half Marathon in extremely windy conditions.  After the race, Paul said “Gales put paid to a fast time today but delighted to win the Wokingham half marathon in 63:46.  More importantly earned qualification for the World Half Marathon Championships in Cardiff.”


Full Results:  Seville Marathon 2016 Results and Wokingham Half Marathon 2016 Results

Ciara Mageean breaks second record in three weeks:

Millrose Games 2016:

On Saturday 20th February 2016, Northern Ireland and Ireland international Ciara Mageean (UCD AC) continued her impressive run of record breaking form whilst in action at the prestigious Millrose Games in New York, USA.


Competing over the classic Mile distance, Ciara bettered her own Northern Ireland record when clocking 4:28.40 (6th place); the race was won by USA's Shannon Rowbury in 4:24.39 (1st place).  Ciara's record for the mile was 4:30.64, set in Dublin last year (2015).  The new time is also an Irish indoor record.


This new record comes just two weeks after Ciara set a new Irish indoor 1500m record of 4:08.66 in Karsluhe, Germany.


Full Results:  Millrose Games 2016 Results (A video of Ciara's record breaking performance is available HERE).

Conan McCaughey and Esther Dickson victorious at Omagh CBS 10k:

Omagh CBS 10k 2016:

On Saturday 20th February 2016, close to two hundred runners braved wet and blustery conditions as they took on the annual Omagh CBS 10k (and associated 5k) in Omagh, County Tyrone.


New Derry City Track Club athlete Conan McCaughey showed no signs of fatigue from an excellent run at Thursday’s Armagh Open 3k (where he recorded 8:58), as he dominated at the front, eventually securing a well-deserved victory in 32:32 (1st place).  Local hero Stephen Duncan (Omagh Harriers) claimed the runners up spot in 33:38 (2nd place), while youngster David Gormley (Omagh Harriers) crossed the line in 36:18 for 3rd place.


In the ladies race, the fast improving Esther Dickson (Unattached) again showed her potential, leading the field home in 39:01 (1st place).  Sperrin Harriers’ Pauline McGurren followed just over thirty seconds later in 39:34 (2nd place), before Karen Dolan (Enniskillen Running Club) recorded 44:15 for 3rd place.


Top 3 Men:  1st Conan McCaughey (Derry City Track Club) – 32:32, 2nd Stephen Duncan (Omagh Harriers) – 33:38, 3rd David Gormley (Omagh Harriers) – 36:18


Top 3 Ladies:  1st Esther Dickson (Unattached) – 39:01, 2nd Pauline McGurren (Sperrin Harriers) – 39:34, 3rd Karen Dolan (Enniskillen Running Club) – 44:15


Full Results:  Omagh CBS 10k 2016 Results

Shalene McMurray and Aaron Doherty crowned Senior XC Champions:

NI & Ulster Senior XC Championships 2016:

On Saturday 20th February 2016, hundreds of athletes and spectators descended on Northern Ireland largest urban park, the picturesque Lurgan Park in County Armagh, for the annual Northern Ireland & Ulster Senior Cross Country Championships, hosted by Athletics Northern Ireland.


The dull skies threatened rain but conditions remained perfect for running, on what was a tough course, compromising of 2k laps covering grass and forest sections, with some heavy ground during the middle section of each loop.


The Senior Ladies were first to the start line for their 6k event and it wasn’t long before the winner was evident.  As soon as the starting horn sounded, pre-race favourite and current NI & Ulster Intermediate XC Champion Shalene McMurray (Newcastle AC) surged to the front of the pack and quickly moved clear.  


By the end of the first lap, Shalene had approximately twenty seconds on the chasing pack, which included Gerrie Short (Beechmount Harriers), Rebecca Henderson (Dromore AC), Jodi Smith (North Down AC), Laura Bickerstaff (Dromore AC), Patricia O’Hagan (St Peter’s AC) and Catherine Diver (Beechmount Harriers).  There was no stopping Shalene as she continually increased her lead at the front, but behind, the chasing pack split - Gerrie Short looked strong in second place, while Rebecca Henderson and Jodi Smith were having their own dual for the remaining podium place. Karen Alexander (Acorns AC) had worked her way through the field and was just off the aforementioned Rebecca and Jodi.


As the gathered crowds awaited the first sight of the soon to be crowned NI & Ulster Senior XC Champion, it was Shalene who descended through the forest section first – with no one else in sight, the versatile athlete turned into the home straight, breaking the tape in 23:07 (1st place).  Gerrie Short was rewarded for an outstanding effort with 2nd place, crossing the line in 24:01.  Rebecca Henderson saw off Jodi Smith and held off the fast finishing Karen Alexander to complete the top three in 24:10 (3rd place).


In the team competition, the strong packing of Beechmount Harriers paid off as the Belfast club took 1st place ahead of Dromore AC in 2nd place and Lagan Valley AC in 3rd place.

Given some notable performances in the ladies event, the Men had a lot to live up to as they took to the start line for their 12k race; incorporating a gruelling six laps of the now cut up and slippy 2k loop.  


After a fast start, there was no splitting a large lead pack at the 2k mark, with Allan Bogle (City of Derry AC) and Mark McKinstry (North Belfast Harriers) heading the group, which also contained the likes of Seamus Lynch (Newcastle AC), Scott Rankin (Foyle Valley AC), Andrew Annett (North Belfast Harriers) Iain Whiteside (Newcastle AC), Eoghan Totten (Newcastle AC) and Adam Kirk-Smith (London Heathside) and Aaron Doherty (City of Derry AC).  As the race progressed, Mark McKinstry, Aaron Doherty, Seamus Lynch and Scott Rankin edged clear of the early lead group, this was reduced to a front running trio as the men moved into the second half of the race, with Mark taking charge; Seamus and Aaron remained on his shoulder.  


Late into the penultimate lap, Spartan athlete Aaron Doherty put in a surge – this was to matched by Mark or Seamus and the City of Derry AC man, who flew in from Madrid last night for the race, moved into the final lap with a good twenty metre lead on Mark, with Seamus just behind.


As the men covered the final 2k, Aaron was cementing himself as potential gold medallist, gradually moving further clear of the always impressive Mark and Seamus.  Before long, Aaron had emerged from the forest section and was powering towards the final straight.  To cheers from the gathered spectators, Aaron veered into the finish area and broke the tape in 40:24 (1st place).  A tired but happy Mark McKinstry followed in 40:28 (2nd place), before Seamus Lynch recorded 40:32 for 3rd place.


In the highly anticipated team competition, Newcastle AC (1st place) took top spot, beating North Belfast Harriers and City of Derry AC, who secured 2nd place and 3rd place respectively.


Podium Places:

Top 3 Ladies (6k):  1st Shalene McMurray (Newcastle AC) – 23:07, 2nd Gerrie Short (Beechmout Harriers) – 24:01, 3rd Rebecca Henderson (Dromore AC) – 24:10


Top 3 Men (12k):  1st Aaron Doherty (City of Derry AC) – 40:24, 2nd Mark McKisntry (North Belfast Harriers) – 4:28, 3rd Seamus Lynch (Newcastle AC) – 40:32


Top 3 Ladies Teams:  1st Beechmount Harriers, 2nd Dromore AC, 3rd Lagan Valley AC


Top 3 Men’s Teams:  1st Newcastle AC, 2nd North Belfast Harriers, 3rd City of Derry AC


Full Results:  NI & Ulster Senior XC Championships 2016 Results

Weekend Preview:  NI & Ulster Senior XC Championships and more...

Weekend Preview:  NI & Ulster Senior XC Championships 2016...

After a busy week of action, which included two major events, namely the AIT International Indoor Grand Prix and the Armagh International Road Races, it’s once again time to look ahead to the weekend’s action.  


This includes the exciting Northern Ireland & Ulster Senior XC Championships and the inaugural running of the ‘Last One Standing’, which will be hosted by running enthusiasts Sammy and Adrian Daye under the guise ‘Atlas Running’.  


Outside Northern Ireland, local runners will be in action at the prestigious Millrose Games in America, the Wokingham Half Marathon in England and also the BUCS Track & Field Championships in England.


BUCS Indoor Track & Field Championships 2016:

The weekend action has actually started - earlier today (Friday 19th February 2016), students from across the UK kicked off their medal hunt at the BUCS Indoor Track & Field Championships in Sheffield, England.  


Athletes from Northern Ireland will represent their universities and colleges at the event, which should come at the right time for some of our top student talent, given that the IUAA Indoor Championships were just last weekend.  Andrew Mellon (Queens University), Adam Hill (Queens University), Gareth Thompson (Queens University), Ben Maze (Queens University), Patrick Erskine (Queens University) and Anna McIlmoyle (University of Ulster) will all be hoping to step onto the podium on what should be an excellent weekend of competition.


NI & Ulster Senior XC Championships:

On Saturday 20th February 2016, a record number of athletes will descend on Lurgan Park in the County Armagh town of Lurgan for the NI & Ulster Senior Cross Country Championships, hosted by Athletics Northern Ireland.  Over the past number of years, the expansive and picturesque park, which is the second largest urban park in Ireland (behind Phoenix Park, Dublin), has proved a popular choice for numerous major cross country events.  Interestingly, it is also home to the Lurgan Park Rally (Motorsport).


The Senior Ladies 6k will kick off at 1:30pm and the Senior Men’s 12k event will follow at 2:15pm.  Both races will be incorporated in the ongoing Athletics NI XC League, which is currently being dominated by Foyle Valley AC, who top both the men’s and ladies tables – however, the ladies league is a close affair, with Acorns AC and North Down AC very much still in contention with just this event and the Stormont XC remaining.

In the ladies race, initial pre-race favourite Breege Connolly (North Belfast Harriers) is an unlikely starter, which leaves the event wide open.  There are numerous athletes within the anticipated two hundred strong field who possess the ability to contest the gold medal, but if fully fit, Shalene McMurray (Newcastle AC) and Lauren Quee (Lagan Valley AC) look like the most likely candidates – both ladies have a strong reputation for their performances over ‘the country’.  


Versatile athlete Shalene has been consistently impressive throughout the Athletics NI XC League and recently sealed victory and the associated gold medal at the NI & Ulster Intermediate XC Championships in Coleraine.  That day, she looked a class act!  In 2015, Lauren claimed a silver medal at the NI & Ulster Intermediate XC Championships; Shalene and Lauren have both represented Northern Ireland at the IAAF Antrim International XC.  


When you throw quality athletes like Rebecca Henderson (Dromore AC), Joanne Mills (Newcastle AC), Mari Troeng (Newcastle AC), Louise Smith (North Belfast Harriers), Martsje Hell (North Belfast Harriers) and Karen Alexander (Acorns AC) into the mix, it’s obvious that competition will be fierce at the head of the pack.  On their day, all of these ladies have the quality to win and will therefore be podium contenders.  Based on recent form, Rebecca and Joanne in particular, will be worth watching.   

Patricia O’Hagan (St Peter’s AC) will return to competition on what will be considered as home soil for the St Peter’s AC athlete, while NI & Ulster Novice XC Champion Natalie Hall (Acorns AC) will also start – Lyndsey Tyro (Orangegrove AC) will compete for the first time since winning the HCMC Half Marathon in Vietnam last month.  Suzanne Higgins (Lagan Valley AC), Catherine Diver (Beechmount Harriers), Roisin Hughes (North Belfast Harriers), Denise Logue (Ballydrain Harriers), Jodi Smith (North Down AC), Annalisa Mullan (Foyle Valley AC), Gerrie Short (Beechmount Harriers) and youngster Rebekah Nixon (Dromore AC) will add further quality to the line-up.


Looking at the coveted team awards, with four to score, North Belfast Harriers (potential scorers:  Louise Smith, Martsje Hell, Geraldine Branagh and Roisin Hughes), Newcastle AC (potential scorers:  Shalene McMurray, Joanne Mills, Mari Troeng and Sam McNeilly) and Lagan Valley AC (potential scorers:  Lauren Quee, Suzanne Higgins, Shileen O’Kane and Ursula Daly) look like the main contenders, but that’s not to rule out strong clubs such as Foyle Valley AC, Dromore AC, North Down AC and participation club of the year Acorns AC; after all, it’s all about ‘packing’ your athletes well.

The men’s race will be just as difficult, if not even more difficult to call, with quite a few of the athletes who have dominated the Athletics NI XC League set to compete.  


City of Derry AC’s decorated cross country specialist Declan Reed will no doubt feature prominently at the front.  The Spartan athlete has numerous senior and masters titles to his name and is of course, the defending Champion here.  


In 2015, he very much led the way from start to finish, producing a classy display of front running before breaking the tape – his recent win at the AAI National Masters XC shows that Declan is ready for this race!  Twelve months ago, Mark McKinstry (North Belfast Harriers) came through well to claim the runners up spot and it was arguably this performance that saw Mark step up another level in terms of stature and class.  


Since then, the humble Glenwherry man has produced some top quality performances, including a podium place at the AAI National Intermediate XC Championships, a meaningful win at Race Over The Glens 2016 and a new 5 mile personal best of 25:56 at Raheny 5 three weeks ago; to top it off, Mark represented Northern Ireland at the IAAF Antrim International XC in January 2016.


Seamus Lynch (Newcastle AC), one of the top performers during this cross country season, will take to the start line and will go well having clocked up several victories in the muck over the last few months.  One of his best performances was a win at the Malcolm Cup back in December (2015) when he pipped the aforementioned Mark McKinstry and Brian Campbell (Willowfield Harriers) to the win; this was just one of numerous stand out performances by the Newcastle AC, who was rewarded for a good year with a selection for Northern Ireland at the IAAF International XC.  Brian Campbell is also due to race and is no stranger in terms of knowledge as to what it takes to be a Champion – he secured the Senior XC title in 2008 and 2009 consecutively and after hopefully putting his injury woes behind him, the Larne native will be a podium contender here.  Eoghan Totten (Newcastle AC) was a podium finisher at the NI & Ulster Junior XC Championships at this venue in 2014 and judging by his level of performance at the Castlewellan Christmas Cracker, where he won alongside partner Andrew Monaghan (Lagan Valley AC), he’ll be worth watching.


Northern Ireland mountain runner Iain Whiteside will make his debut for Newcastle AC and may well be a good ‘outside contender’.  Despite being best known for his ability in the mountains, Iain has also shown his speed on the flatter surfaces.  In 2013, the Carnethy HRC athlete recorded 1:14:39 for 13.1 miles, he has also run 4:57 for the mile - back in the mountains, he led a strong Northern Ireland contingent home at the Carnethy 5 Mountain Race last weekend, taking a very respectable twelfth place overall.  Scott Rankin (Foyle Valley AC) is also worth considering in terms of front runners, depending on how he recovers from the Armagh International 5k, where he represented Northern Ireland and recorded 14:36.  Pauric McKinney (Inishowen AC), Andrew Annett (North Belfast Harriers), Allan Bogle (City of Derry AC), Greg Roberts (City of Derry AC) and David Simpson (Newcastle AC) will all challenge for a top ten spot, while Aaron Doherty (City of Derry AC), Eamon White (North Belfast Harriers), Gary Slevin (City of Derry AC) and Chris McGuinness (Foyle Valley AC) should have similar expectations on placing well up the field and assisting their teams.


In respect of the team competition, the teams require six scorers.  Looking at City of Derry AC - Allan Bogle, Gary Slevin, Greg Roberts, Emmet McGinty, Aaron Doherty and John Lenehan provide a fantastic spearhead for their challenge.  Although, Newcastle AC (potential scorers:  Seamus Lynch, Eoghan Totten, David Simpson, Iain Whiteside, David O’Flaherty and David McNeilly) and North Belfast Harriers (Mark McKinstry, Andrew Annett, Conal McCambridge, Eamon White, Alan O’Hara and Lindsay Gordon) both look incredibly strong throughout their squads.  Foyle Valley AC, Willowfield Harriers and North Down AC will also mix things up at the front.

Last One Standing and Castle Ward Trail Races:

Also on Saturday 20th February 2016, Atlas Running, the brainchild of running enthusiasts and brothers, Sammy and Adrian Daye, will host the inaugural ‘Last One Standing Endurance Race’ at the scenic Castle Ward Estate in County Down.  As part of the race programme, there will also be the two associated events, the Castle Ward 4.2 mile and 8.4 mile Trail Races.


In terms of an explanation of how things will work as part of unique endurance spectacle, here is the best we can offer:  Basically, runners will have one hour to complete the first 4.2 mile loop and must be at the start line ready to go again at 1pm, then again at 2pm and so on.  Any runner not finishing the 4.2 mile loop inside the time limit and back on the line ready to start again on the next hour will be disqualified.  


This will happen every hour until there is only one runner at the start line, this runner will be the last one standing. However, the remaining athlete must complete a solo loop inside the time limit to be crowned the winner.  All runners with the exception of the winner will be an official DNF (did not finish) and will get a medal to prove it. Any competitor still in the race at 24hrs (100.8 mile) will receive an Atlas Running 100 mile medal.


Respected athlete Richard Coey (Ballydrain Harriers) should perform well in the main event, but will have to see off several competent and capable endurance runners if he wants to top the podium, amongst those will be William Marks (Mourne Runners), Geoff Smyth (Unattached), Drew Fowler (Ballydrain Harriers) and ultra-runner Craig Bell (Unattached).  Gillian Cordner (Seapark AC) and Helena Dornan (Ballycastle Runners) will contest the ladies prize.  Meanwhile, in the associated Castle Ward Trail Races, Gavin Campbell (Unattached) and Gillian Logan (Larne AC) will prove hard to beat in their respective 4.2 mile and 8.4 mile events.


Millrose Games (USA):

Further afield on Saturday 20th February 2016, in-form Northern Ireland lady Ciara Mageean (UCD AC) will be in action at the Millrose Games in New York, America.  The annual event attracts a host of stars from around the world and has proved a good hunting ground for local athletes in their search for personal best in the past.  Ciara will be racing in the NYRR Wanamaker Mile and will face the likes of Shannon Rowbury (USA) and Treniere Moser (USA).  Full start lists for the Millrose Games can be found HERE.


Wokingham Half Marathon (England):

On Sunday 21st February 2016, at least two runners from Northern Ireland will take to the start line of the Wokingham Half Marathon in England. Rio Olympics 2016 hopefuls Paul Pollock (Annadale Striders) and Kevin Seaward (St Malachy’s AC) will face well known international such as John Beattie (Newham & Essex Beagles AC), Phil Wicks (Belgrave Harriers) and Nick Samuels (Sale Harriers) as they strive for the top prize. 


Both Paul will go into the event in good form, having both run sub 30 minute 10k’s earlier this month at the Chichester 10k; Paul won in 29:42, while Kevin claimed fourth place in 29:59.  The men will no doubt be seeking information on the route from St Malachy’s AC man Gary Murray, who secured a podium place here last year (2015) in a personal best of 1:04:40.


Parkrun:

As always, Northern Ireland’s twenty one 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.

Sara Treacy, Charlie Hulson and Craig McMeechan win at Armagh International:

Armagh International Road Races 2016:

On Thursday 18th February 2016, athletes from across the globe descended on the Cathedral City of Armagh for the 26th annual running of the Armagh International Road Races, an exceptionally well organised event hosted by Armagh AC.


An exciting night of racing brought wins for Sara Treacy (Ireland), Charlie Hulson (Sale Harriers) and local North Down AC athlete Craig McMeechan.  


The atmosphere within the oval shaped 'Mall' area of the historic city was as impressive as always, with supporters turning out in force to cheer on the thousands of junior and senior athletes as they took on the flat and fast course. 


After the well supported junior races had warmed things up perfectly, it was the turn of the elite fields to take to the roads.  Perfect conditions and talent laden fields awaited, all that had to be delivered was the performances to match... and they were! No less than 67 athletes recorded a finishing time of less than 15:00 in the International Men's 5k and 29 ladies went under 10:00 for 3k.


International Ladies 3k:

The first international event of the evening was the International Ladies 3k, which also incorporated the Open Ladies event.  As the starting horn sounded, the record breaking field made their way towards the picturesque Armagh Gaol – very little split the ladies in the early stages, but Pippa Woolven (Run Fast) featured at the head of a huge lead group.  As the race progressed, Charlene Thomas (Wakefield & District AC) and Laura Whittle (Scotland) moved into contention.  As the athletes went through the bell and into the final 1k, previous winner of the event Laura Whittle looked as if she was going to take charge, having moved to the front of the still sizable group.  


However, in the latter stages, Irish Steeplechase hero Sara Treacy (Ireland) worked her way through the front runners and into the mix – in an epic sprint finish, it was Sara who came to the fore, powering across the line in 9:18.20 (1st place).  A late charge and strong finish from Scotland’s Sarah Inglis saw her claim the runners up spot ahead of international team mate Laura Whittle, with Sarah running 9:19.01 (2nd place) and Laura 9:19.27 (3rd place).  Letterkenny AC athlete Ann-Marie McGlynn continued her recent run of good form as she led the local runner’s home in 9:23.64 (6th place).  In all, an amazing 29 athletes broke the famous 10:00 barrier for the 3k distance, this was 16 more than in 2015, again proving the increase in quality which the event is attracting.

International Men’s 5k:

After 56 men broke 15:00 in 2015, the Armagh International was touted as one of the fastest road races in the world – this year, a total of 67 athletes smashed the 15:00 barrier – the Armagh International MUST now be the fastest road race in the world!


On the night, conditions helped, but the quality and depth of the field was the key, and this was obvious throughout.  In the opening stages, Irish athlete Rory Chesser (Ennis Track Club) and Poland’s Artur Kern led the way, before one of the pre-race favourites, Dewi Griffiths (Swansea Harriers AC) took charge going into the third lap. 


Belgian orienteer Yannick Michiels moved onto Dewi’s shoulder and moved to the front; Charlie Hulson (Sale Harriers) was also in the mix.  Going into the final kilometre, Yannick had opened a short gap on the chasing pack, which was headed by Richard Peters (Bristol & West AC) and Gideon Kimosop (Project Africa Athletics).  


Just like the ladies race, it was all change in the final stages – the chasing pack swamped the leaders and as they moved into the final straight, it was Charlie Hulson, Yannick Michiels, Andy Maud (Highgate Harriers) and Richard Peters (Bristol & West AC) who led the sprint for the line.  In an epic finish, it was Charlie Hulson who broke the tape, clocking 14:02.83 to finish 0.16 seconds ahead of the impressive Yannick Michiels who ran 14:02.99 (2nd place).  Andy Maud completed the top three in 14:03.17 (3rd place).  Scott Rankin (Foyle Valley AC) was the first local finisher, having recorded 14:36.40 for 40th place.

Open Men’s 3k:

The final race of the evening brought a mixture of youth, experience and countries to the start line, as a record number of competitors took on the Open Men’s 3k.  


To loud cheers from the watching thousands, Armagh AC’s Stephen Kerr was one of the early contenders, running side by side with Stephen MacKay (Inverness Harriers) as they completed the first lap.  


As the race progressed, North Down AC’s up and coming star Craig McMeechan and Donore Harriers’ Daragh Fitzgibbon moved forward and led the field through the bell.  There was no stopping Craig McMeechan in the final 1k, as the Bangor man opened up a gap on Daragh to claim a well-deserved victory in 8:47.68 (1st place).  Daragh followed in 8:50.31 (2nd place), before East Down AC’s always impressive Neil McCartan recorded 8:50.31 for 3rd place.


Podium Finishers (and top Northern Ireland finishers):


International Ladies 3k:

Top 3 Ladies:  1st Sara Treacy (Ireland) – 9:18.20, 2nd Sarah Inglis (Scotland) – 9:19.01, 3rd Laura Whittle (Scotland) – 9:19.27


Top 3 Northern Ireland Ladies:  6th Ann-Marie McGlynn (Letterkenny AC) – 9:23.64, 8th Kerry O’Flaherty (Newcastle AC) – 9:24.59, 13th Fionnuala Ross (Armagh AC) – 9:29.76


International Men’s 5k:

Top 3 Men:  1st Charlie Hulson (Sale Harriers) – 14:02.83, 2nd Yannick Michiels (Belgium) – 14:02.99, 3rd Andy Maud (Highgate Harriers) – 14:03.17


Top 3 Northern Ireland Men:  40th Scott Rankin (Foyle Valley AC) – 4:26.40, 54th Chris Madden (City of Lisburn AC) – 14:48.43, 59th Neil Johnston (Springwell Running Club) – 14:51.79


Open Men’s 3k:

Top 3 Men:  1st Craig McMeechan (North Down AC) – 8:47.68, 2nd Daragh Fitzgibbon (Donore Harriers) – 8:50.31, 3rd Neil McCartan (East Down AC) – 8:51.83


Top 3 Northern Ireland Men:  1st Craig McMeechan (North Down AC) – 8:47.68, 3rd Neil McCartan (East Down AC) – 8:51.83, 4th Eoin McCann (St Malachy's AC) - 8:54.26


Provisional Results:  Armagh International Ladies 3k 2016 Results - Armagh International Men's 5k 2016 Results - Armagh Open 3k 2016 Results

Amy Foster and Kelly Neely excel at AIT International Indoor Grand Prix 2016:

AIT International Indoor Grand Prix 2016:

On Wednesday 17th February 2016, a number of athletes from Northern Ireland were in action at the annual AIT International Indoor Grand Prix, held at the AIT Arena in Athlone, Ireland.  The event attracted a plethora of global talent and proved to be an excellent night of athletics, both for the sell-out crowd and those watching via television and online media sources.


Although Ethiopian Dawit Wolde stole the show with a 3:54 mile, the highlight of the evening from a Northern Ireland perspective was a season’s best equalling 7.33secs over 60 metres by Amy Foster (City of Lisburn AC), which was agonisingly just 0.01secs away from the World Indoor Championships standard for 60m (7.32secs). This secured 3rd place for Amy, in the final won by USA’s Barbara Pierre in 7.12secs (1st place).  The final followed an epic semi-final battle between Amy and Irish international team mate Phil Healy, after both finished in a dead heat of 7.40secs (1st place).


Another City of Lisburn AC athlete also excelled, with World Masters 800m Champion Kelly Neely bettering her own Vet35 Irish Masters 800m record, running 2:06.86, her fastest time over the distance since 2012.  The always impressive Kelly took 6th place, while fellow NI athlete Katie Kirk (QUB AC) recorded 2:07.12 for 7th place; the race won by popular Canadian athlete Melissa Bishop in 2:00.60 (1st place).


Kerry O’Flaherty (Newcastle AC) toed the line in a competitive 1500m event, which was won by Kenyan Nancy Chepkwemoi (1st place - 4:08.46) and the Armagh International 3k bound athlete claimed 9th place in a time of 4:16.30.  Northern Ireland and Birchfield Harriers athlete Leon Reid raced over 60 metres; unfortunately his 6.81secs (5th place) was not enough to see Leon make it through to the final – the race was won by American D’Angelo Cherry who later went on to take top spot in the final, recording a new stadium record of 6.58secs (1st place).


Full Results:  AIT International Indoor Grand Prix 2016 Results

Special Preview:  Armagh International Road Races 2016

Armagh International Road Races 2016:

This week, Thursday18th February 2016, brings one of the highlights of the Northern Ireland running calendar, the highly respected and prestigious Armagh International Road Races.  


The event, which started in 1990, is now in its 26th year and just like the famous old cliché is ‘going from strength to strength’.


This cliché is not a throw away remark, it is backed up by the necessary statistics!


The 2016 running of this event will attract a record number of participants and at the front end of the field, the vast array of talent will no doubt attract the attention of the World’s athletic press.  Last year the Men’s International produced the staggering total of no less than 56 sub-15 minute finish times, while a quick glance through the race statistics of runners set to toe the line in this year’s Brooks Running sponsored event, reveals no less than 72 athletes who have broken 15 minutes; 12 of those have sub 14 minutes 5k’s to their credit.  On paper, Scotland’s Andrew Butchart leads the field with a personal best 5,000m time of 13:29, which he recorded in Belgium last year (2015).


This year’s Intersport sponsored International Ladies 3k more than matches the men’s event, with no less than 34 athletes who can run under 10 minutes and 4 who have bettered 9 minutes set to make the 2016 edition the strongest line-up to date.  The ladies race record of 9:07, which was set a few years ago by Irish star Mary Cullen, is an extremely hard target to beat.  However, it will be tested to the maximum this year, with six of the athletes set to compete having bettered this.


The extensive race programme, which takes place in the scenic and atmospheric 'Mall' area, in the heart of Armagh City Centre, will kick off at 6.30pm. Nine junior races will be contested before the International/Open and Junior Ladies take to the line at 8:05pm for their 3k event, the International Men's 5k will follow at 8:20pm; then, the Open Men's 3k will round off proceedings at 8:45pm.

Intersport Armagh International Ladies 3k:

The Intersport Armagh International Ladies 3k will be the first of the ‘main’ events taking place, with the start time set as 8.05pm as previously mentioned.  At least six runners in the line-up have run under the course record time of 9:07, making this an exceptionally difficult race to predict.  Then if you add a further twenty eight ladies who have bettered 10 minutes to the nix, we have the recipe for possibly the greatest ever in-depth women’s 3k run in Ireland and possibly further afield.


Decorated Scottish athlete Eilish McColgan will feature prominently at the head of the pack, and despite a long battle with injury, she is returning from successful period of altitude training in Kenya.  Eilish has the fastest 3k time of those entered, with an 8:47.79 personal best.  Next up is fellow Scottish runner Laura Whittle, a previous winner of this event.  Laura has a recorded personal best time of 8:50 for 3k, backed up by an impressive 15:20 for 5k; interestingly, her winning time in Armagh was 9:26 (2014) – last week, the former European Under 23 5,000m Champion sealed a podium place at the Brooks Alsager 5 mile race in 27:25.


Amongst those considered to be in serious contention would be Katrina Wootton (Coventry AC) – Katrina finished approximately thirty seconds behind Laura Whittle at the aforementioned Alsager 5 mile race last week, crossing the line in 27:52.  The Coventry AC athlete, who has clocked 4:41 for the Mile, has a 3k personal best of 8:50; she (Katrina) finished fourth at this event in 2015, having run 9:26.  


Reigning Champion Rachael Bamford (Leeds City) is set to return and although her personal best may sit almost thirty seconds off what is statistically the best on show, the down to earth English athlete knows exactly what it takes to excel on this course.  Rachael (pictured above) broke the tape in 2015 in 9:17, a personal best at the time, which she reduced to 9:15 in July 2015.  Gemma Hillier-Moses (England) claimed third place here last year (2015) in 9:24 and like Racheal, will know the guts required to grind out a podium performance around the picturesque and spectator lined course.


Beth Potter (Scotland) and Deirdre Byrne (Ireland) have both covered 3k in 8:58 and should feature well if they get anywhere close to that time.  Just this month, Beth ran 9:19 for 3k in Lee Valley and is therefore worth considering as a potential contender.  To most, Deirdre Byrne is better known as a regular member of Ireland’s elite women’s cross country squad, but she’ll finish well up the field here.


Staying with the Irish story-line, Sinead Haughey from the USA has County Armagh roots through her father Jim Haughey, a former junior star before moving to take up a University Scholarship and going on to dominate the NCAA scene for years in his adopted country. There is no doubt Sinead’s extended Lurgan family will be in Armagh to cheer her on.  Although her favourite distances are a bit longer, with her 10k personal best sitting at 33:52, Sinead’s speedy 5k best of 16:22 should ensure that she impresses.

Looking at potential ‘outside bets’, Charlene Thomas (Wakefield AC) could be the runner to upset all predictions as apart from her 3k best of 9:01, she recently ran 4:03 for 1500m, which was close to her best of 4:01, so has a fair turn of speed to rely on.  England’s Faye Fullerton is worth a look considering her personal best for the distance is 9:07.52, while Justina Heslop (Elswick Harriers) who’ll be flying in from Ethiopia, also has a personal best of 9:07 and should be in good racing form after her altitude experience.  


Multiple Scottish Champion and top ten finisher at the Armagh International 3k twelve months ago, Laura Dunn (Edinburgh AC) will also hope for a high placing. Poland will be well represented, with their leading athlete likely to be Urszula Necka, a 9:12 3k runner.


Sarah Inglis (Scotland), Makiola Slusarcyk (Poland), Pippa Woolven (Run Fast), Kate Hulls (England), Claire Duck (England) and late entrant Sara Treacy (Ireland) should all play a prominent part in proceedings, as will our very own local heroes, especially Kerry O’Flaherty (Northern Ireland & Newcastle AC) and Ann-Marie McGlynn (Northern Ireland & Letterkenny AC).  Kerry has an impressive 3,000m personal best of 9:09 and earlier this month clocked 9:30 for the distance in Cardiff - in 2013, the Northern Ireland and Ireland international claimed third place at this event, after running 9:28.  


Meanwhile, Ann-Marie ran 9:40 to finish in sixth place here in 2015, but just last week, the Letterkenny AC star bettered that with a 9:27 finish over 3k in Wales (at the same event as Kerry O’Flaherty).  Fionnuala Ross (Northern Ireland & Armagh AC), a respected half marathon and marathon runner should perform well, as will her club mate, the always impressive Danielle Fegan (Armagh AC) if she races.  Other local names to look out for will include Rebecca Henderson (Dromore AC), Emma Mitchell (Northern Ireland & Banbridge AC), Jessica Craig (North Down AC), Rachel Gibson (North Down AC), Emma Laverty (Lagan Valley AC) and Judith Lonnen (City of Lisburn AC).

Brooks Armagh International Men’s 5k:

As previously mentioned, and just like the ladies event, the quality of athletes entered into the Brooks Running sponsored Armagh International 5k (starting 8:20pm) is so great that it is almost impossible to predict how it will turn out as the athletes cross the finish line.  One thing is for sure, it will be close!


On paper the runner with the best times and in best current form is Andrew Butchart who will lead the Scottish team as he bids to win both individual and team honours.  


Andrew has a 5k personal best of 13:29 and is therefore granted pre-race favourite status in what will be a star studded field.  However in athletics you’re only as good as your last race and Andrew will face serious opposition from runners of the calibre of the Dewi Griffiths (Swansea AC), Daniel Cliffe (Liverpool AC), Dan Studley (Bristol & West AC) and Cameron Boyek (Shildon Central AC), amongst others.  Welsh athlete Dewi recently featured in a titanic televised battle with some of the best cross country runners in the world at the Edinburgh International Cross Country – he has a 5k best of 13:53, making him an obvious contender.  Daniel Cliffe was involved in an epic finish here twelve months ago when he secured the runners up spot in an excellent 13:59, while Dan Studley narrowly missed a podium place in the same sprint to the line, taking fourth place in 14:01.


Shildon Central AC’s Cameron Boyek will also challenge at the front – in 2015, Cameron ran 14:08 for eleventh place here, but since then he has improved as an athlete.  He went on to achieve new 800m (1:49.20) and 1500m (3:39.15) personal bests; he has also ran 4:00.23 for the mile on Irish soil (Letterkenny 2014). Ireland’s Mark Kenneally has recorded 13:36 over 5k, while Cardiff AC’s Ieuan Thomas has a 13:59 on his athletic CV.  


Belgian Yannick Michiels, a 13:47 5k runner, is another unknown quantity who could put up a challenge if he’s on form, the same could be said for former European Junior 1500m Champion Jake Wightman (Scotland), who has recorded 13:57 for the distance and was a top twenty finisher her in 2015 (in 14:20).  Project Africa Athletics front man Gideon Kimosop should mix it up at the head of the pack, while Poland, as a country, field some athletes with quite impressive credentials – they will be led by current Polish Champion Krzysztof Zebrowski who ran 13:51 last year (2015). The current European Steeplechase Champion and World Championship finalist Krystian Zalewski, with a personal best at his distance of 8:16.20, will be joined in the team by Bartosz Nowicki, who has run 7:57.99 for 3k flat; this makes up a very formidable challenge for team honours.

Further sub 14 minute 5k athletes expected to be there or there abouts, come in the form of Bristol & West AC’s Richard Peters (13:46) and Ireland’s Thomas Fitzpatrick (13:58).  Athletics Ireland has nominated a very strong squad, led by the aforementioned Thomas, as well as the fast emerging Kevin Mulcaire, who last year ran a new Irish Junior record of 14:02; this undoubtedly makes Kevin a more than outside contender given his current reputed form as his recent rise through the ranks.


Aside from those already mentioned, there is an abundance of talent who will play a big part at the front, this includes the likes of Alex Bruce-Littlewood (Blackheath & Bromley AC), Josh Grace (Real Runners), Luke Gunn (Derby AC), Artur Kern (Poland), Rory Chesser (Ireland), Shane Robinson (Lincoln Wellington AC), Matthew Bowser (Lincoln Wellington AC), Peter Huck (Run Fast), Sean Hehir (Ireland) and Guy Smith (Swansea Harriers).


Looking at the locally based athletes, Scott Rankin (Foyle Valley AC), Neil Johnston (Springwell Running Club), Chris Madden (City of Lisburn AC) and Gareth Hill (Ballymena & Antrim AC) will wear Northern Ireland vests and should be joined by familiar faces such as Danny Mooney (Letterkenny AC), Michael McKillop (St Malachy’s AC), Andrew Annett (North Belfast Harriers) and Andrew Agnew (Annadale Striders) in the challenge to be the first local finisher.


Linwoods Open Men’s 3k:

The final race of the night will be the always popular Open Men’s 3k road race (starting 8:45pm), sponsored by Linwoods Foods.  This event will bring an excellent array of youth and experience to the atmospheric Mall roads; this year, there will be in excess of two hundred participants, with representation from around the World.


At the ‘sharp end’, Derry City Track Club’s Intermediate XC medallist Conan McCaughey will be considered as a strong contender for top honours. However, the former Enniskillen Running Club athlete will have to see off the likes of fast improving Ballymena Runners athlete James Hamilton, Clones AC’s Shane Brady, Finn Valley AC’s Gerrard Gallagher, East Down AC’s Neil McCartan and even several of his own Derry City Track Club team mates, such as Martin Cox, Conor Doherty and Matt Doherty.  


England’s Bashir Hassain will be hoping to replicate his performances here over the last number of years, while the Johnny Foster (Annadale Striders), Stephen Kerr (Armagh AC) and Nigel McKibbin (Dromore AC) should finish well up the field.  Young Cathaoir Purvis (Acorns AC), Sean Corry (Omagh Harriers) and St Malachys AC’s juniors Eoin McCann, Connor McCann and Eoin Maguire are also interesting additions to what is a strong line-up.


Keeping you up to date:

As always, our NiRunning team will be on hand, providing live updates from the Armagh International Road Races (signal permitting).  Please follow us on Twitter (@NiRunning) and Facebook (NiRunning) to keep up to date with the action.  Our event summary and race results will be online late on Thursday night (17th February 2016).

Belfast to host IAU 24 hour World Championships in 2017:

Belfast to host 24 Hour World Championships in 2017:

Today, Tuesday 16th February 2016, it was announced that Belfast has won the race to host the 12th IAU 24 Hour World Championships in 2017.  The ultra running championships, which are held every two years, will be staged in Victoria Park in east Belfast on Saturday 1st July and Sunday 2nd July 2017. 


The last race - held in Turin 2015 - attracted 300 of the world’s top competitors from 45 nations. The International Association of Ultra-Runners (IAU), which administers the long-distance running wing of the sport for the IAAF, made the announcement at its Executive Council meeting in Monaco, following what it described as “a good competition.”

 

“It is with great pleasure that I can confirm that Belfast has been allocated the organisation of the 2017 24 Hour World Championships,” said Dirk Strumane, IAU President.  "Belfast presented us with a convincing, well-structured and strongly supported bid and we are looking forward to a fruitful and constructive co-operation.” 


The Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Arder Carson, welcomed today’s announcement as further evidence of the city’s ability to attract and stage world-class sporting events.  “Congratulations to the organising committee on bringing another major event here. This will be a further opportunity to showcase our city, let the competitors, spectators and visitors experience all that Belfast has to offer and demonstrate what good hosts we are,” he said.

 

The Belfast bid had struggled initially to gather the required underwriting to allow it to go forward but backing from Belfast City Council, long-time sponsors Energia and members of the local organising committee got it across the line at the eleventh hour.  “It was touch and go for a while but, as well as getting the guarantees in place, there was support from Athletics NI, acting on behalf of  UK Athletics, Athletics Ireland, whose National Championships we have hosted since 2012, the Charles Hurst Group, Dame Mary Peters and from across the political spectrum,” explained Ed Smith, Bid Chairperson and Race Director. 

“I’m delighted that all the committee’s hard work has resulted in this recognition, and am also delighted for the city, east Belfast and Victoria Park is now firmly established as an international venue, thanks to its key role in the larger Connswater Community Greenway project.


“We realise that there are no eye-catching household names in this branch of athletics - it’s all about endurance and survival but, hopefully with these championships, we can bring a spotlight to bear on the park and the whole city with the influx of athletes and visitors. We will certainly be doing our best to deliver a memorable event next July.”


Gas and electricity supplier Energia has supported Belfast’s regular 24 Hour race, Energia24, since 2010. The council has also supported the race, through its Support for Sport programme. 


It will now switch locations, from the Mary Peters Athletics Track, to the 1.7k circuit at Victoria Park for this year’s event, on 25th and 26th June, as a ‘dress rehearsal’ ahead of the 2017 championships. It is hoped several international runners will also attend to visit the course in advance.   


“From small beginnings, the race has developed into a magnificent occasion, and I am thrilled that the dream of becoming a major international event has been realised, “said Tom Gillen, Group Managing Director. “We will give every support we can in helping to deliver the 2016 race, and then the 24 Hour World Championships in 2017.”


All in all, 2017 promises to be a big year for athletics across the UK, with the IPC World Championships for para athletes taking place at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London (15-23 July), followed by the IAAF World Championships (5-13 August).

Gary Slevin and Julie Butler excel at Sperrin Harriers Winter Series finale:

Sperrin Harriers host Winter Trail Series finale:

On Saturday 13th February 2016, the curtain came down on arguably the most successful Sperrin Harriers Winter League Series.  The annual trail Series attracted record numbers, with glowing reports coming from participants.  Almost 150 runners turned out at the new venue, just outside Dungannon, in what proved to be a popular addition to this year’s Series. The three laps of the course took the runners from the court yard of the majestic Parkanaur Manor House, out into the forest trails, along the Torrent River, past Saint Patrick’s Well and back towards the Manor House through the ornamental gardens.


Gary Slevin (City of Derry AC) set down the standard from the off, taking the lead ahead of David Simpson (Newcastle AC) and the host club’s Pierce McCullagh (Sperrin Harriers).  After three testing laps of this wheel measured course, it was Gary who maintained control, holding onto his lead to win in 56.27 (1st place). David continued his recent run of good form to secure 2nd place in 57:39, while Pierce completed the top three finishers in 58:09 (3rd place).


In the ladies race, the always impressive Julie Butler (Omagh Harriers) was to the fore once again, pursued closely by emerging talent Esther Dickson (Unattached).  For the third consecutive race in the series, it was Julie who stretched her lead to win, crossing the line in 1:02:56 (1st place), with Esther finishing in 1:06:22 (2nd place). Tanya Quinn of host club Sperrin Harriers claimed 3rd place in 1:15:42.


Top 3 Men:  1st Gary Slevin (City of Derry AC) – 56:27, 2nd David Simpson (Newcastle AC) – 57:39, 3rd Pierce McCullagh (Sperrin Harriers) – 58:09


Top 3 Ladies:  1st Julie Butler (Omagh Harriers) – 1:02:56, 2nd Esther Dickson (Unattached) – 1:06:22, 3rd Tanya Quinn (Sperrin Harriers) – 1:15:42


Full Results:  Sperrin Harriers Winter Trail Series (Race 5 – Parkanaur 10 mile) 2016 Results

Breege Connolly kicks off Olympic year with podium place in San Francisco:

Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Half Marathon:

On Sunday 14th February 2016, Northern Ireland based athlete Breege Connolly (North Belfast Harriers) impressed whilst in competition at the Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Half Marathon in America.  


Breege, who has an Olympic Marathon qualifying time of 2:37:24 (London 2015), completed the route in 1:17:12.  This was enough to secure 2nd place in the ladies race, which was won by Yiou Wang in 1:16:08 (1st place).


Full Results:  Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Half Marathon 2016 Results

Local runners perform well in Ireland, Scotland and Belgium:

Local athletes perform well in Ireland, Scotland and Belgium:

Over the course of this weekend (Saturday 13th and Sunday 14th February 2016) a number of local athletes have been in action outside Northern Ireland, with familiar faces taking on events in Ireland, Scotland and Belgium.


Carnethy 5 Mountain Race (Scotland):

The biggest attraction of the weekend was undoubtedly the Carnethy 5 Mountain Race in Scotland.  The event, which is popular with Northern Ireland’s mountain running fraternity, is organised by highly respected Carnethy HRC and takes place just outside Edinburgh.


A capacity field of close to five hundred runners took to the start line, and it was well-known mountain runners Prasad Prasad (Squadra Porcini) and Charlotte Morgan (Carnethy HRC) who won their respective events.  Prasad covered the 6 mile course, which includes 2,500ft of ascent, in 54:08 (1st place), while Charlotte led the ladies home in 1:01:30 (1st place).


The first Northern Ireland athlete to conquer the tough course, which covers five peaks, was Scotland based Northern Ireland international Iain Whiteside (Carnethy HRC) – Iain recorded 56:12 to finish in 12th place.  Fellow Carnethy HRC member and fellow Scotland based athlete Eoin Lennon followed in 57:44 (21st place).  Unattached athlete Emmet McAlister was the third local finisher, taking 73rd place in 1:04:56; Emmet picked up the trophy for the first International finisher – just rewards for his efforts.  Ben Nevis 2015 winner Diane Wilson (Dromore AC) led the local ladies into the well supported finish area, crossing the line in 1:11:03, which was enough to seal 9th place in the ladies race.  Shileen O’Kane (Lagan Valley AC) followed in 1:11:38 and 10th place in the ladies event.  Ballymena Runners new girl Gillian Wasson also performed well, clocking 1:18:52 (23rd place lady).  Full results for the Carnethy 5 Mountain Race can be found HERE

Donadea 50k Trail Race (inc AAI National 50k Championships):

In Ireland, there were two Northern Ireland based athletes in competition at the popular Donadea 50k Trail Race in County Kildare.  The event also doubled up as the AAI National 50k Championship, therefore attracting a highly competitive field.


Matt Shields (North Belfast Harriers) recorded 3:43:55 (15th place) and Stephen Purvis (Ballymena Runners) completed the course in 3:52:02 (20th place).  The race was won by Gary O'Hanlon (Clonliffe Harriers), a regular competitor in NI, in a new National record of 2:56:51 (1st place).


IFAM International Indoor Track & Field Meeting (Belgium):

QUB AC athlete and Rio Olympics 2016 hopeful Katie Kirk was in action at the prestigious IFAM International Indoor Track & Field Meeting in Gent, Belgium.  Up against top quality opposition, Katie recorded 2:09.86 in her 800 metre event, this saw the Northern Ireland and Ireland international athlete take 4th place in the race won by GB & NI runner Revee Walcott-Nolan in 2:07.06 (1st place).


Full Results:  Carnethy 5 Mountain Race 2016 Results - Donadea 50k Trail Race (inc AAI National 50k Championships) 2016 Results - IFAM International Indoor Track & Field Meeting 2016 Results

Paddy Hamilton and Laura Graham seal victory at DUNE Half Marathon:

DUNE Half Marathon 2016:

On Sunday 14th February 2016, over five hundred athletes took on the first race of this year’s Pure Running Half Marathon Series, the DUNE Half Marathon.  The cross-border event started at the Quays Shopping Centre in Newry (Northern Ireland) and finished in Market Square in Dundalk (Ireland).


At the front of the pack, it was very much as expected, with pre-race favourite Paddy Hamilton (Slieve Gullion Runners) controlling things.  The Northern Ireland international looked strong as he dictated the pace, before powering into the Market Square finish in 1:08:13 (1st place).  Brian McCluskey (North East Runners) took 2nd place in a time of 1:11:07, while Joe McKevitt (Slieve Gullion Runners) recorded 1:14:27 for 3rd place.


In the ladies race, Mourne Runners’ ever improving Laura Graham added another title to her CV when she claimed a comfortable victory.  The AAI National Marathon medallist clocked an excellent personal best of 1:19:45; this not only sealed 1st place in the ladies race, but was enough to see Laura claim 8th place overall.  Judith Lonnen (City of Lisburn AC) also impressed, taking 2nd place and a top twenty position overall in 1:26:55.  Susan Smyth (Dromore AC) ran 1:31:21 for 3rd place.


Top 3 Men:  1st Paddy Hamilton (Slieve Gullion Runners) – 1:08:13, 2nd Brian McCluskey (North East Runners) – 1:11:07, 3rd Joe McKevitt (Slieve Gullion Runners) – 1:14:27


Top 3 Ladies:  1st Laura Graham (Mourne Runners) – 1:19:45, 2nd Judith Lonnen (City of Lisburn AC) – 1:26:55, 3rd Susan Smyth (Dromore AC ) - 1:31:21


Full Results:  DUNE Half Marathon 2016 Results

Allan Bogle and Ciara McSherry win Northern Velocity Roe Valley Trail Race:

Northern Velocity Roe Valley Trail Races 2016:

On Saturday 13th February 2016, nearly seventy competitors turned out for the Roe Valley 5 mile Trail Race and associated 5k Race, an event organised by Northern Velocity and hosted within the confines of the scenic Roe Valley Country Park in Limavady.


City of Derry AC’s Allan Bogle, who won the last Northern Velocity event back in December 2015, lived up to his pre-race favourite billing as he cruised to a comprehensive victory.  The Spartan athlete covered the distance in 27:10 (1st place), over four minutes quicker than his closest rival, Foyle Valley AC’s Martin Gallagher, who crossed the line in 31:40 (2nd place).  Diarmud O’Kane (Acorns AC) followed in 34:37 for 3rd place.


Springwell Running Club athlete Ciara McSherry impressed in the ladies event, securing a well-deserved win in 37:32 (1st place).  Consistent runner Kerrie McIlmoyle (Foyle Valley AC) claimed the runners up spot in 39:47 (2nd place), before Kirsty Bogle (Ballydrain Harriers) completed the top three ladies in 41:59 (3rd place).


Adam Campbell (Springwell Running Club) won the associated 5k race, leading the field home in 29:38 (1st place), while Eleanor Blair (Unattached) led the ladies home in 31:12 (1st place).


Top 3 Men:  1st Allan Bogle (City of Derry AC) – 27:10, 2nd Martin Gallagher (Foyle Valley AC) – 31:40, 3rd Diarmud O’Kane (Acorns AC) – 34:37


Top 3 Ladies:  1st Ciara McSherry (Springwell Running Club) – 37:32, 2nd Kerrie McIlmoyle (Foyle Valley AC) – 39:47, 3rd Kirsty Bogle (Ballydrain Harriers) – 41:59


Full Results:  Northern Velocity Roe Valley Trail Races 2016 Results

Jonathan Browning and Andrew Mellon secure gold at IUAA Championships:

IUAA Indoor Track & Field Championships 2016 Results

On Friday 12th February 2016, a large number of runners from Northern Ireland represented their Universities at the prestigious Irish Universities Athletics Association (IUAA) Indoor Track & Field Championships at the AIT Arena in Athlone, Ireland.


Up and against some of Ireland’s top up and coming talent, the Northern Ireland based students excelled in several events.  Ballymena & Antrim AC Jonathan Browning, representing Queens University Belfast (QUB), carried on his excellent recent form when he sealed gold over 60 metres.  Jonathan edged out well-known Irish international Marcus Lawlor (IT Carlow) to win in 6.80secs (1st place).  In another exceptionally competitive final, Andrew Mellon (QUB) secured top spot in the 400 metres, seeing off DCU’s Timmy Crowe (2nd place – 48.21secs) to win in a speedy 48.08secs (1st place).


Also in the 400 metres, Northern Ireland Commonwealth Games star Christine McMahon (QUB) claimed 2nd place, narrowly missing a personal best when she recorded 54.87secs to finish behind University of Limerick athlete Jenna Bromell, who won in a new IUAA record of 54.68secs (1st place). Springwell Running Club and QUB athlete Neil Johnston impressed in the 3,000 metres, crossing the line in 8:38.50 (2nd place); the race was won by Pierre Munchen (DCU) in 8:36.90 (1st place).  In the 60 metres hurdles, Ulster University’s Garbhan McKenna picked up a bronze medal – the Shercock AC man jumped well to finish in 8.32 secs (3rd place).  The race was won by DCU’s Antonio Garcia Fernandez in a new IUAA record of 8.13secs (1st place).


Full Results:  IUAA Indoor Track & Field Championships 2016 Results

Weekend Preview:  We LOVE running!  Pure Running HM Series and more...

Weekend Preview:  We LOVE running…

On a weekend when love is very much in the air (yes, it’s Valentine’s Day on Sunday, get out and buy that card/present!), local athletes will lace up their racers in anticipation for another few days of events.  


On the home front, the Pure Running Half Marathon Series will kick off with the DUNE Half Marathon, while trail enthusiasts will get their fix with Sperrin Harriers’ 10 mile Trail Race in Parkanaur Forest and Northern Velocity’s O’Cahans Trail Race in Limavady.  


Outside the province, Northern Ireland will be well represented at the Irish University Athletics Association (IUAA) Track & Field Championships (Ireland), the Donadea 50k (Ireland) and the prestigious Carnethy 5 Mountain Race (Scotland).


Irish Universities Athletics Association Indoor Track & Field Championships (Ireland):

The weekend action will kick off later today (Friday 12th February 2016) when thousands of athletes will descend on the impressive and well used AIT Arena in Athlone (Ireland) for the Irish Universities Athletics Association Indoor Track & Field Championships.  


Amongst the plethora of up emerging talent who will be in competition will be numerous athletes from Northern Ireland, representing the University of Ulster and Queens University, as well as those who attend University in Ireland, such as UCD.  Some of the local stars on show may well include Amy Foster (City of Lisburn AC), Christine McMahon (Ballymena & Antrim AC), Neil Johnston (Springwell Running Club), Katie Kirk (QUB AC), Aislinn Crossey (Newry AC) and Rachel Gibson (North Down AC).


Sperrin Harriers Winter League Trail Series – Parkanaur 10 mile Trail Race:

On Saturday 13th February 2016, Sperrin Harriers will welcome athletes from across the province to the final race of their hugely success Winter League Trail Series.  On this occasion, Parkanaur Forest, Castlecaulfield is the venue of choice.  Participants will be faced with a 10 mile route, which covers three laps of the scenic forest, passing the historic and picturesque Parkanaur House en-route.


The well-established Series has attracted a record number of competitors and it’s likely that well in excess of two hundred participants will toe the line here.  At the competitive end of the pack, Michael Crawley (Unattached), winner of three of the four races so far, will feature well should he decide to run. The former Sperrin Harriers man should be joined by Pierce McCullagh (Sperrin Harriers), Neill Weir (Willowfield Harriers) and Gavin Corey (Sperrin Harriers), all of whom have featured on the podium throughout the Series.  Derry City Track Club athletes dominated the podium at Race 2, the Lough Fea 5k, and some of their longer distance athletes may race here; this may suit the likes of Martin Cox, who was a podium finisher in Race 3, the An Creagan 5 miler.  Eoin Hughes (Acorns AC), Simon Reeve (North Belfast Harriers) and Delfim Pimentel (Unattached) will all place well should they enter on the day.


Omagh Harriers athlete Julie Butler has been successful in the last two races of the Series, winning impressively, and should the Northern Ireland Masters international turn out here, she will again prove hard to beat.  Esther Dickson (Unattached), who in truth was an unknown quantity going into this Series, has impressed throughout, will also battle for a podium place.  The same could be said for Sperrin Harriers’ Pauline McGurren and Ballymena Runners’ Paula Arthur-McCarthy.  Emma Rice (Sperrin Harriers), Angela O’Neill (Sperrin Harriers), Lorna Sibbett (Ballymena Runners) and Sharon Harvey (Ballymena Runners) will all place well.

O’Cahans Trail Race:

Also on Saturday 13th February 2016, events management group Northern Velocity will host the O’Cahans 5 mile Trail Race in Limavady.  The event will take participants on an exciting and scenic route through Roe Valley Country Park, covering the majestic trails and interesting forest paths along the River Roe.


Allan Bogle (City of Derry AC) was victorious in the last Northern Velocity event, the Eglinton Trail Race at the back end of 2015 and should again start here.  It’s hard to look past Allan as a potential winner after his strong outing at the recent NI & Ulster Masters XC Championships, although the international runner and orienteering specialist may come up against training partners Scott Rankin, Chris McGuinness and Pius McIntyre, all from neighbouring North West club Foyle Valley AC.  


Gregory Lucy (Willowfield Harriers), Paul McCafferty (City of Derry AC), Thomas Leitch (Orangegrove AC) and Mark Mullan (City of Derry AC) may also race.  Meanwhile, in the ladies event, Anne Paul (City of Derry AC) will start as pre-race favourite but may have to contest the top prize with the always impressive Springwell Running Club pair of Fran McFadden and Gemma Turley.


Carnethy 5 Mountain Race (Scotland):

Elsewhere on Saturday 13th February 2016, at least seventeen runners from Northern Ireland will travel Scotland for the tough and somewhat iconic Carnethy 5 Mountain Race, close to Edinburgh, an event hosted by highly respected Scottish club Carnethy Hill Running Club.


Northern Ireland men Iain Whiteside and Eoin Lennon, both running for local club Carnethy HRC, are expected to lead the local athletes over the five major Pentland peaks, covering 6 miles in distance and 2,500ft in ascent. Ballymena Runners will be strongly represented, with Mark Alexander, Connor Reid, Ruth Aiken, Kathryn Grant and Northern Ireland international lady Gillian Wasson all making the journey.  2015 Ben Nevis Champion Diane Wilson (Dromore AC) will again test herself against the UK's top mountain running talent, accompanied by her husband Brian Wilson and his Newcastle AC club mates Eugene McCann and Paulette Thomson.  Other Northern Ireland international’s taking part will be Lagan Valley AC pair Shileen O'Kane and Anne Sandford.  Other local athletes who will feature include Gerry O'Doherty (Springwell Running Club), Peter Bell (Unattached) and Emmet McAlister (Unattached).


Amongst the sell-out six hundred strong field, the NI contingent will have to battle it out with some of the UK's top mountain runners. In the absence of 2015 Champion Andrew Douglas (Inverclyde), it is likely the 2016 Champion could come from previous winner and current British Fell Running Champion Finlay Wild (Lochaber AC) or other previous victors, Murray Strain (Hunter Bog Trotters) and Salomon's International athlete Tom Owens (Shettleston Harriers), who took third place last year (and won the event in 2011) – Carnethy HRC’s Andrew Fallas showed massive improvement in 2015, taking second place here and followed that up with other strong performances including a third place at the classic Yorkshire ‘Three Peaks’ race in April.  Inov-8's former English Fell Running Champion Tom Addison (Helm Hill Runners), Prasad Prasad (Squadra Porcini), Irish International Paul Tierney (Ambleside AC), Martin Mikkelsen-Barron (Borrowdale FR), Adam Perry (Helm Hill Runners), 2004 winner Jethro Lennox (Shettleston Harriers) and Ben Abdelnour (Ambleside AC), who recently completed the Bob Graham Round, will all run well.

In the ladies event, there is no sign of fourteen times winner and course record holder Angela Mudge (Carnethy HRC) on the start list. However, 2014 Champion, two times winner of the Snowdon International race and first lady home in the Garmin Mourne Skyline GTR event (2015), Sarah McCormack (Ambleside AC), will be joined by 2015 Carnethy 5 winner Charlotte Morgan (Carnethy HRC) and current British Fell Running Champion and winner of Northern Ireland Seven Sevens race Jasmin Paris (Carnethy HRC).  


Aside from the aforementioned NI lady Diane Wilson, another athlete worth a mention is Helen Bonsor (Carnethy HRC) - although finishing seventh here in 2015, Helen went on to win the strongly contested ‘Three Peaks’ race in later in the year, so will be worth watching.


Donadea 50k Ultra-Trail Race (incorporating AAI National 50k Championships):

In Ireland, on Saturday 13th February 2016, a number of Northern Ireland based men will travel to County Kildare (Ireland) for the Donadea 50k ultra-trail race, which will incorporate the AAI National 50k Championships.


North Belfast Harriers front man Matt Shields and Stephen Purvis of Ballymena Runners will both feature in the high quality and well-supported AAI National Championship event.  Both men ran well in last month’s East Antrim Marathon Series race in Jordanstown, with Matt completing the 26.2 mile distance in 3:11:22 for fourth place and Stephen taking fifth place in a personal best time of 3:12:46


Amongst those also due to start is previous winner Gary O'Hanlon (Clonliffe Harriers), who along with victory, took the Irish title here in 2015, with a time of 2:57:06.  Latvian runner and second place finisher in 2014 (behind the aforementioned Gary O'Hanlon), Raivis Zakis (West Waterford AC) will again take to the start line, hoping to take victory.  Other notable names include Irish Internationals John O'Regan (Le Cheile AC) and Richard Nunan (IMRA).  Experienced ultra-marathoners Vasiliy Neumerhitsky (Unattached) and Don Hannon (Trail Heads Team) will be in contention for podium places.  This year the female line up will not include any Northern Ireland based athletes.  That said, there is plenty of quality, with Irish International Suzanne Kenny (Trailheads Team) the likely candidate for victory.

DUNE Half Marathon (Pure Running Half Marathon Series):

On Sunday 14th February 2016, hundreds of athletes are expected to take on the first race of this year’s Pure Running Half Marathon Series, the DUNE Half Marathon, a cross-border event which this year will take competitors from the Quays Shopping Centre in Newry (Northern Ireland) to Market Square in Dundalk (Ireland).


After consultation with local authorities, organisers were advised to alter the race route and amend the event date, which is why it is now so early in the year and therefore kicks off the Series.  Slieve Gullion Runners’ Paddy Hamilton will hope to replicate the outstanding performance that saw him secure a superb win at last weekend’s Trim 10 mile road race, where he recorded a speedy 51:32.  The Northern Ireland international has a 13.1 mile personal best of 1:06:29 – if he gets anywhere close to that, it’s hard to see anyone getting close to him.  


In saying that, there will be a number of athletes keen to battle it out for the remaining podium places.  North Belfast Harriers’ Kent Swann may look to use this race to get close to his sub 1:15:00 target for the distance following the windy conditions at the Torremolinos Half Marathon last weekend where he picked up the prize for second place international male in a time of 1:18:05 in poor race conditions.  Aaron Woodman (PACE Running Club), Brian Todd (Orangegrove AC), Murray Deller (East Coast AC) and Barry Shanks (Unattached) will also finish well up the field.


The ladies race will bring two exceptionally talented ladies to the start line, with Mourne Runners’ in-form Laura Graham and City of Lisburn AC’s international duathlete/triathlete Judith Lonnen both expected to race.  Laura enjoyed an incredible run of results through the recent Born 2 Run ‘Run Forest Run’ Series, winning every race; in the middle the Kilkeel lady also won the Run 4 Rescue event.  Meanwhile, Judith is working her way back to full fitness and has shown some sign of the class that she possess, with a good run at Greencastle 5 on Boxing Day, where she clocked 31:35, narrowly missing a podium place in what was a classy field.  There are a number of contenders for the remaining podium places – Gillian Cordner (Seapark AC), Gillian Logan (Larne AC), Janice White (Unattached), Susan Smyth (Dromore AC) and Patricia McKibbin (Newcastle AC) are all consistent performers and will be looking for a good placing, but more importantly a good start to the season.


Parkrun:

As always, Northern Ireland’s twenty one 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.

Ciara Mageean smashes Irish record as local athletes impress on the track:

IAAF Karlsruhe T&F Meeting and AAI Indoor Games:

Over the course of this weekend (Saturday 6th and Sunday 7th February 2016), a host of Northern Ireland based track stars were in action at major events, spanning from Ireland through to Germany.  In what is an Olympic year, the local athletes made their mark with some top quality performances.


The highlight of the weekend was impressive outing by UCD AC athlete and Northern Ireland lady Ciara Mageean.  Ciara smashed the Irish national indoor 1500m record in Karlsruhe when taking a podium place 4:08.66 (3rd place).  This bettered Sinead Delahunty Evans' time of 4:11.06 set back in 2000.


Closer to home, Amy Foster (City of Lisburn AC) was in fine form as she clocked 7.33secs to win the 60m race at the AAI Games in Athlone; this was a mere 0.01secs away from Amy’s best for the distance, which bodes well for the season.  Also at the AAI Games, Ballymena & Antrim AC’s Christine McMahon dominated the 400m, storming to victory in 54.82secs – interestingly, City of Lisburn AC’s Erin McIlveen took 2nd place in 56.61secs.


Masters World Champion Kelly Neely once again showed her class over 800m.  Up against fellow Northern Ireland lady Katie Kirk (QUB AC), Kelly recorded a new personal best and Irish Veteran record of 2:08.49 (3rd place), finishing just behind the aforementioned Katie Kirk, who claimed 2nd place in 2:07.91; the race was won by Great Britain athlete Jodie William in 2:07.85 (1st place).


Jonathan Browning (Ballymena & Antrim AC) followed from his 60m personal best last weekend with another strong performance.  Jonathan won the 60m event in 6.87secs (1st place) and was joined on the podium by Ballymena & Antrim AC club mate Dean Adams, who took 3rd place in 7.01secs. In the longest race of the day, the 3,000m, Foyle Valley AC’s Scott Rankin crossed the line in 8:28.29 for 3rd place; the race was won by well-known Irish athlete Eoin Everard (Kilkenny City Harriers) in 8:13.20 (1st place).


Other highlight performances at the AAI Indoor Games were Jessica Craig (North Down AC), who claimed a bronze medal over 1500m, after running 4:42.60 (3rd place).  Kate Farrelly (City of Lisburn AC) recorded an excellent 9.72secs (2nd place) in the 60m hurdles and Craig Newell of Ballymena & Antrim AC continued his run of goo performances, taking 2nd place in the 200m event with a time of 22.11secs.  Full results for the AAI Indoor Games can be found HERE.

Paul Pollock wins as NI Olympic hopefuls record sub 30 minute 10k times:

Chichester 10k:

On Sunday 7th February 2016, two of Northern Ireland’s Olympic hopefuls were in action at the 25th annual Chichester 10k road race in Sussex, England.  Paul Pollock (Annadale Striders) and Kevin Seaward (St Malachy’s AC) faced a top quality field and also poor weather conditions.


The talented duo performed to their usual high standard, with both dipping under the infamous sub thirty minute mark.  Paul secured a marginal victory in a 10k road personal best of 29:42 (1st place), just one second ahead of Dorking & Mole Valley AC’s Luke Caldwell and Blackheath & Bromley AC’s Scott Overall, who both recorded 29:43 for 2nd place and 3rd place respectively.  Kevin followed closely, taking 5th place in 29:59.


Results (Top 25):  Chichester 10k 2015 Results


Trim 10 mile Road Race 2016 (Ireland):

On Sunday 7th February 2016, Northern Ireland man Paddy Hamilton (Slieve Gullion Runners) was victorious at the 2nd annual running of the Trim AC Bewleys 10 mile road race in Ireland.  The event took place over a fast and relatively flat circuit which led athletes through the neighbouring villages of Dunderry and Kilbride.  Paddy battled it out in a very close run contest with Eoin O Callaghan (Star of the Sea AC) but emerged six seconds ahead of the Meath man with a time of 51:32 (1st place).   After the race, the Northern Ireland man explained that he was satisfied with his performance and expressed the view that training in the hillier terrain of the Cooleys and south Armagh served him well on the more benign plains of Meath.

David O'Flaherty and Rebecca Henderson win Rollercoaster 5k:

Rollercoaster Road Races 2016:

On Saturday 6th February 2016, hundreds of runners turned out for the annual Rollercoaster Road Races, a well-organised event by East Down AC within the confines of the famous Downpatrick Horse Race Track.


After the vast array of junior races, it was time for the senior and veteran competitors to take to the start line for their 5k race.  The course which covers the road around the race track, as it says in the race title, is a much like a rollercoaster, a perfect example of undulating.  Pre-race favourites David O’Flaherty (Newcastle AC) and Brendan Teer (East Down AC) lived up to their excellent reputation, with David winning 16:35 (1st place) and Brendan taking 2nd place in 16:56, just one second ahead of Newcastle AC’s David Simpson, who completed the top three in 16:57 (3rd place).


The ladies race followed a similar story, with pre-race favourite Rebecca Henderson (Dromore AC) dominating proceedings.  Northern Ireland international Rebecca sealed a well-deserved win in 19:03 (1st place), while Beechmount Harriers’ Gerrie Short (19:30) and East Down AC’s Catherine O’Connor (20:18) securing 2nd place and 3rd place respectively.


Top 3 Men:  1st David O’Flaherty (Newcastle AC) – 16:35, 2nd Brendan Teer (East Down AC) – 16:56, 3rd David Simpson (Newcastle AC) – 16:57


Top 3 Ladies:  1st Rebecca Henderson (Dromore AC) – 19:03, 2nd Gerrie Short (Beechmount Harriers) – 19:30, 3rd Catherine O’Connor (East Down AC) – 20:18


Full Results:  Rollercoaster Road Races 2016 Results

Mark McKinstry and Laura Graham win Born 2 Run's Antrim Castle 10k:

Born 2 Run ‘Run Forest Run’ Antrim Castle 10k 2016:

On Saturday 6th February 2016, nearly seven hundred athletes descended on Antrim Castle grounds for the penultimate race in the Born 2 Run ‘Run Forest Run’ Series, for the Antrim Castle 10k.  This was the first time that the Series ventured towards the scenic Estate, which offered competitors a reasonably flat and fast route.


The Run Forest Run Series has been dominated by Mourne Runners duo William McKee and Laura Graham, both of whom had 100% records going into this race; both featured at the front once again, but it was North Belfast Harriers’ Mark McKinstry who led the field home.  After an exciting contest with the aforementioned William, Mark eventually sealed victory in 31:46 (1st place), with William following in 31:56 (2nd place).  City of Derry AC’s Allan Bogle completed the top three in 33:34 (3rd place).


In the ladies race, there was no stopping the always impressive Laura Graham (Mourne Runners), as she stormed to a comprehensive victory.  Laura took 9th place overall as she led the ladies home in an excellent 36:02 (1st place).  Louise Smith (North Belfast Harriers), no only lady who has challenged Laura throughout the Series, once again ran well to take the runners up spot in 37:47 (2nd place), while much respected Ballymena & Antrim athlete Pauline Thom crossed the line in 39:09 for 3rd place.


Top 3 Men:  1st Mark McKinstry (North Belfast Harriers) – 31:46, 2nd William McKee (Mourne Runners) – 31:56, 3rd Allan Bogle (City of Derry AC) – 33:34


Top 3 Ladies:  1st Laura Graham (Mourne Runners) – 36:02, 2nd Louise Smith (North Belfast Harriers) – 37:47, 3rd Pauline Thom (Ballymena & Antrim AC) – 39:09


Full Results:  Born 2 Run Antim Castle 10k 2016 Results (via Belfast Telegraph website)

Weekend Preview: Athletes prepare for local, national and international events...

Weekend Preview:  Local athletes prepare for local, national and international events…
Already February is upon us and this week has shown just how close it is until the local running scene shifts up another gear as we move towards Spring; the new Novosco 10k Grand Prix, an exciting idea by ChampionChip Ireland, and our very own Rathlin Run 2016 (in association with BAC) were both launched.  On top of these, the track season is muscling its way into the fray, with several major events on the horizon. 

Looking at the weekend ahead from a local events perspective, the Born 2 Run ‘Run Forest Run’ roadshow will roll into Antrim Castle, while the Rollercoaster Road Races will for many, mark the beginning of the road running season.  

On the track, junior athletes will take centre stage at the NI & Ulster Juvenile Indoor Track & Field Championships in Magherafelt.  Outside Northern Ireland, there will be a large local representation at the AAI Games in Athlone (Ireland), while several of our local marathon stars will compete over 10k in England.  Interestingly, there will also be an array of familiar faces at the Torremolinos Half Marathon in Spain.
Born 2 Run ‘Run Forest Run’ Antrim Castle 10k:
On Saturday 6th February 2016, over seven hundred athletes are expected to descend on the scenic Antrim Castle Gardens in Antrim for the penultimate race of the Born 2 Run ‘Run Forest Run’ Winter Series.  This will be the first time the event has been included in the Run Forest Run Series and on paper, it certainly looks to have personal best potential.  It is by far the flattest and fastest race of the popular Series.

Throughout the Series, there has been no stopping Mourne Runners duo William McKee and Laura Graham – the pair have dominated impressively, winning every race.  Both William and Laura will return and should hold onto their 100% records.  William will again face young Mark Cornett (St Peter’s AC), who claimed the runners up spot in Mount Stewart two weeks ago.  Alongside Mark, Aaron Woodman (Pace Running Club), Mark Walker (Marathon Club Ireland) and Conor Shiels (North Belfast Harriers) should be the main contenders for the podium, barring any late entries; given the location, this race would suit North Belfast Harriers’ in-form Mark McKinstry.  Norman Mawhinney (Ballydrain Harriers), Emmett Woods (Larne AC) and Gary Connolly (Seapark AC) should also go well.

In the ladies race, it is hard to look past Laura for victory.  Despite just getting over a virus, Laura should lead the way here, as in previous races.  One lady who may challenge at the front is Louise Smith (North Belfast Harriers) – Louise has been a late entrant to several of the Born 2 Run events and has become a podium regular.  Gemma Turley (Springwell Running Club) may enter on the day, but if not, it will be Pauline Thom (Ballymena & Antrim AC), Gillian Cordner (Seapark AC), Louise Smart (County Antrim Harriers), Attracta Magennis (Newry City Runners) and Martina Toal (Unattached) who battle it out for the remaining podium places.

Rollercoaster Road Races:
Also on Saturday 6th February 2016, East Down AC will welcome athletes to Downpatrick Horse Racing Track for their annual Rollercoaster Road Races.  The extensive race programme incorporates races for both junior and senior athletes, with all courses following the outer road around the famous horse racing venue; the day culminates with a 5k for the senior and veteran competitors.

East Down AC’s own Brendan Teer returned to action at the Raheny 5 mile road race in Dublin last weekend, where he recorded 27:03 for 32nd place.  Given that the former NI & Ulster Junior XC Champion is on his way back from injury, this was a good run – he’ll be hoping to continue his work towards full fitness and should play a major part should he choose to enter on the day.  Newcastle AC duo David McNeilly and David O’Flaherty are also likely to feature at the head of the pack should they compete; both have shown good form in recent Athletics NI XC League fixtures.  Their club mate, Martin Melville (Newcastle AC) has progressed at an impressive rate over the last twelve months and he, alongside the host club’s ever consistent Barrie Atkinson (East Down AC), will be considered as contenders for a podium place.  Richard Coey (Ballydrain Harriers), Lee Magennis (Newry AC), Conor McMullan (Annadale Striders) and Michael Cultra (East Down AC) should all finish well up the field.
In the ladies race, reigning Champion Rebecca Henderson (Dromore AC), may return to defend her title.  Since winning here in 2015, Rebecca has gone on to establish herself as one of of the country’s top female runners, excelling throughout the cross country season.  Rebecca’s performances have impressed to the point were she was selected to represent Northern Ireland at the recent IAAF Antrim International XC.  

However, should she want to retain her title, Rebecca may have to see off Northern Ireland international mountain runner Catherine O’Connor (East Down AC) and veteran XC international Gerrie Short (Beechmount Harriers), both of whom possess the quality to win on their day.  Joanne Mills (Newcastle AC) will also feature well up the field should she toe the line, while  Sam McNeilly (Newcastle AC), Lorna Fitzpatrick (Unattached), Laura Gardiner (East Down AC) and Cheryl Denvir (East Down AC) should all perform well if they decent to race.

NI & Ulster Juvenile Indoor Track & Field Championships:
In Magherfelt, on Saturday 6th and Sunday 7th February 2016, junior athletes from across the province will take to the indoor track at Meadowbank Sports Arena in Magherafelt for the annual NI & Ulster Juvenile Indoor Track & Field Championships.  Athletes from Under 12 to Under 19 age groups will feature, with events ranging from the 60 metres to 1500 metres.  

Many of the provinces top junior stars will be in action as they work their way through the athletic ranks.  Little information is available as to who will actually participate, however, we would expect the likes of Oisin O’Callaghan (Newry AC), Niamh Heaney (Omagh Harriers), Paul Carty (Lagan Valley AC), Eilish Flanagan (Omagh Harriers), Odhran Hamilton (3 Ways AC), Aidan McCluskey (Mid Ulster AC), Roisin Flanagan (Omagh Harriers), Enya Haigney (Omagh Harriers) and Caleb Moore (Ballymena & Antrim AC) all to feature in what should be an excellent few days of competition.  A full timetable for the event is available HERE.

GloHealth AAI Games (Ireland):

On Sunday 7th February 2016, a plethora of Northern Ireland’s top track stars will be in action at the annual AAI Games, hosted by Athletics Ireland at the impressive and well used AIT Arena in Athlone, Ireland.  The event never fails to attract top quality athletes and this year will be no different, with competitors from Northern Ireland, Ireland and Great Britain all set to race.


Northern Ireland Commonwealth Games athletes Kerry O’Flaherty (Newcastle AC), Katie Kirk (QUB AC), Amy Foster (City of Lisburn AC) and Christine McMahon (Ballymena & Antrim AC) will all compete and will have high hopes of kicking off their 2016 track campaign in style.  Kerry has enjoyed some excellent cross country races over the Winter, with the obvious highlight being a team medal at the European XC Championships, while Katie has dabbled with ‘the country’ but more recently focused on some warm weather training in preparation for an Olympic year on the track.  Meanwhile, Amy had an excellent season opener last week, running 7.39secs for 60 metres at the Welsh Athletics Indoor Championships.  Queen’s University student Christine will be looking forward to her first race of the year and she’ll be hoping to emulate her excellent start to the 2015 season, where she opened with a 55.06secs 400m; Christine will race over her favourite 400m again here.


The aforementioned quartet will not be the only familiar faces competing at the prestigious event – Jonathan Browning (Ballymena & Antrim AC) will hope to follow on from his blistering performance at the Scottish Athletics Indoor Championships last week, where he recorded a new personal best of 6.83secs for 60 metres.  Classy veteran and current World Masters 800m Champion Kelly Neely (City of Lisburn AC) will compete over 800m, while Ann-Marie McGlynn (Letterkenny AC) and decorated international triathlete Aileen Reid (City of Derry AC) will compete over 3,000m.  Other Northern Ireland based athletes to look out for include Scott Rankin (Foyle Valley AC), Dean Adams (Ballymena & Antrim AC), Rachel Gibson (North Down AC), Kate Farrelly (City of Lisburn AC), Conor McIlveen (Derry City Track Club), James Hamilton (Ballymena Runners), Jessica Craig (North Down AC), Erin McIlveen (City of Lisburn AC), Hannah McGowan (Derry City Track Club), Brendan Moren (Willowfield Harriers) and Jonathan Carelton (Ballymena & Antrim AC).  Note: For those interested in following the event, we recommend ‘following’ Athletics Ireland on twitter, where full updates will be provided.  A start list for the event is available HERE.


Chichester 10k Road Race:

In England on Sunday 7th February 2016, two of Northern Ireland’s Rio Olympics hopefuls will be in action at the 25th annual Chichester 10k road race is Sussex, England.  Paul Pollock (Annadale Striders) and Kevin Seaward (St Malachy’s AC) will be looking for a solid start as they look towards cementing their places on the Ireland team for this year’s Olympic Games in Rio (Brazil).  The local pair will be up against some top opposition, such as Newham & Essex Beagles AC duo John Beattie and Lee Merrien.


Torremolinos Half Marathon (Spain):

On Sunday 7th February 2016, a number of local clubs will be represented at the annual Torremolinos Half Marathon, close to Malaga in Spain.  A group of athletes from East Coast AC, North Belfast Harriers and Larne AC will travel together for the event, which will attract participants from around the world, despite its tough course.


Looking at the competitive end of the spectrum, James Robinson (East Coast AC), David Clarke (North Belfast Harriers), Alex Robertson (East Coast AC), Carol Clarke (North Belfast Harriers), Janice Plumb (North Belfast Harriers), Iain Bailie (East Coast AC), Catherine Maxwell (East Coast AC) and Stephen Smyth (East Coast AC) should all finish well up the field.


Parkrun:

As always, Northern Ireland’s twenty one 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.

Note:  Remember - If you would like to catch up on the news from January 2016, just click HERE.  This includes information on the Novosco 10k Grand Prix and the Rathlin Run 2016.  You can also view the 'news' archive by using the navigation bar at the top of the page.