Northern Ireland Running

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Garmin Mourne Skyline MTR once again part of Skyrunner National Series:

Garmin Mourne Skyline Mountain Trail Race again part of Skyrunner National Series 2017:

Today, Wednesday 1st March 2017, Skyrunning UK announced the 2017 Skyrunner National Series.  NiRunning's Garmin Mourne Skyline Mountain-Trail Race, which will take place on Saturday 21st October 2017, will again be part of the prestigious Series.


NiRunning's Ryan Maxwell, race director of the Garmin Mourne Skyline MTR, said "Since the first year of our Garmin Mourne Skyline MTR, we have been truly humbled by the level of support that we have received in relation to the event.  Year on year it's amazing to see our best NI athletes take on the cream of Skyrunning talent from around the globe - this year will be no different."


Ryan continued, "again in 2017, like previous years, we will try to build on the event.  We have already received enquiries from some major teams in the Skyrunner World Series and we hope that they will encourage their athletes to come to Northern Ireland and race in our amazing Mourne Mountains.  Entries for the Garmin Mourne Skyline MTR 2017 will open on St Patrick's Day (Friday 17th March 2017) at 7am.  We have massive respect for the mountain environment and the entry limit will remain at 250 - I would therefore encourage anyone who wants to race at the event to secure there place early as we expect to reach capacity fairly quickly."


Full details of the Garmin Mourne Skyline MTR can be found on the official race website at www.mourneskylinemtr.com


Skyrunning UK published the following press release in relation to the Skyrunner National Series 2017...

Skyrunning UK is pleased to announce the confirmed calendar for 2017 (article by Skyrunning UK):


Following on from a very successful 2016, changes have taken place over the winter months and Skyrunning UK is now pleased to confirm races that will take place in the UK calendar for 2017.


V3K (WALES):

The season will start with the V3K taking place on June 24th. Now in its 4th year on the Skyrunning UK calendar, the race personifies what makes a great Skyrunning course – technical terrain, elevation, a challenge and amazing landscape. It’s a rugged race that requires an awareness of the mountains and the challenging Crib Goch provides exposure and lofty heights to place each and every runner in the sky! 55km and 4000m of vertical ascent provides a stunning start to the 2017 season.


LAKES SKY ULTRA & SCAFELL SKYRACE (ENGLAND):

The Lakes Sky Ultra team once again bring us the Lakes Sky Ultra and a new race, Scafell Sky Race for 2017. This duo of races take place on the 15th and 16th July and provide two incredible opportunities. The Lakes Sky Ultra is a tough, challenging and adventurous race that requires experience and vetting. Elevated ridge lines, exposure, tough, challenging and technical terrain all pale into insignificance with grade 3 scrambles. Extreme, gnarly and hardcore, it’s everything a Skyrunning race should be! 55km in length and 4500m of vertical gain.


The Scafell Sky Race offers a 40km race and 2700m of vertical gain. It’s a challenging race that like its bigger brother offers an incredible Skyrunning experience. However, the challenge is less extreme and vetting is not required. Therefore, this race is open to all. 


SKYLINE SCOTLAND (SCOTLAND):

In 2017 Skyline Scotland provided us with three events, the Mamores VK, the Ring of Steall Sky Race and the Extreme Glen Coe Skyline – the latter event was a Skyrunner World Series event. In 2017, race organisers Ourea Events add an Ultra, the Ben Nevis Ultra.  For the UK series, to have a Skyrunner World Series event in the UK was incredible – in 2017 we don’t go one step farther, but three steps. The Ring of Steall, Ben Nevis Ultra and Glen Coe Skyline will all be in the SWS calendar. The Mamores VK will be added to the new VK Series. Taking place over an action packed weekend of the 15th, 16th and 17th September, Skyline Scotland will not only provide one of the key weekends on the UK calendar but also the world calendar.


GARMIN MOURNE SKYLINE MTR (NORTHERN IRELAND):

To conclude the 2017 season will be the Mourne Skyline MTR in Ireland which takes place on October 21st. This race over the last 3-years has grown to become a favourite of all the runners who have participated in the UK series. At 35km’s it is one of the shorter races in the UK circuit, however, the Mourne Mountains pack a whopping 3370m of vertical gain. Salomon International athlete and Skyrunning World champion, Stevie Kremer, said it is one of the hardest events she has ever participated in. Don’t let that put you off though. The landscape, terrain, views and Irish hospitality make this a stunning way to close the 2017 series. Entries are available from Friday 17th March 2017.


In 2016, the Skyrunning UK Series was won by Bjorn Verduijn and Sarah Ridgway, they both will gain free entry into all 2017 events as part of their prize.  For 2017, the Series will take place once again but with some changes.  Full details can be found on the Skyrunning UK website HERE.

David McKee and Shalene McMurray excel at Born 2 Run's Castlewellan 10k:

Born 2 Run ‘Run Forest Run’ Castlewellan 10k & 5k 2017:

On Saturday 25th February 2017, hundreds of athletes descended on the picturesque Castlewellan Country Park in County Down for the final race of Born 2 Run’s ‘Run Forest Run’ Series, the Castlewellan 10k.  There was also an associated 5k event. 


Mourne Runners star David McKee, who has impressed throughout the Series, delivered an excellent performance to seal a well-deserved victory. After seeing off the ever consistent Don Travers (Newry City Runners), David broke the tape in 35:18 (1st place), with Don following in 35:31 (2nd place).  Tim Johnston (Mourne Runners) crossed the line in 37:07 for 3rd place.


In the ladies race, Northern Ireland international Shalene McMurray (Newcastle AC) lived up to expectation.  Not only did Shalene win the ladies race in an excellent 39:20 (1st place), but she also claimed 6th place overall.  Cathy McCourt (Unattached) took 2nd place in 41:45, before mountain runner Moire O’Sullivan (Unattached) clocked 43:21 for 3rd place.


In the associated 5k race, Acorns AC’s Sam Linton continued his winning form with another victory in the Series.  Sam led the field home in 18:04 (1st place).  The leading lady, Ann Terek (City of Lisburn AC), another top performer throughout the Series, took 2nd place behind Sam and 1st place in the ladies race in 19:17.


Full Results:  Born 2 Run Castlewellan 10k Race & 5k Race 2017 Results.  The overall standings of the Born 2 Run ‘Run Forest Run’  Series are available on the Born 2 Run website HERE .

Karen Alexander and Vincent McAlister win Sperrin Harriers Winter League finale:

Vincent McAlister and Karen Alexander win at Sperrin Harriers Winter League finale:

On Saturday 25th February 2017, almost 140 runners braved the blustery conditions as they took on the final race of the Sperrin Harriers Winter League Trail Series 2017.  The Series finale saw competitors take on a testing but scenic Parkanaur Forest 10 mile course, which comprised of three laps of the forest.


In the overall men’s category, Eoin Hughes (Acorns AC) and Vincent McAlister (Unattached) were vying for top spot.  Vincent gained the advantage over Eoin, who was the leading contender going into this race, with an impressive win to finish the Series.  The unattached athlete recorded an impressive 57:17 for 1st place.  Next across the line was Newry City Runners’ Christopher Devine taking in 58:08 (2nd place). The aforementioned Eoin, encouraged by club mate Martin McVey (Acorns AC)  toughed it out to claim 4th place in 58:55, but this was just behind Martin, who finished in 58:54 for 3rd place.


In the ladies category overall, Karen Alexander (Acorns AC), who had picked up perfect scores at the Davagh Forest and Drum Manor Forest races, went into the final race as Champion elect.  The only athlete who could stop Karen from taking top spot overall was Ciara Toner (Springwell Running Club) who had to beat her in this race to stand a chance. However, Karen was in winning form again, taking 1st place in 1:02:46.  Martsje Hell (North Belfast Harriers) took 2nd place in 1:05:25, before Ciara Toner completed the podium in 1:07:25 (3rd place).


Full Results:  Sperrin Harriers Winter League Trail Series Parkanaur 10 mile Trail Race 2017 Results.  The overall standings of the Sperrin Harriers Winter League Trail Series 2017 will be published on the Sperrin Harriers website HERE in the coming days.

Local athletes perform well in England, Scotland, Ireland, Japan and Australia:

Local athletes impress outside Northern Ireland:

As always, the weekend (Friday 24th, Saturday 25th and Sunday 26th February 2017) saw a large number of familiar faces toe the line at numerous events outside Northern Ireland.  Most notably, there was quality performances by local runners at events in England, Scotland, Ireland, Australia and Japan.


Queensland Track & Field Championships (Australia):

Northern Ireland's Amy Foster (City of Lisburn AC) continued her good form in Australia over the weekend (Friday 24th and Saturday 25th February 2017), adding a Queensland Track & Field Championships silver medal to her recent accolades.  Amy recorded 11.72secs for 1st place in her 100m Heat, then clocked 11.73secs to claim 2nd place in the Final.


Leinster Indoor Track & Field Championships (Ireland):

At the Leinster Track & Field Championships in Ireland on Sunday 26th February 2017, Ciara Mageean (UCD AC) looked in excellent shape as she cruised to victory over 800m.  According to reports from the event, the newly crowned AAI National 3,000m Indoor Champion went through 400m in 62secs – she went on to win in 2:03.73 (1st place).


Scottish National XC Championships (Scotland):

In Scotland on Saturday 25th February 2017, there was a host of NI talent on show at the Scottish National XC Championships in Calendar Park, Falkirk.  The local contingent performed well, with Conan McCaughey (37:06) claiming 20th place in the men’s 10k race; his Central AC team won team title for the sixth time.  Also, Eoin Lennon (Carnethy HRC) ran 37:14 for 22nd place.  In the ladies 10k race, Erin McIlveen (City of Lisburn AC & Victoria Park Glasgow AC) covered the muddy route in 49:43 for 107th place, while Dumfries RC athlete & Sian Finlay clocked 52:17 for 154th place.

Glentress Trail Marathon (Scotland):

Staying in Scotland, local athlete Aisling Allum (Carnethy HRC) secured a top ten place at the tough Glentress Trail Marathon on Saturday 25th February 2017. Aisling recorded 4:51:00 for 9th place - the very competitive race was won by Anna Gilmore (Harmeny AC) in 4:26.54.  NI man Dave Maxwell (Unattached) ran well in the associated 21k event, taking 108th place in 2:20:55.


Tokyo Marathon (Japan):

In Japan on Sunday 26th February 2017, there was some impressive outings by local athletes at the famous Tokyo Marathon, which attracts tens of thousands of competitors from across the globe.  The race was won by Wilson Kipsang in 2:03:58, but it was a significant personal best by NI based Aaron Woodman (PACE Running Club) which caught local attention – Aaron ran 2:33:55, smashing his previous 26.2 mile best of 2:38:10.


English National XC Championships (England):

On Saturday 25th February 2017, local athletes were also in action at the English National XC Championships in Nottingham, England.  Derry Track Club’s Adam Kirk-Smith represented London Heathside AC and covered the 12k course in 41:54 for 43rd place.  Katie Moore (North Down AC & Herne Hill Harriers) claimed 75th place in the ladies 8k, running 32:51 for the distance.

Hundreds brave tough conditions for record breaking Resolution Run 10k & 5k:

Resolution Run 5k & 10k 2017:

On Sunday 26th February 2017, hundreds of runners braved torrential rain and blustery wind as they took on the increasingly popular and well-organised Resolution Run 5k & 10k races, hosted by Stroke Association NI at the Queen’s Sport Complex on the Upper Malone Road in Belfast.


A record number of athletes covered the one (5k) or two (10k) lap course, depending on the event they chose – the lap took runners around the QUB Complex towards Barnetts Demesne and Shaws Bridge, along the Lagan Towpath and uphill into the Mary Peters Track, before they made their way back to the QUB Complex; the 5k participants would finish and the 10k runners would complete their second and final lap.


Ballydrain Harriers man Daniel Burns was the star of the show in the 5k event.  Despite some noteworthy competition, Daniel cruised to victory in an excellent 19:24 (1st place).  Well respected athlete Turlough Donnelly (Unattached) was a welcome addition to the line-up and the former Abbey AC star, who has previously recorded 15:31 for 5k, claimed 2nd place in 20:20.  Martin Southwood (Annadale Striders) completed the top three in 20:24 (3rd place).


In the ladies race, experienced Dromore AC athlete Andrea Heslip led the way.  Andrea looked a class act as she claimed a comfortable victory in 22:51 (1st place).  Laura Graham (Unattached) followed in 2nd place, clocking 26:04 for the distance.  Donna Healey (Unattached) crossed the line in 28:42 for 3rd place.

In the 10k race, Damien Burns (Club Unknown) saw off last year’s first and second place finishers to secure a well-deserved win.  Damien led from the off and broke the tape in a credible 37:28 (1st place). Finbar Keary (Unattached) bettered his third place finish from 2016 when he took 2nd place in 39:54, before outgoing Champion Connor Kerr (Unattached) completed the podium places in 40:08 (3rd place).


As expected, Larne natives Allyson O’Toole (East Coast AC) and Gillian Logan (Orangegrove AC) contested the ladies top prize.  Both ran well, but it was NIMAA cross country international Allyson who came out on top, winning in 44:20 (1st place). Gillian crossed the line in 48:05 for 2nd place, while Aoife Fitzgerald (Unattached) ran 48:16 for 3rd place.


Podium Places – 5k Race:

Top 3 Men:  1st Daniel Burns (Ballydrain Harriers) – 19:24, 2nd Turlough Donnelly (Unattached) – 20:20, 3rd Martin Southwood (Annadale Striders) – 20:24


Top 3 Ladies:  1st Andrea Heslip (Dromore AC) – 22:51, 2nd Laura Graham (Unattached) – 26:04, 3rd Donna Healey (Unattached) – 28:42


Podium Places – 10k Race:

Top 3 Men:  1st Damien Burns (Club Unknown) – 37:28, 2nd Finbar Keary (Unattached) – 39:54, 3rd Connor Kerr (Unattached) – 40:08


Top 3 Ladies:  1st Allyson O’Toole (East Coast AC) – 44:20, 2nd Gillian Logan (Orangegrove AC) – 48:05, 3rd Aoife Fitzgerald (Unattached) - 48:16


Full results:  Resolution Run 5k & 10k Results 2017.  Photos from the Stroke Association NI Resolution Run 5k & 10k will be added to our website in the coming days.

William McKee and Sinead Sweeney take charge at Stormont XC:

NICS AC Stormont XC 2016:

On Saturday 25th February 2017, hundreds of athletes and spectators descended on the home of Northern Ireland’s government, Stormont Estate, for the annual Northern Ireland Civil Service AC Stormont XC.


After several days of unsettled weather, athletes were greeted by almost perfect conditions and the competitive junior race programme set things up for the adult races to follow. 


The first of which was the Ladies and Veteran Vet60+ Men’s 3.3 mile race.  Like all the races, this covered a new course, all of which was based on the western side of the famous Prince of Wales Avenue, in the shadows of Stormont Castle.  


In truth, it was a surprise package in the form of QUB AC athlete Sinead Sweeney who stole the headlines.  As the athletes set off on their three lap course, Sinead made her way to the front of the pack, with emerging English triathlete Sarah Hodgson, AAI National Marathon and Half Marathon Champion Laura Graham (Mourne Runners), NI international XC runner Rachel Gibson (North Down AC) and Ulster Schools Champion Rebekah Nixon (Dromore AC) settling in behind. 


As the ladies moved into the second lap, Sinead had a 20 metre lead on Sarah, who in-turn was approximately twenty metres ahead of Laura, Rachel and the leading Vet60+ athlete Matt Shields (North Belfast Harriers).  Rebekah was still in touch, but just off the chasing pack. As the race progressed, Sinead continued her relentless pace and moved clear of the pack.  Behind, Laura, who was competing in her first competitive cross country race had moved clear of the always consistent Rachel and reduced the gap between herself and Sarah.  By this time, Matt (who was in second place overall) had all but secured victory in the Vet60+ event.


There was no stopping Sinead as she powered through the final lap, holding onto her lead despite a strong finish by Mourne Runners star Laura. Sinead recorded 19:40 for 1st place, with Laura securing the runners up spot in 20:13 (2nd place).  Sarah held on for 3rd place, crossing the line in 20:22.  Matt led the Vet60+ men home in 20:06 (1st place).

The final race of the exciting event programme saw the men take to the start line for their four lap 4.4 mile race.  After a fast start, a group containing Neill Weir (Willowfield Harriers), William McKee (Mourne Runners) and North Belfast Harriers pair Michael McKillop and Ed Cooke led the way.  Behind, Neil Carty (North Belfast Harriers) fronted a chase pack which included Ryan Andrews (Ballydrain Harriers), Francis Marsh (North Down AC) and Ethan Dunn (Ballydrain Harriers).


After lap two of four, there was some change at the head of the pack, with Neill Weir and William McKee moving clear, running pretty much shoulder to shoulder in the lead.  Neill Carty was now in the final podium place, with Ryan Andrews and the emerging Joe McKevitt (Slieve Gullion Runners) in pursuit.


Nothing split Neill Weir and William McKee until the final lap, when William made a significant move, surging clear as he ran towards the dominant Stormont Castle for the final time.  Neill Weir continued to battle and was now well clear of Neil Carty who had all but cemented his third place. In the end, it was NIMRA Champion William who broke the tape first, taking top spot in 24:14 (1st place).  Neill Weir claimed a well-deserved 2nd place in 24:24, before Neil Carty completed the top three in 24:48 (3rd place).


Top 3 Ladies (3.3 miles):  1st Sinead Sweeney (QUB AC) – 19:40, 2nd Laura Graham (Mourne Runners) – 20:13, 3rd Sarah Hodgson (England) – 20:22


Top 3 Men (4.4 miles):  1st William McKee (Mourne Runners) – 24:14, 2nd Neill Weir (Willowfield Harriers) – 24:24, 3rd Neil Carty (North Belfast Harriers) – 24:48


Full Results:  Stormont XC 2017 Results.  Photos from the Stormont XC will be added to our website in the coming days.

Weekend Preview:  Local athletes set for a busy weekend of running...

Weekend Preview: A busy weekend ahead for local athletes!

Almost every week of the year local athletes are treated to an excellent choice of races and this weekend is no different, with four major fixtures taking place over a variety of terrain.


The Stormont XC, Born 2 Run Castlewellan 10k, Sperrin Harriers Winter League Series Parkanaur 10 mile Trail Race and the 3rd annual Resolution Run 10k & 5k will take centre stage.  All four races will attract a large number of participants, as should the St Martin’s GAC 10k in Desertmartin.


Stormont XC:

On Saturday 25th February 2017, 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 for the first time in several years, organisers have been granted permission to use the original ‘all grass’ course; this will prove popular with competitors.

North Down AC should be well represented and it could Dennis Scott, the reigning Champion, who again steals the headlines.  Dennis had a good run at the Armagh 3k where he recorded 9:38 for the distance.  Neill Weir (Willowfield Harriers) should start and will be amongst the leading contenders for a podium spot if he does – the Belfast man could be joined by North Belfast Harriers athlete John Black, Newcastle AC’s David McNeilly and Acorns AC’s Darrell McKee.  


Other men who will go well could include Neil Carty (North Belfast Harriers), Kevin O’Boyle (Unattached), Francis Marsh (North Down AC) and Eddie Cooke (North Belfast Harriers).


In the ladies race, recently crowned NI & Ulster Intermediate XC Champion Jodi Smith (North Down AC) and NI & Ulster Masters XC Champion Amy Bulman (Willowfield Harriers) will be considered as pre-race favourites considering their form throughout the cross country season.  However, the talented pairing will come up against Laura Graham (Mourne Runners), who is keen to test herself over the heavy ground.  Last year’s winner Karen Alexander (Acorns AC) may return if she doesn’t opt for the Sperrin Harriers Winter League Series fixture and could be joined by Laura Bickerstaff (Dromore AC), Debbie Matchett (Ballydrain Harriers), Beverley Mitchell (Albertville Harriers) and Shileen O’Kane (Lagan Valley AC), amongst others.

Born 2 Run ‘Run Forest Run’ Castlewellan 10k:

Also on Saturday 25th February 2017, local events management company Born 2 Run will host the final race of their Run Forest Run Series, the Castlewellan 10k trail race (and the associated 5k event).  


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.


Don Travers (Newry City Runners), winner of the last Born 2 Run event in Gosford, will again be hunting for victory.  The Northern Ireland international has what it takes to lead the way, but will have to fend off the always impressive Timmy Johnston (Mourne Runners), who has also tasted success in this year’s Series.  Oliver Cooke (PACE Running Club) has featured regularly throughout the Run Forest Run Series and will again perform well here, as will Jonny Gregg (Unattached), Ian Keys (Lagan Valley AC) and the always consistent Michael McKeown (East Down AC).


It's hard to look past Newcastle AC star and current NI & Ulster Senior XC Champion Shalene McMurray when selecting a potential winner.  The versatile athlete never fails to impress when she takes to the start line, and this course will suit her! Series regular Catherine Roberts (North Down AC) will no doubt be amongst the leading ladies, while Mourne Runners duo Joanne Graham and Bethany Haugh will be hoping to continue their recent good form.  Triathlete Nichola Swann (Invictus Triathlon Club) will also go well.


Sperrin Harriers Parkanaur 10 mile Trail Race:

In County Tyrone on Saturday 25th February 2017, Sperrin Harriers will host the final race of their increasingly popular Winter League Trail Series, with the Parkanaur 10 mile trail race taking place close to Dungannon.  At the Drum Manor 10k, Vincent McAlister (Unattached) was rewarded for his excellent performances throughout the Series with a superb victory.  There’s no doubt Vincent will return for this event and will again feature at the head of the pack.  


However, City of Derry AC’s Michael Crawley will be the man to beat if he starts.  Michael has claimed a podium spot in the two previous races he’s attended in the Series and after a 15:51 clocking at the Armagh 5k, he has shown that he has the speed to lead the way.  Acorns AC’s Eoin Hughes and Martin McVey should play a part, while Pierce McCullagh (Sperrin Harriers), Alex Brennan (Ballymena Runners), Andy Gregg (Larne AC) and Mark Alexander (Ballymena Runners) will all finish well up the field.


A stunning performance by Catherine Whoriskey (City of Derry AC) in Race 3 lit up the Series, but the Spartan athlete is unlikely to return following her marathon heroics in Spain last weekend.  That leaves the way for the Karen Alexander (Acorns AC) to add to her Series points with another top spot here.  Karen will come up against Springwell Running Club duo Ciara Toner and Karen McLaughlin, as well as Sperrin Harriers’ Angela O’Neill and Tanya Quinn.  Ballymena Runners’ Gillian Wasson will also be worth watching, as will North Belfast Harriers’ Martsje Hell.

Resolution Run 5k & 10k:

On Sunday 26th February 2017, a record number of athletes will take on the 3rd 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.


Three of the four race winners from 2016 will return – Gillian Logan (Orangegrove AC) and Conor Kerr (Unattached) will again take on the 10k, while North Down AC’s Sarah Lindsay will be the one to beat in the ladies 5k.  Men’s 5k winner in 2016, Gavin Campbell (Unattached), is an unfortunate absentee due to injury.


Finbar Keary (Unattached) will also be hoping for a podium place in the 10k race, he will come up against experienced runners Michael Kelso (Unattached) and Ian Keys (Lagan Valley AC).  Meanwhile, Gillian will face Northern Ireland international Allyson O’Toole (East Coast AC) in the ladies 10k.  The aforementioned Sarah Lindsay while be the lady to beat in the 5k – the talented runner will place well overall, not only in the ladies event.  Dromore AC’s Andrea Heslip will contest a podium spot.


Important Note:  Although inline entry for the Resolution Run 2017 is now closed, a limited number of spaces will be available on race day.  These will be sold on a first come first served basis and those wishing to register on the day should arrive early.


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

Also on Sunday 26th February 2017, St Martin’s GAC will host their annual 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), Sam Linton (Acorns AC), Shane Donnelly (Acorns AC), Delfim Pimentel (Unattached), Esther Dickson (Newry AC) 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 four 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.

Popular Novosco 10k Grand Prix returns for 2017:

Novosco 10k Grand Prix returns for 2017:

The Novosco 10k Grand Prix  is back bigger and better, with the addition of two major races for 2017.


The Craic 10k and the Run in the Dark are joining the series this year, bringing the total number of races in the Grand Prix to 15. The not-for-profit competition of 10 kilometre races will take place between March and November and will have a prize fund of more than £6,000.


Sponsored by managed cloud company Novosco and organised by Glenn Grant, who owns electronic timing chip company ChampionChip Ireland, the Grand Prix features individual racers as well as club and corporate teams.


The first race in the competition is the Jimmy’s 10k in Downpatrick on Sunday 12th March 2017, followed by the Craic 10k in Belfast on St Patrick’s Day (Friday 17th March 2017).  Other races in the series include the Run Armagh 10k, the Enniskillen 10k and the Bangor Classic, before finishing up with the Seeley Cup in Ormeau Park, Belfast in November.


Organiser Glenn Grant said: “The inaugural year of the Novosco 10k Grand Prix attracted interest from thousands of runners, and we are delighted to bring the series back bigger and better for 2017, thanks to the ongoing support of our sponsor Novosco.  We already have well over 500 registered this year and anticipate further significant interest from individual runners, clubs and corporate teams. Runners only have to complete six races to be ranked in the final table, so entries can made right up until the Comber 10k in July."


Novosco managing director, Patrick McAliskey, said: “We are delighted to support the enlarged Novosco 10k Grand Prix in 2017. Running is popular in the IT sector, and we know that it is a passion for an increasing number of people across Northern Ireland. So it is fitting that the Novosco Grand Prix is increasing in size and promises to involve an even larger number of people this year. In addition to individual runners and club teams, we also look forward to welcoming corporate teams to the competition, and are very pleased that some of Northern Ireland’s largest companies already have teams signed up.”


Further information about the Novosco 10k Grand Prix, including registration, is available at: www.novosco10kgrandprix.com

Hundreds expected to turn out for popular Queen's 5k road race:

Hundreds expected to turn out for popular Deep RiverRock Queen’s 5k ‘Race Round the River’ 2017:

Hundreds of students, staff and local runners are expected to turn out once again for the popular Deep RiverRock Queen’s 5k ‘Race Round the River’ event that will take place on Wednesday 29th March 2017, just ahead of the Easter break.  The main event will kick off at 7.30pm with the 3k‘warm up race’ starting at the earlier time of 6.50pm.


The flagship 5k race in Northern Ireland has again been granted NI and Ulster 5k (Road) Championship status from Athletics NI and organisers look forward to another fast and competitive race along the unique route around the River Lagan. Queen’s Sport, Physical Education Centre (PEC) will once again act as the Race HQ for pre and post-race requirements.


Kevin Murray, Sport Development Officer at Queen’s said, “We look forward to another successful event with runners from throughout Belfast and beyond taking part in this special ‘Race Round the River’. The 3k ‘warm up race’ also offers a shorter route for junior athletes and participants of all abilities to get involved. We acknowledge the support from the University and our principle partner Deep RiverRock in making this event happen.


Deborah Gilliland, Captain of the Athletics Club added, “We encourage those interested in taking part to enrol early to avoid disappointment as we sold out last year. Early enrolment will guarantee the specially branded Queen’s 5k T-shirt. We are also encouraging students of all abilities to get involved and challenge themselves over the 3k or 5k course routes.”


Oonagh Gildea, Marketing Manager for Deep RiverRock said, “I am delighted to announce our continued support for the ‘Race Round the River’ event taking place from the beautiful Queen’s PEC.  “With its roots in the glacial hills of County Antrim, Deep RiverRock is a locally sourced water brand and a perfect fit for this much-loved community event. We are passionate about encouraging athletes to stay hydrated and on top of their game, and will be keen to support all participants with fun and refreshment on the day.”


For more information on the races, entry fees and the course visit www.queenssport5k.com.

Four NI runners named in Ireland's European Indoor Championships team:

Four local runners named in strong Ireland team for European Indoor Championships 2017:

On Monday 20th February 2017, Athletics Ireland named an 11 strong Ireland team for the upcoming European Athletics Indoor Track & Field Championships, which will take place in Belgrade over the weekend of Friday 3rd and Sunday 5th March 2017.


In the team are four Northern Ireland based athletes.  Amy Foster (City of Lisburn AC) will compete in the 60m, while Kerry O'Flaherty (Newcastle AC) and Ciara Mageean (UCD AC) will take on the 1500m.  North Down AC's Ben Reynolds will line up in the 60m hurdles.


Irish 100m and NI 100m and 200m record holder Amy has shown excellent early season form outdoors in Australia.  Just last weekend, the City of Lisburn AC star recorded 11.42secs for 100m, a mere 0.02secs away from her current personal best.  Meanwhile, Kerry enjoyed an excellent week last week - first was a 1500m indoor personal best and Euro qualification time of 4:14.63 at the AIT Grand Prix, then a 3k road personal best of 9:19 in Armagh - the Newcastle AC Olympian then finished the week by taking gold over 1500m at the AAI National Senior Indoors.


UCD AC's Ciara received criticism from some parts after her performance at the AIT Grand Prix last week, where the European bronze medallist ran 4:12.46 for fifth place in the 1500m event - a performance which we feel was mitigated by the fact that she was suffering from a lingering head-cold.  Ciara returned to action at the AAI National Senior Indoors with a superb race winning performance over 3,000m, beating a stacked field to take gold in 9:08.83 (1st place).  Experienced hurdler Ben also impressed at the aforementioned AAI National Senior Indoors, retaining his 60m hurdles title in 7.83secs, his second quickest outing over the 60m hurdles this year.   


Athletics Ireland released the following press release in relation to the team...


11-strong Irish team selected for European Indoors:

An 11-strong Irish team has been selected for the European Indoor Championships in Belgrade, Serbia on March 3rd-5th. This will be the first phase of the next four year Olympic cycle in Tokyo 2020 and European outdoor 1500m bronze medallist Ciara Mageean is one of the leading names on the team. The UCD athlete will be looking for another strong showing in Belgrade. She will be joined by fellow Rio Olympian Kerry O’Flaherty. The Newcastle athlete competed at the Rio Olympics in the 3,000m steeplechase. 


Brian Gregan (Clonliffe Harriers) is currently ranked 10th on the European indoor list in the 400m and will be looking to take it round by round in the two lap event.  17-year-old Ciara Neville (Emerald) makes her first major senior championship and should provide an excellent platform to gain some experience against Europe’s best athletes.


Amy Foster (City of Lisburn) will also compete in the 60m and Phil Healy (Bandon) is entered in the short sprint but the emphasis will be on the 400m where she won the Irish Life Health national senior indoor title on Sunday. Sinead Denny (DSD) is also in the 400m and made the semi-finals of the European outdoors last summer.  John Travers (Donore Harriers) is in the 1500m and he will be aiming to replicate his performance from the last edition in Prague by making the final.  Zak Curran (DSD) and Tomas Cotter (Dunleer) make their European Indoor debuts in the 800m and 3,000m respectively.  Ben Reynolds (North Down) is an experienced indoor international campaigner and will compete in the 60m hurdles.


The team is headed by Patsy McGonagle as team manager. The Finn Valley man is vastly experienced having been team manager at four Olympic Games and he is excited as the next Olympic cycle begins.


McGonagle said: “This is the first step out into the next Olympic cycle having acquitted ourselves extremely well in Rio. We will be building from that and we look forward to the year ahead. This will be the highlight of the indoor season at elite level.” 


Team:  Phil Healy (Bandon) 60m & 400m, Ciara Neville (Emerald) 60m, Amy Foster (City of Lisburn) 60m, Sinead Denny (DSD) 400m, Ciara Mageean (UCD) 1500m, Kerry O’Flaherty (Newcastle) 1500m, Brian Gregan (Clonliffe Harriers) 400m, Zak Curran (DSD) 800m, John Travers (Donore Harriers) 1500m, Tomas Cotter (Dunleer) 3,000m, Ben Reynolds (North Down) 60m hurdles.  Team Manager: Patsy McGonagle

Nearly 200 runners take on 2nd annual 'Last One Standing' endurance event:

Atlas Running - Last One Standing 2017:

Over the course of this weekend (Saturday 18th and Sunday 19th February 2017), Atlas Running, the brainchild of running enthusiasts and brothers, Sammy and Adrian Daye, hosted their 2nd annual ‘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 179 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.  


The theory is that this would happen every hour until only one runner returned to the start line, at which point that runner would have to complete a solo lap inside the time limit to be crowned the winner.  All runners with the exception of the winner would then be 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 24 hours, 18 runners went through the 100,8 mile mark, at which point seven runners dropped out leaving eleven hardy souls to proceed into day two of the event.  The last remaining lady, AAI National 24 hour Champion Louise Smart (County Antrim Harriers) completed 26 lapd, totalling 109.2 miles.  After 31 laps and 130.2 miles, just three men made it back to the start line for the next lap, they were Peter Cromie (Roe Valley CC), Richard Cranswick (Unattached) and Denis Keane (Marathon Club Ireland).


On Lap 32, Peter and Denis ran together, completing the tough loop in 52:04, with Richard following in 53:21.  All three completed a further lap, after which Richard dropped out - this left Peter and Denis to battle it out for victory.  However, there was no battle, that had already been run, with the two men running pretty much the last six hours together.  In the end, Peter and Denis completed two further laps, both clocking 51:53 and 55:10 - then they timed out on the next lap.  This meant, despite the heroics of many runners, there was no official winner, or 'last one standing'.  Peter and Denis both covered 151.2 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 2017 Results - LOS 8.4 mile & 4.2 mile Trail Races 2017 Results 

Spartan athlete Catherine Whoriskey impresses on 26.2 mile debut:

City of Derry AC star shows real marathon potential in Sevilla:
On Sunday 19th February 2017, City of Derry AC's Catherine Whoriskey took her first steps into the world of marathon running and on doing so, showed real potential going forward.  

Competing at the Sevilla Marathon is Spain, the NI & Ulster 5,000m (Track) and 10,000m (Track) Champion paced herself well, going through 10k in 38:59, 20k in 1:18:08 and 13.1 miles in 1:22:21. Catherine battled well in the final miles to cross the line in 2:48:40, which was enough to see the Spartan athlete claim a very credible 10th place finish in the ladies race.  The ladies race was won by New Balance athlete Paula González Berodia in 2:28:54 (1st place).

Talented and humble athlete Catherine took to social media after the race, thanking everyone for their support in the lead up to and during the event, "thanks so much for your lovely messages, means so much. We are having a great time and delighted with my first attempt at the ultimate test. I have learnt a lot this morning but was worth all the hard work."

BUCS Indoor Track & Field Championships (England):
On the same day, Sunday 19th February 2017, Northern Ireland's Andrew Wright (Willowfield Harriers) was in action at the BUCS Indoor Track & Field Championships in Sheffield, England.  After making it through his 1500m heat and semi-final in 4:02.98 and 3:53.66 respectively, Andrew recorded an excellent 3:48.91 for 2nd place in the final;this was just over one second outside his personal best for the distance.

Local athletes secure impressive medal haul at AAI National Senior Indoors:

Irish Life AAI National Senior Indoor Track & Field Championships 2017:

On Sunday 19th February 2017, some of Northern Ireland’s best known athletes were in action on Day 2 of the Irish Life AAI National Senior Indoor Track & Field Championships in Abbotstown, Ireland.


Following on from a brilliant 3,000m gold for UCD AC’s Ciara Mageean on Day 1 of the meet, the local contingent did not disappoint, bringing home an impressive medal haul.


Two of those medals went to England based NI man Leon Reid (Birchfield Harriers).  Leon sealed an impressive 60m and 200m double, clocking 6.74secs for 60m victory and 21.08secs for 200m gold. In the aforementioned 60m event, Ballymena & Antrim AC’s Dean Adams claimed 3rd place and the associated bronze medal in 6.87secs, just seeing off fellow NI man Christian Robinson (City of Lisburn AC), who ran 6.93secs for 4th place.


Newcastle AC’s Kerry O’Flaherty ended an excellent week of competition with a podium topping performance in the 1500m.  After impressing at the Athlone International Grand Prix and the Armagh International, Kerry broke the beam first in the 1500m; the Olympian completed the distance in 4:20.86 (1st place).  North Down AC’s Rachel Gibson was just over a second away from a national medal when she ran 4:32.23 for 4th place in the same race.


The always impressive Ben Reynolds (North Down AC) took on his second high profile 60m hurdles race in as many days – following a good run at the British Athletics Muller GP in Birmingham yesterday (Saturday 18th February 2017), Ben sealed yet another AAI title when he covered the jumps in 7.83secs (1st place).


Northern Ireland ladies Mandy Gault (Lagan Valley AC) and Erin McIlveen (City of Lisburn AC) picked up well-deserved bronze medals in their respective 400m and 800m events.  Mandy ran 55.06secs for 400m, while Erin crossed the line in 2:08.59 in her 800m event.  Interestingly, in Mandy’s 400m race, up and coming Beechmount Harriers athlete Davica Patterson missed a medal in a ‘blanket finish’ – Davica ran a personal best of 55.76secs for 5th place; this was less than a second away from Mandy in third place.


Full results from the Irish Life AAI National Senior Indoor Track & Field Championships 2017 can be found HERE.

Ciara Mageean and Amy Foster excel as NI athletes impress on the track:

Ciara Mageean claims gold as Amy Foster records CWG standard:

On Saturday 18th February 2017, a large number of local athletes were in action at the Irish Life AAI National Indoor Track & Field Championships in Abbotstown, Ireland.  The first day of the two meet comprised mainly of heats - however, Portaferry athlete Ciara Mageean secured the 3,000m title.


After recording the European Athletics Indoor Championships qualifying standard in Athlone during the week, 24 year old UCD AC athlete Ciara refused to let a lingering head-cold stop her producing an excellent performance against top opposition.


In total, there were three Olympians toeing the line in the 3,000m, as well as multiple internationals including two-time European Cross Country Champion Fionnuala McCormack (Kilcoole AC).  Fionnuala led in the opening stages of the race with Ciara and Leevale AC Steeplechase star Michelle Finn in close pursuit.  Close to halfway, Michelle split the pack and only Ciara could hold on to the pace. The Northern Ireland lady then eased away in the final 400m to win in 9:08.83 (1st place).  


After the race, Ciara told BBC Sport NI, "It's a good confidence boost and I still have a good two hard weeks in the lead up to Belgrade, so I will be focused on being healthy and getting rid of this head cold."


There was also impressive performances by a number of other Northern Ireland based athletes, with Leon Reid (Birchfield Harriers), Erin McIlveen (City of Lisburn AC), Dean Adams (Ballymena & Antrim AC), Christian Robinson (City of Lisburn AC), Craig Newell (Ballymena & Antrim AC), Lauren Roy (City of Lisburn AC), Adam McCombe (University of Ulster AC), Mark Hoy (Finn Valley AC) and Michael Dyer (North Down AC) all progressing to the next round of their respective competitions, which will conclude tomorrow, Sunday 19th February 2017.  


ACTT Track & Field Championships (Australia):

Also on Saturday 18th February 2017, sprinter Amy Foster (City of Lisburn AC) continued her good form in Australia.  Following on from some excellent results, which has seen the multiple record holder narrowly miss the Athletics NI Commonwealth Games nomination standard, Amy went one better and achieved the required times.  Competing in the 100m, the City of Lisburn AC star recorded 11.42secs (Wind - 2.0) for 3rd place.  Full results are available HERE.


British Athletics Muller Indoor Grand Prix (England):

Closer to home on the same day, Saturday 18th February 2017, well-known and respected Northern Ireland and Ireland hurdler Ben Reynolds (North Down AC) took to the track at the televised British Athletics Muller Indoor Grand Prix, in Birmingham, England.  Up against top opposition in the 60m hurdles, Ben covered the distance in 7.87secs (5th place).  Full results for the event are now available HERE.  Ben will now look ahead to tomorrow's AAI National Senior Indoor Championships in Ireland.

Weekend Preview:  All eyes on the AAI National Indoor Championships...

Weekend Preview:  Local athletes ready for events from 60 metres to 48 hours…

After a busy and exciting 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 AAI National Indoor Track & Field Championships, as well as the 2nd annual running of the ‘Last One Standing’ (an associated trail races)… an interesting event which will be hosted by running enthusiasts Sammy and Adrian Daye under the guise ‘Atlas Running’.  


NI Duathlon will also welcome athletes to Victoria Park, Belfast for their regular Belfast Tandem 10k and 5k road races.  Further afield, local runners will be in action at the prestigious British University & Colleges (BUCS) Indoor Track & Field Championships in England.


BUCS Indoor Track & Field Championships 2017:

The weekend action has actually started - earlier today (Friday 17th February 2017), 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, which should come at the right time for some of our top student talent, given that the IUAA Indoor Championships have just been held.  We would expect Northern Ireland pair Andrew Wright (Cardiff University) and Megan Marrs (Loughborough University) to contest podium places in their respective 1500m and 60m hurdles events.

Irish Life AAI National Indoor Track & Field Championships (Ireland):

Arguably the most notable event over the weekend will be the Irish Life AAI National Indoor Track & Field Championships, which will take place over Saturday 18th and Sunday 19th February 2017 at the AIT Arena in Abbotstown, Ireland.


The major Championships will attract a plethora of talent from Northern Ireland, many of whom are mentioned in the official Athletics Ireland event preview (HERE) as potential contenders.  We have included it below…


Abbotstown set for thrilling Irish Life Health National Indoor Championships:

Medals, records, European Indoor qualification and much more will be at stake at the Irish Life Health National Senior Indoor Championships at the Sport Ireland National Indoor Arena in Abbotstown this weekend (February 18/19).


There promises to be some exciting showdowns in the new national indoor arena which is now bedding in fully after a number of events have been hosted on the blue-banked track. A one hour highlight show will be shown on RTÉ 2 at 8:30pm on Sunday evening.  The European Indoor Athletics Championships are set for Belgrade, Serbia on March 3rd-5th with athletes looking to rubber stamp and gain selection this weekend.


Ciara Neville bounced back to top form this indoor season and equalled the national senior 60m indoor record to win the national junior title in Athlone. The time was also a national junior record and European indoor qualifying time. Neville was part of the 4x100m team that finished fifth at the World Junior Athletics Championships in Poland last summer and will be aiming to add the national 60m title to her CV. Others set to feature include Joan Healy (Bandon) and Molly Scott (SLOT).

In the men’s 60m Dean Adams (Ballymena and Antrim), Christopher Sibanda (Clonliffe Harriers), Leon Reid (Menapians), Christian Robinson (City of Lisburn) and Leo Morgan (Clonliffe Harriers) will all be battling to be Ireland’s fastest man. In the 200m Sibanda and Reid are down to return for the 200m and will face, amongst others,  Eanna Madden (Carrick on Shannon) and David McDonald (Menapians)


Rising star Sharlene Mawdsely (Newport) is in the women’s 200m but should be pushed hard by Sarah McCarthy (Mid Sutton).  Catherine McManus (Dublin City Harriers) has been one of the most active athletes this indoor season and should be in contention for medal while also being one of the favourites for gold in the women’s 60m hurdles alongside Elizabeth Morland (Cushinstown) and Lily-Ann O’Hora (Dooneen).   


Sinead Denny (DSD) and Phil Healy (Bandon) are set for an exciting duel in the women’s 400m. Denny ran 53.73 under the European indoor standard (53.75) last weekend in Vienna and. Healy’s top end speed is in fine fettle having run 7.31 for the 60m and just outside the Irish record of 7.30 seconds. She also held off Denny at the AAI Games – it should prove to be one of the races of the championships with the Bandon bullet looking for the European Indoor 400m standard to go alongside her 60m standard.


Luke Lennon-Ford, Brian Gregan (both Clonliffe Harriers), Richard Morrissey (Crusaders), previous champion Dara Kervick (Clonliffe Harriers) and Brandon Arrey (Blarney/Inniscara) will be in the men’s 400m which could spark fireworks.


Ben Reynolds (North Down) and Gerard O’Donnell (Carrick on Shannon) are set to face off one more time over the 60m hurdles. Reynolds has his European Indoor standard (7.80) from the AAI Games with 7.78 while O’Donnell will be looking to dip under the standard and snatch gold.  Ciara Mageean (UCD) is entered for the 800, 1500m and 3,000m but is still undecided on what event she will run and will decide closer to the weekend with her coach Jerry Kiernan.

Interestingly Fionnuala McCormack (Kilcoole) is on the entry list for the 3,000m where Emma Mitchell (Queens University) who has been in excellent form over 1500m and 3,000m is also listed. Kerry O’Flaherty (Newcastle) ran the 1500m European indoor standard at the Athlone International and is listed for the 1500m and 3,000m.  Ellie Hartnett (UCD), Nadia Power (Templeogue) and Ann-Marie McGlynn (Letterkenny) should be among those to feature in the women’s 1500m while Erin McIlveen (City of Lisburn) will be one the favourites for the women’s 800m with Fiona Kehoe (Kilmore), who is second on the season’s list, Alanna Lally (UCD), Amy O’Donoghue (Emerald) and Rose Finnegan (Bohermeen).


Paul Robinson (St Coca’s) is on the road back to fitness having run a 4:02 mile in Athlone. He is entered in the 1500m and 3,000m but it likely to favour the longer event in Abbotstown. Eoin Everard (Kilkenny City Harriers) is the defending champion in both events but is likely just to choose one as is John Travers (Donore Harriers). Matthew Bergin (DSD) is also likely to feature in the men’s 3,000m.  Kieran Kelly (Raheny Shamrock) has been will be looking to win his first national senior title in the 800m with Niall Touhy (Ferrybank) and Kevin McGrath (Bohermeen), who finished an agonising fourth at the European Youth Athletics Championships, those most likely to challenge for the top spot.


Other Northern Ireland based athletes to look out for will include Jonathan Browning (Ballymena & Antrim AC), Dean Adams (Ballymena & Antrim AC), Naomi Morgan (City of Derry AC), Mark Hoy (Fin Valley AC) and Conor Bradley (City of Derry AC).

Atlas Running - Last One Standing 2017:

Over the course of this weekend (Saturday 18th and Sunday 19th February 2017), Atlas Running wil welcome a record number of participants to the 2nd annual running of their ‘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 will see athletes take to the start-line at 12pm on Saturday – the runners then have one hour to complete a 4.2 mile lap before making their way 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 (for want of a better phrase!).  


This will happen every hour until only one runner returns to the start line, at which point that runner must 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 miles) will receive an Atlas Running 100 mile medal.  A full description of the event is available on the Atlas Running website HERE.


In terms of potential front runners for the ‘Last One Standing’, there are several obvious contenders. After covering 126 miles at the event in 2016, reigning Champion Bobbie Irvine (Seapark AC) could well secure top spot yet again – however, he’ll once again have to see off Westport AC’s Pat Staunton, who he battled with until the end twelve months ago.  Roe Valley CC’s Peter Cromie has what it takes to be victorious if he is fully fit and inform.  Mourne Runners’ mountain man William Marks could well be a good outside bet!


In the ladies race, current AAI National 24 hour Champion Louise Smart (County Antrim Harriers) will go into the event as pre-race favourite.  That said, Fiona Prue (Ballydrain Harriers) and Emma Louise Kirk (North East Runners) are two quality athletes who will be worth watching!  Omagh Harriers’ Donna Owens should also go well.

Belfast Tandems 5k and 10k Races:

On Sunday 19th February 2017, NI Duathlon will host the latest of their 5k and 10k races in support of their Belfast Tandem Cycling Group.  Registration will be open from 8am with both races starting at 10am at the Sam Thompson Bridge, Airport Road, Belfast, BT3 9EF.  Past races have produced a significant number of personal bests for those involved, which has encouraged progressively higher numbers to attend. 


The 5k and 10k are both officially measured road races around the flat, scenic Victoria Park in Belfast, starting and finishing at the Sam Thompson Bridge with timing mats at the start and end of each lap of each race.  Entry is £10 online HERE or you can pay and enter on the day.  The 5k is open to ages 11+ whilst the 10k is open to ages 15+ (Under 16's can enter with an adult on the day).  


Each race has prizes for the top three male and female finishers, prizes for first place in each age category, chip timing, bananas, water, 10% off at Athlos Triathlon store and... medals!  Proceeds (plus any additional donations) will go towards growing the Belfast Tandem Cycling Group for blind and partially sighted cyclists (the group is also seeking a few more sighted 'pilots').


In the previous 5k race, Jonathan McKee (Springwell Running Club) and Kirsti Foster (East Down AC) secured the top spots, while in the 10k race Wesley McDowell (Dromore AC) and Siobhan Brown (Tafelta AC) crossed the line with winning times.  Entries are available on the day (and online until midnight on Saturday) and it looks like there will be a good field in both distances, with runners of all levels keen to bag a personal best on a totally flat course in decent conditions! Registration and parking are beside the Sam Thompson Bridge. This course is regarded as quick so arrive early to avoid a queue!


Parkrun:

As always, Northern Ireland’s twenty four 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.

Laura Weightman, Ben Connor & Stephen MacKay win at Armagh International:

Armagh International Road Races 2017:

On Thursday 16th February 2017, athletes from fifteen countries took to the streets of the Cathedral City of Armagh for the 27th annual running of the Armagh International Road Races, an exceptionally well organised event hosted by Armagh AC.


This year also celebrates 50 years of athletic promotion for Armagh AC and continued a tradition of International Road Races which began in 1975 with the NACAI International Sport & Cultural Week.


An exceptional night of racing saw Laura Weightman (Morpeth Harriers), Ben Connor (England) and Stephen MacKay (Inverness Harriers) steal the headlines, but ultimately, it was road racing itself which benefited most - a staggering 79 men ran under 15 minutes for 5k and 29 ladies dipped under the 10 minute mark for 3k.


The atmosphere within the oval shaped 'Mall' area of the historic city was electric, 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, which attracted in excess of 1,200 participants, 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! 


In the International Ladies 3k, double Olympian Laura Weightman lived up to expectation, smashing Mary Cullen’s course record.  Despite strong early running by fellow English athlete Jessica Judd, it always looked like Laura would have the final say and that did indeed prove to be the case as the Steve Cram coached athlete moved clear going into the 1,000m.  


Laura broke the tape in a new course record of 8:59 for 1st place, with Rosie Clarke, a fourth place finisher here in 2016, taking 2nd place in 9:02; this was also inside the previous course record of 9:07.  Jessica Judd completed the top three in 9:11 (3rd place).


After the race, Laura told Athletics Weekly’s Alex Donald, “I knew it was a strong record to beat. I really wanted to test myself and that’s a good platform now looking forward to the summer.”


Rio Olympic Steeplechaser Kerry O’Flaherty (Newcastle AC) showed very little signs of fatigue following her impressive outing at last night’s AIT International Grand Prix, where she recorded a European Indoor 1500m qualifying time, as she led the Northern Ireland team home in a new 3k road personal best of 9:22 for 9th place.

The International Men’s 5k brought a record number of participants to the Mall West start line.  Just like the ladies event, the men set off at a blistering pace, which they kept up for much, if not all of the race.  Little separated the lead group until the latter stages when England’s Graham Rush made a brave surge.  This provoked a  reaction from the remainder of the lead pack, from which Ben Connor (England), Brandon Doughty (USA) and Dewi Griffiths (Swansea Harriers AC) emerged.


In a frantic battle for top honours, it was Ben Connor who held strong to cross the line first, taking top spot in 13:55 (1st place) – this was an agonising one second off the long standing course record of 13:54, held by USA’s David Nightingale since 2009.  Brandon also finished in 13:55 (2nd place), with crowd favourite Dewi following in 13:58 (3rd place).


Ben spoke to Alex Donald (Athletics Weekly) about his victory: “I always wanted to give this race a go, the atmosphere is amazing.  It’s the best 5km I’ve ever done. To come through and win like this was great, winning is a habit you get into.”


City of Derry AC’s Conor Bradley looked close to his best as he continues his return to competition, leading the local runners home in 14:30 (31st place), while Neil Johnston (Springwell Running Club) led the Northern Ireland team home five seconds later in 14:36 (38th place).

The final race of an excellent event programme was the Open Men’s 3k.  After a similarly fast start to the international events, it was City of Lisburn AC’s Jonathan Whan who headed to lead pack. Up and coming star Jonathan was then absorbed back into the chasing group, with Stephen MacKay (Inverness Harriers) and Zak Hanna (Newcastle AC) coming to the fore as the men entered the final 400m stretch.  In the final metres, Stephen moved ahead, eventually sealing victory in 8:45 (1st place).  


Zak was rewarded for an excellent performance with the runners up prize – the Northern Ireland and Ireland mountain running international clocked 8:49 for 2nd place. Last year’s winner Craig McMeechan (North Down AC) claimed 3rd place in 8:52.


International Ladies 3k – Podium Places:

Top 3 Ladies:  1st Laura Weightman (Morpeth Harriers) – 8:59, 2nd Rosie Clarke (England) – 9:02, 3rd Jessica Judd (England) – 9:11


Top 3 Northern Ireland Ladies:  9th Kerry O’Flaherty (Newcastle AC) – 9:22, 10th Emma Mitchell (QUB AC) – 9:23, 14th Ann-Marie McGlynn (Letterkenny AC) – 9:34


International Men’s 5k – Podium Places:

Top 3 Men:  1st Ben Connor (England) – 13:55, 2nd Brandon Doughty (USA) – 13:55, 3rd Dewi Griffiths (Swansea Harriers AC) – 13:58


Top 3 Northern Ireland Men:  31st Conor Bradley (City of Derry AC – 14:30, 38th Neil Johnston (Springwell Running Club) – 14:35, 42nd Danny Mooney (Letterkenny AC) – 14:37


Open Men’s 3k – Podium Places:

Top 3 Men:  1st Stephen MacKay (Inverness Harriers) – 8:45, 2nd Zak Hanna (Newcastle AC) – 8:49, 3rd Craig McMeechan (North Down AC) – 8:52


Top 3 Northern Ireland Men:  2nd Zak Hanna (Newcastle AC) – 8:49, 3rd Craig McMeechan (North Down AC) – 8:52, 4th Shane McGowan (Derry Track Club) – 8:55


Full Results:  Armagh International Road Races 2017 Results

Ciara Mageean and Kerry O'Flaherty hit Euro standard at AIT International GP:

AIT International Grand Prix 2017:

On Wednesday 15th February 2017, a sell out crowd descended on the AIT Indoor Arena in Athlone (Ireland) for the annual AIT International Grand Prix, an event which never fails to attract talented from across the globe.


On a night when a British record, an ‘all-comers’ record and several stadium records all went, it was the performances of three Northern Ireland ladies which will attract local attention.


Ciara Mageean (UCD AC), Kerry O’Flaherty (Newcastle AC) and Emma Mitchell (QUB AC) lined up in a talent laden 1500m event.  Despite the focus being on the front running exploits of eventual winner Claudia Bobecea (1st place – 4:08.19), the NI and Ireland trio came through well with Ciara and Kerry achieving European Indoor qualifying standards and Emma recording a new personal best.


Irish and NI 1500m record holder Ciara clocked 4:12.46 for 5th place, with Kerry following in 4:14.63 (7th place).  Emma then narrowly missed the 4:15.00 standard with a 4:15.32 finish for 9th place. 


There was also encouraging performances by Leon Reid (Birchfield Harriers) and Erin McIlveen (City of Lisburn AC) – Leon ran 6.88secs for 60m, while Erin completed the 800m in 2:07.63.


Full Results:  AIT International Grand Prix 2017 Results

Special Preview:   Armagh International Road Races 2017

Armagh International Road Races 2017:

This week, the eyes of the athletics world will once again be on Northern Ireland.  The reason? Of course, it’s the world renowned Armagh International Road Races.


The 27th edition of the Armagh International Road Races takes place on Thursday 16th February 2017 in the world famous setting of Armagh’s historic 18th Century City Centre Mall. This year also celebrates 50 years of athletic promotion for Armagh AC and continues a tradition of International Road Races that began in 1975 with the NACAI International Sport & Cultural Week. 


The Armagh Road Race started in 1990 and continues a very long tradition of athletics in Armagh combining both elite athletics through the world renowned Brooks 5k for Men, the Intersport 3k for Women and the Linwoods Open 3k for Men and encouraging participation in athletics through the eight supporting races for local schools and clubs.


The in-depth quality of both the Brooks 5k and Intersport 3k has long established the Armagh International Road Race series as arguably the best events of their kind in the world and 2017 will be no exception to this tradition.


World Orienteering 3 Day Sprint Events adds further interest…

The addition this year to the Armagh programme of the World Sprint Orienteering 3 Day event has extended things to almost a week of elite sport in the city with many of the world’s best orienteers joining both the 5k and 3k races.  Last year, well-known orienteer Yannick Michiels of Belgium claimed a superb runners up spot – Yannick will return this year with ambitions of going one better!


Amongst the orienteers in the ladies’ 3k race, Hungarian Fanni Gyurko will start as the favourite, closely followed by Britain’s Charlotte Ward who ran in Armagh last year. In 2012 orienteer Lizzy Adams won the ladies 3k race! Can any of the current crop of international orienteers repeat this and be crowned fastest in Armagh?

Intersport Ladies International 3k:

In 2016, a total of 29 ladies dipped under the 10 minute mark, with 14 of these going sub 9:30.  Irish international Sara Treacy won in 9:18 – less than one second split the top three that night, with Sara Inglis and Laura Whittle both clocking 9:19 for 2nd place and 3rd place respectively.


Last years field was fairly talent laden, but if anything the organisers have raised the bar by a few more notches.  The Intersport Women’s 3k will bring together an unsurpassed array of talent that could well challenge the course record of 9:07.90 set by Mary Cullen (Ireland) in 2013.  


Among the high profile women who will take to the start line is Laura Weightman (Morpeth Harriers).  Laura is currently coached by Steve Cram and has a 3,000m best of 8:43 - she’s currently concentrating on the 1500m where she has run 4:02.66.  In addition, Laura has a wealth of experience having run in all the major World Championships including European, World and Olympic Games.  

Podium finisher in 2016, Laura Whittle (Scotland) knows what it takes to win here having stormed to victory in 2014.  Last year she ran 9:19 for third place, but her fastest 3,000m in 2016 was 8:51.48 on the track.  It is worth noting that the Under 23 European Championship gold medallist has run 15:08.58 for 5,000m.  Cardiff AC’s Charlotte Arter turned a few heads with a new 3,000m indoor personal best of 9:11.79 for fourth place at the British Athletics Championships last weekend.  At the same event, highly respected Team GB athlete Emelia Gorecka recorded 9:24 despite still making a return to full fitness – Emelia, who has a personal best of 8:55.11 (2012) for 3,000m is due to compete here.  


Former British Athletics Euro Trails 3,000m winner Jessica Judd (England) boasts a 3,000m best of 9:00.06 and will therefore be worth watching, as will her England team mate Rosie Clarke who claimed fourth place here in 2016 – Rosie ran 9:21 over this course twelve months ago but has run 9:10.99 for the distance. Gemma Hillier (Charnwood AC) is another athlete who knows this course and clocked 9:22 in Sheffield last week – considering that race was a tactical and rough affair, we’d expect Gemma to run quicker here.  Scotland’s Stephanie Pennycook will also go well, as will Welsh athlete Melissa Courtney.  Young Warrington AC starlet Harriet Knowles-Jones has enjoyed an excellent cross country season and could cause an upset if she brings that strength and her 1500m speed to the party.


There is of course local interest as well with Irish Olympian Kerry O’Flaherty (Newcastle AC) leading the Northern Ireland team.  Kerry won here in 2009 and 2010 but is better known these days as a 3,000m Steeplechaser who represented Ireland in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. Last year, Kerry ran 9:24 for eight place here.  Strabane lady Ann-Marie McGlynn (Letterkenny AC) will represent Ireland and will be hoping to match, or better her stunning sixth place at this race in 2016.


NI & Ulster 10k Champion Emma Mitchell (QUB AC) has run 9:17 for 3,000m and will play a part at the front if she gets close to this time on the road.  Danielle Fegan (Armagh AC), Judith Lonnen (City of Lisburn AC), Laura Bickerstaff (Dromore AC), Joanne Mills (Newcastle AC / Northern Ireland) and Jessica Craig (North Down AC) will all take to the start line.

Brooks Armagh International 5k:

A quick glance at the solid in-depth talent entered for this year’s Brooks International 5k Men’s race suggests that the record of 13:54 held since 2009 by USA athlete David Nightingale could well go.  


A field of almost 250 athletes are entered, of which, there at least eighteen sub 14 minute runners and well over 100 who have run sub 15 minutes for the distance.  Last years 66 runners under 15 minutes could well be smashed, which would also further enhance the reputation of this event, which now attracts global attention.


Sometimes however a field like that with so many well matched athletes can result in a very tactical race with no one athlete prepared to lay down the gauntlet and go for it – lets hope that this is NOT one of those nights!


There is once again a big International dimension with last year’s winner Charlie Hulson (Sale Harriers) among the top contenders.  In 2016, Charlie saw off Yannick Michiels in an epic finish to win in 14:02.83, with Yannick running 14:02.99 for the runners up prize.  


Charlie has a 5,000m best of 13:43 among his achievements which also include winning the English Cross Country Championships in 2015. Another top English contender will be Jonny Davies, a former European Under 23 Cross Country Champion, who quite recently recorded an excellent 13:23 for 5,000m in Belgium.  As previously mentioned, orienteer Yannick Michiels will also return which could mean an excellent ‘re-match’ between the 2016 top two!


Former European team 3,000m Steeplechase Champion Krystian Zalewski continues a long tradition of Polish participation at the Armagh International and his 3,000m Steeplechase personal best of 8:17 indicates that he could be a real contender this year.  Krystian’s previous visits to Armagh will have increased his knowledge of this technical course, which includes around 19 ninety degree bends!

There will be a talented contingent from Wales on the start line – this will include Swansea AC’s Dewi Griffiths who has run 13:53 for 5k. If Dewi’s win at the British Athletics Cross Challenge event in Cardiff last month is anything to go by, he could well be a genuine title contender here.


The USA has always featured strongly in Armagh thanks to the efforts of athletic supremo Charlie Breagy who works hard to get some of the best USA athletes over each year. Americans have notched up no less than six wins and the current course record in the 12 years since their first appearance in 2005.  This year’s USA quartet is led by Brandon Doughty who has a 5,000m best of 13:39. 


The team also includes Irish athlete Shane Quinn from Providence University – Shane, the son of Irish 3,000m Steeplechase record holder Brendan Quinn, just missed selection on the Ireland team with a personal best of 13:48. The USA contingent is completed by Jonny Crain and Jordan Mann who have both run 13:53 for the 5k


The Ireland team is led by Matt Bergin (Bedford County AC) - he is another sub 14 runner with a best of 13:54.  The team is completed by Mark Christie, Kevin Dooney and Thomas Hayes. AAI National Marathon Champion Sean Hehir (Rathfarnham WSAF) will also go well. There is a strong Scotland team as well with Olympic 1500m runner Jake Wightman the best known – Jake has previously run in Armagh and regards the race as critical to his early season preparation for the track.  In 2016 Jake recorded a superb 3:54.20 for the 1 Mile while; he has run five sub four minute miles! Jake’s 1500m best of 3:35.49 puts him among the elites of the world. The team includes Grant Sheldon, Derek Hawkins and Ben Stevenson - all of whom have run low 14 minute times for the distance.

The addition of the World Sprint Orienteering 3 Day has brought a new dimension to the Armagh International programme with World Champion orienteers like Tim Robertson from New Zealand and Oystein Kvaal of Norway joining the aforementioned Yannick Michiels of Belgium on the line.  A team of Finland orienteers will include Arttu Vattulainen, a 13:53 runner, and Henri Manninen better known for the marathon where he has run 2:16:43.   


There are a couple of other English athletes worth looking out for on the night, namely John Beattie from Newham & Essex Beagles AC and Jake Shelley of Shaftesbury Barnett AC. Cameron Boyek (Scotland), Daniel Cliffe (Liverpool Harriers) and Joshua Grace (Real Runners) will also feature at the head of the pack.


The Northern Ireland challenge for honours will be headed up by the likes of Paddy Hamilton (Slieve Gullion Runners), JP Williamson (Derry Track Club), Ben Branagh (St Malachy’s AC) and Conor Duffy (Glaslough Harriers).  Seamus Lynch (Newcastle AC), Conan McCaughey (Central AC / Derry Track Club), Conor Bradley (City of Derry AC) and Danny Mooney (Letterkenny AC) should also place well.


Not forgetting, the supporting programme…

In addition to the two International events there are no less than 9 other races, including the Linwoods Open Men’s 3k with an entry of 200 plus representing athletes from all over Ireland, Britain and Europe including France and Norway.  Looking for a podium place and potentially the win will be the likes of Keith Shiels (Foyle Valley AC), Dennis Scott (North Down AC), Shane Brady (Clones AC), Stephen O’Gorman (Dromore AC), Aaron McGlynn (Finn Valley AC), Craig McMeechan (North Down AC) and Sean Corry (Omagh Harriers).


However, interestingly, what most people will be interested in are the 8 juvenile races bringing together over 1,000 young athletes from local schools and clubs from all over Ireland. These 8 races feature the future of the sport and many previous participants have graduated year on year to joining the ranks of the competitors in the 3k and 5k races.  These 8 races present a colourful and exciting opening to the elite senior races which follow on and are a credit to the schools and clubs who give up their time to coach and supervise the development of this up and coming pool of talent.

Brian McCluskey and Laura Graham victorious at DUNE Half Marathon:

DUNE Half Marathon 2017:

On Sunday 12th February 2017, a record number of close to eight hundred competitors 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).


In the absence of 2016 Champion Paddy Hamilton (Slieve Gullion Runners), it was last years runner up Brian McCluskey (North East Runners) who stole the headlines. Brian put in an impressive performance on his own at the front, eventually recording 1:12:43 for 1st place. Arguably the most notable run of the day came from Acorns AC man Francis McDaid; Francis smashed his own personal best as well as his club record when he claimed 2nd place in 1:13:54. Popular local man Don Travers (Newry City Runners) crossed the line in 1:14:32 for 3rd place.


On her return to competitive action following a busy 2016, Laura Graham (Mourne Runners) dominated the ladies race. Leading from start to finish, the ever improving Kilkeel lady broke the tape in 1:18:21 for 1st place; this was well over one minute quicker than her time here in 2016 and saw Laura take 7th place overall. Consistent performer Diane Watson (City of Lisburn AC) was next across the line in 1:26:17 (2nd place), while Nuala Uighruaghain (Club Unknown) recorded 1:28:24 for 3rd place.


Top 3 Men: 1st Brian McCluskey (North East Runners) – 1:12:43, 2nd Francis McDaid (Acorns AC) – 1:13:54, 3rd Don Travers (Newry City Runners) – 1:14:32


Top 3 Ladies:  1st Laura Graham (Mourne Runners) – 1:18:21, 2nd Diane Watson – (City of Lisburn AC) – 1:26:17, 3rd Nuala Uighruaghain (Club Unknown) – 1:28:24


Full Results:  DUNE Half Marathon 2017 Results

Mark McKinstry and Catherine Diver take top honours at Mallusk XC:

Mallusk Cross Country 2017:

On Sunday 12th February 2017, respected County Antrim based club Mallusk Harriers hosted their Mallusk Cross Country at the Belfast City Playing Fields.  The weather conditions may have been cold, but there was plenty of top quality action to heat things up.


The extensive race programme kicked off with an excellent junior timetable, which brought impressive wins for Rhys McManus (East Coast AC), Ellen Montgomery (Larne AC), Joel Chambers (Ballydrain Harriers), Casey Miskelly (Ballydrain Harriers), Matthew Lavery (North Belfast Harriers), Lily Toorish (Derry Track Club), Sean McIntyre (Derry Track Club) and Ciara O’Rawe (North Belfast Harriers).


In the ladies 3 mile race, Beechmount Harriers athlete Catherine Diver followed on from her impressive run at the NI & Ulster Intermediate and Masters XC with a winning performance. Catherine led the field home in 19:46 (1st place).  Catherine Hriber (City of Derry AC) sealed 2nd place in 22:42, before Susan Thompson (Mallusk Harriers) completed the podium in 23:04 (3rd place).  Eric Montgomery was the first of the Vet60+ Men to complete the course, clocking 20:49 (1st place).


The final race of the day was the men’s 4 mile event.  As expected, pre-race favourite Mark McKinstry (North Belfast Harriers) played a major part in proceedings, which were dominated by North Belfast Harriers.  Mark took top honours in 22:41 (1st place) and was followed across the line by club mates Michael McKillop and Eddie Cooke in 23:09 (2nd place) and 24:28 (3rd place) respectively.


Top 3 Ladies (3 miles):  1st Catherine Diver (Beechmount Harriers) – 19:46, 2nd Catherine Hriber (City of Derry AC) – 22:42, 3rd Susan Thompson (Mallusk Harriers) – 23:04


Top 3 Men (4 miles):  1st Mark McKinstry (North Belfast Harriers) – 22:41, 2nd Michael McKillop (North Belfast Harriers) – 23:09, 3rd Eddie Cooke (North Belfast Harriers) – 24:28


Full Results:  Mallusk XC 2017 Results

Tim Johnston and Ciara Toner win O'Cahans Trail Race:

O'Cahans Trail Race 2017:

On Saturday 11th February 207, local events management company Northern Velocity staged the latest of their trail race events in Roe Valley Country Park in Limavady, County Derry/Londonderry.  


The O'Cahans Trail Race measured 8k in distance and consisted of two laps through this picturesque setting with athletes leaving the Country Park Visitors Centre and running along the riverbank to cross the river at the Carrick Mills Bridge, before running down the opposite riverbank to the Visitors Centre to complete lap one.


The weather conditions were ideal for running and the men’s race was closely contested, with Timothy Johnston (Mourne Runners) and Odhran McHone (Unattached) matching each other stride for stride until the closing stages of the race when Timothy moved clear to win in 28:35 (1st place).  Odhran finished in 2nd place in 28:44.  The podium was completed by Ciaran Ferris (Springwell RC) in 29:02 (3rd place).


In the ladies race, Ciara Toner (Springwell RC) dominated from the start and continued her recent form with a convincing win in 32:59 (1st place). Emma Smith (Club Unknown) secured 2nd place in 34:48, while Kirsty Bogle completed the course in 36:19 for 3rd place.


Full results for the event will be added to our results page when available.

Louise Smith strikes gold as local runners compete outside NI:

Louise Smith strikes gold as local runners compete outside NI:

On Saturday 11th February 2017, local lady Louise Smith (North Belfast Harriers) made an impressive step into the world of ultra-running.  The North Belfast Harriers lady travelled south to Donadea for the popular Donadea 50k trail race, which incorporated the AAI National 50k Trail Championships.


Up against quality opposition, Louise sealed an excellent victory in the ladies race, covering the route in 3:51:09 (1st place).  Another athlete new to the competitive ultra running scene, Dave Slater (Enniskillen Running Club), clocked 3:20:40 to claim a very credible 5th place.  Veteran athlete Matt Shields (North Belfast Harriers) secured a top twenty place when crossing the line in 3:43:48 (13th place), while Enniskillen Running Club’s Tara Malone (4:08:56) narrowly missed the ladies podium when finishing in 4th place.  Full results from the Donadea 50k can be found HERE.


Elsewhere…


British Athletics Indoor Championships 2017 (England):

On Saturday 11th February 2017, at least four Northern Ireland based runners were in action at the prestigious British Athletics Indoor Championships in Sheffield, England. Olympian Kerry O’Flaherty (Newcastle AC) and NI & Ulster 10k Champion Emma Mitchell (QUB AC) lined up in a star studded 3,000m event.  Kerry claimed 6th place in 9:19.51, with Emma following in 9:31.20 (11th place).  


There was also seasons best performances by Mandy Gault (Lagan Valley AC) and Andrew Wright (Willowfield Harriers) at the event.  Mandy recorded 55.31secs for 400m, while Andrew completed the 1500m in 3:56.88. Full results from the British Athletics Indoor Championships can be found HERE.

Carnethy 5 Mountain Race (Scotland):

Also on Saturday 11th February 2017, local runners placed well at the annual Carnethy 5 Mountain Race just outside Edinburgh, Scotland.  As expected, Irish international Eoin Lennon, who is affiliated to Scottish club Carnethy HRC, was the first Northern Ireland athlete to negotiate the five major Pentland peaks, covering 6 miles in distance and 2,500ft in ascent.


In tough weather conditions, Eoin claimed 16th place in 56:46, finishing just over four minutes behind race winner Finlay Wild, who ran 52:50 (1st place).  As Eoin now lives in Scotland, the next NI finisher, North Belfast Harriers man Nat Glenn was awarded the coveted ‘1st Place Overseas Athlete’ trophy after completing the course in 1:10:07 (114th place). 


Newcastle AC’s Eugene McCann enjoyed an excellent run, taking 205th place in 1:16:45, while Ballymena Runners’ Jack McKenna followed in 1:25:11 (324th place).  Lagan Valley AC athlete Anne Sanford finished in 64th place in the ladies event, having recorded 1:32:33 for the route.  Full results for the Carnethy 5 Mountain Race can be found HERE.


Amy Foster continues to impress in Australia…

Further afield on Saturday 11th February 2017, City of Lisburn AC athlete and multiple Northern Ireland and Ireland record holder, Amy Foster continued to impress in Australia. 


The exceptionally talented sprinter claimed two 2nd place finishes at an University of Brisbane track and field meeting. Amy came close to the IAAF World Championships qualifying standards for both 200m (23.10secs) and 100m (11.26secs) when clocking 23.30secs for 200m and 11.45secs for 100m.  The fact that her 200m time was Amy's fastest ever run over the distance (albeit wind assisted) bodes well for the upcoming season.


Midlands Counties Open Track & Field Meeting (England):

Also over the weekend, Leon Reid (Birchfield Harriers) and Jason Harvey (Crusaders AC) were in action at the Midlands Counties Open Track & Field Meeting in England.  Leon won the 200m in a fast 21.11secs (1st place) which sets him up well for the AAI National Senior Championships next weekend. Jason came from behind to win his 400m heat in 48.50secs (1st place) which is a significant improvement on his performance at the AAI Games last week.

Paul Barbour and Pauline McGurren lead the way at Omagh CBS 10k:

Omagh CBS 10k 2017:

On Saturday 10th February 2017, well over two hundred runners descended on Omagh for the annual Omagh CBS 10k (and associated 5k), an event which never fails to attract some of the provinces top running talent.


Reigning Champion Conan McCaughey did not return to defend his 2016 title, but instead, it was his Derry Track Club team mate Paul Barbour who walked away with the trophy.  After a strong display of front running, the returning Paul broke the tape in 33:30 for 1st place.  Ever improving Acorns AC man Eoin Hughes took 2nd place in 34:08, while Brian Taggart (Sperrin Harriers) recorded 36:08 for 3rd place.


In the ladies race, Sperrin Harriers’ Pauline McGurren went one better than her second place finish here twelve months ago.  The consistently impressive athlete saw off a strong challenge from Sarah Jane Guiney (Albertville Harriers) to win in 39:10 (1st place).  Sarah Jane followed in 39:23 (2nd place), before Paula Donnelly (Unattached) crossed the line in 42:22 for 3rd place


Top 3 Men:  1st Paul Barbour (Derry City Track Club) – 33:30, 2nd Eoin Hughes (Acorns AC) – 34:08, 3rd Brian Taggart (Sperrin Harriers) – 36:08


Top 3 Ladies:  1st Pauline McGurren (Sperrin Harriers) – 39:10, 2nd Sarah Jane Guiney (Albertville Harriers) – 39:23, 3rd Paula Donnelly (Unattached) – 42:22


Full Results:  Omagh CBS 10k (and 5k) 2017 Results

David McNeilly and Gerrie Short first past the post at Rollercoaster 5k:

Rollercoaster Road Races 2017:

On Saturday 11th February 2017, runners of all ages turned out in their hundreds 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, is as it says in the race title, just like a rollercoaster, a perfect example of undulating.  


As expected, Newcastle AC were well represented alongside hosts East Down AC, and it was a Newcastle AC man who stole the headlines.  David McNeilly looked a class apart as he cruised to a well-deserved victory in 17:30 (1st place).  East Down AC’s Ciaran Denvir ran well to take 2nd place in 17:52, while Annadale Striders’ Conor McMullan clocked 18:01 for 3rd place.


The ladies race, Beechmount Harriers’ Gerrie Short bettered her runners up spot from 2016 when she secured an excellent victory in 19:36 (1st place). Young East Down AC star Laura Gardiner completed the course in 21:19 for 2nd place, before Novosco Grand Prix winner Ruth Perioli (Ballydrain Harriers) completed the podium on 21:37 (3rd place).


Top 3 Men:  1st David McNeilly (Newcastle AC) – 17:30, 2nd Ciaran Denvir (East Down AC) – 17:52, 3rd Conor McMullan (Annadale Striders) – 18:01


Top 3 Ladies:  1st Gerrie Short (Beechmount Harriers) – 19:36, 2nd Laura Gardiner (East Down AC) – 21:19, 3rd Ruth Perioli (Ballydrain Harriers) – 21:37


Full Results:  Rollercoaster Road Races 2017 Results

Neil Johnston excels as local runners perform well at IUAA Indoor Championships:

IUAA Indoor Track & Field Championships 2017: 

On Friday 10th February 2017, a large number of runners from Northern Ireland travelled to Athlone (Ireland) to represent their Universities at the prestigious Irish Universities Athletics Association (IUAA) Indoor Track & Field Championships at the impressive AIT Arena.


Up and against some of Ireland’s top up and coming talent, the Northern Ireland based students excelled in several events.  Springwell Running Club’s Neil Johnston of QUB AC excelled with a hard fought victory in the 3,000m.  Neil recorded 8:42.20 for 1st place, seeing of UCD AC’s Darragh Fitzgibbon (2nd place – 8:42.72) by less than a second.  


Another QUB AC athlete, Claudia Jalon, continued her rise through the ranks with an excellent silver medal in the 800m won by Amy Ni Hamail (DCU AC) in 2:16.10 (1st place) – Claudia crossed the line in 2:17.10 (2nd place).  Ballymena & Antrim AC’s Jonathan Browning, representing QUB AC) could not retain his 60m title from 2016 in what was a tightly contested race, but he should be pleased with his 6.92secs clocking for 3rd place; this bodes well for the outdoor season ahead.  The race was won by Limerick IT’s Christopher Sibanda in 6.91secs (1st place).  University of Ulster student Adam McCombe also made the podium, after claiming 3rd place over 400m.  Adam covered the distance in 48.89secs.  The race was won by Irish international and University of Limerick student Thomas Barr in 46.87secs (1st place)


Full Results:  IUAA Indoor Track & Field Championships 2017 Results

Weekend Preview:  Local runners prepare for a variety of events...

Weekend Preview:  We LOVE running…

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


On the home front, the Pure Running Half Marathon Series will kick off with the DUNE Half Marathon, while East Down AC’s Rollercoaster Races and the Omagh CBS 10k will also provide options on the road.  Cross country enthusiasts will get their fix with Mallusk Harriers’ XC and trail runners will also be catered for in the form of 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) Indoor Track & Field Championships (Ireland), the AAI National Masters XC (Ireland), the British Athletics Indoor Championships (England) 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 10th February 2017) when thousands of athletes will descend on the 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 Jonathan Browning (Ballymena & Antrim AC), Jane Matthews (Lagan Valley AC), Anna McIlmoyle (City of Lisburn AC), Andrew Mellon (North Down 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).

Rollercoaster Road Races:

On Saturday 11th February 2017, 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.


In the past, when the host club’s own Brendan Teer (East Down AC) has not dominated, Newcastle AC athletes have come to the fore at the head of the pack.  That should be the case this time around, with reigning Champion David O’Flaherty (Newcastle AC) likely to lead the way. Following on from a fantastic performance at the Trim 10 mile road race in Ireland last weekend, David will no doubt better his winning time of 16:35 from twelve months ago.  His Newcastle AC club mates, David McNeilly, Zak Hanna, Colum Campbell, Jack O’Hare and Joe McCann may all toe the line.  


East Down AC may be well represented in the form of Barrie Atkinson, who despite not having been a prominent figure within the local scene of late, always seems to produce quality performances.  Martin Wilcox (East Down AC), Gareth Lyons (Ballydrain Harriers), Andrew McIntyre (Orangegrove AC) and Lee Maginnis (Newry AC) will all place well should they race.


In the ladies race, two time Champion Rebecca Henderson (Dromore AC) may return to defend her title.  Since winning here in 2015 and 2016 Rebecca has continued to establish herself as one of the country’s top female runners, excelling throughout 2016.  The Dromore AC athlete and Northern Ireland international impressed with a podium place at the Laganside 10k and wins at the Larne 10k and Bobby Rea XC during the latter part of last year.


Northern Ireland veteran XC international Gerrie Short (Beechmount Harriers) will be there or there abouts if she decides to make use of the on the day entry system.  The same could be said for Newcastle AC’s Joanne Mills and another Beechmount Harriers athlete, Catherine Diver.  East Down AC trio Laura Gardiner, Catherine O’Connor and Cheryl Denvir should all perform well if they decide to race.

Northern Velocity O’Cahans 8k Trail Race:

Also on Saturday 11th February 2017, events management group Northern Velocity will host the O’Cahans 8k 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 at this event in 2016 and it’s hard to look past the versatile Northern Ireland runner and experience orienteer when choosing a potential winner.  Foyle Valley AC’s Chris McGuinness and Derry Track Club’s Chris Millar could also be involved at the sharp in should they take to the start line.


Meanwhile, in the ladies race, Springwell Running Club duo Kerrie McIlmoyle and Ciara Toner may go head to head.  Based on their recent individual outings, where both have regularly made the podium, this should be an exciting race.  Anne Paul (City of Derry AC) will also contest a prize.


Omagh CBS 10k (and 5k):

In County Tyrone on Saturday 11th February 2017, hundreds of athletes are expected to take to the start line of the annual Omagh CBS 10k road race and associated 5k event.


After having to settle for a third place finish at the recent NI & Ulster Masters XC Championships, the 2016 Champion here, Stephen Duncan (Omagh Harriers) will be keen to retain his title.  Fellow Omagh Harriers men Chris McGuigan and David Gormley, and Enniskillen Running Club’s Stephen Prentice should also feature at the head of the pack.


In the ladies race, Pauline McGurren (Sperrin Harriers) and Esther Dickson (Newry AC) could go head-to-head once again. At this event in 2016, Esther sealed victory by just over thirsty seconds.  However, given her almost permanent place on the podium, Pauline will start as pre-race favourite. Patricia O’Hagan (St Peter’s AC), Tara Malone (Enniskillen RC), Julie Butler (Omagh Harriers) and Karen Dolan (Enniskillen RC) should all challenge for a podium place if they race.

Carnethy 5 Mountain Race (Scotland):

Elsewhere on Saturday 11th February 2017, at least five runners from Northern Ireland will travel to 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 man Eoin Lennon, who is affiliated to local club Carnethy HRC, is expected to lead the local athletes over the five major Pentland peaks, covering 6 miles in distance and 2,500ft in ascent.  Eugene McCann (Newcastle AC), Ann Sandford (Lagan Valley AC), Jack McKenna (Ballymena Runners) and Nat Glenn (North Belfast Harriers) are amongst the Northern Ireland contingent travelling to the race.


British Athletics Indoor Championships (England):

Over the course of Saturday 11th and Sunday 12th February 2017, the best athletes in Britain will gather in the EIS Arena in Sheffield (England) as they compete for the prestigious honour of being crowned British Champion and battle for a place on the British Athletics team for the European Indoor Championships in Belgrade at the start of March.


Amongst the plethora of talent who will be in competition at the event are at least four familiar faces.  Kerry O’Flaherty (Newcastle AC), Emma Mitchell (QUB AC), Andrew Wright (Willowfield Harriers) and Mandy Gault (Lagan Valley AC) will all take to the start line, hoping to cause a few upsets.

DUNE Half Marathon (Pure Running Half Marathon Series):

On Sunday 12th February 2017, thousands of athletes and spectators are expected to turn out for 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).


Organisers are expecting almost double the number of athletes who finished the race in 2016, which is testimony to how it has progressed throughout the years.  At the head of the pack, local man Paddy Hamilton (Slieve Gullion Runners) will be hoping to retain the title he won so convincingly twelve months ago; that day the Northern Ireland international recorded 1:08:13 for top spot.  


Newry City Runners athlete Don Travers will lead the chase group, which could well include the likes of Gerard Heaney (St Peter’s AC), Joe McKevitt (Slieve Gullion Runners), Chris Devine (Newry City Runners), Aaron Woodman (PACE Running Club) and Nigel Kelly (Ballydrain Harriers)


Like the men’s event, there is a lot expected from the 2016 ladies Champion, namely National Marathon and Half Marathon Champion Laura Graham.  Since her success at the Dublin Marathon in 2016, Laura has raced sparingly, opting to include some planned rest into her hectic schedule.  The Kilkeel lady will return to competitive action looking for a good run out as she looks towards a personal best at the London Marathon in April.  


Laura could find competition in the form of Heather Foley (Unattached) and Judith Lonnen (City of Lisburn AC), to classy athletes; both of whom possess the ability to top the podium on their day.  The ever consistent trio of Eileen Stevenson (St Peter’s AC), Susan Smith (Dromore AC) and Diane Watson (City of Lisburn AC) should all start.

Mallusk Cross Country:

Also on Sunday 12th February 2017, respected County Antrim based club Mallusk Harriers will host the Mallusk Cross Country at the Belfast City Playing Fields – interestingly, this venue has hosted several top class international cross country events in the past and should therefore prove to be a popular choice.


The extensive race programme will kick off at 11am and will include Under 11, Under 13, Under 15 and Under 17 races, all leading up to the Senior and Masters events which will close proceedings.


North Belfast Harriers’ Mark McKinstry may well turn out here and should he do so, the talented athlete will more than likely take the victory.  Mark showed his form recently with an excellent 25:42 clocking at the Raheny 5 mile road race at the end of last month.  That followed a runners up place at the Race Over The Glens at the turn of the year and more importantly, a win at the Comber Cup XC in late 2016.  Neill Weir (Willowfield Harriers), John Black (North Belfast Harriers), Ben Morrow (Ballymena Runners), Mark Wright (Annadale Striders), Lorcan Magee (Beechmount Harriers) and Philip Goss (North Belfast Harriers) will be worth looking out for.


The ladies race will be as hard to predict as the men’s event, but one athlete who could feature well if she races is Cathy McCourt (Unattached).  Cathy has enjoyed some excellent outing over the country this season and will be there or there abouts here if she decides to compete.  Other athletes who could enter on the day include Amy Bulman (Willowfield Harriers), Suzanne Higgins (Lagan Valley AC), Pauline Thom (Ballymena & Antrim AC), Riogrinach Catney (Beechmount Harriers), Sarah-Jane Guiney (Albertville Harriers) and Shileen O’Kane (Lagan Valley AC).


AAI National Masters XC Championships (Ireland):

In Ireland on Sunday 12th February 2017, a host of runners from Northern Ireland will be in action at the AAI National Masters XC Championships in Waterford.  North Belfast Harriers look to be the best represented local club, with Tommy Simmons, Andrew Considine, Eamon White, Neil Carty, Paul Elliot and David Clarke all set to compete.  Dromore AC’s in-form Wesley McDowell will also run.  A full list of entries for the event are available HERE.


Parkrun:

As always, Northern Ireland’s twenty four 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.

Paul Pollock and Ben Reynolds excel as local runners impress outside NI:

Paul Pollock and Ben Reynolds set standard as local runners impress outside NI:

This weekend (Saturday 4th and Sunday 5th February 2017), a large number of runners from Northern Ireland were in action at events outside the province, most notably the AAI Games in Abbotstown, Ireland.  However, there were also exceptional performances by familiar faces in Trim (Ireland) and Beppu-Oita (Japan).


This culminated in two local runners hitting qualifying standard for upcoming major events.  Paul Pollock (Anndale Striders) achieved the Commonwealth Games 2018 and IAAF World Championships 2017 marathon standard, while Ben Reynolds (North Down AC) bettered the European Athletics Indoor Championships standard.


Paul and Ben were not the only athletes in action, here is a round of some of the most impressive performances outside Northern Ireland this weekend...


AAI Games (Ireland):

On Saturday 4th February 2017, runners from Northern Ireland secured numerous titles and podium places at the AAI Games, which were held in the impressive new indoor arena in Abbotstown, Ireland.  Ben Reynolds (North Down AC / Tom Reynolds) came back from a Round 1 defeat by Gerrard O’Donnell (7.88secs to 7.90secs) in style to win Round 2 in 7.77secs (1st place); this surpassed the qualifying standard for the next month’s European AthleticsIndoor Championships.


There was an exciting battle between Emma Mitchell (QUB AC / Eamonn Christie) and Kerry O’Flaherty (Newcastle AC / Richard Rodgers) in the Women’s 1500m. Emma kept tight to the pacemaker and then led until 1100m when Rio Olympian Kerry took the lead for the last two laps. It was still a close finish with Kerry taking the win 4:16.04 (1st place) and Emma securing 2nd place in 4:17.42. Both Athletes will contest the 3000m at the UK Championships in Sheffield next weekend.   European 1500m Medalist Ciara Mageean (UCD AC) put in an impressive display of front running in her first 800m of the season, taking victory in 2:06.02 (1st place) from Erin McIlveen (City of Lisburn AC / Brian Whittle) in 2:07.15 (2nd place).


Following his bad luck with the starting blocks in Glasgow last week, Dean Adams (Ballymena & Antrim AC / Alan Kennedy) recorded two dominant victories and his fastest 60m time in four years with 6.91secs and 6.89secs. Jonathan Browning (Ballymena & Antrim AC / Melanie Browning) was 0.10secs behind in both rounds with 7.01secs and 6.99secs which is a positive start to his season.  Jason Harvey (Crusaders AC / Nick Dakin) recovered from a first lap in lane two to finish in 2nd place in Heat 1 of the 400m in 49.16secs and Craig Newell (Ballymena & Antrim AC / Ian Neely) won Heat 2 of the 400m in 49.87secs (1st place).

Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon (Japan):

On Sunday 5th February 2017, Olympic marathoner Paul Pollock (Annadale Striders / Andy Hobdell) was the first Northern Ireland athlete to exceed a consideration standard for the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games when finishing in 18th place at the Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon in Japan.  The hard working athlete also beat the London IAAF World Championships mark and set a fantastic personal best of 2:15.30.


Trim 10 mile Road Race (Ireland):

In Ireland on Sunday 5th February 2017, there was a sizable Northern Ireland contingent at the popular Trim 10 mile road race.  The event was won by Valdas Dopolskas in 51:30 (1st place), but arguably the best performance of the day came from Newcastle AC's David O'Flaherty - David recorded a superb personal best of 52:26 for 2nd place.  His club mate Zak Hanna also made the top ten, taking 8th place in 55:23.  


There was further success for local athletes in the ladies race, with North Belfast Harriers duo Breege Connolly and Gladys O'Neill securing 1st place and 2nd place respectively.  Breege won in 58:25, with Gladys following in 58:58.  Full results for the event are available HERE.

Quality competition at NI & Ulster Age Group Indoor Championships 2017:

NI & Ulster Age Group Indoor Championships 2017:

There were a number of encouraging performances across a range of events at the NI & Ulster Age Groups Championships in Magherafelt at the weekend (Saturday 4th and Sunday 5th February 2017).  Report by Athletics NI.


In many of the track events there were double golds across the board. Oriel’s U12 Amy Jo Kierans and Annalees Cormac Grotty took gold in both the 60m (8.99 & 8.63) and 600m (1.54.74 & 1.54.65). U14 Ben Campbell of Tir Chonaill was successful in the 60m (8.26) and the 60mh (10.07) to secure the top podium position. Eoin Sharkey of Tir Chonaill received one of each medal with a win in the 60mh’s (9.46), 2nd place in the 200m (25.39) and bronze in the 60m sprint race (7.87).


In the field events Finn Valley’s Keeva Johnston (U14) took the silver medal in both the High Jump (1.35m), just behind team mate Cara Wilkinson (1.40m) and the Long Jump (4.21m), which was taken by Michaela Galvin of Letterkenny (4.22m). Finn Valley also took the gold medals again in the boys Long Jump and High Jump events thanks to Joseph Gillespie (4.76m) and (1.50m).  Annalee’s Niamh McCorry had an impressive 9.95 sec run in the U15 girls 60mh’s to take 1st place, which was a staggering 0.56 of a second in front of 2nd place team mate Kate Donohoe. Niamh went on to take the gold in both the 800m’s (2.29.48) and High Jump (1.53m) events.


Last years’ U12 champion, Hannah Murray of Finn Valley cleared up again in the U13 girls 600m (1:51.42), and 60m (8.67) to take gold in each of these events. The U14 girls’ 60mh event top 3 was taken by Tir Chonaill team mates Niamh Moohan (8.69), Lucy McGlynn (10.01) and Rachel Gallagher (10.10). Both Lucy (8.47) and Niamh (8.69) also took 2nd and 3rd position in the 60m flat race just behind Glaslough’s Rachel Callery (8.40).  There was an impressive display in the girls U12 high jump, which saw a gold medal split 3 ways between, Annalee’s Kayla Bartly and Ellie Brady, and Ashleigh McArdle of Lifford Strabane all claiming the top spot on the podium jumping at 1.20m.


Matthew Willis (City of Lisburn) had two great runs in the U16 boys 1500m (04:32.96) and 800m (02:09.81) to take gold. The U16 girls’ long jump was dominated by Finn Valley’s Lauren Callaghan (5.32m), Michaela Byrne (5.07m) and Cate Smith (4.83m) with all 3 taking the podium positions. Lauren went on to win both the 60m’s (8.17) and 200m’s (27.28) with fellow team mate Michaela taking 3rd (28.59) in the 200m and the silver in the high jump (1.50m), behind Aine Wilkinson also of Finn Valley (1.55m). Cate took the bronze in the 60mh race in 9.94 seconds.


The Young Coach of the Year Award Winner Ollie Wakefield of North Down had an impressive jump in the U19 age category to take the gold with 6.15m.  Other highlight performances at the Indoor Championships were High Jumper Brendan O’Donnell (Lifford Strabane) jumped 1.70m as well as taking gold in the U19 Shot Putt (9.62m), Ballymena & Antrim’s Ronan Campbell ran 7.80 seconds in the U16 60m sprint, Liam Keane (Letterkenny AC) 5.69m in the U17 Long Jump and Bridget Mc Dyer (Finn Valley) had an impressive throw in the U19 Shot Putt (10.22m). U16’s Jordan Cunningham (City of Lisburn) was 1st in the Shot with an impressive throw of 11.44m and also took the bronze in the Long Jump (5.63m). Willowfield’s Dylan McBride took the 800m title in 2.11.01, Adrienne Gallen (Lifford Strabane) won the U14 girls Shot in 12.03m and Murphy Millar (North Down) took gold in the U16 girls 1500m with 05:00.16. Olivia Bowes (Lagan Valley) impressed in the Long Jump (4.90m) and Casey Mulvey (Innyvale) took the title in the U15 Shot (12.78m).


Full Results:  NI & Ulster Age Group Indoor Championships 2017 Results

North Down AC and Beechmount Harriers collect awards at XC Relays:

North Down AC ‘Festival of Cross Country Relays’ 2017:

On Saturday 4th February 2017, cross country enthusiasts from across Northern Ireland descended on Castle Park in Bangor for North Down AC Festival of XC Relays.  The well organised event offered an extensive programme of races, from Primary School right through to Senior and Masters races.


Budding stars Katie McCleary (City of Lisburn AC), Robert Lockhart (Penninsula Triathlon Club), Daniel Playfair (North Down AC), Tara McDonough (North Down AC), James Jack Gracey (Beechmount Harriers) and Bethany Nixon (Dromore AC) all enjoyed victory in the junior races.


The Senior/Masters Ladies teams were made up of three runners, all of whom covered 2 x 1300m laps with the team totalling 7.8k.  Despite the inclusion of reigning Champions and pre-race favourites, Dromore AC in the line-up, it was Beechmout Harriers trio Gerrie Short, Catherine Diver and Grainne Doherty who sealed victory in 31:22 (1st place).  Denise Logue, Amanda Perry and Debbie Matchett from Ballydrain Harriers took 2nd place in 31:50, while the host club (North Down AC), represented by Jodi Smith, Valerie McDonough and Sarah Lindsay claimed 3rd place in 32:02.


There was further success for the hosts in the Senior/Masters Men’s event, which saw teams of four runners complete 2 x 1300m each, totalling 10.8k. North Down AC’s Dennis Scott, James Budde, Craig McMeechan and Jamie McMeechan, secured top honours in 36:06 (1st place).  Ballydrain Harriers (Aaron Harrison, Nigel Kelly, Paul Flynn and Joel Harrison) clocked 38:02 for 2nd place before North Down AC Junior Team Thomas Patterson, Conor Brady, Cameron Jenkins and Jake Rushby completed the overall podium in 39:09 (3rd place)


Full Results:  North Down AC ‘Festival of Cross Country Relays’ 2017 Results

Vincent McAlister and Karen Alexander win Sperrin Harriers Drum Manor 10k:

Sperrin Harriers Winter League Trail Series - Drum Manor 10k:

On Saturday 4th February 2017. the scenic Drum Manor was a picture in the winter sun for the penultimate race of the 2016/17 Winter League Series.  Almost one hundred and seventy runners turned out to take on the testing course which comprised of two laps of the forest.


The runners took off at a strong pace as they made their way through the butterfly gardens and past the tea rooms to head out into the forest. Vincent McAlister (Unattached) made his intentions clear from the off, moving into the lead ahead of Eoin Hughes (Acorns AC) and Michael Crawley (City of Derry AC). Vincent maintained his advantage until the finish to win in an impressive time of 35:27 (1st place). Eoin and Michael continued their rivalry illustrated in previous races of this year’s league, with Eoin gaining the upper hand again to finish second in 35:48 (2nd place), just seconds ahead of Michael who completed the route in 35:56 to take 3rd place.


In the ladies, Karen Alexander (Acorns AC) returned to winning form in the league finishing first in 39:48 (1st place), well ahead of chasers Ciara Toner (Springwell Running Club) who recorded another 2nd place in the league crossing the line in 41:38, and Martsje Hell of North Belfast Harriers who was 3rd place in 42:16.


Full Results:  Sperrin Harriers Drum Manor 10k 2017 Results

Nearly one thousand athletes turn out for Born 2 Run Antrim Castle event:

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

On Saturday 4th February 2017, nearly one thousand athletes descended on Antrim Castle in Antrim for the latest race in Born 2 Run’s Run Forest Run Series, the Antrim Castle 10k.  The 10k route (and the associated 5k) took competitors on a scenic course within the picturesque grounds of Antrim Castle.


As expected, North Belfast Harriers star Conor Curran played a prominent part in proceedings.  The talented athlete always look like had and ultimately proved his worth with a 33:54 clocking for 1st place.  Mourne Runners’ Timothy Johnston, who has impressed throughout the Series, followed in 34:24 (2nd place), before Catherine Whoriskey (City of Derry AC) claimed 3rd place overall and 1st place in the ladies race in a time of 34:29.


Stephen Nicholson (PACE Running Club) completed the men’s top three in 35:36, while Cathy McCourt (Unattached) and Rachel Gibson (North Down AC) secured 2nd place and 3rd place respectively in the ladies race.  Cathy ran 36:51, while Rachel crossed the line in 37:16.


In the associated 5k race, Acorns AC man Sam Linton again picked up the top prize.  After having won numerous 3.1 mile races throughout this Series, Sam broke the tape in 16:51 (1st place) to continue his good run of form.  Likewise, Ann Terek (City of Lisburn AC), a regular at the Born 2 Run 5k’s, led the ladies home in 18:29 (1st place).


Full Results:  Born 2 Run Antrim Castle 10k 2017 Results and Born 2 Run Antrim Castle 5k 2017 Results

Weekend Preview:  Record numbers expected at Born 2 Run Antrim Castle 10k...

Record numbers set for Born 2 Run’s Antrim Castle 10k event:

A new month is upon us and another weekend is around the corner, which means only one thing… and no, it’s not the Six Nations Rugby (although that will be good too!), it is of course RUNNING; and there will be plenty of it over the coming days.


Born 2 Run will host the latest installment of their Run Forest Run Series, the record breaking Antrim Castle 10k, while North Down AC will welcome athletes to their Festival of XC Relays.  These two main fixtures will be backed up by Sperrin Harriers’ Drum Manor 10k, the Belfast Tandems 5k & 10k races, the NI & Ulster Age Group Indoor Track & Field Championships, and the Grand Final of East Coast AC’s popular Junior XC Series in Larne.


Meanwhile, outside Northern Ireland, there will be plenty of familiar faces at the prestigious AAI Games, hosted by Athletics Ireland at the new Sport Ireland National Indoor Arena in Abbotstown, Ireland.

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

On Saturday 4th February 2017, local events management company Born 2 Run will welcome a record number of competitors to the latest race of their Run Forest Run Series, the Antrim Castle 10k.  The 10k route (and the associated 5k) will cover a scenic course within the picturesque grounds of Antrim Castle.


Nearly one thousand runners will take to the start line of the event, making it the biggest since the inception of the Run Forest Run Series.  At the front of the field, there should be some talented athletes on show – reigning Champion Mark McKinstry (North Belfast Harriers) could well return to defend his crown.  Should he do so, the North Belfast Harriers man may face opposition from PACE Running Club trio Aaron Woodman, Stephen Nicholson and Oliver Cook, all of whom have impressed throughout this Series.


Another North Belfast Harriers athlete, the always impressive Conor Curran, will also be worth watching.  The same could be said for the likes of Jonny Steede (Glens Runners) and Kevin O’Boyle (Unattached) if they decide to make use of the late entry system.  Dromore AC duo Stephen O’Gorman and Wesley McDowell could also be in the mix, while Bliadhan Glass (Acorns AC) may return in the hope of bettering his fourth place finish from 2016.


Current NI & Ulster 5,000m (track) and 10,000m (track) Champion Catherine Whoriskey (City of Derry AC) will be the stand out athlete in the ladies race.  The Spartan lady has hit the headlines with some exceptional performances over the last twelve months, most notably after winning the Waterside HM in 1:17:52 and the Greencastle 5 mile road race in 28:12.  It’s hard to look past Catherine as a potential winner, but that will not put North Down AC’s Northern Ireland international Rachel Gibson off; the always consistent and versatile athlete will be waiting to pounce should Catherine falter.   Cathy McCourt (Unattached) is another lady to look out for, while Nicola Swinson (PACE Running Club) and Catherine Roberts (North Down AC) should also be considered as potential podium placers.  Michele Mowlds (Newry City Runners) will finish well up the field.

North Down AC ‘Festival of Cross Country Relays’:

Also on Saturday 4th February 2017, cross country enthusiasts will lace up their spikes for the return of the North Down AC Festival of XC Relays.  The event, which will take place in Castle Park, Bangor (with registration at Bangor Aurora), has an extensive programme of races, from Primary School right through to Senior and Masters races.


A timetable of events is included below:


12.00pm - P6 & P7 boys & girls 1000m

12.20pm - U13 boys & girls 1600m

12.45pm - U15 boys & girls 2400m

13.15pm - Relay race for women (3 athletes to count): Seniors & Masters (O35) 2600m

14.15pm - Relay race for men (four athletes to count): Seniors & Masters (O40) 2600m


It is expected that the host club will field several teams, all of which should place well.  James Budde, Craig McMeechan, Francis Marsh and Dennis Scott would make a good team based on recent performances by the quartet.  Reigning Champions Derry Track Club could return and should have newly crowned NI & Ulster Intermediate XC Champion available to lead the way. Other clubs who could field notable teams may include Newcastle AC, Ballydrain Harriers, East Down AC and Dromore AC.


In the ladies race, last year’s winners Dromore AC will again be the team to beat.  Rebecca Henderson, Rebekah Nixon and Laura Bickerstaff led the black and yellow vests to victory in 2016 and the trio should start again this year.  City of Lisburn AC, who are likely to be led by Zoe Carruthers, and Newcastle AC, who should have Mari Troeng and Joanne Mills available, will also play a part in what should be a god contest.  Ballydrain Harriers, North Down AC and Lagan Valley AC all possess the strength in depth to push forward potential podium placing teams; whether they do or not is the question!

Sperrin Harriers’ Winter League Trail Series (Race 4 – Drum Manor 10k Trail Race):

In County Tyrone on Saturday 4th February 2017, Sperrin Harriers will host Race 4 of their ongoing Winter League Trail Series.  On this occasion, competitors will be faced with a 10k route around the well-used Drum Manor Forest. The race kicks off at 12pm.


Should he opt for this event instead of the Born 2 Run Antrim Castle 10k, Jonny Steede (Glens Runners) will start as pre-race favourite.  However, Race 2 winner Eoin Hughes (Acorns AC) and Race 3 winner Paul Barbour (Derry Track Club) could both turn out - should all three toe the line, it will be an excellent battle.  


Northern Ireland and Ireland international Jonny should have enough to seal his second victory of the Series.   Michael Crawley (City of Derry AC), a consistent performer on both road and trail, will play a major part in proceedings.  The aforementioned men could well be chased by a plethora of talent, which should include East Coast AC’s Matthew Hewitt, Acorns AC’s Aaron Meharg, Foyle Valley AC’s Mark Long and Acorn AC athlete Martin McVey.  Pierce McCullagh (Sperrin Harriers) will lead the way for the hosts, while Vincent McAllister (Unattached) should place well.


Despite missing Race 3, Karen Alexander (Acorns AC) will be considered by many as the favourite in the ladies race, should the Race 1 winner return.  However, Race 2 winner Ciara Toner (Springwell Running Club) has hit good form, and should therefore not be ruled out.  Ciara’s club mate, Karen McLaughlin (Springwell Running Club) should contest a prize.  Other ladies to look out for include Grace Carson (Mid Ulster AC), Anne Paul (City of Derry AC), Paula McAllister (Ballymena Runners), Leanne Sands (Acorns AC) and Sperrin Harriers pair Tanya Quinn and Angela O’Neill.

Belfast Tandems 5k & 10k Races:

On Sunday 5th February 2017, NI Duathlon are hosting the latest of their 10k and 5k races in support of their Belfast Tandem Cycling Group. Registration will be open from 8am with both races starting at 10am at the Sam Thompson Bridge, Airport Road, Belfast, BT3 9EF.  Last month's races produced quite a few PB's and the initial 10k course records!


The 5k and 10k are both officially measured road races around the flat, scenic Victoria Park in Belfast, starting and finishing at the Sam Thompson Bridge with timing mats at the start and end of each lap of each race.  Entry is £10 online HERE or you can pay and enter on the day.  The 5k is open to ages 11+ whilst the 10k is open to ages 15+ (Under 16's can enter with an adult on the day).  


Each race has prizes for the top three male and female finishers, prizes for first place in each age category, chip timing, bananas, water, 10% off at Athlos Triathlon store and... medals!  Proceeds (plus any additional donations) will go towards growing the Belfast Tandem Cycling Group for blind and partially sighted cyclists (the group is also seeking a few more sighted 'pilots').


In the 5k race in January, Stephen Orr (Orangegrove AC) and Maeve Lavery (City of Lisburn AC) secured the top spots, while in the 10k Brendan Grew (North Belfast Harriers) and Amy Bulman (Willowfield Temperance Harriers) set the mark for the fastest 10k times.  With entries on the day (or online until midnight on Saturday) it is looking like there will be a good field in both distances again, with runners of all levels keen to bag a PB on a totally flat course in calmer conditions! Registration and parking are beside the Sam Thompson Bridge. Arrive early to avoid a queue!

East Coast AC Junior XC Series (Race 3) Grand Finale:

Also on Sunday 5th February 2017, Larne based club East Coast AC will host the final race of their increasingly popular Junior XC in the Larne Grammar School Playing Fields (Lower Cairncastle Road, Larne).  


The 3rd annual running of the Series has attracted athletes from clubs all over the province and with not only race, but overall Series prizes up for grabs, a large turnout is expected. 


Full details of the event (including a race timetable) are available HERE.


NI & Ulster Age Group Indoor Track & Field Championships:

In Magherafelt, on Saturday 4th and Sunday 5th February 2017, junior athletes from across the province will take to the indoor track at Meadowbank Sports Arena in Magherafelt for the annual NI & Ulster Age Group Indoor Track & Field Championships.  The event, hosted by Athletic NI, will see athletes from Under 12 to Under 19 age groups take on 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.  We would expect the likes of Enya Haigney (Omagh Harriers), Toni Moore (Omagh Harriers), Joshua Courtney (Ballymena & Antrim AC), Adam Hilditch (Dromore AC), Cathaoir Purvis (North Belfast Harriers), Oisin O’Callaghan (Newry AC), Niamh Heaney (Omagh Harriers) and Eilish Flanagan (Omagh Harriers) to be amongst those who contest podium places in what should be an excellent few days of competition.  A full timetable for the event is available is available on the Athletics NI website.


Irish Life Health AAI Games (Ireland):

Over the course of this weekend (Saturday 4th and Sunday 5th February 2017, the Irish Life Health Indoor League Final and AAI Games are set to light up Abbotstown and the new Sport Ireland National Indoor Arena.


The Indoor League Final gets action underway on Saturday in what will the first athletics event proper in the new arena. Then on Sunday, a large number of Ireland's top track stars will take to the brand new track for the annual AAI Games – there will be a large number of athletes from Northern Ireland.

Leading the local chase for honours will be well-known athletes Ben Reynolds (North Down AC), Ciara Mageean (UCD AC), Kerry O’Flaherty (Newcastle AC), Emma Mitchell (QUB AC) and Ann-Marie McGlynn (Letterkenny AC).


Ben Reynolds (North Down AC) and fellow 60m hurdles competitor Gerard O’Donnell (Carrick on Shannon AC) will be hoping to push each other to the European Indoor 60m hurdles standard of 7.80secs in a solid line-up. 


Ciara Mageean (UCD AC) is set to make her indoor debut over 800m and will have an eye on the European indoor standard of 2:03.75 to make it two Irish women with the time. Siofra Cleirigh Buttner (DSD AC) achieved the time last week in the US with a school record of 2:02.97 for Villanova.  Meanwhile, Olympic steeplechaser Kerry O’Flaherty (Newcastle AC) will compete in the women’s 1500m.  Emma Mitchell (QUB AC) has been in excellent form this indoor season and will be looking to continue her fine form in the 3,000m.  


Other familiar faces to look out for include Dean Adams (Ballymena & Antrim AC), Jonathan Browning (Ballymena & Antrim AC), Fintan Stewart (City of Derry AC), Aaron Sexton (North Down AC), Craig Newell (Ballymena & Antrim AC), Peter Glass (City of Lisburn AC), Hannah McGowan (City of Derry AC), Laura Frey (Lagan Valley AC) and Erin McIlveen.  A full start list for the event is available HERE.


Parkrun:

As always, Northern Ireland’s twenty four 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 2017, just click HERE.  You can also view the 'news' archive by using the navigation bar at the top of the page.