Volunteers sign-up for World 24-Hr Running Championships:
Some 40 volunteers signed up at this week's World 24-hr Championship Open Evening staged in the Skainos Centre in East Belfast close to the Victoria Park race course where the Championship will be held on Saturday 1st July 2017.
They had gathered to hear information about the World Championship and to listen to National Champion and record holder Eoin Keith who had travelled up from Dublin to give away some of his ultra secrets on diet, training and racing.
Local Organising Committee chairman Ed Smith says: “We were delighted with the response on the night. It’s a great start but we reckon we’re going to need some 200 volunteers in total across all the different roles.”
Those roles include drivers for the 40 plus nations who will be coming in from around the globe and need transported. Also, opening and closing ceremonies teams; course set-up and clear-up teams; an admin team; a medical team; a media team; translators; ambassadors and an athletes village team.
If you are interested in helping you can send an email to: [email protected]
Full information about the World Champs coming to Belfast at: www.belfast24.com
On Your Marks, Get Set and it’s Go for Jimmy’s 10k supported by M.B. McGrady & Co!
Downpatrick’s largest athletics event is set to pound the pavements in two weeks’ time and it has already reached capacity! Jimmy’s 10k race, organised by East Down Athletic Club and supported by M.B. McGrady & Co Chartered Accountants, is taking place on Sunday 12th March 2017 and has attracted record numbers - online registration closed yesterday (Tuesday 28th February 2017) after the 900 capacity was reached - today (Wednesday 1st March 2017), organisers have released 100 more spaces. Entries are available HERE.
Olympian and last year’s female winner, Kerry O’Flaherty, joined forces with representatives from East Down Athletics Club and sponsor, M.B. McGrady & Co. to launch this year’s event.
Last year, Paddy Hamilton from Slieve Gullion Runners was first past the post, in a race that featured 875 runners, including 26 relay teams and 823 10k runners. “Jimmy’s 10k is a hugely successful event for the local community. Organised by East Down Athletics Club in memory of its Founder Jimmy Murray, the race has grown from 70 local competitors to include hundreds of runners who travel from across Northern Ireland to take part. We’ve been on board as a sponsor for the last 8 years. Many of our staff and clients take part in the race, reflecting M.B. McGrady’s ongoing commitment for the local community, and we’re proud to be associated with such an incredible event that supports the East Down Athletic Club and raises funds for local charities,” adds Mal McGrady, Director of MB McGrady & Co.
East Down Athletics Club established the first Jimmy’s 10km in 1999 in memory of Jimmy Murray, a Downpatrick school teacher and athletics enthusiast, who was one of the founding members of East Down AC in 1987. Explaining how the event has grown in stature, EDAC Chairman, Simon McGrattan adds: “We’ve got exceptionally strong athletics clubs in County Down and the surrounding areas, which ensures a solid level of support from our local runners every year. This is then complemented by runners from across Northern Ireland who want to benchmark their times at the start of the season. The event’s March timing has really helped participation levels to grow as it marks the start of the competition season – being the first race in the Novosco 10k Grand Prix - and it’s the perfect training milestone for runners who are competing in the Belfast Marathon.”
Jimmy’s 10k is taking place on Sunday 12th March 2017. Prizes are awarded to 1st, 2nd and 3rd place male and female runners and age group winners. There’s also team prizes for male, female and mixed relay teams.
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
World class orienteering races add spice to Armagh 5k event:
As the annual Brooks Armagh International 5k approaches, the excitement is obvious. Athletes are discussing the quality of the competition, which last year saw 66 runners dip below 15 minutes for 3.1 miles.
Interestingly, several of those athletes were well-known orineteers! So this year, NI Orienteering has teamed up with the Armagh 5k to add a weekend of urban orienteering to the event programme.
The article below, by Stephen Gilmore, explains it all...
World Class Orienteers Find Their Way to Armagh:
Top orienteers from around the world are set to descend on the historic City of Armagh. Visitors are expected from across Norway, Sweden, Hungary, France, New Zealand and Belgium as well as Britain and Ireland.
Whilst the sport of orienteering is usually more associated with forest terrain, a new discipline of sprint orienteering, typically taking place urban areas, has grown in popularity in recent years. Northern Ireland Orienteering are planning a series of races in the heart of Armagh City on the weekend immediately following the Armagh 5km Race on Thursday on 16 February 2017.
Race Director Allan Bogle from Northern Ireland Orienteering explained “The idea behind our weekend of Sprint Orienteering came about last year after Belgian orienteer Yannick Michiels came second in the 5k race, leading a field of dedicated road runners around for a few laps before being pipped on the line.”
“Yannick’s result in the race got the orienteering world talking about ‘how fast orienteers need to be able to run’ as he has established himself as one of the top contenders for sprint orienteering world titles. With fast speeds over a few kilometres, this showcases the type of athlete the modern orienteer has to be to compete on a world stage.”
As a running sport most top orienteers incorporate running races into their training schedules. However this will be the first time so many international orienteers will toe the start line of the same road race. Yannick, who is currently altitude training in South Africa, will start the 5k as the favourite among the orienteering contingent following his result from last year. However British orienteer Kris Jones is the in-form athlete at the moment, recently setting 3 personal-bests in a 10 day period, including running 14.11 in a 5k road race on New Year’s Eve.
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?
The day after the Road Race the orienteers will switch to their favoured discipline and will swap their race number for an orienteering map. The weekend of orienteering begins on Friday evening with a night sprint race around the grounds of Armagh Planetarium. The main event will take place on Saturday around the streets of Armagh. Orienteers, young and old, will compete alongside many of the sport’s biggest stars including double junior World Champion Tim Robertson from New Zealand, Student World Gold medalists Charlotte Ward, Kris Jones and Peter Hodkinson from Great Britain. The cream of the British international and Irish squads including local orienteers Olivia Baxter, Susan Lambe and Paul Pruzina - all members of Lagan Valley Orienteers are also expected to make an appearance.
The weekend concludes on Sunday the 19th February with an Open event where anyone is welcome to come along to find out what orienteering is all about. Courses will be available to suit all ages and abilities and more information can be found through the NI Orienteering website – www.niorienteering.org.uk.
Athletics NI announce NI & Ulster XC team for Celtic International 2017:
Athletics NI and Ulster Athletics are pleased to announce the team that will travel to Cardiff for the 2017 Celtic International Cross Country on 22nd January 2017.
Athlete Development Lead Tom Reynolds said, “It is encouraging that this was such a competitive selection process which suggests the performance development base, largely provided by clubs, is getting wider. We hope this will lead to more robust and skilled athletes progressing through to senior ranks and that the strength of this team will continue to build.”
Under 23 Men:
Under 23 Women:
Katie Moore (North Down AC / Francis Marsh)
Zoe Carruthers (City of Lisburn AC / Heather Ardis)
Edel Monaghan (Enniskillen RC / Tommy Farrell)
Under 20 Men:
Craig McMeechan (North Down AC / Francis Marsh)
Patrick McNiff (Banbridge AC / Heather Ardis)
Fintan Stewart (City of Derry AC / Sean Laverty)
Eoin McCann (St Malachy’s AC / Joe McCallister)
Donal Farren (Letterkenny AC / Teresa McDaid)
Under 20 Women:
Madison Bowyer (City of Lisburn / Heather Ardis)
Enya Haighney (Omagh Harriers / Conor Moore )
Rioghnach Catney (Beechmount Harriers / Paul Magee)
Laura Gardiner (East Down AC / Peter Morgan)
Under 17 Men:
Conor Maguire (Monaghan Phoenix / Brian Peppard)
Alex Boyd (Lagan Valley AC / Jim McKeown)
Antony McCambridge (St Malachy’s AC / Joe McCallister)
Miceal McCaul (St Colmans College / Rory Friel)
Under 17 Women:
Niamh Carr (Springwell Running Club / Phillip Tweedie)
Murphy Miller (North Down AC / Francis Marsh)
Katie Agnew (Ballymena & Antrim AC / Pauline Thom)
Rebecca Wallace (North Belfast Harriers / Cathy McCourt)
Energia 24hr Race 2017 (inc IAU World 24hr Championships):
The Energia24-Hr Open Race sold out in record time last night, Monday 12th December 2016.
All 100 places available were snapped up in under 3 hours for an event that will sit alongside the World 24-Hour Running Championships in Victoria Park, Belfast next summer on July 1.
Entries came in from across the British Isles and from as far away as Australia, Hong Kong, Iran, India and the USA. The entry list includes 74 men and 26 women with ages ranging from 27 to 67 all looking to see how far they can go in that 24-hour period.
“The pressure has been building for some time now up to last night’s opening,” says race director Ed Smith, “In the 8 years of putting on this race we hadn’t seen anything anywhere near the interest being shown - but we were still surprised at just how quick the places went. We already have an extensive waiting list,” he says. “I guess much of it is about being part of a World Championship and running alongside some of the best ultra-runners on the planet.”
The World Championships happen every two years. International teams from over 40 nations took part in the last Championships in Turin in 2015. More are expected in Belfast next year.
For more information: Contact Ed Smith on +447740818389. [email protected]
Podium 4 Sport Seeley Cup 10k 2016:
Belfast based sports retailer Podium 4 Sport is delighted to announce that they will continue as lead sponsor of the Seeley Cup 10K organised by Willowfield Harriers, which is celebrating its 35th year. The race takes place on Saturday 26 November starting in Ormeau Park, Belfast (2.30 pm) and is the 2016 NI & Ulster 10K Road Race Championships.
Almost 950 runners completed last year’s race through the beautiful surrounds of Ormeau Park with Clonliffe’s, Gary Murray taking the Men’s title and Letterkenny’s Ann-Marie McGlynn the Women’s.
Helping launch the 2016 event is World and European Masters Competitor 2015, Cathy McCourt of North Belfast Harriers, and Willowfield’s Gary Morrow. With Cathy’s strong racing year, she is setting her sights on the podium for this upcoming race. Seen by many as one of the premier road races of the road running calendar, this is an ideal opportunity to test herself against the very best road runners in the north of Ireland and beyond.
Podium 4 Sport have extensive experience in providing expert advice regarding athletics, particularly relating to endurance running. The Montgomery Road store boasts a group highly trained staff who are available to provide Video Gait Analysis. Podium 4 Sport are proud to cater to the needs of all runners, stocking a varied selection of running gear from leading brands.
Craig Allen, Marketing Manager of Podium 4 Sport comments "Podium 4 Sport are delighted to once again support this wonderful race which is considered by many in Northern Ireland to be a highlight of the racing year. The commitment and dedication to the sport shown by Willowfield Harriers truly reflects the core values held Podium 4 Sport. Sport is not just our business, it is our passion."
To reward their efforts on race day all participants will be given 10% off their next purchase at the Podium 4 Sport Montgomery Road store. To avail of this offer runners simply need to present their 2016 Podium 4 Sport Seeley Cup 10K race number at the checkout. There is a total prize fund of over £1500 and many of Northern Ireland's top road racers will be in action. The 10K route has been officially measure and will be run under Athletics Northern Ireland rules.
Participants will receive a performance t-shirt and the race will be timed by ChampionChip Ireland. Online entry is available HERE and is capped at 1000 runners.
Athletics NI and Ulster Athletics are delighted to announce the selection of the maximum team size of 25 athletes for the Manchester International taking place on 17th August in Sport-city Manchester.
Team leader for the International and Director of Coaching and Athlete Development, Tom Crick said “the strength and depth of this team shows the direction in which athletics in Northern Ireland and Ulster is heading especially given that a number of eligible athletes will be missing from the team due to being at the Olympics in Rio. We hope that in the future this international will continue to incentivise all athletes to compete at the NI & Ulster Championships which act as trials for this team.”
Men Event Women
Leon Reid (James Hillier) 100m Megan Marrs (Tom Reynolds)
Leon Reid (James Hillier) 200m
Andrew Mellon (Brendan McConville) 400m Erin McIlveen (Brian Whittle)
Michael Dyer (Francis Marsh) 800m Kelly Neely (Ian Neely)
Andrew Wright (Mark Kirk) Mile Katie Kirk (Mark Kirk)
Adam Kirk-Smith (Jacob Howe) 2000m Steeplechase
Ben Reynolds (Tom Reynolds) 100/110m H Megan Marrs (Tom Reynolds)
Ciaran Barnes (Bill Kelly) 400m H Niamh Malone (Brian Peppard)
Adam McMullen (Alan Kennedy) LJ
Alan Kennedy (Self Coached) TJ Laura Saulters (John Saulters)
HJ Sommer Lecky (Niall Wilkinson)
John Kelly (John Kelly Snr) SP
HT Hayley Murray (Christopher Murray)
Sean McBride (Damien Crawford) JT
PBs at NI & Ulster Age Group Championships (by Athletics NI):
Over 500 athletes turned out to the Mary Peters Track on Saturday 11th June, for the NI & Ulster Age Group Track & Field Championships. Despite the events starting with poor weather conditions, there was a great atmosphere on the track.
The Steeplechase event started of the NI & Ulster Championships with Cáelainn McQuaid of Omagh Harriers and Glaslough’s Emma O’Hanlon Geary battling it out to be the U17 victor. However Cáelainn just steamed ahead to take the gold medal in 07:49.30 with Emma following behind in 08:27.60 for silver.
Jack Agnew was the athlete of the day, with impressive PB’s also from Youth Academy athletes Kate O’Connor (St Gerard’s AC), Lauren Roy (Ballymena & Antrim AC), and Anna McCauley (City of Lisburn AC). Jack U17 maintained his first place title in the 100m Wheelchair with just over a 3 second lead on second place winner, U16 Harry Turkington (19.49). Josh Graham (U16) followed closely behind Harry in 19.54, with U14 Andrew Greer taking the 100m in 21.06. The line-up was the same for the 400m Wheelchair event, where Jack stormed to the finish in 50.9 seconds. This PB for Jack now ranks him 40th in the World Senior T54 Rankings.
Kate O’Connor (St Gerard’s AC), had a great start to the Championships on Saturday, with an impressive 40.47m throw in the U17 Javelin, 16.78m ahead of second place Oriel AC Isabelle Doyle (23.69m). Kate continued her winning streak through to the U17 Long Jump, where she jumped a PB of 5.69m, just 1cm ahead of her Irish Schools PB of 5.68m the week previous. Lagan Valley’s Olivia Bowes took the silver with 5.13m. Olivia continued her podium positions by taking first place in the U17 100mH ahead of Annalee’s Abbie Sexton.
In the 200m U17 Girls Lauren Roy of Ballymena & Antrim took a 2.97 lead over silver medallist Molly McCormack of Shercock AC, to knock 0.58 of her previous PB time of 25.73 to a new PB time of 25.15 seconds. Lauren also took gold in the 100m event ahead of Annalee’s Abbie Seaton (13.37) and Emily Forte of Lagan Valley (13.42).
City of Lisburn’s Anna McCauley, claimed victory in the U16 100m, 200m and Long Jump events with North Down’s Rachel McCann and Aine Kerr (5.24m) achieving second position. In the 200m Anna took first in 25.86, with Rachel McCann in second (26.49). Jayne Drury of Shercock took third in the 200m (26.86) and first in the 80mH (13.55). However, success seemed to keep on coming for Anna as she took the gold in the 100m race (12.66 seconds) and the Long Jump (5.30m). Both these track events where just shy of her PB’s which she achieved at the Irish Schools Championships just the week before.
The U15 80mH was won by Tara Meier of 3 Ways AC (12.38), however City of Lisburn’s Holly Mulholland was close on her heels in 12.56. In the U15 100m’s Lauren Callaghan of Finn Valley stormed ahead of Ballymena & Antrim’s Alice Rogers (13.37) to take the top podium position in 13.19 seconds. Whereas in the Reece McClean of Upper Bann took the lead in 12.31 to achieve the first place win just in front of Orangegrove’s Aaron McCord. City of Lisburn boys Matthew Wilson (11.95), Simon Jackson (11.99) and Christopher Larmour (12.08) dominated the top three podium positions for the U17’s.
Olivia Cuskelly of Lifford Strabane threw an impressive 42.15m in the U15 Girls Hammer, 8.9m’s ahead of second place Hollie Galbraith of City of Lisburn (33.25m). Finn Valley’s Yvonne Boyle took the bronze in 28.48m, however redeemed her position to take the gold in the U15 discus (25.85m). Angel Durose and Ross Henderson of Lifford Strabane took the gold in the U14 Hammer, whilst Ryan Stewart (Lifford Strabane) took the U15 title.
Unattached Zara Dowds threw 22.99m in the U16 Hammer to take the winning position, but just lost out to Amy Kimber (Unattached) in the Javelin event by 1.61m. Amy went onto maintain her winning streak and took victory in the U16 Discus (21.69m), ahead of both Eabha Devin (City of Derry) and again Zara Dowds.
Charlie Worth of Finn Valley took the podium position in the U16’s Hammer (34.70m) and Javelin (31.07m), with Lifford Strabane’s Connor Breslin taking first in the U17’s hammer (48.48m).
The Long Jump again had a large number for entries with Finn Valley’s Amy McMenamin (4.73m), Joseph Aidoo of Letterkenny (4.43m), Finn Valley’s Cate Smyth (4.97m) and Jonathan Cochrane of Ballymena & Antrim (5.35m) claiming first place in the U14 and U15 age groups. Jonathan went on to take the win in the U15 triple Jump in 12.26m, however just lost out in the 200m to fellow team mate Ronan Campbell by 0.51 of a second. Amy (28.81) just lost out to Unattached Katie Kimber (28.61) in the U14 200m. In the 80m event Katie Kimber came in second (11.04) to City of Lisburn’s Katie Monteith (10.64).
The U16 boy’s long jump was won by Pauric Harrold of Finn Valley (5.63m) and Kyle Magwood of Banbridge (5.67m) took the first position in the U17. Pauric also took first place in the 200m (24.03) ahead of North Down’s Isaac Hart, however he just lost out on maintaining his three win hat trick in the 100m (11.92) to Ballymena & Antrim’s Peter Wright (11.83).
The Annalee Girls Roisin Kellegher and team mate Niamh McCorry took first and second in the U14 high jump event. Niamh lost out on the first place position in the 75mH (12.29) to City of Lisburn’s Ella Armstrong (12.17).
Jude McCrossan of Lifford Strabane jumped 1.46m to take the gold medal in the U14 boy’s event, whilst City of Lisburn’s Erin Maguire had fierce competition from Finn Valley’s Abby Meenan, Aine Wilkinson and Caitlin McGonagle. However Erin prevailed and took the winning position on the podium with her 1.45m jump, as well as first in the U15 Javelin event (28.22m) and 200m (27.25).
Lagan Valley’s Ethan Bryce took the gold in the U15 high jump (1.70m), however he just lost out to unattached athlete, Eoin Sharkey (13.30) in the 80mH event by .06 of a second. Eoin also took the win in the U15 250mH (39.53), 1 second ahead of Olympians Henry Bose (40.50). Lagan Valley’s Tori McCord (1.50m), Ethan Williamson (1.65m), City of Lisburn’s Ethan McIlroy (1.83m) and Anna Stanfield (1.45m) all took the gold in their relevant age categories. U16 Ethan Williamson won the 100mH (15.03) ahead of Conall O’Neill of City of Derry (15.17).
North Down’s Zac Moraghan took the title in the U14 75mH (12.33) followed closely behind by Ryan O’Kane of Finn Valley in 12.71. Ryan (10.91m) and Innyvale’s Casey Mulvey (12.88m) won the U14 shot putt. However, Casey (24.54m) and Ryan (25.61m) both just lost out in the U14 Discus to Ballymena & Antrim’s Katie McCullough (25.39m) and James Wright (30.18m). Katie (32.70m) and James (41.47m) also took the gold in the U14 Javelin, however James (10.39) just lost out on his three event win to Lagan Valley’s Tony Craig (10.11) in the 80m’s. Tony continued as a means to go on and took the first place position in the U14 200m (25.56), ahead of North Down’s Zac Moraghan (27.38) in second and Dylan McBride of Willowfield Harriers (28.07) in third. Dylan did not let this get him down, as he went on to claim victory in the U14 800m event (2:15.85).
Beechmounts Davica Patterson took the titles in both the 400m (58.47) and 800m (2:23.37), just ahead of second place winners Lauren Crossan of Finn Valley (400m-1:00.49) and Ballymena & Antrim’s Rachel Brown (800m-2:24.90). North Down’s Megan Briggs (2:25.62) and Murphy Miller (2:19.35) claimed the victory titles in the U14 and U15 girls 800m event. David Smith of Letterkenny (2:08.56), Shercock’s Aine Corcoran (2:21.51), Stefhan Gabbidon-Lyttle of Ballymena & Antrim (2:03.79) and Omagh’s Sean Corry were the 800m gold medallist in their respective age groups.
Unattached Laoise McGonagle (8.96m), Emily Brennan of Glaslough (7.36m), Letterkenny’s Edward Grant (11.24m) and Omagh’s Adam Giles (11.35m) were the winners of the shot putt for the U15, U16 and U17 age groups. U15 Ronan Campbell of Ballymena & Antrim and U17 Sarah McGlynn of Lagan Valley took the podium position in both the shot putt and Discus. Ballymena & Antrim’s Darragh Ferguson (32.21m) and Matthew McCullough (28.17m) both won the U16 and U17 Discus events.
Finn Valley’s Bethany Lecky jumped 9.20m in the U15 girls triple jump, with City of Lisburn’s Iona MacPherson (10.95m) and Kerry Annett (10.300m), Luke Pollock from Ballymena & Antrim (11.49m) and Lagan Valley’s Jai Benson (12.12m) all taking the first place podium position in their relevant age categories. Luke went to win the 250mH title in 34.67, with City of Derry’s Conall O’Neill in second (34.87). U15 Darragh Kirk of Lifford Strabane had a great throw in the Javelin of 36.66m.
U17 boys Ballymena & Antrim’s Adam Neilly took first place in both the 200m (23.91) and 400m (51.06). Thomas Mullen of Lifford Strabane took the 200m silver medal in 54.89, but reclaimed victory in the 300mH (41.20). In the 250mH girls U15 event Eimear Kelly of City of Derry took the gold medal (39.17), just ahead of Ballymena & Antrim’s Erin McMahon (40.17). Finn Valley’s Sinead Gallagher (37.38) had a great 250mH race and took the gold 1.76 seconds in front of second place Harriet Dougan (39.14) from Lagan Valley. Eadaoin Galligan of Innyvale took the U17 girls 300mH title in 54.83 seconds.
There was 8 entries spread over the four age groups in the 2k and 3k walk events, Glaslough’s Ava Ross taking first in 11:15.09 and fellow team mate Eimear McColgan (14:06.70) in second for the U14 girls. Finn Valley’s Isabel Conaghan took the gold with 14:03.20 for the U16 girls where team mate Lauren McDaid took the U17 girls title in 13:50.50. The U17 boy’s event was won by Reuben Burns in 14:53.30 and the 3k champion was Aimee Brennan of Glaslough Harriers (19:44.44).
There was a strong entry in the U16 3000m event on Saturday with 11 competitors battling it out for the podium positions. Lagan Valley’s Alex Boyd prevailed and took the gold medal in 9:39.32, just ahead of Jack Moore of Omagh Harriers (9:43.89). Finn Valley’s Aoife McGrath (11:15.80), Aoife Cochrane of East Down (12:15.59) and Burren’s Jack O’Farrell (9:23.00) took the titles in the U16 and U17 races.
This weekend will see the NI & Ulster Senior Athletes incorporating the U18 to U20 age group athletes take to the Mary Peters Track once again for another athletics filled day.
Garmin is pleased to announce the latest addition to the fēnix® 3 range with the new fēnix 3 HR Silver Edition:
Combining the reliable navigation and advanced training features that the fēnix 3 range is known for, the fēnix 3 HR Silver Edition GPS watch now features Garmin Elevate™ wrist heart rate technology, allowing you to track your heart rate wherever you are. Complete with rugged good looks, the fēnix 3 HR Silver Edition has been finished with a protected mineral crystal lens, a silver stainless steel Exo-antenna and a Flexible silicone band for great wearability.
Here are just some of the watch's special features:
Records for Sexton, McCartney and Mulholland at Irish Schools (article by Athletics NI):
Northern Irish athletes made the most of near perfect conditions in Tullamore on Saturday (4th June 2016). There was an impressive intermediate girls' pole vault record by Ellie McCartney (Belfast HS / Jim Alexander) of 3.60m with all three medallists beating the schools record set by McCartney last year of 2.95m. This was a double record for Ellie as this height betters her NI U18 record of 3.55m set at the Ulster Schools.
Star of the boys' sprinters was Aaron Sexton (Bangor Grammar / Roger Sexton) who set a new intermediate record in the 100m of 10.86 (1.3) and took gold in the 200m in 21.85 (-0.3) both PBs and European Youth qualifiers. Holly Mulholland (Lismore / Jo Savage) ran a huge personal best to win the Junior Girls 75m Hurdles on a photo finish dip with 11.36 (1.9) beating the previous record of 11.41 from 2004.
One of the most anticipated head to heads was in the Senior Girls 100m Hurdles. Megan Marrs (pictured left) just missed Sarah Lavin's record from 2012 with an impressive second half to move past Moreland over the final barrier and take the victory in 13.78 (-1.2). The headwind wind suggests that Marrs' own NI U20 record of 13.72 is likely to go soon.
There were double victories for Youth Academy Multi-Eventer Kate O'Connor (St Vincent's Dundalk / Michael O'Connor) and Rising Stars athlete Ethan Williamson (Clounagh J.H.) O'Connor won the inter Javelin in 40.78m before winning a dramatic long jump with a final round PB of 5.68m. Williamson won the junior Triple Jump with a PB of 11.77m before taking over half a second off his 80m Hurdles PB to win in 11.63 (0.1). EYOF bronze medalist Sommer Lecky (Strabane Academy / Niall Wilkinson) jumped a seasons best of 1.78m to win the inter girls high jump.
Other NI Gold Medallists:
Harriet Platt (Strathearn) TJ - 9.96m
Davacia Patterson (Hunterhouse) 800m – 2:15.06
Glenlola Collegiate 4x100m Relay 50.06
Phoebe Tan (Methody) 1.66m
Lydia Mills (Ballyclare High) 11.39m
Jakob Swann (Bangor Grammar) 800m – 2:09.11
Conor Crowe (St. Pats Keady) 100m 11.58
Shane Martin (BRA) PV 4.00m
Stephen McCorry (BRA) Hammer 52.68m
DCTC man set to represent Ireland in Italy (article by Derry City Track Club):
Derry City Track Club's Conor McIlveen has been selected to represent Ireland at the upcoming IPC European Championships. Ireland is sending a team of nine to the championships which will attract an entry of 600 athletes. It is the first time that McIlveen will represent Ireland in IPC competition and also is an opportunity for him to stake a claim to a place on the Irish team for the Paralympics in Rio later this year.
“It’s no more than Conor deserves,” said DTC coach Malcolm McCausland. “He only came down to us in January 2015 when his target was to break 64 seconds for 400m. Since then he has impressed me with his dedication and work ethic.
“He has deservedly improved immensely to the point where he can now run two laps at that target pace which could see him win the gold medal in his class at Grosseto.”
The 26-year-old IT specialist travels to Italy on June 6. He runs the 1500m final on June 12 with the semi-final of the 800m on June 15 and hopefully the final on June 16.
Click here for further details of Euro Championships HERE. Paralympics Ireland will be announcing the full European Championships squad "shortly".
NI Athletes join Athletics NI President Pam Brown to launch the NI & Ulster Track & Field Championships 2016:
Mary Peters Track to Host all NI & Ulster Age Group and Senior Track & Field Championships for 2016, in conjunction with Athletics NI and Ulster Athletics.
Athletes from across Northern Ireland & Ulster will have the opportunity to yet again compete at the International Mary Peters Track Sport Venue on Saturday 11th June and Sunday 19th June, which recently held the prestigious Belfast International Meet on the 7th May.
Organised jointly by Athletics Northern Ireland and Ulster Athletics, the regular three day sporting Championships, will now be hosting the Championships over two day period due to the jammed packed Track and Field Fixture list. With the Europeans and Olympic Games just around the corner, there just isn’t the room on the calendar to facilitate a three day event. The first day of events will kick off on Saturday 11th June, with the U14 to U17 age group Championships, followed on Sunday 19th June by the Senior and U18 to U20 Championships.
It is hoped that the Senior Championship event, which is serving as a great warm up for those still looking to gain standards for the 2016 European Championships and Olympics in Rio, will succeed in continuing to attract hundreds to the stadium on its Upper Malone Road site by showcasing international and local talent.
A group of NI Athletes, joined newly appointed President of Athletics NI Pam Brown to launch the 2016 event at the Mary Peters Track, Belfast. The current NI U20 Record holder Andrew Barkley of City of Lisburn, has recently improved his throw in the Discus by approximately 3 metres and is keen to maintain his title at the Championships on the 19th June. North Down’s World Championships 2015 competitor in Beijing, Ben Reynolds is hoping for some strong competition in the 110mH event. Recent third place winner in the Belfast International Meet, just two weeks previous, Jonathan Browning of Ballymena & Antrim, will have his fighting game on to pull through into the top 3 at the NI & Ulster Senior Championships. 2014 Commonwealth Games athletes Peter Glass of City of Lisburn and Ballymena & Antrim’s Christine McMahon, who also competed in the 2014 Euro’s and the Belfast International Meet 2016 will also be aiming to compete on the 19th June. Christine who set her quickest ever season opener to break the BUCS record to finisher 2nd, will be looking to take back the gold medal. All athletes are aiming to be major contenders in the 2016 Championships.
General Secretary of Athletics Northern Ireland, John Allen, said: “The NI & Ulster Championships has always been a fantastic event, especially due to the International sporting facility that we are able to offer our athletes.” John Allen continued “The Mary Peters Track is a world class standard venue that is open to the whole athletics community, catering to all levels of the sport from school children and club athletes to those training to compete at an international level.”
“I am overjoyed that we are again hosting the NI & Ulster Track & Field Championships at the Mary Peters Track. Having recently hosted the 2016 Belfast International Meet, the Mary Peters Track is now being renowned as a world class venue and more athletes are wanting to compete on it. Due to this we are hoping to attract athletes from further afield to come to the Mary Peters Track, whether for the first time or the tenth time, which will enhance a great day for athletics”, reiterated Pam Brown, President of Athletics NI.
John Allen, General Secretary of Athletics NI stated, “The Championships are open to all, so we are also hoping to attract competitors for outside Northern Ireland and Ulster to enhance the event and provide a good competitive opportunity for our local athletes.”
Following an invitation to Manchester Games on Wednesday 17th August, Athletics NI & Ulster Athletics have decided that following the NI & Ulster Senior Championships a team of approximately 20 senior athletes will be selected to compete in a Home Countries International against England, Scotland and Wales. As an extra incentive for Northern Ireland and Ulster’s top athletes to compete in June, the committee will only be selecting athletes who compete in the NI & Ulster Senior Championships for this International. All selection criteria will be available from www.athleticsni.org.
Tom Reynolds, Athlete Development Lead for Athletics NI, said “This is a great opportunity for our top senior and aspiring international athletes to help make our senior championships a great event and at the same time give themselves a great chance of representing NI & Ulster in August." John Allen, General Secretary of Athletics NI reiterated Tom’s point “We are delighted that for the first time in a number of years we will be sending a senior team to a full International Meet. As Tom has said, selections will be based largely on performances at the Senior Championships on June, so I hope this will give a significant boost the event.
Following the success of the Belfast International Meet, live streaming will again be available on the day of the Senior Championships. Not only that we are also developing a 360 degree Virtual Reality Panoramic Video of the championships. Sit in the stand, but feel like you are right out there in the midst of the games and watch each event as it happens. Athletics NI General Secretary John Allen, said “Live streaming is the way forward and we are aiming to provide this straight onto our newly upgraded website. We hope all these developments will help towards providing an excellent platform for our athletes to improve and develop.”
All information regarding the Championships can be found on www.athleticsni.org.
Hamilton looks likely for Euros and possibly even Rio (by Athletics NI):
It may have been a surprise to many but the Men's B 1500m produced one of the highlights of the Belfast International / IMC meeting at the Mary Peters Track on Saturday. T20 athlete James Hamilton (Ballymena Runners / Mark Kirk) broke clear of the pack at half way and had a blistering last lap to take almost 8 seconds off his PB from 2015 and to dip below the 4 minute barrier for the first time with 3.59.71
This time puts him well inside the 4.04 required to qualify for the European Championships held in Grosseto, Italy next month and also puts him in the frame for the Rio Paralympics as he now has the MQS (Minimum Qualifying Standard) which means he is now eligible for selection. The time has rocketed James from 5th to 1st in the IPC T20 world rankings.
Agnew continues to climb world senior rankings:
T54 athlete Jack Agnew (Torque Racing Club / Heather Ardis) continued his faultless 2016 season with PBs and podiums at the British Wheelchair Racing Association Championships at Stoke-Mandeville at the weekend. The a Youth Academy athlete set a new PB in the heats of the 100m (15.77) before finishing 5th in the final. For good measure Jack also finished third in his first ever 5000m on the track showing that he can tackle all distances.
However it was the 1500m where Jack truly came into his own taking 20 seconds off his already impressive PB and finishing within 2 seconds of multiple Paralympic Gold medalist David Weir in 3rd place with 3.11.68. This time now puts Jack into the top 20 in this years world rankings in the most competitive para class of all, this is all the more impressive given that Jack is still only 16 years of age.
NI & Ulster 10,000 metres Track Championships:
This year the NI & Ulster 10,000m (track) Championship will be held as a stand alone event on Sunday 15th May 2016 at the Mary Peters Track from 1.30pm.
The event will be sponsored by ChampionChip Ireland and in addition to the normal championship medals for the top three men and women times will also be ranked against the Age Graded tables with prizes to the top 3 men and women. The age graded tables are a way of adjusting an athlete’s performance according to age and gender
If sufficient entries are received more than one race will be held with a maximum of 30 runners in any one race. These races will be graded as far as possible according to previous best times (road times will be used if necessary) and medal winners will be awarded according to times.
Times will be compiled according to the Mary Peters Track Photo Finish system with times awarded accurate to one hundredth of a second. The Championchip system will be used only to verify that athletes have completed the correct number of laps.
Entries are open to all registered athletes but owing to the necessity to prepare graded start lists entries will not be accepted after the closing date and certainly not on the day of the event. Entries will also be restricted to 100 entries on a first come first served basis. However athletes who have achieved sub 35 minutes for men of sub 42 minutes for women may enter even if the quota of 100 has been reached. However they must still enter by the closing date.
A maximum of 4 races will be held depending on the number of entries. Start lists and start times for each race will be posted on line shortly after the entry closing date.
Entries cost £5 and are open to all registered athletes who are 18 years or over on the day of the race (Sunday 15th May 2016). You can enter online through the following link: https://online.athleticsni.org/ps/event/NIUlster10000mTrackChampionships
Note: Closing date for the event is Tuesday 3rd May 2016 at 12pm. Late entries close Wednesday 4th May 2016 at 5pm.
Hill and Dale Series 2016:
This month (April 2016) will see the return of the annual Hill & Dales Series, hosted by County Down based club and newly crowned NI & Ulster Senior XC Champions, Newcastle AC.
Seen by many as a gradual introduction to Mountain Running, the popular Series takes competitors to the gentle slopes of Castlewellan and Tollymore prior to the challenge of the tougher climbs and open mountain. Last year, record numbers took part in the Series, many for the first time – so much so, that registrations for the Series are ONLY available online HERE.
Please Note: There will be NO on the night entries. All races (except the Slieve Donard race) will start at 7.30pm SHARP. All fee's will be payable on the night of each race.
The 2016 Hill & Dale Series calendar looks like this:
Race 1 on Thursday 14th April 2016 – Castlewellan (5 miles – 900ft ascent)
Race 2 on Thursday 21st April 2016 – Tollymore (5 miles – 1,050ft ascent)
Race 3 on Thursday 28th April 2016 – Slieve Martin (4.25 miles – 1740ft ascent)
Race 4 on Thursday 5th May 2016 – Slieve Binian ‘to the top’ (2 miles – 2,000ft ascent)
Race 5 on Thursday 12th May 2016 – Rocky (4.25 miles – 1,600ft ascent)
Race 6 on Thursday 19th May 2016 – Loughshannagh (5 miles – 1,700ft ascent)
Race 7 on Saturday 28th May 2016 – Slieve Donard (5.5 miles – 2,796ft ascent)
Race 8 on Thursday 2nd June 2016 – Millstone (4 miles – 1,500ft ascent)
Race 9 on Thursday 9th June 2016 – Hen & Cock (3.5 miles – 1,600ft ascent)
Race 10 on Thursday 16th June 2016 – Meels (3.5 miles – 1,800ft ascent)
Race 11 on Thursday 24th June 2016 – Drinahlly (3 miles – 1,080ft ascent)
Further information, including specific information on each race can be found on the Newcastle AC website HERE.
Gold Coast CWG Consultation Evening:
On Wednesday 6th April 2016, Athletics NI will be hosting a consultation with coaches and interested parties regarding preparation and planning for the the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
Director of Coaching and Athlete Development Tom Crick said, “The timing and location of the next Commonwealth Games present some interesting challenges around the selection and support of athletes who wish to compete in the Gold Coast. Therefore, we want to ensure our policies are as fair and athlete friendly as possible. This consultation will help us to answer many of the questions that need to be addressed at this stage of the planning process.”
Athlete Development Lead Tom Reynolds said, "This is the chance for the Athletics community to voice their opinions before important decisions around the 2018 Games are made. I would advise any coaches of athletes hoping to be involved in Gold Coast to attend this consultation."
Interested parties can register to attend this event by clicking HERE.
Event: Gold Coast CWG Consultation Evening
Venue: Ramada Plaza Hotel, 17 Milltown Rd, Old Shaw's Bridge, Shaws Bridge, Belfast BT8 7XP
Date: Wednesday 6th April 2016
Jog Belfast 5k 2016:
Jog Belfast in partnership with Active Belfast, is hosting its first ever celebration 5k run through and around Ormeau Park, Belfast on Sunday 20 March at 10.00am. To register and get more information visit jogbelfast5k.com
Jog Belfast is funded by the Public Health Agency and encourages people who have not run before to take up jogging or running. The Belfast wide programme has being going on for 3 years and helped thousands of people from all walks of life and to get active.
To celebrate this, JogBelfast is launching a celebration 5k run that is open to everyone. The run will be over a brand new route through Ormeau Park, and whether you’ve been running for years or just started bring family, friends and supporters on 20th March to celebrate people becoming more active.
Liam McGarry, Jog Belfast said: “This is the first time we have celebrated all those who have taken up running through Couch to 5k. Whilst the race is open to all, we’d particularly like to encourage all those who’ve learned to run in the last few years to celebrate together and have a great day out. Everyone will get a medal, tea/coffee and many other goodies so it’s fantastic value at only £8.”
Kim Kensett, Active Belfast Physical Activity Referral Coordinator said: “Active Belfast, under the Belfast Strategic Partnership, continues to address life inequalities that exist in Belfast by supporting people to lead a more active lifestyle. Jog Belfast is one programme we support to help tackle obesity across Belfast. Physical activity can help people lose weight, boost confidence, improve mental and physical health and help reduce certain chronic illnesses. I encourage all to get involved, especially those who have not tried jogging or ran before.”
The race is open to anyone over the age of 14 and limited to a thousand people. Everyone will get a unique medal. Special thanks to Bailies coffee roaster for providing free post-race coffee and tea. To register and find out more visit jogbelfast5k.com
Novosco 10k Grand Prix launched:
Northern Ireland’s most respected electronic timing company ChampionChip Ireland have officially launched the new and exciting NOVOSCO 10K GRAND PRIX.
The unique and exciting Age Graded running competition which will incorporate thirteen well-respected and established 10k races in Northern Ireland.
The ‘not for profit’ Grand Prix is the brainchild of ChampionChip Ireland’s Glenn Grant and was brought together with the assistance of a steering group which includes NiRunning’s Ryan Maxwell, former Athletics NI President John Glover and Novosco employee and keen runner, and Tandragee 10k Race Director Lee Glover.
Northern Ireland based company Novosco, a leading provider of Cloud Technologies, Managed Services and Consulting, are proud title sponsors of the Grand Prix. Patrick McAliskey, CEO of Novosco, explained, "Everyone at Novosco is proud to be the sponsor of Northern Ireland's new multi-race 10K Grand Prix. We wish all the participants the very best."
ChampionChip Ireland’s Glenn Grant also spoke of his excitement about the Grand Prix, “Given that the Novosco 10k Grand Prix is an age-graded competition, it will offer all participants, regardless of age, gender or experience, the opportunity to race on a level platform. We are excited to launch the Grand Prix and are now looking forward to the first race, Jimmy’s 10k, on Saturday 13th March 2016”
The Grand Prix is FREE to enter and participants can register via the official website HERE. Those interested in being part of the Grand Prix must register, then enter their races of choice as normal – runners must complete 6 of the 13 races to qualify. There are over £6,000 worth of prizes up for grabs, including a prize fund for clubs/teams and corporate teams.
Check out full details in relation to the NOVOSCO 10K GRAND PRIX at the official website HERE.
Tales of the not so unexpected as Monaghan and Totten dominate a high class field:
The 32nd Christmas Cracker in Castlewellan by Bogusboy...
With 850 competitors participating, the Castlewellan Christmas Cracker was undoubtedly the main local sporting event of the holiday season. The scene as the athletes made their way along the Main Street towards the Drumbuck Road was truly something to behold with many festooned in festive apparel. Equally impressive was the huge crowd of spectators that lined the streets and the forest park to watch the drama unfold. This year was a vintage one with the event sold out well in advance and many of the top performers committed early to taking part. As predicted, it was going to be a close affair, with a number of pairs in contention for the win.
Youth trumps experience: It has often been said that old age and treachery will overcome youth and inexperience. This much used adage was turned upside down as Monaghan and Totten outclassed a high class and highly decorated field to finish top team out of 425 on December 27th. The young men, both with existing outstanding running pedigree, dominated from the early stages to upset the form book and deprive perennial favourites McCluskey and O’Hanlon of a third consecutive title. Annett and Lynch, themselves no slouches, were impressive in finishing third.
The early stages of the race proved to be as competitive as predicted with Lennon & Whiteside, Gordon & McKee and McKinstry & Weir all in contention. The course was conducive to fast running in the early stages with 1.5 miles initially on the road. Once the Spring Gardens were negotiated, there followed a series of testing climbs, culminating in the ascent to the top of Slievenaslat mountain. This proved to be the tipping point for many as those with stronger climbing legs were able to pull away from their rivals. In an extremely clever seasonal design ploy, the course setter had strategically placed three wise men at the steepest point of the ‘ridge’ to motivate and encourage the athletes at the point of most distress.
What a Pantomime!!! A little further back McNeilly and Mathers turned in a stellar performance to win the 110-119 age category in a highly respectable 9th place overall. McNeilly, a man who inadvertently creates comedy gold for the scribe, once again failed to disappoint. When awarding the fancy dress prize in the aftermath of the racing, he, in a moment of misguided innocence, referred to the winning group as Sleeping Beauty and the Seven Dwarfs! This prompted one astute observer to quip to Deon’s daughter Sam, ‘I guess bedtime stories in your house were both interesting and unusual.’ Regrettably McNeilly was unable to authenticate this story as he was at the pantomime watching Snow White and the Beanstalk!
Equally impressive: Getting the combination right is the key to success in the mixed team event. Newcastle AC hit the jackpot with the pairing of Cross Country Captain David McNeilly and his leading lady in muddy pastures, Shalene McMurray. Both set out hard, passing through the first mile in very illustrious company in just under 5:40. Unlike some of those around them, they were able to climb efficiently and came home 13th overall to win their category commandingly. It was a very good day for NAC in the mixed pairings as Brendan Donnelly and Emma Burgess (Highgate Harriers) were second and Colm & Sinead Spartan third, just managing to hold off a late challenge from the Dromore pairing of Henderson and Murtagh! Perry & Logue of Ballydrain Harriers took the honours in the ladies race, finishing 74th overall in 68:54. They were joined on the podium by Roberts & McDonough of North Down AC and Plumb and Lindsay of North Belfast Harriers.
A big thank you: Thanks to the team of volunteers who worked tirelessly in preparing for the race, managed the entries on the day, marshalled the many checkpoints, took photographs and videos and organised the prize-giving. Thanks also to Castlewellan GAC for accommodating everyone and making sure that there was enough soup to feed the proverbial army. A special word of thanks to Marty McVeigh for designing a challenging but fair course; the suitability of the course was evidenced by the many positive messages received after the event. As part of their on-going commitment to charitable work Newcastle AC will be making a £1000 donation to the Neo-Natal Unit of the RVH in the weeks ahead.
Lifford AC and Strabane Track Club set to make historical amalgamation (full story by Strabane Weekly):
After months of speculation, Lifford Athletic Club has confirmed that it is currently in talks with Strabane Track Club about a possible amalgamation of the two clubs.
In a statement this week, the Lifford Club confirmed that behind the scenes negotiations are taking place to form a new athletic club, which would create a bit of history as being the first such cross border athletic club on the island.
The Lifford club highlighted ongoing co-operation both with Derry and Strabane District Council and Strabane Track Club to promote cross border and cross community co-operation in the area, one of the highlights being the hugely successful Strabane Lifford Half Marathon held earlier this year.
An application will be made in the coming weeks both to the Donegal Athletics Board and to the Ulster Athletics Council for the recognition of a new club which, if successful, could see a first cross border amalgamation of athletic clubs before Christmas.
The statement read as follows: "Lifford Athletic Club can confirm that it is in negotiations with Strabane Track Club about the possible amalgamation of the two clubs. Over the past number of months, the club executive has been exploring opportunities with Strabane Track Club about joining together as one cross border club.
“Not only does this have the opportunity to create a bit of sporting history in athletics on this part of the island, but it also has the potential to create one of the biggest and strongest clubs in the North West.
“Lifford Athletic Club has had a long and distinguished record of promoting and developing athletics in the area since its formation in 1968. For nearly 50 years, the club has had a record second to none of developing top class athletes, many of whom have gone on to compete on the international stage.
“In recent years, it has evolved into a club which is not only achieving outstanding results at juvenile and senior level, but it has one of the biggest recreational running groups in the country through the success of its Fit4Life programme.
“While Lifford AC is now the second biggest club in Donegal, a possible amalgamation with Strabane Track Club has the potential to create the biggest athletic club on this part of the island.
“Over the past three years, the club has been working on a cross border basis to promote and develop athletics both in schools and in the community.
“The club has also worked in close co-operation with Derry and Strabane District Council to develop two hugely successful cross border road race events, the Riverine 10K and the Strabane Lifford Half Marathon.
“Earlier this year, the Half Marathon in only its second year attracted record numbers to the area, an event which has the potential to grow into one of the premier sporting events in the North West. Both races evolved from an initiative to promote cross border and cross community partnerships, with significant success already achieved through the hosting of both events.
“Strabane Track Club also has a long and distinguished record in athletics development, it being one of the oldest athletic clubs in Ulster stretching back to the 1940's and club of choice for Donegal athletes prior to new club formations in the county during the 1960's.
“In recent years, the Strabane club has also produced a constant stream of top class athletes and in particular, an impeccable tradition in the throws events. Both clubs have traditionally recognised and respected each other's boundaries for attracting members.
“However, over the past number of years, the Lifford Club has seen it attracting many members from Strabane and further afield, including Newtownstewart, Ballymagorry, Clady, Sion Mills, Donemana, Castlederg and Plumbridge. The makeup of the Lifford club now sees approximately 50% of its members from West Tyrone, with the balance of our membership spreading right across East Donegal.
“The timing has never been better to explore opportunities for the development of one cross border club. We recognise the many opportunities that the development of one club would bring for membership, facilities sharing, and achieving economies of scale through the shared use of resources.
“A single club would also pull together the coaching expertise of the two existing clubs, creating a Centre of Excellence in the area for developing athletes and creating appropriate training structures for all levels of athletic ability. We are also cognisant of the really positive impact that an amalgamated club could make on promoting cross border and cross community co-operation across East Donegal and West Tyrone.
“Over the coming weeks, an application will be made to both the Donegal and Ulster Athletic Councils for the recognition of an amalgamated cross border club. If approved, this will be one further hurdle cleared towards a possible amalgamation. Negotiations will continue with Strabane Track Club around other issues of mutual concern, which, if overcome, could lead to an official launch of the new club before Christmas.
“We are grateful to the members of our own club and to the Executive of Strabane Track Club for the positive engagement already undertaken, which we hope will lead to a successful outcome over the coming weeks and months."
Countdown to Beijing: Irish schedule for IAAF World Championships:
The IAAF World Championships (August 22-30) start this coming Saturday in the Bird’s Nest Stadium in Beijing with an Irish squad of 16 athletes set to compete. Below is the Irish schedule for the event. Time wise, Ireland is seven hours behind Beijing.
Saturday 22nd of August - Day 1
Mark English (UCD) and Thomas Barr (Ferrybank) will get the Irish athletes underway on day 1 of the championships. It will be an early start for Irish fans watching from home to see if English advances to the semi-finals.
Men’s 800m heats:
Athlete: Mark English (UCD)
Irish Time: 4:50am/local time: 11:50
Men’s 400m hurdles heats:
Athlete: Thomas Barr (Ferrybank)
Irish time: 11:35am/local time:18:35
Sunday 23rd of August - Day 2 :
Men's 20km Race Walk:
Athlete: Alex Wright
Irish time: 1:30am/local time: 8:30am
Men’s 400m hurdles semi-final:
Athlete: Thomas Barr
Irish time: 11:40am/local time: 18:40
Men’s 800m semi-final:
Athlete: Mark English
Irish time: 13:15/local time: 20:15
Monday 24th August - Day 3:
Women’s pole vault qualification:
Athlete: Tori Pena (Finn Valley)
Irish time: 2:30am/local time: 9:30am
Women’s 3,000m steeplechase heats:
Athletes: Kerry O’Flaherty (Newcastle), Sara Treacy (Dunboyne), Michelle Finn (Leevale)
Irish time: 2:45am/local time: 9:45am
Tuesday 25th August - Day 4:
Men’s 400m hurdles final:
Athlete: Thomas Barr
Irish time: 13:25/local time 20:25
Men’s 800m final:
Athlete: Mark English
Irish time: 13:55/local time: 20:55
Wednesday August 26th - Day 5:
Women's 800m heats:
Athlete: Ciara Everard (UCD)
Irish time: 3:25am/local time: 10:25
Men’s 110m hurdles heats:
Athlete: Ben Reynolds
Irish time: 4:20am/local time: 11:20
Women’s pole vault final:
Athlete: Tori Pena
Irish time 12:00pm/Local time: 19:00
Women’s 200m heats:
Athlete: Kelly Proper
Irish time: 12:15pm/local time: 19:15
Women’s 3,000m steeplechase final:
Athletes: Kerry O’Flaherty, Michelle Finn, Sara Treacy
Irish time: 14:00/local time: 21:00
Thursday August 27th - Day 6:
Men's 110m hurdles semi-finals:
Athlete: Ben Reynolds
Irish time: 12:05pm/local time: 19:05
Women’s 200m semi-finals:
Athlete: Kelly Proper
Irish time: 12:35pm/local time: 19:35
Women’s 800m semi-finals:
Athlete: Ciara Everard
Irish time: 13:05/local time: 20:05
Friday August 28th - Day 7:
Women’s 200m final:
Athlete: Kelly Proper
Irish time: 14:00/local time: 21:00
Men's 110m hurdles final:
Athlete: Ben Reynolds
Irish time: 14:20/local time: 21:20
Saturday August 29th - Day 8: Heffernan looks to defend his title..
Men’s 50km Race Walk:
Athletes: Robert Hefferan (Togher), Brendan Boyce (Letterkenny), Alex Wright (Leevale)
Irish time: 00:30/local time: 7:30
Men’s 4x400m relay heats:
Ireland: Thomas Barr, Mark English, Brian Gregan (Clonliffe Harriers), Brian Murphy (Crusaders), Timmy Crowe (Clonliffe Harriers), Richard Morrissey (Crusaders)
Irish time: 3:40am/local time: 10:40
Women’s 800m final:
Athlete: Ciara Everard
Irish time: 12:15/local time: 19:15
Sunday August 30th - Day 9:
Men’s 4x400m final:
Irish time: 13:25/local time 20:25
Skyrunning UK and the Salomon Glen Coe Skyline is pleased to announce that Emelie Forsberg (Salomon International), world renowned Skyrunning™ World Champion (ultra) and recently crowned Skyrunning™ European Champion (ultra) will run the inaugural Salomon Glen Coe Skyline race in August 2015.
Emelie needs no introduction to trail, mountain and Skyrunners all over the world. Her rise in the sport has been meteoric! In 2012, from nowhere, Emelie arrived on the start line of Zegama-Aizkorri and although she didn’t win, the stage was set.
What followed has been an incredible and awe inspiring display of strength, skill and endurance and all with an amazing smile! Emelie’s love and passion for running is clear and with every step, she personifies all that is good in the sport. To that end, Skyrunning UK and the Salomon Glen Coe Skyline can think of no better ambassador to run the first edition of what will become an iconic race.
The Salomon Glen Coe Skyline is no easy race though. It’s a technical and challenging mountain race that has inherent risk and danger. It’s important to remember that Skyrunning is not a risk adverse sport! However, the Salomon Glen Coe Skyline does push boundaries and as such, race director Shane Ohly has enforced strict entry criteria for those who wish to run the 45.6km course that has 4139m of ascent.
Emelie’s presence at the race affirms that the course on offer will be a true test: ‘I love the mountains and I love technical courses. This route looks amazing and a challenge. Ridge running and scrambling; I can’t wait!’ said Emelie after finishing 4th at the Dolomites SkyRace.
‘I have had a very busy calendar recently, I raced Mount Marathon in Alaska and won with a course record. The following week I did a VK and then won the Ice Trail Tarentaise for the 3rd consecutive time (a victory that gave Emelie the Skyrunning™ European Champion title) and then this weekend I did a VK and the Dolomites SkyRace. I need a little rest now but I am so looking forward to Scotland and this incredible course.’
Shane Ohly from Ourea Events is the man, along with Gary Tompsett who has conjured up this incredible challenging course: ‘It is an honor that Emelie has decided to race at the inaugural Salomon Glen Coe Skyline and I am delighted that this world class Skyrunning course we have conceived has attracted a Skyrunning World and European Champion. This will also be very exciting for the local competitors and I know that everyone involved with the race is fascinated to see how all of the competitors measure up against such a challenging course.’
‘We are not creating another mass participation fell or trail running event, but rather a world class Skyrunning course for experienced and competent participants. The Glen Coe Skyline is a fusion of mountain running and alpinism where competitors need to be skilled at both disciplines to negotiate the course.’
Ian Corless, director for Skyrunning UK and media partner for the International Skyrunning Federation introduced Skyrunning to the UK in 2014: ‘From day one my aim and desire has been driven in providing UK runners challenging courses that would give them an insight into what is available in Europe. However, with careful planning and some great work with quality race directors, we are slowly but surely building a series of races that can offer a challenge to anyone! This was proven in 2014 when Stevie Kremer raced the Mourne Skyline MTR. Emelie’s presence in Scotland later this year is a dream come true but it’s only the beginning. I had a plan that in 3 years we would bring a host of world class talent to the UK to race and I can now see that coming to fruition, it’s a really exciting time.’
The mountains provide a wonderful natural playground, the 2015 edition of the Salomon Glen Coe Skyline is going to be a spectacle like no other race that has taken place within the UK. ‘We are fully aware that this race is not for everyone,’ said Corless. ‘However, just like the top European races we want to invite people to come and join us for the weekend. We want a party, a celebration of running and in the process Shane has in place opportunities to go into the mountains with guides and experience the race as spectators but in a safe way. This is going to be very special!’
The future of Skyrunning in the UK is very exciting and Ohly sums it up when he says: ‘I sincerely hope that aspirational races like the Salomon Glen Coe Skyline will contribute to the growth of the sport both in terms of participation and general awareness within the wider running and outdoor community. I would love to see the same kind of community engagement and atmosphere at UK SkyRace as I have personally experienced at European skyRaces like Zegama. Certainly this my goal for the Salomon Glen Coe Skyline and we will be working hard to achieve this.’
Deep RiverRock Belfast City Marathon:
Bank Holiday Monday, Monday 4th May 2015, will bring the 34th annual Deep RiverRock Belfast City Marathon. The popular and always well attended event will attract approximately fifteen thousand competitors and even more spectators to the streets of Belfast and the neighbouring Newtownabbey, as athletes from all over the world cover an undulating 26.2 mile route in search of top honours, personal bests and personal achievements.
At the head of the pack, there has been much talk of the Kenyan contingent, with Linus Maiyo, Gideon Kimosop, Vincent Kiprotich-Chepyegon and 2013 winner Joel Kositany all named as starters, it does indeed make for an interesting battle. Interestingly, 2014 Champion Freddy Sittuk is a late withdrawal.
A man who has stayed out of the spotlight (until now) could well be the one to upset the proverbial apple-cart and become the first ever American winner of the Belfast City Marathon. Team USA’s Andy Wacker, arguably better known for his reputation as a mountain-trail runner, forged a good friendship with Northern Ireland athletes at the WMRA Long-Distance Challenge in Pikes Peak (America) last year and will make is marathon debut in Belfast. Andy has never raced competitively outside the US before but in his own words, “there was no way I could turn down an offer to represent the US and travel to such a beautiful and historic place.”
His Half Marathon personal best currently stands at 1:03:26 (2013), with his most recent effort of 1:05:36 in Texas being part of his nine month build up to his first attempt at the 26.2 mile race. The humble and down to earth athlete will go into the race with no time expectations, but with a personal goal of testing himself against the other world class athletes who toe the line; Andy adds, “being my first marathon, I’d like to keep the pressure off and my expectations vague. Instead of a specific time goal, my goal is to compete to the best of my ability, against the other world class runners. I would love to win the race, and I think if I place top three, the time will take care of itself.”
Despite not having tested himself over the classic distance before, Andy has been training specifically for it with fellow American Jeffrey Eggleston (a 2:10:52 marathoner) under the guidance of Coach Mike Aish and the highly respected Renta Canova, so there is no doubting that he is ready for the race. Andy told us, “I have run several runs over 20 miles, and worked on endurance building repeats like 10 x 1 mile and 12 x 1k. Last fall, I also ran several half marathons to build strength and gain long distance road racing experience.”
To win, Andy (pictured right - photo by www.coloradorunnermag.com) will have to use the off-road strength that saw him claim third place at the infamous Pikes Peak Ascent at the back end of 2014, alongside his speedy edge, to outpace the aforementioned Kenyan line-up, of which, two will know the course very well.
As mentioned above, Freddy Sittuk is a late withdrawal - according to respected journalist Malcolm McCausland, this is due to tiredness and poor recent form. However, Joel Kositany, a winner here in 2013, after running 2:19:28, will start. Of all the men listed, Joel boasts the quickest personal best of 2:09:50, which was set in 2012 – his most recent effort was a 2:12:35 at the Tiberias Marathon at this year (2015). Linus Maiyo clocked a personal best of 2:11:34 at the Barcelona Marathon in 2013, which saw him claim third place, while County Tyrone based Gideon Kimosop and Vincent Kiprotich-Chepyegon hold 26.2 mile bests of 2:16:44 and 2:18:32 respectively.
Local hopes will rest on the exceptionally talented Eddie McGinley (Annadale Striders) – despite facing world class opposition, the 32 year old has indicated to the media that he will be concentrating on his own race and instead, focusing on improving his own personal best of 2:24:52 and getting somewhere close to the fourth place finish which fellow NI man Thomas Frazer (St Malachy’s AC) achieved two years ago. The much talked about Belfast City Marathon course, albeit not perfect for personal bests holds its own benefits, some of which Eddie pointed out in a quote on the Athletics NI website, "I work and train in the Duncrue area. I will also be running with some of my training mates which should help, along with the tremendous crowd support, which is always there for a local runner". Given the strong line-up, it is fair to say that the current course record of 2:13:41, set by two time winner of the event Urga Negewo (Ethiopia) 3 years go, will be under threat.
Keith Purdy (Annadale Striders) was due to run the Virgin Money London Marathon last week; unfortunately, the Belfast City Half Marathon podium finisher was unable to compete, so he’ll be hoping to impress on home turf, especially having run so well in the associated Half Marathon. Willowfield Harriers’ Brian Campbell is another local athlete who should secure a top ten place if he shows the same kind of form that saw him 1:11:17 at the Larne Half Marathon in March 2015. Andrew Considine (North Belfast Harriers), Tommy Simmons (North Belfast Harriers) and Stephen Wylie (North Down AC) could also be there or there abouts. Accomplished marathoner Ben Morrow will perform to his usual high standard, as will the ever consistent Phil Wood (Unattached), Phelim McAllister (Larne AC), Barry Shanks (St Peter’s AC), Michael Cultra (East Down AC) and Simon Reeve (North Belfast Harriers). Delfim Pimentel (Unattached), Garry Morrow (Orangegrove AC), Paul Nesbitt (Unattached) and Kent Swann (North Belfast Harriers) all possess the ability to finish well within the infamous three hour barrier.
In the ladies race, Ethiopian runner Berhane Gebremichael looks like the one to watch – Berhane is better known for her achievements on the track but enjoyed a winning marathon debut in Ahmedabad Marathon (India), where she ran 2:39:11. This will be Berhane’s first outing over the marathon distance in the UK and she’ll be hoping to celebrate that with victory and an improvement on her aforementioned personal best, which she is more than capable of achieving.
Although Burton AC’s Shona Crombie, a runner up here in 2014, boasts a similar personal best to Berhane, this was set way back in 2005. Since running 2:53:54 in Belfast last year, Shona has recorded 31:00 for 5 miles, 1:26:09 for 13.1 miles and 2:16:04 for 20 miles, which would suggest a finish time just over the 2:50:00 mark here.
Another England based athlete, Shona Fletcher, who is a very recent addition to the Ballydrain Harriers squad, won the York Marathon last year in an impressive 2:43:38, which will no doubt put her in contention for a podium spot – quality performances at the Spen 20 mile race and the Snake Lane 10 mile race, where she won in 2:06:26 and 1:00:28 respectively, further back up Shona's CV. Kenya’s Selinah Kangogo has been residing in Northern Ireland as part of the Project Africa scheme (alongside the previously mentioned Gideon Kimosop and Vincent Kiprotich) operated by NI man Ciaran Collins; during this time, she (Selinah) has claimed numerous victories, but probably the most impressive was a win at Jimmy’s 10k, where she recorded 36:13. Selinah also finished in second place behind Breege Connolly (North Belfast Harriers) at the Larne Half Marathon in March (2015), after running 1:20:13.
Northern Ireland XC international Sharon Barlow (Ripon Runners) will also travel from England for the event and is worth looking out for; in January 2015, Sharon recorded a Half Marathon personal best of 1:29:39 at the Brass Monkey Half Marathon in York. Local lady Gerrie Short (Beechmount Harriers) will also finish well up the field and will be hoping to improve on her excellent outing here twelve months ago when she crossed the line in 3:07:57 for 4th place. North Belfast Harriers’ Roisin Hughes, a 3:01:10 marathoner, will make a return to the 26.2 mile distance and should claim a top ten place; Amanda Perry (Ballydrain Harriers), Ann-Marie Larkin (Club Unknown), Gillian Cordner (Seapark AC) and Athanasia Sevastaki (North Belfast Harriers) should also run well. Other Northern Ireland based athletes to look for include Anne Killen (Unattached), Claire Duffield (Unattached), Sharon Williamson (Kernan RC), Natalie Bowbanks (Unattached), Cara Hamilton (North Down AC), Helena Dornan (Ballycastle Runners), Gillian Abraham (Unattached) and Paula McKibbin (Murlough AC).
Jumping the Gun interview Ireland's Fionnuala Britton:
Highly respected Irish website www.jumpingthegun.ie this week interviewed Ireland star Fionnuala Britton in relation to the road to Rio and her running career in general. The full interview is below. The view the original article and more, please visit www.jumpingthegun.ie
How is your training going for the Great Ireland Run and are you looking forward to the event? Training is going well and I hope that will be reflected in my race but as it’s early in the year, and in the training cycle, I’m just looking to build on my last race.
How is your transition to the roads going and what made you decide to switch to the marathon rather than stay on the track? I didn’t really look at it as a transition to the roads, more of a progression in distance I suppose. I always wanted to do the marathon and having raced the steeple, the 5,000m and the 10,000m at the Olympics, the marathon in Rio is the next logical challenge.
You’ve linked up with a new coach in Joe Doonan (Catherina McKiernan’s old coach). How did that come about and how is that progressing? There are not many Irish coaches living in Ireland that have coached world class athletes so when Joe Doonan agreed to help me it was an opportunity I knew I had to make the most of.
Is it much different to your previous coaches? In a way yes, but it’s probably as much about personalities and what emphasis a coach puts on certain areas than on radical differences in coaching philosophies.
Can you give us an insight into the type of training you are doing? At the moment I am really just building base fitness before I get into a specific marathon training programme in the summer for an autumn marathon.
What are the goals for the summer? The goals for the summer will be with an autumn marathon in mind but will incorporate races on the road and track.
From the summer where do you hope to progress leading up to Rio de Janeiro? I would like to run an autumn marathon with the aim of running a qualifying time for Rio.
You’re now 30 years of age, have won the European cross country twice, what other goals would you still like to achieve in your running career? I wouldn’t say no to a third European cross title. You can never get enough of winning! Racing really well at the Olympics would be another goal of mine. Having only one (or two) chances to run your best race every four years makes it really hard and I have yet to feel that satisfaction at an Olympics.
What do you love most about running? Running! When I first joined Kilcoole AC we were very much a running club than an athletics club….no track, no facilities, just a field of cows and runners…and I loved it….I still do!
What is your biggest disappointment in running? I think at the time certain things can feel like complete disasters but when you look back they are just part of the game I suppose. Despite the fact that the European cross is where my best moments have come they are also the source of some of my biggest disappointments. Missing European cross in 2008 through injury when it was held in one of my favourite European cross country courses in Brussels, missing a medal by less than a second in Albufeira in 2010, and, despite collective happiness with our team medal individual disappointment, in finishing 6th last year!
Who is your best friend in athletics? Al (Alan McCormack, Irish cross country international, and soon to be husband). He’s my best friend in life and as running more or less is my life, it works out well :)
Who’s your greatest rival in athletics? I’ll have to use a cliché here and say myself. I’ve been the most consistent competitor of mine since I started running. I always want to do better, to win. When I was 12 or 13 I wanted to beat Maria Slattery and Joanna Cullen in Wicklow and they were my biggest rivals back then…..then it was girls from Leinster, then all of Ireland and now it’s all of them as well as the rest of the distance running girls in Europe and the world.
What’s your favourite running session? I like training hard….so anything I consider hard is good, although I like long runs too, especially when I’m away from home and get to explore new places.
What’s your go-to session that you know you are in good shape? I don’t have a go-to session really. It’s more a feeling you get about an accumulation of good training.
What would you like to do after running? I hope there won’t be an “after running” for me. I’d like to be still running when I’m 90 but, before that, I still have vague aspirations to be a primary school teacher!
Nike disappoints fans by signing shamed sprinter Justin Gatlin soon after dropping inspirational distance runner Jo Pavey (story by Athletics Weekly):
If Paula Radcliffe has been left perplexed by her sponsor’s decision to offer a kit contract to Justin Gatlin then fellow distance runner Jo Pavey must be even more puzzled and upset.
The European 10,000m champion was dropped by Nike recently despite winning a raft of awards at the end of last year for her inspirational and ageless performances.
The 41-year-old was the No.1 British athlete of the year by a country mile and the supermum finished third in the BBC Sports Personality contest due to her mixture of distance-running talent, never-say-die race tactics and down-to-earth character.
So when Radcliffe tweeted that she was “disappointed” by Nike’s dubious move into the world of endorsing sprinters who have failed drugs tests, then I can only imagine Pavey’s dismay as someone cast adrift by the shoe giant just months after her greatest ever season. It is not as if Pavey has had a fleeting relationship with Nike either. The Exeter Harrier has been running with a swoosh on her singlet since 1997.
While the diplomatic Pavey is sensibly keeping her counsel, Jenny Meadows, a similarly inspirational endurance athlete who has recently found herself minus a shoe sponsor, is one of several well-known runners who have slated Nike’s decision. Meadows tweeted: “Gatlin gets Nike deal having served 2 doping bans when clean athletes lead world indoor rankings & have no funding or sponsorship! Justice?”
Other athletes such as sprinters Jason Gardener, Marlon Devonish and Darren Campbell have also criticised the decision. The one organisation everyone wants to hear from, though, is Nike. What is their reasoning behind signing an athlete who has failed drugs tests and has become one of the most maligned athletes on the circuit due to his unrepentant attitude? As a company who routinely churns out thousands of words every week in press releases and other publicity material, it would be nice to see just one or two sentences of ‘statement’ from them. Maybe, I fear, they just don’t care and the furore being whipped up primarily in the UK by fans and Fleet Street newspapers is little more than a squeak when set against the bigger picture of US-dominated global track and field.
What is horrific in one part of the world is also perhaps not so bad elsewhere. The American track and field fraternity, for example, has never quite seemed so concerned by Gatlin’s return to the sport as European fans and athletes.
Athletes such as Robert Harting, the Olympic and world discus champion from Germany, who withdrew from the IAAF’s world athlete of the year poll because the world governing body had included Gatlin as a fellow contender. It gives me no pleasure to put the boot into Nike here. I wore my first Nike running shoes aged 11-12 in about 1980, have always enjoyed their footwear and only this month bought my teenage daughter a pair of Nike FREE iD shoes with her name on them for £120. Take me back a few weeks, though, and I might have reversed that decision.
Now, athletes and fans alike are threatening to boycott their shoes and clothing. Yet Nike can still redeem itself by bowing to public opinion, apologising for a duff decision and telling Gatlin to take his steroid-stained CV elsewhere.
Local athlete features in Tyrone Life article (story taken from Tyrone Life website):
For the masses who have been involved in and have been following the running scene in Northern Ireland in recent times, they will be well aware of the impact that runner Paul Barbour has made in such a short space of time. The Omagh Harriers runner has really marked himself down as one of the top contenders in every run he participates and that includes a number of local race triumphs.
However in addition to excelling in the ‘running game’ Paul is also an accomplished boxer who has competed in provincial and national finals while also representing Ulster and Ireland in major events against Scotland, England and Wales.
An impressive sporting CV to say the least and, as is the case with all our People in Focus Profiles here at Tyrone Life, we once again bring you an in-depth conversation with Paul on a host of other aspects of his own life and life in Tyrone!
Paul Barbour – Omagh Harriers AC & Omagh Boxing Academy
Boxing: Represented Ireland x2 and Ulster x4 times internationally, underage boxing Tyrone titles, Mid-Ulster and Ulster, 3 All Ireland finals.
Running: Northern Ireland championship bronze medallist over 10k 2014, Dublin Marathon 2:41:41 45th place, Waterside Half Marathon 4th, Belfast City Half marathon 5th.
PB (personal best) run times to date:
5k – 15:08
10k – 32:30
10mile – 53:49
Half Marathon – 71:44
Marathon – 2:41:41
Tell us about your background and how you became involved in athletics:
Having been formerly a boxer for 15 years competing in over 100 contests and fighting in England, Scotland, Wales, Canada, Finland and in the USA, over Christmas 2009 I decided to take part in the Greencastle 5mile Run as I was in training for a fight. Having enjoyed it, the next year I did it again and after that it kind of went from there. I didn’t really go to any club until 2012 when I went along and joined Omagh Harriers.
What sports and activities have you generally taken part in over the years and your experience of those and how they have impacted your choice in pursuing the challenge of athletics?
My only sport growing up and following was boxing really which has led me to being a part time coach. Throughout those years most training sessions always had some sort of training run involved, so when I went to compete in road running I felt good.
Having a good weekend, going out, relaxing at home with my Fiancé Roisin and coaching at the local boxing club – Omagh Boxing Academy.
If I was a young person keen on athletics and running, there are a lot of different types of disciplines out there. What advice would you give to anyone thinking about this or going down this line and where or how would they about it?
Be patient, things aren’t going to happen overnight but will only happen if you work hard enough and dedicate yourself. Anyone who is keen in going to run come along and train or speak to Omagh Harriers – all ages and abilities are welcome. Running with people can be a extra motivation.
What commitment, efforts and resources would I need to be looking at for this sport?
Set goals, train hard, if you want to win train harder.
Can you give an idea of the number of actual runs/races you would compete/participate in a calendar year and also which races are on your agenda in the coming months ahead into 2015?
It varies! Summer is usually the busiest with a lot of different distances – 5ks, 5mile, 10ks, with Omagh Half Marathon and Greencastle 5 are same time every year so dates like that people will always know. Looking ahead the races I am competing in will be the Omagh Half marathon on March 28th. I’m hoping to beat my last half marathon time of 1:11:44. I will take in a lot of shorter distances in between then which can help with the training in build-up to and in the Dublin Marathon in October again, where I will go back and try better my first time.
- What the training involved in preparing for a new season and then for any events itself?
Generally during the week, club training on wednesday and a race at the weekends – you can only do so much in a week. Quality training rather than quantity of training!
- Some of the best races out there and why they are so appealing?
Greencastle 5mile, the Omagh Half Marathon, Armagh International 5k, Dublin Marathon. Personally these are races I’ve been in and enjoyed most of late. Crowds and the on the day buzz make them exciting. Greencastle 5 on Boxing Day when everyone is full of turkey lol – with just a wee hill (you have to try it to see!) or anyone who has done the race will know what I mean! Omagh half as it is a local race and always brings top class runners and big numbers to compete. This year will be no different. Armagh International 5k as the event is a big sponsored one and brings European, American and World medalists to compete. Dublin Marathon as the support was something else! 26.2miles of people in the streets, I’ve been thinking since if I hadn’t have looked about so much I may have finished faster!
Life – My thoughts on…
- What things you enjoy best about the ‘weekend’ and favourite things to do?
A good rest, especially on saturdays, and heading out after a race. Going to cinema, bowling, etc… I’m always at something
- 3 big sporting moments that stand out for you and why?
Fighting for Ireland twice as a junior in the 4 Nations Championship and as a senior boxer against Scotland. Any boxer will tell you getting the green O’Neills vest on is something else and that was always a dream for me from the day I started boxing! While on a holiday to Las Vegas I visited the Mayweather Boxing Club and like most holiday’s I brought my boxing gear! I went into the gym and before I knew it I was having a training session with Roger Mayweather – the trainer/uncle of Floyd Mayweather. I did the pads with him and, like the videos of him you can see on youtube, it was surreal. After all this, which was exhausting to say the least, he sat down and chatted to me for about an hour.. it was like a conversation as if we knew each other all our lives! Being in Las Vegas watching Floyd Mayweather vs Marcos Maidana in the MGM Grand – again this occasion stands out as seeing the best boxer out there and the fight atmosphere is something you couldn’t buy!
- Places you have travelled to – and best memories?
The nicest places I’ve been and would love to go back to in the morning are Toronto, New York, Las Vegas, Los Angeles. Best memories of them include while I was in Las Vegas on the famous ‘fight week’, while the boxers competing came into the venue I got a t-shirt and magazines signed by Floyd Mayweather. All that stood between us was a barrier and his 4 giant security guards. This moment went so quick I couldn’t even get a photo with him! los Angeles is a beautiful place and great for site seeing, the Las Vegas weather was amazing and the strip itself is definitely worth seeing!
Influential figures in your life?
My Mum (RIP), My Dad, Brother Gary and fiancé Roisin. Each of them have helped me so much to help get me to where I’m at today!
Athletes: Floyd ‘Money’ Mayweather, Usain Bolt
Athletic or Sporting Events: Olympic Games, World and European Athletics Championships,World Championship Boxing
Sportstars: Floyd Mayweather, Lance Armstong, Ronaldo
Celebrities: Barry ‘Macca’ McMahon
Band/Singers: Ed Sheeran, The Killers,The Dubliners
Music Video: “It’s my time” – see below
Songs to Train to: Eye of the Tiger, L’amour Toujours
Songs on a night out: Any club classic
TV Shows: Father Ted, Ringside
Movies: Man About Dog, Die Hard Movies, Taken, The Inbetweeners
Favourite Scene ever in a Movie: The dance-off in the Inbetweeners movie (As Below) – as it is similar to what I saw on holidays with mates Barry Mc Mahon and James Miley
Food: Steak and potatoes
After Shaves: Hugo Boss, Diesel
Place (apart from home): Las Vegas!
Sports Venue: National Stadium Dublin, Croke Park
Facebook, Instagram or Twitter? All of them!
Favourite websites? Boxingscene, NiRunning, Iaba.ie, Ebay.
England team announced for Armagh International road races:
England Athletics are pleased to announce that two teams of three athletes have been selected for the Armagh International Road race on Thursday 19th February 2015. In addition there are three other development group athletes attending to gain valuable experience.
- Richard Weir (Club: Derby, Coach: Spencer Duval)
- John Beattie (Club: Newham & Essex Beagles, Coach: Gavin Smith)
- Luke Gunn (Club: Derby, Coach: Bud Baldaro)
- Gemma Hillier (Club: Charnwood, Coach: Alex Hains)
- Racheal Bamford (Club: Leeds City, Coach: Mike Baxter)
- Rachel Felton (Club: Shaftesbury Barnet/Stroud, Coach: Christopher Frapwell)
- Daniel Haymes (Club: Derby, Coach: Chris Woodhouse)
- Chris Parr (Club: Gateshead, Coach: Lindsay Dunn)
- Ellie Stevens (Club: Birchfield Harriers, Coach: Tony Stevens / Kelly Sotherton)
The men's 5k and women's 3k event are each an international affair with teams from Europe and the USA competing in the round the city loop. The men compete just over 4 laps and the women just over 2. All of the athletes selected are in good current form so England Athletics are expecting good strong performances from them all.
England Team manager and EA road running event coordinator Spencer Duval said, "The team will have a great opportunity to run fast against tough competition in this tightly packed and adrenalin filled spectator friendly course. The event is slightly different to the usual road race format with multiple laps over short distances so it should suit the track biased athletes more."
Story taken from England Athletics website HERE.
Queen's 'Race Around the River' 5k 2015:
At the recent launch of the annual Powerade Queen’s 5k ‘Race Around the River’ which will take place on Wednesday 25th March 2015 at 7pm, it was announced that this year’s race has been awarded Northern Ireland and Ulster Championship status for 2015.
The already popular road race, which is organised by Queen’s Athletics Club and Queen’s Sport, covers a fast and unique course beside the River Lagan consisting of two laps around the King’s Bridge and Ormeau Bridge, with the Physical Education Centre (PEC) acting as the Race HQ for pre and post-race requirements.
Year after year the event attracts a significant number of competitors, ranging from those taking on their first competitive 5k to athletes of international standard. Regardless of experience or ability, all set themselves the challenge of improving their personal best on what is a fast course.
John Allen, General Secretary of Athletics Northern Ireland, said: "I am delighted that such high calibre events such as the Powerade Queen’s 5k Road Race will host the prestigious 2015 Northern Ireland and Ulster Road Race Championships. Over the past number of years the Championships have grown in stature with titles sought after by both individual athletes and clubs. Each of these races caters to a large number of club athletes and fun runners from all parts of Ireland and further afield and I am sure this year's event will be no exception".
There are robust guidelines in place in relation to awarding championship status to any road race. These cover factors such as accurate distance measurement, adequate stewarding and policing, provision of toilets, first aid, water and refreshments and the general quality of the course and event organisation.
Championship status can only be awarded to one event in each distance category per year, being chosen as a Championship host is evidence of the confidence Athletics Northern Ireland has in the commitment of the event organisers involved and the quality of each race.
Neil Johnston, Captain of Queen’s Athletics Club said “We encourage those interested in taking part to enrol early as the first 500 entries will be guaranteed the specially branded Queen’s 5k T-shirt. We are also encouraging more students, local recreational runners and parkrun enthusiasts who live in the surrounding area of South Belfast to get involved and challenge themselves over 5k. This year’s race will also bring some added student rivalry with Queen’s Clubs and Societies competing for a new team prize that will be awarded to the fastest team of four across Male and Female student categories”.
Stephen Cassidy, Senior Key Account Manager from Coca-Cola HBC Northern Ireland “We are proud to continue our partnership with Queen’s Sport by supporting the Powerade Queen’s 5k Road Race and we are delighted with the ongoing success of this event. This is one of a number of sporting initiatives we are working on, in partnership with Queen’s Sport and the University Development Office and we are committed to developing the talent of the future, as well as the sports stars of today. We recognise the Powerade Queen’s 5K Road Race as an important community sporting event and hope the number of participants continues to grow.”
For more information on the race, entry fees and the course visit www.queenssport5k.com
Irish Girls ready to rock in Boston (by www.jumping-the-gun.com):
A formidable Irish quartet of Ciara Mageean, Christine McMahon, Katie Kirk and Claire Tarplee will face off against the best of America at the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix in Boston on Saturday night, and hopes are high that they can go one better than their male counterparts, who finished second in the distance medley relay at the Armory Invitational in New York last week. The race takes place at 11:42pm Irish time.
“It’s all going great, and I’m really looking forward to getting in there and having a good race,” said Ciara Mageean, who will run the 1600m leg for the Irish team. “Training has been going well, so I’m looking forward to building myself up for a really good European Indoors and then progressing on to outdoors. I’ve had a troubled past with injuries so I’m really looking forward to getting out there again.
“We have such a strong base of girls coming through, so it’s great to have a team of us out here competing. It’s fantastic we’re over here flying the flag; representing your country is such an honour, so hopefully we’ll do Ireland proud over here.”
Running the 400m leg for Ireland is Christine McMahon, and she’s hoping her 4x400m experience will be put to good use in Saturday night’s distance medley relay, which will be her first try at the event. “It’s a different mentality going into a relay, and I’m hoping to run as quick as I can,” she said. “I’m a wee bit nervous because it’s my first indoor race. I haven’t had too many hiccups, though, so I’m happy enough.”
Katie Kirk will make a quick turnaround from her race in New York last week to run another 800m, but this time it will be the third leg for the Irish team, and she’s excited about her first international outing after choosing to represent Ireland. “I’m really looking forward to it,” she says. “I did my last session on Thursday, and have eased down now. It’s great to be able to get out there as part of a team.”
On the opening 1200m leg will be Claire Tarplee, who is hoping a bigger focus on endurance work this winter will pay dividends through the season. “I swapped coaches in September, so everything’s new,” she says. “I’ll see tomorrow, but I’ll hopefully just run as fast as possible. I honestly don’t know what shape I’m in. I’ve been doing a lot more endurance stuff so hopefully it’ll all pay.
Tarplee, along with the rest of the team, have been enjoying their trip to Boston, and on Friday night were brought on a promotional trip to the local New Balance store by Irishman Keith Kelly, who now works for the brand which currently sponsors Irish athletics. “It’s a lovely trip,” said Tarplee. “We had a little walk around Boston earlier, and it’s been fun.”
Also in action on Saturday night is Ciarán Ó Lionáírd, who will run the men’s mile at 12:02am Irish time (7:02pm Boston time). He will face off against some strong opposition including Nick Willis, Abdalaati Iguider and training partner Ben Blankenship.
Article written by Cathal Dennehy for www.jumping-the-gun.com
Paula will run London Marathon:
World marathon record-holder preparing for “hugely emotional” return to the London Marathon where she is set to start with British championship runners behind elite fields
Paula Radcliffe will continue her tradition of not putting a limit on what might be achieved when she returns to the Virgin Money London Marathon on April 26.
The event had been billed as the world record-holder’s swansong over 26.2 miles but the 41-year-old understandably wants to see how her run in the British capital goes before saying that for sure.
After injury problems and the surgery she had on her left foot in 2012, she is relieved to be back running at all and is preparing herself for a “hugely emotional” return to the event at which she experienced such success in 2002, 2003 and 2005.
“I’m expecting it to be emotional and I’m probably underestimating just how emotional,” said Radcliffe, speaking at the London Marathon’s annual lunch event. “It will be emotional for lots of reasons – for the fact that it’s London, for all of the happy memories of growing up and taking part, for all of the times that I couldn’t do it and I think as well for the fact that I couldn’t run at all. I never thought I could be back here. I get emotional just talking about it now.”
“I never thought I could be back here. I get emotional just talking about it now”
Radcliffe’s name was omitted from the list of elite runners announced earlier this month and on Friday organisers confirmed that she is set to start with British championship runners behind the elite fields. “That would be ideal because then I won’t be running on my own, embarrassing myself!” said Radcliffe. “But I will be enjoying the atmosphere and will hopefully be competitive at that level.” She added: “For me, I’m kind of thinking I can’t be competitive at the front end of the elite women’s field but I’ll still try and run as hard as I can. It’s the opportunity to go around, to run it hard, but to take in the atmosphere. Just to run the London Marathon, because it’s special.” After Dennis Kimetto became the first to break 2:03 for the marathon in Berlin last September, talk again turned to the possibility of a sub-two-hour marathon. Then came the consideration of what might perhaps be the equivalent of that mark for women, with the Journal of Applied Physiology arguing that Radcliffe’s 2:15:25 world record set in London in 2003 is at least equivalent to a two-hour marathon for women. But when it comes to breaking barriers, Radcliffe reiterates how she was always reluctant to set herself a limit.
“I always used to say don’t set a limit but just really tune into your instincts and your body”
“For me, I just wanted to see what I could do. That day (breaking the world record in London in 2003) what was important was that I ran faster than I had done in Chicago and in Chicago what was important was that I ran faster than the existing world record,” she said. “You need a target to shoot for but what I always used to try and keep in my head is actually you don’t want a limit going into it, so you don’t want to think ‘oh, two hours and that’s it, it’s not possible to run faster than that’ – that is a barrier, because then if you’re running faster than that at mid-way you’ll be thinking you need to slow down and pace yourself more. “I always used to say don’t set a limit but just really tune into your instincts and your body. Then see where the limit lies, see how fast you can go.”
And that’s what Radcliffe intends to do when she returns to run London in April. Speaking to AW in Gran Canaria last weekend before she clocked 34:16 to win a 10km in Las Palmas, she explained how she hopes to run in the low-2:30s, but she’s not setting a cap and will be running as hard as she can.
Speaking in London on Friday, she added: “I know that I haven’t got the same running mechanics as I used to have and I won’t ever be able to get that back, but I am always a competitive person and I want to do the best that I can on the day. “It’s more about running pain-free, enjoying it and being able to genuinely say that it was the best that I could do that day.”
Read more at Athletics Weekly
Britton claims podium place at Great Edinburgh XC (courtesy of Athletics Ireland):
Fionnuala Britton bounced back from her recent sixth place at the European Cross Country Championships to finish second today at the Great Edinburgh Cross Country behind Great Britain’s Emilia Gorecka. Britton crossed the line in 21:33 just six seconds off Gorecka. Spain’s Trihas Gebre was third in 21:50 with reigning European Cross Country Champion, Gemma Steele (GBR) having to settle for 11th place.
In a top class International race, Britton was back to her dominant front running style pushing the pace throughout and spreading the field. The eventual top three finishers broke away from the leading pack at the mid-way point dropping Steele. Although Britton injected pace at various points, she was unable to shake off Gorecka who eventually moved away in closing stages to take the race.
Britton as Team Captain led Europe to victory from the USA with Great Britain in third. Sara Treacy (Dunboyne AC) placed in 16th pace and Michelle Finn (Leevale AC) finished in 22nd, both athletes were representing team Europe following their strong performances at the European Cross Country Championships in Samokov in December 2014.
In the newly introduced Invitational Team Relay (2 x 1km), Danny Mooney (Letterkenny AC) and Maria McCambridge (DSD) represented Ireland placing eighth in 7 minutes.
Story courtesy of Athletics Ireland.
O’Hanlon & McCluskey follow the Star to record a second victory:
A report on the Castlewellan Christmas Cracker by Bogusboy..
There was a real international feel to the annual Christmas Cracker race in Castlewellan on 27th December 2014. From early morning an eclectic blend of international fell runners, triathletes and cyclists gathered to compete in the biggest race of the Christmas Holidays. Winner of the inaugural race more than 30 years ago Deon McNeilly once again took to the line and as usual gave a very good account of himself.
The tradition of running fancy dress is growing and this year saw many different variations on the seasonal theme as well as the occasional dinosaur – well done to all who made the effort as this added to the sense of occasion.
It is not often that a star is followed by three wise men at the beginning of a race. However, this was very much the case for the 31st running of the Christmas Cracker. The Power Family had whole-heartedly entered into the spirit of the festive season and with bespoke running apparel (rumour has it that they will be making another journey on 6 January!) made their way to the front of the field to lead the many other wise men and women on a pilgrimage that would take them to the summit of Slieveinaslat Mountain. However, as the pace quickened after 100 metres, the wise men demonstrated their sagacity and made the prudent decision to move backwards and let the faster athletes take over. This was a challenge which young Brendan Donnelly took up with great aplomb. To ensure he got his picture in the paper, the London-based Newcastle AC man made a bold bid for home 8 miles out and was leading the field past the Market House!!! Regrettably, and much to the relief of partner Ryan Quigley, this was to prove another short-lived attempt to strike a decisive blow. As the athletes turned left onto the Drumbuck Road, Donnelly’s oil light was well and truly on and he would have to settle for 52nd place, a mere 14 minutes behind the winners! Methinks he went a bit too early!!!
Gary O’Hanlon and Brian McCluskey, winners in 2013, had returned to defend their title and by the Bannonstown Road were beginning to assert their authority over a high quality filed. By the time they were entering the Forest Park they had 20 seconds to spare over the in-form pairing of Lynch and Steele. The local club had packed well with O’Flaherty and Totten still in the frame in third place. Duffy and Heeny from Bailiebord were also challenging along with McMullan of Newcastle and his partner Collins, a man with no running experience, dragooned in to competing with the promise that the course was ‘reasonably flat’!!! I don’t think he’ll fall for that one again! As the race unfolded the defending champions were able to manage the challenge of their nearest competitors and came home in 52:26 with a minute to spare over Lynch and Steele. O’Flaherty and Totten completed the podium places.
One of the performances of the day came from Iain Whiteside and Megan Crawford of TRIM who were convincing winners of the mixed team category in an outstanding 6th place overall recording a time of just over 57 minutes. They had a minute and a half to spare over pre-race favourites Stuart Kennedy and Cathy McCourt who would finish in 11th overall. Paul Burns and Martin Wilcox were the first East Down Duo home in 10th overall and can be very pleased with this finish given the quality of the athletes in their company. Former winners McNeilly and McCrickard produced another fine performance to finish 12th inside the 1 hour mark. Phil Hodge, paired with Dale Mathers of Newry City Runners, was the first Murlough AC athlete home in 27th place. All of the category winners are listed and well done to each paring on their success.
An event like this requires many hands to make the work lighter and the organisers would like to thank all those who helped with the entries – processing almost 750 runners in under an hour is a huge task, the members of Shimna Wheelers CC and other friends of Newcastle AC for marshalling out on the course and pipers Billy and Rab for their melodic tunes which undoubtedly lifted the spirits of the athletes.
Thanks also to everyone who took and sent photos (many of these can be viewed on the Newcastle AC website – www.newcastleac.org), organised the finish, processed the results or helped out afterwards in Castlewellan GAC. As part of the club’s ongoing commitment to supporting charities a donation will be made to the Neo-Natal Unit of the RVH Belfast to add to the sum of almost £6000 donated in recent years. So, with 51 weeks to go, it is time to think about picking a partner for 2015 and get training!
Athletics NI announce Championship events:
The 2015 road races awarded championship status by Athletics Northern Ireland and Athletics Ulster have been confirmed by the appointed selection panel and are as follows:
5k: Queen’s 5k (March 2015 - Queen’s AC)
10k: Laganside 10k (September 2015 - North Belfast Harriers)
Half Marathon: Deep RiverRock Belfast City Half Marathon
(September 2015 - Belfast City Marathon Ltd)
Road Relay: Victoria Park Relays (October 2015 - Orangegrove AC)
John Allen, General Secretary of Athletics Northern Ireland, said:
"I am delighted that such high calibre events will host the prestigious 2015 Northern Ireland and Ulster Road Race Championships. Over the past number of years the Championships have grown in stature with titles sought after by both individual athletes and clubs. Each of these races caters to a large number of club athletes and fun runners from all parts of Ireland and further afield and I am sure this year's events will be no exception".
There are robust guidelines in place in relation to awarding championship status to any road race. These cover factors such as accurate distance measurement, adequate stewarding and policing, provision of toilets, first aid, water and refreshments and the general quality of the course and event organisation. Championship status can only be awarded to one event in each distance category per year, being chosen as a Championship host is evidence of the confidence Athletics Northern Ireland has in the commitment of the event organisers involved and the quality of each race.
For further information about Northern Ireland and Ulster Championship events please contact the Athletics Northern Ireland office via email [email protected] or on 02890 602 707.
The lose of a gentleman - George Montgomery:
George Montgomery, Life Member of Athletics NI, passed away on Wednesday 19th November 2014.
The death of the popular and highly respected official George Montgomery this week was perhaps not unexpected by those who have kept in touch during his most recent illness but it was by no means inevitable. Lesser men would have succumbed long ago but George was a fighter who refused to let minor issues like illness and incapacity get in the way of his love of life.
Judging by the immediate and overwhelming response to his passing on social media from many parts of the world George was held in great esteem by many over a wide age range. Not surprisingly many of the most heartfelt comments came from the ladies for whom George always had a special appeal.
"He was a lovely caring and considerate man. Gave everyone 100% support”, “George was one of the best. Always had a smile and a great big hug for me. He was team manager of my first senior team - a fact he never forgot" - "George was one of the finest gents in athletics, so sad to hear this" are just a few of the comments which appeared within hours of the news.
For the majority of those currently involved in the sport George was known as a caring team manager, a hardworking club administrator, a dedicated official often standing on the timekeepers steps, sometimes in the field or keeping a watchful eye on all proceedings in his capacity as Chief Judge. His contribution as an official was officially recognised when he was presented with the Services to Officiating Award by Niels de Vos of UKA in 2009.
Sadly there are few contemporaries remaining who remember the man in his prime as an athlete with the Albert Foundry Athletics Club based at Paisley Park on Belfast's West Circular Road. Neither the club, which numbered Dame Mary Peters among its membership, nor the cinders track which opened in 1949 exist today but in George's era the Foundry was a force to be reckoned with winning bronze medals in the 1947 Senior Cross Country and the Junior in 1950 and 1952. George played a significant role in the opening of the track in 1949 winning the One Mile Flat Handicap and twenty years later he was an official at the same venue when Kenya's Kip Keino ran the first ever sub four minute mile in Northern Ireland.
In recent years George suffered more than his fair share of illness and catastrophe but he kept bouncing back. He lived life to the full enjoying his travels and somehow surviving the "slings and arrows of outrageous fortune". In an unrelated post on Twitter this morning someone said "Whatever opportunity comes your way today, seize it. Life comes with an expiry date, sooner than you know." George certainly seized his opportunities.
John T Glover
Winners to be honoured at Athletics NI Awards:
The Athletics Northern Ireland Annual Awards Ceremony will be held in the Les Jones Room, Athletics House on Wednesday 19th November at 7pm.
These awards celebrate the often unsung heroes of athletics in Northern Ireland - the volunteers, officials and coaches who put in a remarkable effort throughout the year to create the foundation on which our sport is built.
Awards will be presented by guest speaker, Jason Gardener, Non-Executive Director of UK Athletics. Jason is one of the UK's most successful printers. During his illustrious career Jason held Olympic, World, Commonwealth and European titles. Following his retirement from athletics he has continued to pursue further sporting challenges including coaching elite athletes. Athletics Northern Ireland’s Official Performance Partner, Under Armour, will be supporting the Awards, kindly providing Under Armour gear to each of the Award Winners.
Awards will be presented to the following recipients:
Junior Club – City of Lisburn AC
Club of the Year – Ballymena Runners AC
Volunteer of The Year – Robert McGaughey (Ballymena Runners)
Official of the Year – Roger Perrott
Services to Officiating – Robert Brodie
Development Coach of the Year – Francis O’Hagan
Talent / Performance Coach of the Year – Mark Kirk
Services to Coaching – Jim Alexander
In addition to the Awards in each of the four categories they will also be presented to athletes who broke NI records in 2014 – Amy Foster (100m), Kerry O’Flaherty (3000m s/c), Zoe Brown (Pole Vault), Andrew Barkley (U18 Discus), John Kelly (U20 Shot) and Megan Marrs (U18 100m, U18 100mH and U20 100mH).
The winners of the coaching awards will go forward to be nominated for the Sport Northern Ireland awards next year. If you would like to attend the Awards please contact [email protected] by 2 pm on Monday 17th November 2014.
Mourne Skyline Mountain-Trail Race 2014:
On Saturday 18th October 2014, NiRunning welcomed a huge array of talent to the inaugural running of our Mourne Skyline Mountain-Trail Race in the Mourne Mountains (Newcastle, County Down).
Alongside the athletes, Skyrunning UK Director and host of world renowned podcast 'Talk Ultra', Ian Corless, was also present. Ian provides the following summary of the event:
Misty skies, gale force winds, relentless climbing, technical terrain and an incredible field of runners made the inaugural Mourne Skyline MTR a day to remember.
Concluding Skyrunning UK’s first year, the Mourne Skyline MTR really was a fitting end to what has been an incredible year. The course, organisation and the field of runners made this a special and unforgettable day in the mountains. The addition of Skyrunner® World Series champion (2013 and 2014) Stevie Kremer did provide some icing on the Mourne cake. However, ‘Pocket Rocket’ was not isolated… Jo Meek, British Ultra Trail Champion, provided more than enough pressure on the Colorado based Skyrunner on what proved to be one of the most exciting ladies mountain races I have followed for some time. Sharon Trimble, Diane Wilson and Shileen O’Kane would bring local knowledge and fell experience to the mix making this a classic in the making.
As expected, Kremer pushed hard from the off and after leaving the Donard Forest the trail became steeper and more technical playing to the Colorado runners strength. Although a gap opened up, it was nothing substantial and Meek maintained a gap keeping Kremer in sight. After passing over the saddle, runners were hit by gale force winds and low cloud as they headed out to Slieve Bearnagh, Slieve Meelmore and then an anticlockwise loop that would eventually return them to Slieve Meelmore and then run back to the finish. Conditions were brutal… thankfully the previous nights torrential rain had disappeared. Had it not, runners and marshals would have had a very testing day!
Wilson, Trimble and O’Kane in many respects were running for third such was the pace of the front two ladies. On the flat, Meek would catch Kremer and then pull away. The relentless and rollercoaster nature of the terrain and mountains would then allow Kremer to pull back and pass on the climbs. This to and froing made for an exhilarating competition of willpower, mental strength and endurance. The latter half of the course, on paper, looked made for Kremer as climb and after climb would allow her to open a gap. However, Meek was having none of it. Running with blinkered vision, Meek fought the technical terrain and chased. ‘I was swearing at the terrain and my own frustrations in managing my technical ability,’ said Meek. Kremer was having no easy ride too, ‘that is the hardest race I have ever done! Harder than Zegama Aizkorri it was just brutal. Relentless climbing, technical and with the wind it was just soooo hard!’
After CP4, Kremer opened up a gap and extended this on the steep ascent to Slieve Commedagh. Battered by the winds, Kremer put her head down and now pushed hard to the highest point of the course, Slieve Donard. Turning at the summit and descending down the lead extended and on the final technical descent to Newcastle the gap really opened up eventually providing Kremer a winning time of 4:24.25 to Meek’s 4:30.32. The time gaps don’t reflect how close this race was!
Post race, Meek was very philosophical, ‘I really did push and race hard but the relentless ankle twisting and gnarly terrain beat me down and in the latter stages as Kremer pulled away I eased off a little knowing that 2nd place was secure.’ Diane Wilson placed 3rd producing a great run on home soil in a time of 4:45.41.
In the men’s race, local man, Allan Bogle pushed hard in the early stages closely followed by Kim Collison, Eoin Lennon and just 5 seconds back, J Marshall Thomson. It was close, and unlike the ladies race a winner looked likely to come from any of the front contenders. Particularly when one looked at the contenders looking for honours. Ally Beaven, David Steele and Paul Navesy all showed previous results that would mean they could never be ruled out of a podium place.
British Ultra Trail Champion, Collison showed his class at descending and moved away from the other men but Lennon was never going to relinquish the lead without a fight. These two fought a hard battle all day and Lennon showed the wounds of war as blood tricked down his leg. Revelation of the race, was Colorado based J Marshall Thomson (Stevie’s fiancé) who raced in the top-5 all day and despite having never raced on ‘typical’ UK terrain pulled out a top-drawer run to place 3rd. ‘That was some of the most crazy terrain I have ever run. It was relentless. The terrain was beyond technical. You had no idea where to put your feet and I can’t tell you how many times I fell over… I loved it!’ said Thomson.
Collison won the race in 3:57.09 an incredible time in very tough conditions. Lennon recorded 3:59:42 for 2nd place. Ryan Maxwell, race director for the Mourne Skyline MTR had predicted a win time of 4-hours, however, with conditions on the day, we expected this to be optimistic. For Collison and Lennon to both run sub-4 is a real testament to the competition between the two front men. Thomson moved up into 3rd place and brought a truly international flavour to the men’s podium, his time of 4:08.38 reflecting his ability.
The 2014 Mourne Skyline MTR has firmly established itself as a must-do race after just one edition. The combination of location, local infrastructure, great organisation, enthusiastic locals and a brutal course will guarantee that demand will be high for the 2015 edition. Covering 35km and a total elevation gain of 3370m, the Mourne Skyline MTR is everything a Skyrunning race should be. I for one can’t wait for 2015.
Top 3 Men: 1st Kim Collison (Borrowdale AC) - 3:57:09, 2nd Eoin Lennon (Carnethy HRC) - 3:59:42, 3rd J Marshall Thomson (Dynafit/USA) - 4:08:38
Top 3 Ladies: 1st Stevie Kremer (Team Salomon) - 4:24:25, 2nd Jo Meek (Winchester AC) - 4:30:32 3rd Diane Wilson (Dromore AC) - 4:45:41
Full Results: Mourne Skyline Mountain-Trail Race 2014 Results
High Terrain Events to host 3x3 Ultra:
Over 4000m (13,000ft) of ascent await participants of this weekend’s 3x3 Ultra providing every participant an opportunity to cover three classic Lakeland peaks in an accumulative distance of 80km’s. It’s going to be a tough challenge and a fitting conclusion to the Skyrunner® National Series for the ULTRA distance.
Based on the classic ‘Lakes 3000’s’ the 80km route will include Scafell Pike, Helvellyn and Skiddaw. An amazing circular route over the best mountains available within the UK, it promises to be a tough challenge. The race route combines all the elements of a classic Lakeland run with aspects of European racing; technical terrain, beautiful mountains and hills.
Ian Mulvey, race director for the 3x3 event confirmed just days ago that race is a sell out, ‘we have 300 entries, 263-men and 37 ladies. The spread of athletes is phenomenal, we have runners representing, Sweden, New Zealand, Canada, Australia, Unites States, Spain, France, Norway, Slovakia, Latvia, Holland and Ireland.’
It just goes to show the growth and demand for tough and technical races within the UK, ‘We have exceeded expectations in our first year,’ said Skyrunning UK director, Ian Corless. ‘Our aim was to introduce the sport gradually and build a following over three years. In year one we will have had four very successful races and following the 3x3 we have the Mourne Skyline MTR with Skyrunner® World Series Champion, Stevie Kremer taking part. It’s been a brilliant year.’
We may not have the required altitude that a Skyrunning race would require in France, Spain or Italy but we can compensate for this with steep short climbs and technical terrain. The UK has brilliant and committed athletes who love racing. The Skyrunner® National Series has been made possible with sponsorship from ROCKTAPE, inov-8 and Raidlight UK, without this support the series would not have been possible.
Grab a seat, sit and wait for the action to unfold in the early hours of Saturday morning as the 3x3 gets underway. It’s going to be an epic battle.
Is the 10,000m Verging on Extinction? (By Peter Gambaccini for 'Running Times' - Image by Andrew McClanahan of PhotoRun Published)
For much of the past two decades, the fastest men’s 10,000m track race of the year was run at Memorial Ivo Van Damme in Brussels. That Belgian meet, which will be held on Friday, was going to have the only world-class invitational 10,000m of the 2014 European summer season. But it’s been removed from the schedule, and now the longest “flat” men’s race in Brussels will be a 1500m.
That means that all of 2014’s top 25 men’s 10,000 times will have been run in the United States or Japan, and that “world class” 10,000m running was essentially over before the year was five months old. It leaves Olympic silver medalist Galen Rupp, who ran 26:44.36 on “Distance Night” in Eugene the evening before the Prefontaine Classic, as the fastest 10,000m runner of the year.
That’s nice news for Rupp, but not for someone like Chris Derrick, who was a 10,000m finalist at the 2013 world championships and finished second to Rupp in the 10,000m at this year’s USATF Championships in 28:18.18. Derrick, whose career best is 27:31.38, had headier goals in mind. The planned 10,000m in Brussels was “definitely going to be the focal point of my season,” he says. Derrick was driving with his coach, Jerry Schumacher, to a 5,000m in Heusden, Belgium, on July 19, where he would run a 13:14. En route to the race, Schumacher “got quiet for a little bit and then said, ‘Yeah, 13:35,’” Derrick recalls. “I thought to myself, ‘That’s a really slow 5K time. I hope I don’t run that.’ Then he’s like ‘Yeah, you just need to be ready to come through [halfway] in 13:35 in Brussels.’ We were on our way to another race and he was already thinking about the 10,000.” The race on Schumacher’s mind was to be held seven weeks later. Derrick, incidentally, thinks a 27:10—two times that 13:35 —would have been “a pretty good goal.”
But in late July, Derrick’s agent, Dan Lilot, was told that the Brussels 10,000 was off. Three sources suggested that meet organizers weren’t assured that they would see a fast time from a notable headliner—which apparently meant either Rupp, reigning world and Olympic champion Mo Farah, or Kenenisa Bekele (who set the current world record in the event, 26:17.53, in 2005 in Brussels). Bekele is preparing for the Chicago Marathon on Oct. 12.
The 10,000m at the world class level has been an endangered animal for quite awhile now.
Look back at what Track & Field News had to say about its rankings for the men’s 10,000m in 2010, the previous year with no Olympics or World Championships: “Since it’s not ‘spectator friendly” in an era when TV production-values dominate the Euro Circuit, not a single major Old Continent meet staged a 10K,” the magazine wrote. The article noted that the 10,000 “was approaching orphan status.” The No. 1 ranking went to Kenyan Wilson Kiprop, whose two races were high altitude tests in Africa.
Women haven’t had a 10,000m tradition at Brussels or any other invitational and, in fact, the fastest women’s 10,000s in both 2008 and 2012 were Tirunesh Dibaba’s gold medal efforts at the Beijing and London Olympics, respectively. A Palo Alto race on May 4 yielded nine of 2014’s top 10 women’s times, including Sally Kipyego’s 30:42.26 and Molly Huddle’s 30:47.59. It was the only women’s 10,000 anywhere on the planet in 2014 that could honestly be called world-class. The influential agent Jos Hermens, whose clients include Bekele, observes that the 2014 Brussels 10,000 “didn’t really have a story. If you have someone attacking the world record or a name like Mo or Kenenisa, they [the meet organizers] would have done it.” Says Hermens: “Brussels wants to keep that tradition and it’s a little sad that they cancelled it this year. Hopefully, we can install it in the future.”
Hopefully. Brussels might be the last bastion, if it’s a bastion at all. Oslo’s Bislett Games frequently had elite 10,000s in the 1990s, when three world records were set there, including the first sub-27:00 in history, a 26:58.38 by Yobes Ondieki in 1993, and Haile Gebrselassie’s 26:31.32 in 1997, which lowered the existing standard by 20 seconds. Earlier, topflight 10,000s would be staged in Stockholm, and more recently, they’ve intermittently turned up in venues like Hengelo in the Netherlands and Ostrava in the Czech Republic. But if “Distance Night,” which Meet Director Tom Jordan calls “geek heaven,” hadn’t been created in 2011 in Eugene, the 10,000m would be verging on extinction outside of the Olympics and world championships. The 25-lap track race has been in the Olympics since 1912. Is its future at risk?
The IAAF’s 2013 decision that the top 15 at the world cross country championships would be treated as have time qualifiers for outdoor track’s world championships 10,000m might seem like a wise “why didn’t we think of this before” move. But a cynic might wonder if it’s a desperate attempt to simultaneously resuscitate two entities on life support—world cross country, which is now a biennial event with negligible European involvement—and track’s 10,000m. “Crowds have changed,” Hermens says. “People have no patience to watch half an hour for a 10,000.” We’ve heard that frequently enough, and it’s an operating principle in TV telecasts, which routinely abandon the 10,000m for two-mile stretches and focus cameras elsewhere.
But the 10,000 is the event that gave us Lasse Viren, sprawled on the track oval after a fall, rising gamely and claiming his first of four career Olympic goal medals in 1972. The 10,000 is the only reason we have any idea who Billy Mills is. It’s the event that provided one classic duel after another-between Gebrselassie and Paul Tergat, including a nerve-shredding 2000 Sydney Olympic experience, which Gebrselassie captured by 9/100ths of a second. Gallant Paul Tergat is the main reason why many of us will never think of a silver medalist as a “loser.” The 10,000 is why we became familiar with someone called “The Baby-Faced Destroyer.” It provided a 1–2 finish by a black African and a white African at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, and a mutual and respectful celebration, with hands clasped above their heads, that will always be one of the most resonant political moments in the Games’ history.
In a 2008 Running Times article in which he selects five of the greatest 10,000m races, Roger Robinson notes that “the longest Olympic track race hasn't been short on drama” and that “for the spectator, it offers a fascinating fusion of infinitely variable tactics within a rigidly unvaried structure.”
That’s part of what made Mo Farah’s 10,000m triumph not just the emotional high point of the 2012 London Olympics but every bit as exhilarating an athletic spectacle as Usain Bolt’s sprint heroics. With all the anticipation about strategies the assembled Kenyan and Ethiopian trios would mount to try and thwart Farah in front of his own crowd, with his own ability to deftly change tempos and unleash a kick from farther out than was the custom in the 10,000, every moment of the race’s 27-plus minutes provided edge-of-the-seat excitement.
Even a 10,000 that seems to tread water for 12 or 15 minutes can have rewards for the savvy viewer. On Distance Night in May, we scrutinized Rupp for any sign of weakness or fatigue (there wasn’t much), we studied his chief rival, 2013 world championships bronze medalist Paul Tanui, to see just how formidable he was (formidable, but not enough), and we suddenly had to factor in Stephen Sambu, a supposed rabbit who ended up staying in, changing the complexion of the race and turning in a worthy 26:54.61. Then, we got to see just how much Galen Rupp had in him. And how much he would destroy his own American record by. The exciting answer was “a lot” to both counts.
The 10,000 is not boring. Sometimes, anticipation is part of the tension.
Jordan, Distance Night’s director, says that when the meet began, agents were urging him to host a 10,000m and complaining that they were having to send their European and African athletes to Stanford University to find a decent 10,000. Still, the declining numbers of 10,000m races comes as a surprise. “I don’t think we anticipated that it would happen so rapidly,” he says.
The scarcity of track 10,000s, which Jordan partly attributes to Bekele’s record being “so good that it’s pretty much off the board,” is also “directly correlated with a number of athletes hitting the roads instead,” he says. “There’s probably a lot of good young talent that is bypassing the track entirely and going to right to roads, where the money is.” Lack of opportunity in the 10,000 could drive young Africans—and perhaps Americans—to the marathon even sooner than is currently the case.
Distance Night had a 10,000 this May because Coach Alberto Salazar told Jordan he was quite confident that Galen Rupp was in American record shape. But Jordan warns that it’s not etched in stone that he’ll have one each year. When the women’s 5000m is a Diamond League event and he wants to have a men’s 5000m as well, there may be no 10,000.
For now, it seems destined to be a museum piece at the Olympics and at championship meets. And if attention spans are as limited as Jos Hermens suggested, it may not remain a fixture there, either.
England Athletics Age Group Championships 2014 (article by Athletics NI):
There an impressive medal haul for a highly successful thirteen person squad of Ulster athletes at the England Athletics Age Group Championships in Bedford over a weekend that saw many team members claiming medals and setting personal bests.
Finn Valley AC's Aaron McGlynn, who was competing in the 800 metres U-15 event, showed medal potential from the outset when he qualified for the final with ease running 2:04.82secs in his heat. The 15 year old was in good form as shown by his impressive personal best of 1:57.92 which he set in Dublin in June (2014). In a tactical final he just edged to the front on the line to take gold from City of York AC's Alex Botterill. McGlynn was timed at 2:02.40 which was only 0.20secs ahead of Botterill.
Aaron's club mate, James Kelly, produced two personal bests in each of his chosen throws events over what was an extremely successful weekend for the Donegal athlete. He claimed gold in the U15 Shot Putt with an impressive throw of 15.23m almost a full metre ahead of his nearest rival, Victor Adebiyi (Castleview School) (14.24m). In the U-15 (B) Javelin James claimed silver with a throw of 49.59m with gold going to Winchester’s Daniel Stoller who topped the podium with a throw of 52.18m.
It was a busy weekend for Torque RC’s Jack Agnew who competed in four races overall. Jack finished second in the 100m (16.41secs), 200m (31.09secs) and 400m (1:01.71) 'A' races. He went one better in the 1500m to claim gold in 4:07.13. 16 year old Lagan Valley athlete, Namphon Steele (T47), had a strong run in the 100m setting a new personal best of 14.10 to take gold.
NI and Ulster U-17 Age Group Champion Ben Fisher was tipped for a medal in the long jump going into the Championships. The City of Lisburn AC athlete did not disappoint and showed impressive form producing four of his six best ever jumps ultimately taking silver with his second best ever jump of 6.79 metres. Gold went to Bournemouth's Patrick Sylla with 6.94 metres. City of Lisburn’s Megan Marrs finished her season in style with a bronze medal in the U-17 100 metres. Megan finished in 3rd place in 11.80secs, which is a personal best time beating her previous clocking of 11.82secs when taking the Irish Junior title in Cork in July (2014). The race was won by Sutton and District's Imani Lansiquot in 11.60secs. This adds to her 2014 medal haul which includes the silver she won at the Inter Counties Senior Championships the previous week in the 100 metres hurdles.
In the U-17 discus Megan’s Lisburn team mate Andrew Barkley missed out on the bronze by a mere 0.02metres finishing in 4th place with a throw of 52.33 metres. Gold went to George Armstrong in a Championship best of 60.62 metres. Shercock's Jade Williams also took 4th place in the U-15 hammer with 44.71 metres. Newry AC's Oisin O'Callaghan finished in 6th place in the U-17 800 metres in what was his second fastest ever time of 1:57.23. In a highly competitive race won by Woodford's Daniel Rowden (1.55.38) just over 2 secs covered the first 6 finishers. Oisin’s club mate Kate O'Connor finished 6th in the U15 javelin with 35.47 metres. Lisburn's Mark Burton claimed 6th place in the U-17 triple jump with 13.14 metres. In the same age group Lisburn's Ciaran Barnes was secured 5th place in his 400 metres hurdles heat in 59.41secs. Team Bath's William Kennedy ran 10.97 secs in his 100 metres semi and finished 8th in the final.
Lord Mayor to start the 2nd Deep RiverRock Belfast City Half Marathon:
With shy of 6 weeks to Race Day for the 2nd Deep RiverRock Belfast City Half Marathon, the Lord Mayor of Belfast, Nichola Mallon takes up her role to officially start the race on Sunday 14th September.
Joined by representatives from Athletics NI and U105, she is encouraging everyone to get their entry in before the deadline date on Sunday 31st August 2014.
“Half marathons are becoming hugely popular events, and I am delighted that we are hosting our second one on Sunday 14th September 2014. Being active and keeping fit is so important for everyone and this extension of the Full Marathon is perfect for encouraging our people to keep fit all year round.” Lord Mayor of Belfast, Nichola Mallon.
“Furthermore I am looking forward to joining all the local runners and those who travel to our city for the event on Race Day to cheer them on as they start their 13.1miles journey around the streets of Befast.” Online entries are available now at our brand new website www.belfastcityhalfmarathon.net – deadline for entries is Sunday 31st August 2014.
Local officials to travel to Commonwealth Games 2014 (Article from Athletics NI website):
Athletics Northern Ireland and the Northern Ireland Athletics Technical Officials Association (NITOA) are delighted to confirm that 7 local officials have been selected to officiate at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. They are Joy Alexander, Ian Atkinson, Bob Brodie, Pam Brown, Robin Mack, Andrew Minnis, and Philip West.
Our very own ‘Magnificent Seven’ are involved in the Games in several different roles encompassing track and field events and the Jury of Appeal. Of the NITOA members selected, 3 have been appointed to the track team – Ian Atkinson, Andrew Minnis and Philip West. They will be appointed to a variety of duties which could cover wide ranging events from the 100m to the 10,000m.
Experienced track official, Pam Brown, has been appointed to the overall Jury of Appeal, the primary function of which is to rule on any appeals or protests that may arise during the course of the Games which are referred for decision. Joy Alexander, Bob Brodie and Robin Mack are part of the field officiating group which oversees throwing and jumping events. Joy will be acting as one of the Chief Field Officials at the Games, a particularly prestigious honour as she is the only non-Scottish official to have been appointed to this type of role.
In addition to those appointed as Officials for the Games, two members of the NIATOA will be travelling to Glasgow to act as Clyde-siders. Jeanette McClughan and Jan Tynan will be amongst the 15,000 strong team of Clyde-siders who will be volunteering in Glasgow. Support roles appointed to Clyde-siders can be extremely varied including those of Call Stewards, Team Leaders for the athletics Field of Play at Hampden Park, and Marshals for the Marathon. Our two local Clyde-siders are qualified technical officials and will no doubt draw upon their skills and experience to ensure a smooth running and memorable event for both the athletes and the spectators.
Sperrin Harriers 5 mile Classic honours founder member Stanley Reid:
Sperrin Harriers are proud to announce the running of its annual Cookstown 5 mile classic sponsored by Kristen Luxury Bathrooms Limited on Friday 1st August 2014 at 7.30pm.
This year the race has been re-named in memory of Stanley Reid, founder of the race and original Chairman of Cookstown Harriers, the club which reformed to become Sperrin Harriers. Stanley Reid only took up running in 1995 at the age of 60, and although late to the sport of running, was a natural. He completed the Belfast and Dublin marathons within his first year of running and was to become a regular at the Belfast Marathon, as well as completing the Boston Marathon. He regularly attended the Cross Country races and had the great honour representing Northern Ireland in the Masters Cross Country on several occasions.
Stanley was the driving force behind the staging of the first Cookstown 5 mile Classic in 2002. The race was a great success and has become a permanent fixture on the Athletics Calendar. Stanley sadly passed away on 14th October 2012. He was gentleman and a real inspiration to the running fraternity, and is deeply missed by everyone who knew him.
The race will once again take place at Loughry Campus which is sited just off the main Dungannon Road and a chip timing system will be in operation. The race will be run over the course first ran in 2013.
The course starts and finishes within the grounds of the campus with the majority of it on the quite open country roads around Cookstown. This race is suitable for all abilities, whether you have just started running or are an established runner. The course is undulating but fast and therefore a quick time is guaranteed to anyone taking part. Race entry is £11.00 affiliated and £13.00 un-affiliated. The first 250 entries will receive Light Weight Technical Running T-Shirt. Online registration is now available at www.sperrinharriers.co.uk/stanley-reid-5m-classic/ - Registration on the day opens at 5.30pm and will close at 7:15pm sharp.
Just like last year there will be a Fun Run/Walk beginning at 6.30pm with registrations being taken from 5.30pm. The Fun Run/Walk takes place within the confines of Loughry Campus with no traffic on the course and thus is suitable for all the family both young and old, making the event a perfect family evening outing. In keeping with the fun element no times or placings will be recorded. Entry to the Fun Run/Walk is £3.00 per person with no age restrictions. Following both races there will be the now renowned Sperrin Harriers post race buffet and the presentation of prizes, with places in lots of categories being recognised. It promises to be a great evening. Hope to see there!
Stevie Kremer to compete at NiRunning's Mourne Skyline MTR:
Just 48 hours ago NiRunning launched our new Mourne Skyline Mountain-Trail Race, which will be part of the Skyrunning UK Series.
The event, which will take place on Saturday 18th October 2014, has received a phenomenal response. Not just from our friends and followers in Northern Ireland but from the wider mountain and trail running community and especially the Skyrunning fraternity.
It has also attracted the attention of some of the world's top athletes and on that note, we are extremley proud to announce that 2013 Skyrunner World Series Champion Stevie Kremer (Team Salomon) will race the Mourne Skyline MTR.
The official Skyrunning UK press release is below:
2013 Skyrunner® World Series Champion, Stevie Kremer to race Northern Ireland’s Mourne Skyline MTR:
Fresh from victory at the 2014 Zegama-Aizkorri Skyrunner® World Series, Skyrunning UK are pleased to announce that Salomon athelete, American Stevie Kremer will race the brand new Mourne Skyline MTR on October 18th 2014. Stevie is arguably the best female SKY distance runner on the scene at the moment. Winning Mont-Blanc Marathon, Pikes Peak and Limone Extreme in 2013, secured Stevie the Skyrunner® World Series title and elevated the pocket rocket from Colorado from hot, to super hot!
With her infectious smile and incredible ability on the mountain, Stevie will be an incredible asset not only to the Mourne Skyline MTR race but to all trail and mountain running in the UK. “Creating Skyrunning UK was all about bringing the ethos and feel of European events to our shores and in time, creating some of the buzz as witnessed in the Alps, Pyrenees or the Dolomites,’ said Skyrunning UK director, Ian Corless ‘Stevie is at the forefront of Skyrunning, she is an incredible talent, a bubbly personality and to have her arrive on our shores and race is a dream come true. It was always my aim… in reality, I had hoped this would happen in 2017 but to have Stevie join us in year one is just incredible and the boost we all need.’
Ryan Maxwell, race director for the Mourne Skyline MTR can’t believe his luck. ‘When we announced our race we had an incredible response with entries flooding in. To now find out that Stevie Kremer will join us for the inaugural event, really is the icing on the cake. Racing is about every runner; from first to last. However, elite runners provide inspiration for all of us and Stevie leads by example; she is a role model for Skyrunning and we will be honoured by her presence at our race.’
A long-term aim has always been to have a UK event included in the Skyrunner® World Series, should that happen, the best-of-the-best will travel to the UK to race. Stevie’s presence in year one provides a pathway to that objective. The world’s top teams and athletes pitting themselves against UK athletes.
Imagine it; imagine what that would do for the sport in the UK! We have some great races and although we have attracted International athletes in the past to Snowdon and Ben Nevis, it has almost gone un-noticed. The time is now right. We all need to pool together and help grow the sport.
Lauri van Houten, executive director for the ISF (International Skyrunning Federation) had this to say, ‘The Skyrunner® National Series were created to grow Skyrunning on a national level globally - to give as many runners as possible the “feel” of a Skyrunning race and a chance to win a place in an international World Series event. The UK Skyrunning races hold enormous promise and look set to attract an international field. Stevie’s decision to take part in Northern Ireland is a great boost for the race and the new Skyrunner® UK National Series.’
Salomon athlete, Andy Symonds summed the thought process up perfectly, ‘The UK may lack the altitude of the Italian Alps, but that doesn’t mean that we don't have proper mountains! Steep, rough, beautiful mountains are a plenty in the UK - so let's organize some Skyrunning races up them!’
The sport is growing at all levels. In time a series of UK based Skyrunning teams similar to the model that inov-8 have created is a distinct possibility. The Skyrunner® National Series provides not only a great structure for the sport but it also provides a springboard for UK athletes to race in other countries but equally, we hope to attract foreign athletes to race on home soil.
Speaking from Colorado, Stevie said, ‘It looks amazing and it's during my fall break, so I am in! I love the idea of that much climbing.’ Stevie Kremer’s presence in 2014 at the Mourne Skyline MTR has started the ball rolling much sooner than we anticipated… Let’s keep it rolling!
Full details of the Mourne Skyline Mountain-Trail Race can be found on the official race website HERE.
NiRunning launch Skyrunning UK event:
Today, Wednesday 28th May 2014, NiRunning (Northern Ireland Running) are proud to officially launch the Mourne Skyline Mountain-Trail Race and the associated Granite Trail Race (GTR); the former, the Mourne Skyline MTR will be a Skyrunning UK event, meaning that it will join a select group of the prestigious UK mountain and trail running events on the Skyrunning UK Series, governed by the International Skyrunning Federation (ISF).
The Skyrunning 'weekender' will take place on Friday 17th and Saturday 18th October 2014 in Newcastle, County Down. The Granite Trail Race ('GTR'), a 2 mile UPHILL only event (incorporating 250m of ascent), will kick off proceedings on Friday 17th October 2014 at 7.30pm. This enjoyable and challenging race will assist in building the atmosphere for the 'main event', the Mourne Skyline MTR, a tough 35k mountain-trail race incorporating in excess of 3,300m of ascent, which will take place the following morning, Saturday 18th October 2014 (8am). Full details of both events can be found on the official event website at www.mourneskylinemtr.com
This announcement follows months of negotiations, during which, we have worked tirelessly to ensure that we have the support of all relevant bodies. We are extremely excited to bring Skyrunning to Northern Ireland as we strongly believe that it will enhance the reputation of running in Northern Ireland; for this reason, we would like to express our genuine gratitude to those who have assisted us. The official Skyrunning UK press release is below...
Skyrunning UK is pleased to announce the fourth race to join the Skyrunner® Series UK, the MOURNE SKYLINE MTR taking place on October 18th in Northern Ireland.
The Mourne Skyline Mountain-Trail Race is arguably Northern Ireland's toughest and most scenic long distance race; the event is based in the Mourne Mountains, starting and finishing in the seaside town of Newcastle, County Down. Comprising mainly of forest paths, fire roads and single-track grass and granite trail, with approximately one mile on the road. The course measures 35k and there is approximately 11,056ft of ascent and 11,024ft of descent. The highest point will be 2,801ft and the lowest point is at sea level.
It has been no easy challenge putting together a race in this iconic part of Northern Ireland. ‘It's been a long process in relation to getting the event off the ground, because of the stunning nature of the course, and the fact that some of it is on protected land, we have been in discussions with various agencies. It has been worth it though, as we have got the course we have worked tirelessly to get,’ said race director, Ryan Maxwell.
The course is fitting to that of a Skyrunning event; although not at altitude, the amount of ascending, stunning scenery and technical sections are exactly what you would expect from an event of this nature anywhere in the world. ‘Along the way participants will come up against Northern Ireland’s highest mountain, Slieve Donard and some technical ascents, including Slieve Meelmore and descents such as Slieve Bearnagh.’
October may well throw up some challenging weather, we are all aware of that fact that there is as much chance of getting perfect weather conditions in October as there is in August, ‘we have gone into our race plan in-depth and brought a number of very experienced and well respected individuals on board to assist. The route will be very well marked and marshaled at key points.’
Some of the higher parts of the route follow the 'Mourne Wall' (a very obvious stone wall), so this will further assist participants in bad weather. ‘We will have five feed/aid stations along the way; these will be manned by teams who have experience in the mountains. Sweepers (back runners) will also be on hand to guide athletes and assist if anything should go wrong.’
Skyrunning is booming. The growth of the Skyrunner® National Series and the Skyrunner® World Series has been instrumental in increasing the profile of the sport. Skyrunning UK has been at the forefront. ‘Several members of our race team have found the experience of Skyrunning very enjoyable and rewarding, and witnessed what a positive effect it can have on a town/village etc. We felt that from an NiRunning perspective, this was an innovative project and something that would enhance the profile of our local running scene as well as shining a positive light on our country as a whole.’
‘The Mourne Mountains will provide many of us an opportunity to experience beautiful trails, mountains and scenery for the first time. For example I have never been to this part of the world. It’s an exciting opportunity,’ said Ian Corless, Director of Skyrunning UK.
‘Ryan and his team at NiRunning have worked tirelessly to get this race off the ground. It hasn’t been easy and the work ethic has paid dividends. To be able to announce this race is a testament to a committed team and I for one can’t wait to experience Skyrunning in the Mourne Mountains.’
What are you waiting for? This may very well prove to be a ‘bucket list’ event! ‘We have limited the main event to 150 participants given the course and the footprint a mass participation event would have on this area of outstanding natural beauty, we were keen to work alongside other agencies to minimize this and uphold the environmental ethos of Skyrunning.’
Entries open for the Mourne Skyline MTR on Wednesday May 28th on a first come, first served basis. As a ‘Sky’ distance event it offers a great opportunity to test oneself in the mountains and of course, you may well wish to enter the Peaks SkyRace (August 3rd) with a long-term objective to accumulate valuable Skyrunning points. Check out www.skyrunninguk.com
NI Youth Development League 2014 (by John Glover):
The Northern Ireland Youth Development League held its opening round at a cold and windy Antrim Stadium on Saturday 26th April and in so doing celebrated the 25th year of League competition for young athletes in the Province. The original sponsors in 1990 were Woolworths and a variety of transformations have taken place in the last two and a half decades but the formula and purpose remains the same, namely to provide a meaningful competitive opportunity for those athletes who it is hoped will be the stars of the future.
Certainly looking back previous at results there has been a significant number of youngsters who have progressed to the higher echelons of the sport. Taking just the inaugural final in 1990 it had a fair sprinkling of future British and Irish stars including Karen Mills (Kirk), Vicki Jamison (Kennedy), Kelly McNeice (Neely), Eddie King, and Olympians Paul McKee and John McAdorey not to mention those like Jonny Davis and Judith McVicker who were to make names for themselves in other sports. And interestingly few of them were actually winners on the day!
So who emerged as potential stars from the class of 2014? While the wind played havoc with performances there were still quite a few performances which shone through and promised bigger and better things as the season progresses. Megan Marrs has of course already established herself on the local scene, and in Britain, and she was head and shoulders above the opposition in the 100 metres while big brother Robbie was equally dominant in the High Jump.
North Down’s duo of Saskia Greer and Olivia Cumming were the only girls to break 45 seconds for the 300 metres while in the Boys 400m Ciaran Barnes must be a strong prospect especially when they put 10 flights of hurdles into his one lap journey. Zoe Carruthers looked to be on her way to a comfortable 3000 metres victory but was unable to relax on the last lap due to a strong effort by Omagh’s Toni Moore. Rebecca Douglas had no such problems on the way to a gun to tape 800 metres victory. Olivia Nelson in the Under 15 girls two lap event looked to be clear but eventually succumbed to a fast finishing Enya Haigney (Omagh Harriers).
In the field events Jack McGee (Ballymena and Antrim) and Michael Gaffney (North Down) fought out a fifty metres plus Javelin battle with the former winning by a mere 7 centimetres. In the Under 15 Boys event another North Down athlete Oscar Fannata Yandall was well ahead of his peers with a throw of 34.20 metres. For the Girls it was the Shot Putt which caught the eye (metaphorically) with good wins by Lagan Valleys’s Sarah McGlynn and Lisburn’s Alix Galbraith.
There was a better than usual turn out for the accompanying Senior events on offer and three of our leading Junior sprinters Jonathan Browning (Ballymena and Antrim AC), Christian Robinson and Gareth Thompson (both Lisburn) did their best to defy the strong headwind in the 100 metres, Browning clocking a winning 11.17. In the 800 metres Willowfield’s Andrew Wright warmed up for next weeks schools with a strong final 200 metres to break the tape (again metaphorical) in 1.57.56. A long day for athletes, spectators and officials (some of whom were at Antrim from 8.30am) and so it is on to Round 2 at the same venue on Saturday 24th May 2014.
Full Results: Athletics NI Youth Development League 2014 (Round 1) Results (Photo used above was taken from the City of Lisburn AC facebook page).
Northern Ireland man selected for Irish Relay 'pool':
The Penn Relays will play host to the USA vs. The World Relays on Saturday, April 26th. There is a high quality Irish team set to compete in the event in the exciting men’s Distance Medley Relay (DMR) event. The Irish team consists of Brian Gregan (Clonliffe Harriers AC), Paul Robinson (St Coca’s AC), John Travers (Donore Harriers AC) and John Coghlan (Metro St Brigids AC). *Due to an injury niggle Anthony Lieghio (Tallaght AC) has been replaced on the Irish team by John Travers (Donore Harriers AC)
Gregan and Robinson were members of the 2013 Irish team that competed at the Penn Relays finishing in fifth place in a time of 9.24.10. The DMR relay begins with the 1,200m leg followed by the 400m, 800m and then concludes with the 1,600m final leg.
The Irish team manager for the event will be Br. John Dooley. Irish Team: Brian Gregan (Clonliffe Harriers AC), Paul Robinson (St Coca’s AC), John Travers (Donore Harriers AC), John Coghlan (MSB AC). Support: Br John Dooley
Relay Squad Announcements:
Athletics Ireland is delighted to announce the support for three Irish relay squads for the forthcoming track and field season. Terrie Cahill (Womens 4×100m) and David Gillick (Mens 4×400m) will oversee and assist with the senior teams. Daniel Kilgallon will co-ordinate the junior men’s 4×100m relay squad. The senior teams will target qualification for the European Track and Field Championships in Zurich in August 2014 while the junior men’s squad target will be the World Junior Track and Field Championships in Eugene, Oregon in July 2014.
Identifying the Initial Relay Pools:
For all the relays there will be a pool developed with the intent to choose five or six athletes who will run at the 2014 European Track and Field Championships and World Junior Track and Field Championships.
• The relay pools for the 4×100m may consist of the individuals selected from the men’s and women’s 100m, 200m, hurdle events
• The relay pools for the 4×400m may consist of the individuals selected from the men’s 400m and long hurdle events
• The athletes pre-selected for the pools were considered by the selection factors below:
- 2013/14 Ranking Lists
- Current Form in 2014
- Relay Experience
- Availability and commitment to the relay programme
- Final athlete pool selections and details specifically around additional selections for the relay pools will be released in due course
Further information and details regarding the relay programmes will be published on the HP website in due course. For further information or queries regarding the High Performance relay initiatives please contact the High Performance Director Kevin Ankrom at: [email protected]
Women 4×100m: Technical Lead: Terrie Cahill - Catherine Mc Manus (Celtic DCH), Joan Healy (Bandon AC), Sarah Lavin (UCD AC), Phil Healy (Bandon AC), Louise Kiernan (Fingallians AC), Niamh Whelan (Ferrybank AC), Steph Creaner (Celtic DCH).
Men 4×400m: Assist and Co-ordinate: David Gillick - Brian Gregan (Clonliffe Harriers AC), Jason Harvey (Crusaders AC), Thomas Barr (Ferrybank AC), Timmy Crowe (Dooneen AC), Richard Morrissey (Crusaders AC), Dara Kervick (Carrick on Suir AC), Mark English (UCD AC), Brian Murphy (Crusaders AC).
Junior Men 4×100m: Technical Lead: Daniel Kilgallon - Marcus Lawler (SLOT AC), Zac Irwin (Sligo AC), Keith Doherty (Tallaght AC), Dean Power (Tullamore Harriers), Kieran Elliott (North Sligo AC), Joseph Ojewumi (Tallaght AC), Eoin Doherty (Tallaght AC), Sean Lawler (Donore Harriers).
Article courtesy of Athletics Ireland. Photograph used above taken from BBC Sport website.
Northern Ireland star excels at Virgin Money London Marathon event:
On Sunday 13th April 2014, a team of young local athletes made the journey to compete in the Virgin Money Mini London Marathon. Belfast Royal Academy pupil, Jack Agnew, produced a standout performance to claim victory in the U-14 wheelchair race. He led his category convincingly even passing a few athletes in the U-17 age group along the way to cross the line in 14:31.
His pace was so fast that he managed to reach the finish line ahead of his father who was making his way there from the start by car! Inspired by the London 2012 Paralympics Jack, who was already an avid sportsman, took up wheelchair racing.
In the following years Jack has excelled both on the road and track. Last summer he claimed gold in the Ulster Schools T&F Championships over 100m and 200m, a bronze in the NI & Ulster Senior T&F Championships and gold at the IWA Sport National Junior Athletics Championships. As a member of the Athletics NI Parallel Success training group, Jack has shown the dedication required to produce consistent performances at an international level.
In the associated 3 mile races, the local runners faced tough competition in the form of teams from England, Scotland and Wales. The entire Northern Ireland team done themselves and the province proud. Kian Bittles (Club Unknown) and Olivia Nelson (Club Unknown) led the NI runners home in the U-13 category, running 17:02 and 18:09 respectively; Omagh Harriers' Niamh Heaney also ran well, finishing in 19:05. James Edgar (City of Lisburn AC) and Christy Conlon (Beechmount Harriers) produced top class performances in the U-15 race, with James running 15:10 for 4th place and Christy 15:13 for 5th place. Madison Bowyer (City of Lisburn AC) was the first (U-15) local lady to finish in 18:48. In the U-17 race, Paddy Robb (St Malachy's AC) continued his good form with a 15:32 finish, while Catriona McGloin (Balmoral Harriers) recorded 18:38 for the distance.
John Glover wins well-deserved award (article courtesy of Athletics NI):
On Friday 28th March the annual Belfast Sports Awards took place in the illustrious surrounds of Belfast City Hall. The Awards celebrate the remarkable achievements of local sports people and pay tribute to the efforts of coaches, volunteers, mentors, teachers and parents who help make Belfast a healthy and active city.
Former Athletics NI President, John Glover, was awarded the 'Participation Award' in recognition for the work he has done to create a sporting pathway within Lagan Valley AC. The Award is a fitting acknowledgment of the work that John has done within Lagan Valley AC, guiding children and young adults to long term involvement in sport and physical activity.
On the night the following citation penned by Julie Murphy of Lagan Valley AC was read out...
"Our winner has spent over 50 years in the sport with success as a competitor including winning four Northern Ireland Senior 800 metres titles. Within four years of forming Lagan Valley AC at the Mary Peters Track in 1989 it had 180 active members ranging from eight to eighty. He works tirelessly for the sport and from the beginning has been innovative in his approach promoting winter floodlit meetings, Young athlete summer series, the Lagan Valley Super Five and recently the Lagan Valley trail races and every weekend he can be found handing out medals, collating results, commentating on events and occasionally still competing himself. He is continually recruiting people of all ages and abilities to run and has been known to see people out running and to stop them and invite them to join!"
Note from NiRunning: John is a valued contributor to our website, and not only that, but he is a good friend to many of the team; we would like to express our sincere congratulations to John on this well-deserved award!
Find out more about the Belfast City Awards at www.belfastcity.gov.uk
'Mayhem in the Mist' by Joe McCann (photo taken from NIMRA website):
‘It’s the ‘oul dog for the hard road and the young pups for the wrong pad' says Joe McCann as he provides a special report on how it all went wrong at the Donard Challenge...
Mist, rain, sleet and poor visibility: conditions that would lead to the postponement or abandonment or most sporting events. However, fell runners in general and open-mountain runners in particular are made of sterner stuff and consequently the running of the Donard Challenge, the latest round of the British Championship, was never in doubt.
With more than 270 athletes, the majority from England, Scotland and Wales, registered and all of the competitors accustomed to the unpredictability of the UK weather, a strong field took to the line in Donard Park for a demanding course that would pass over Millstone before climbing to the summit of Donard.
The descent was back through to the quarry to the finish in Donard Park. On any clear day navigation would be a formality, but with visibility as little as 7 feet in places, uncertainty crept in and many of the pre-race favourites drifted off course and ran considerably further than was needed. Despite the fact that all the competitors are competent navigators and were festooned with the mandatory equipment, full body cover, food, map, compass and whistle, many found the conditions challenging to say the least and the result was some highly unexpected results.
The mind Bogles!
International orienteer and highly talented fell runner Allan Bogle from the City of Derry club made the most of the inclement weather and upset many of the favourites from the mainland to record an impressive victory in a very fast 65:25. He had 10 seconds to spare over Carnethy’s Iain Whiteside. Neil Northrop of Dark Peak Fell Runners completed the podium places a further 22 seconds adrift. The top three were followed in quick succession by a stream of runners and a mere 70 seconds separated the top 11 athletes. Bingley’s Rob Jebb, a seasoned competitor and regular visitor to British Championship races in the Mournes had led the field over the top of Donard, summiting in a fantastic time of 42 minutes. He would finish 6th after taking a less direct route home. Lochaber’s Finlay Wild was billed as the pre-race favourite, but alas it was not to be his day and he would finish in 37th place, almost 14 minutes behind the winner. First NI runner was Jonny ‘the Steede’ Steede; the Ballymena AC athlete finishing in a very credible 20th place and like many others taking a ‘scenic’ route from the top to the finish.
Not as predicted for the ladies...
There was also an upset in the ladies’ race with Jacqueline Lee claiming the honours ahead of Emma Gould and Claire Green. Shileen O’Kane was fourth lady overall and first NI lady, beating race favourite Helen Fines who came seventh. The top 8 was completed by Dromore’s Diane Wilson.
A Jumbo performance from Jimbo:
Now that the serious reporting is out of the way we move to the more investigative and artistic journalism that posed the question where did it all go wrong for the locals? Thankfully Bogusboy was present at the finish to ask the tough questions and proffer sympathetic and encouraging words to those who trundled in dejected long after their projected times. First home for Newcastle was evergreen and tactically astute veteran Jim Patterson. A seasoned campaigner of many British Championships, Jim finished as first V60 and also first Newcastle athlete, no mean feat given the pedigree of some of his chums on parade. Such was his delight in his performance that he made his annual pilgrimage out after dark and was indeed spotted in a local socialising venue as the witching hour approached. When questioned by our roving reporter he dryly commented, ‘that’ll do me for another 12 months.’ Unlike many of his team mates he actually means that!!! Next home was Seamus Lynch in 96th place. He huffed and he puffed as he came down the finishing straight, bemused by the fact that he had been unable to utilise all the hard work and training that left him extremely well prepared and very well placed for a good result. Little did he know that some of the ‘big guns’ got just as lost as he did. Bob Brown ran a steady race and came home a little behind Seamus in 119th place.
Any sign of the ‘Big Fella’...
‘Is there still no word of Deon’ was a popular remark as the minutes ticked by and one by one the bewildered runners arrived back, thankful that they were out of the mist and in smelling distance of the stout. Had he tailed off and gone directly home? Surely the man with 9 wins in the Slieve Donard race and one of the greatest runners in NI history had not made a schoolboy error and taken a poor line! And then he came! With typical aplomb and panache he emerged from the forest, grinning and shaking his head, conscious of the diatribe of invective that would greet his arrival. Needless to say it came and, for once, the great man was an also ran, finishing 179th (words I thought I would never type, but am enjoying typing immensely!!!!). It later transpired that this very athlete had organised a seminar called ‘navigation in the Mournes; making sure you never get lost’ which had been well attended and very well received. I am also led to believe that bookings for the second part of the course have slowed down and some are looking for a refund. He was followed home by David Steele, who simply commented, ‘wrong shoes’. While many jumped to the conclusion that the 9 time champion had led him astray, David was quick to blame his misfortune on Mourne runners’ Sam Herron. Both men came hurtling off the top of the mountain and made steady progress downwards until they came out of the dense mist, by which time they were staring at the Bloody Bridge, an apposite title for that particular piece of human engineering in the minds of two weary and exasperated young men! Presumably Lynch, Steele and Herron had attended McNeilly’s navigation course!
Completing the Newcastle contingent was Laurence Hamilton, who unfortunately was just outside the two hour mark for the 6 mile course, averaging a speedy 3 miles per hour!!! Laurence claims to have run at least twice that distance and given that he once led one of his club mates up an additional mountain during the seven sevens few would question him!!! The Newcastle men claim to know the mountains like the back of their hands; pity they were wearing gloves.
It’s not Just Newcastle!!!
Close on their heels was another ‘mountain goat’, namely Pete Grant or P as he is better known in the fell running fraternity. When asked if he had followed Deon and been led astray, he became indignant and wanted it made clear that he is perfectly capable of getting hopelessly lost on his own!!!! All of the athletes took their verbal bashing is good spirit, none more so than Newry City athlete teak-tough Dale Mathers. Dale, a fearless and fearsome competitor, traipsed home in 205th place in 2 hours two minutes to find that his wife Denise had beaten him by 27 minutes and had finished in 107th place overall. When asked about the conditions Dale retorted, ‘it was nice in Rostrevor.’ Methinks he had gone a little further off course than most!!!
All in all a great day of unpredictable racing that was very well organised and extremely well marshalled by the many volunteers within the NI fell running fraternity. To conclude on a serious note, everyone returned safely and most were smiling and not to disappointed about the day’s events. Certainly by the time the band played ‘waltzing Matinda’(and many young men had already carried their pack and discarded their dresses!) in the wee small hours stories had been exaggerated and the race was as etched in folklore as the 1993 Grand National, with McNeilly being compared to Laura’s Beau!!!
Lagan Valley AC announce details of popular annual Series:
The Mary Peters Track will host its first open competition of the 2014 season on Thursday 17th April 2014. The popular Lagan Valley Series, now in its 24th year, is being generously supported by Firmus Energy .
Throughout its history Lagan Valley AC has been at the forefront of providing competition for athletes of all ages with an emphasis on the young and developing athlete. The core idea of the 'Super 5' Series has been to encourage young athletes to ‘have a go’ at a variety of events while also providing competition opportunities for more experienced athletes.
Thursday 17th April 2014 - Download Timetable
Thursday 1st May 2014
Thursday 26th June 2014
Thursday 7th August 2014
Thursday 28th August 2014
Further information regarding the Firmus Energy Super 5 Series can be found at www.laganvalleyac.wordpress.com
Alternative running event set for Derry/Londonderry on St Patrick's weekend:
NI Orienteering will welcomed Ireland’s best orienteers to the City centre to compete for selection for this summer’s World Orienteering Championships in Italy. Orienteering is a sport where competitors use a map to complete a pre-set course in the fastest possible time.
Normally orienteering takes place in forests or mountain sides however there is a relatively new discipline called Sprint Orienteering that uses park or urban terrain. Courses are a lot shorter than regular orienteering taking only about 15minutes to complete- however this means athletes need to be running at full speed and they can’t afford to make any navigational mistakes at all as competitors can be separated by fractions of seconds in the final results. Sunday’s event is a part of a full weekend of orienteering in the North West. On Saturday races will be held on Binevenagh mountain close to Limavady and on St. Patrick’s Day there will be an event in St. Columb’s Park.
It is not only elite orienteers that will enjoy this weekend’s events. Throughout the weekend over 100 competitors will take part to see how close their times are to the country’s top orienteering stars. There were also non-competitive participants who were just there to enjoy a nice walk around our historic city. Ages ranged from 0 – 75! Orienteering is a sport that can be enjoyed by people of all ages and abilities. The NI Orienteering organises events throughout the year and newcomers all always welcome. More information can be found at www.niorienteering.org.uk
NI man Stephen Maguire announced as 'head of power' at British Athletics (courtesy of British Athletics):
British Athletics have today announced that Stephen Maguire has been appointed to the post of Head of Power – sprints and sprint hurdles. Maguire’s role marks the second of three key appointments after Barry Fudge was announced as British Athletics’ Head of Endurance in December. The final appointment of Head of Jumps, Throws and Combined events will complete the three specialist roles reporting to British Athletics’ Performance Director Neil Black.
Maguire will remain in his current post as Head Coach at Scottish Athletics until the conclusion of the Commonwealth Games, after which he will assume responsibility for all sprint events.
Based at the British Athletics Performance Institute at Loughborough, Maguire will work closely with the sprint coaches and athletes and will also support event development through the event groups and Home Countries. Commenting on the appointment, Neil Black said: "I am delighted to be welcoming Stephen to the British team set up. His work developing the sport is Scotland has been exceptional and he can now continue that on a UK wide basis.
"Of course it is important to both British Athletics and Scottish Athletics that Stephen continues to focus on the Scottish team through to the Commonwealth Games. We already work closely with Stephen in his current role and that will continue over the coming months so that we are in really good shape when he joins us.
"I'm particularly proud that we have effectively recruited for this senior role from within British athletics - part of our 'growing our own' philosophy. We have worked with our colleagues at Scottish Athletics to ensure that Stephen is available to support his replacement and continue the programme that is having such outstanding success.
Maguire added: "This is a fantastic opportunity for me to work with the British team. There is so much talent in British sprinting at the moment, both athletes and coaches, and I'm looking forward to working alongside them as we head towards Rio.
“We’ve started something in the past two years in Scotland and I would hope that there are now frameworks in place, which will help continue that. What is certain is that there are some highly talented and motivated Scottish athletes at the moment.
Scottish Athletics Chief Executive Nigel Holl said: "I am disappointed from a Scottish Athletics point of view because Stephen has made an excellent impact as Director of Coaching. “But I am personally delighted for Stephen as he moves to some exciting opportunities ahead with British Athletics but of course for us it is a new chapter.
British Athletics’ overriding objective of the World Class Performance Programme is to win more medals at Rio 2016 across the Olympics and Paralympics than any other British sport.
Irish Schools XC Championships 2014, by Athletics Ireland:
Siofra Cleirigh Buttner (Colaiste Iosagain) and Andrew Coscoran (St Mary’s Drogheda) won the senior races on a thrilling day of cross country running at the Aviva All Ireland Schools Cross Country Championships in Cork CIT on Saturday 8th March 2014.
For Cleirigh Buttner it was an historic sixth straight All Ireland Schools title as she romped to victory in a time of 10:34, her Colaiste Iosagain team mate Sarah Mhaolmhuire finished second in a time of 10:43 and Deirdre Healy (Dublin Institute) surprised many to finish third in a time of 10:52. Ursiline Thurles won the team title with a score of 49 points with Colaiste Iosagain 2nd on 53 points and Loreto Kilkenny 3rd (69 points).
Commenting afterwards Cleirigh Buttner said “I am delighted with that; it’s never been done before (6 all Ireland titles) so I am really happy. Next for me is the Athletics Ireland warm weather training camp and then the build up to the World Juniors in Oregan.”
Coscoran and school mate Aaron Hanlon battled it out for the senior boy’s title with the two athletes locked together for the majority of the 6,500m race. Coscoran continued to apply the pressure and won the senior title in a time of 21:58, three seconds ahead of Hanlon in second (22:01). Commenting afterwards Corscoran said “I am really happy with that, I thought Aaron was going to pull away. I just dug in for as long as I could and managed to get the win. I am going to target the 1500m and maybe the 3k steeplechase on the track next.”
Track specialist David Harper (Rice College Westport) finished a fine third place in the individual race in a time of 22:35. He also had the added bonus of leading his school to the team title with a score of 84 points. St. Fintan’s Sutton finished second on 117 points and St. Malachy’s, Belfast third on 125 points. Kevin Mulcaire (St Flannan’s, Ennis) dominated the Inter boy’s race with a gun to tape victory. Mulcaire, the defending champion raced out to an early lead and never looked back as he coasted to victory in a time of 17:33. There was a big battle for the minor positions with Shane Hughes (Colaiste Mhuire Mullingar) finishing second (17:50) just ahead of Barry Keane (St Declan’s) on the same time in third.
Mulcaire led St Flannan’s to the team title with a score of 66 points ahead of St. Aidan’s CBS second on 68 points and Rathmore GS third on 122 points. Rhona Pierce (Skerries CC) and Clodagh O’Reilly (Loreto College, Cavan) were the early leaders in the girl’s intermediate race. Both athletes took turns at the front of the field until Pierce upped the intensity and pace over the last lap and won the title in a time of 14:04. O’Reilly finished second in a time of 14:14 with Fiona Everard (Maria Immaculata CC) third in a time of 14:20. Skerries CC won the team title with a score of 40 points ahead of Dominican College, Wicklow on 60 points and Rathmore G.S third on 100 points. Paddy Maher (Dunshaughlin CC) was a runaway winner of the junior boy’s title in a time of 12:24 ahead of James Maguire (St Benildus, Dublin) second in a time of 12:45 with Niall Harvey (Presentation Carlow) third in a time of 12:57.
There was a great three way battle between Caoimhe Harrington (Colaiste Pobail, Bheanntrai), Jodie McCann (Rathdown Glenageary) and Nicola Duffy (St Peter’s Dunboyne). Harrington proved the stronger as she won the title in a time of 10:44 with McCann second in a time of 10:47 and Duffy third in a time of 10:55. Sarah Healy (Holy Child Killiney) won the minor girl’s race in a time of 7:48, which put her 21 seconds clear of Olivia Nelson (Strathearn School, Belfast) (8:09) and Tamzin Muldowney (St Mary’s Midleton) third in a time of 8:12. Sean Corry (Omagh Christian Brothers) won the minor boy’s race in a time of 9:39 with Darragh McElhinney (Colaiste Pobail, Bheanntrai) second in a time of 9:52 and Oisin Lyons (Calasanctius College) third in a time of 10:03.
Schools Hoodie’s: Unfortunately due to a mis-understanding on dates the event hoodie’s were only available for sale towards the end of the day. The hoodie’s can still be purchased by emailing [email protected] with your order.
Queen's 5k 'Race Round the River' 2014:
Queen’s University has announced a prize fund of £1,600 for participants in this year’s Powerade 5k Race around the River.
The Race, which is a popular event for those undertaking the Titanic 10k and Belfast Marathon, is taking place on Wednesday 2nd April 2014 at 7:00pm. Based along the River Lagan, it covers two laps around the King’s Bridge and Ormeau Bridge, with Queen’s Physical Education Centre (PEC) acting as the HQ for pre and post-race requirements.
This year, the first 500 entries will receive a Queen's 5k branded t-shirt, with each participant receiving a bottle of River Rock or Powerade after the race.
Last year’s winner Stephen Scullion completed the race in 14:27 and is hoping for another quick time this year. Commenting on his success, Stephen said: “This Race allows you to challenge your personal best on a fast and exciting course around the River Lagan, and the atmosphere is always great on the night.“
Stephen Prentice, Captain of Queen’s Athletics Club, said “Our Club and Queen’s Sport have put a lot of effort into planning this year’s race and with a prize fund of £1,600 up for grabs, along with a specially branded Queen’s 5k T-shirt for the first 500 entrants, we expect the demand for entries to be even higher.”
Connor McCready from Coca-Cola HBC and title sponsor Powerade, added: “We are proud to continue our partnership with Queen’s Sport by supporting the Powerade Queen’s 5k Race and are delighted with the ongoing success of this event. As a company we wish to encourage our communities to live a healthy and active lifestyle, and this is one of a number of sporting initiatives we are working on, in partnership with Queen’s Sport and the University Development Office. We are committed to developing the talent of the future, as well as the sports stars of today. We recognise the 5k as an important community sporting event and hope the number of participants continues to grow.”
For more information on the race, entry fees and the course visit www.queenssport5k.com, follow us @Queen_5k or on facebook.com/queenssport5k.
North Antrim Firm Continue Support for Ballymena Runners:
North Antrim Food Suppliers, Glens of Antrim Potatoes were only too happy to announce their continued sponsorship of Ballymena Runners Glenariff Mountain Race this month. The local company have supported this race since its inception and this will be the thirteenth year that the local running club has been lucky enough to clinch the deal with the local company.
This year the sponsorship continues with category winners receiving small cash prizes and all those entering will have the added bonus of a complimentary bag of Glens of Antrim potatoes! On line information on the firm can be found at www.goapotatoes.co.uk
The Ballymena Runners event continues to grow in popularity each year as it attracts new runners to the sport of mountain running. This year the event forms part of the Northern Ireland Mountain Running Championship and will attract mountain runners from across the province. The race itself takes place on Saturday 15th March 2014, starting in Waterfoot where the action starts off in the North Antrim Village and heads inland along the Glenariff riverside for approximately 2 miles before starting a 1,100ft climb up the southern face of a section of Glenariff Glen. Once at the turn at the top competitors will retrace their steps back to the finish back in Waterfoot. The race covers around six miles in total. The majority of the course uses sections of the Ulster Way and will be well marked and marshalled throughout.
Acton gets under way at 12 noon with registration in St Patrick’s Primary School, Waterfoot. Registration fees are set at £5 and £6 for attached/unattached runners respectively. For any further information contact Jonny Steede 0773 801 6363.
No Fuss Transport to the Deep RiverRock Belfast City Marathon on Monday 5th May 2014:
Have you entered the 2014 Deep RiverRock Belfast City Marathon and are beginning to panic about where you will park? Maybe you are entering several relay teams and are unsure where you can meet everyone?
The organisers then, in partnership with Official Transport Partner Translink, have set up a brand new Park & Ride system operating from 5 key areas across Northern Ireland to help you arrive to the start area stress free and more importantly, on time!
Following research on maximum participation numbers in the event, five key towns have been selected for the first year to trial the scheme. All journeys will include a return fare as well as a special Marathon discount on the ticket price.
Roy Sloan, Translink Service Delivery Manager said, “As official transport partner for the Deep RiverRock Belfast City Marathon, we are pleased to deliver this new Park & Ride service following requests from race participants and would encourage anyone looking for a convenient and reliable service to consider this new Park & Ride option.”
This latest development supports Translink’s ‘Life’s better’ campaign that aims to encourage more people to choose passenger transport and enjoy all the lifestyle benefits it can bring such as cost-savings, convenience and more relaxing journeys – click www.translink.co.uk/lifesbetter for details.’ The chosen towns for the first year include Bangor, Lurgan, Lisburn, Ballymena and Antrim. All participants are guaranteed to arrive no later than 8am at the City Hall and departing buses will leave from Ormeau Embankment (Finish Area) at 1.30pm
The Deep RiverRock Belfast City Marathon is proud to work with sponsors such as Podium 4 Sport, Translink, Daily Mirror, ASICS, Randox Health, U105, Tayto, Athletics Northern Ireland and Belfast City Council.
If you would like to raise money for charity, we would encourage you to help our official charity, CLIC Sargent Northern Ireland, who are a leading cancer charity for children and young people. All monies raised by Deep RiverRock Belfast City Marathon participants will go directly to CLIC Sargent’s NI Homes from Home Appeal and will stay in Northern Ireland. For more information please contact CLIC Sargent directly on 0845 602 4770 / [email protected]
For further information on this press release please contact:
Claire O’Reilly, Event Manager, Belfast City Marathon on: 077 9981 0473
Conor Toland, Event Assistant, Belfast City Marathon on: 078 2692 6777
Deep RiverRock Belfast City Half Marathon launched:
Following the success of the inaugural Deep RiverRock Belfast City Half Marathon in 2013, the organisers have decided to make this an annual occurrence, and this morning (Thursday 20th February 2014) they launched their second event which will take place on Sunday 14th September 2014.
The event is an extension of the hugely popular Deep RiverRock Belfast City Marathon, which enjoys its 33rd running this year on Monday 5th May 2014.
Danny O’Connor, Chairman of the Deep RiverRock Belfast City Marathon organising committee, commented: “We were overwhelmed with the participant numbers of our first half marathon event in 2013 and due to this success we are delighted to announce we will hold the Deep RiverRock Belfast City Half Marathon on an annual basis.
For the 2014 event, we have chosen to start and finish at the same location, due to its shorter timescale, so have chosen the King’s Hall Pavilion site at Balmoral. This site lends itself to easy access for both motorways along with plenty of car parking spaces, making it easier for participants and spectators alike. Our route will again showcase the city of Belfast by passing major landmarks including Queen’s University, Belfast City Hall, Albert Clock and the Titanic Quarter.” Danny remarked. “To celebrate the success, we have a brand new website for our Deep RiverRock Belfast City Half Marathon, so I urge everyone interested to visit this today and sign up at www.belfastcityhalfmarathon.net”
Launching the new Deep RiverRock Belfast City Half Marathon, the Lord Mayor, Mairtin O Muilleoir, said: “Half marathons are hugely popular events, and I congratulate the organisers of the Belfast City Marathon on taking this step. As a keen runner I am delighted that our city will host another great running event and I am sure it will be hugely successful, with both local runners and those from further afield, and I wish everyone involved all the best for September.”
Rob Crabbe, Island of Ireland Sponsorship Manager continued: “In 2013 we were delighted to be title sponsor of the first Deep RiverRock Belfast City Half Marathon and were thrilled with the huge numbers of participants and level of commitment shown by each individual on the day. Deep RiverRock are once again delighted to be continuing the title sponsorship of this event and we look forward to meeting the hydration needs of the runners, during their training for the event and at the Deep RiverRock Belfast City Half Marathon!”
Teresa Sloan, Appeal Director with CLIC Sargent, said: “The Deep RiverRock Belfast City Half Marathon promises to be yet another fantastic event and one that is sure to be well supported. CLIC Sargent is delighted to have been selected as the event’s official charity. 2014 is a big year for the charity, as we have recently opened Northern Ireland’s first ever ‘Home from Home’ for families of young children undergoing cancer treatments at the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children and are working towards developing a second Home from Home specifically designed for teenagers and young adults which will be located in close proximity to the City Hospital. So, if you’re interested in getting involved in the 2014 half marathon, why not do it and ‘Run for Home’ for CLIC Sargent? Your training and fundraising efforts will leave a lasting legacy for children and young people with cancer in Northern Ireland”.
The new Deep RiverRock Belfast City Half Marathon will start and finish at the King’s Hall. Details of the exact route can be found on the new website. Online entry is available now at www.belfastcityhalfmarathon.net
Walled City Marathon warm up events set to take place:
The Walled City Marathon (1st June 2014) may well be still some time away but training no doubt is ongoing for all budding runners. Indeed, the evidence is there for all in the city and district to see every day as preparation picks up ahead of the big day which awaits in June.
An incentive for the runners will be the upcoming warm up races, the SSE-Airtricty 10k and 10 mile events set for Sunday 9th March 2014 and Sunday 27th April 2014. Both will start and finish in the iconic Ebrington Square, starting at 11am and taking in sections of the actual Marathon route.
Entries will be taken on the day of each race between 9am and 10 30am at Ebrington Square, but it is possible to pre-enter online and pick up the race pack, and pay the entry fees of £8 (10k) and £10 (10m ) on race morning at Ebrington Square. Simply email your name, age on race day, telephone contact and t-shirt size to [email protected]
There is also an incentive to take on both races, as everyone who enters and pays for both races on Sunday 9th March 2014 will be guaranteed a special commemorative t-shirt; too good an offer to miss out on, so you know what to do!
Remember these races are also open to all runners and joggers and not confined to the Walled City Marathon entrants!! The 10k course will take in the Waterside Greenway, Peace Bridge, Foyle Greenway and Bay Road Park and you must be aged 16 or over on race day to take part. The 10 mile route will extend to take in the Foyle Bridge plus a loop out and back on Foyle Road before returning via the Peace Bridge to the finish in Ebrington Square. The minimum age for the 10 miler is 17 years on race day.
Keep Hydrated while training with MY ASICS:
Sports Performance Brand ASICS, official partner of Deep RiverRock Belfast City Marathon are urging all participants to set their training plan now with MY ASICS to ensure they reach the finish line injury-free on Monday 5th May 2014.
MY ASICS is a free online service that helps you achieve your running goals. So whether you are running the full marathon, participating in the team relay or competing in the Fun Run with your family and friends, the individual training plan covers all these distances.
You can log your runs, find useful information and communicate and share your progress with other runners who might be running beside you on Race Day. To download the free app, click http://www.belfastcitymarathon.com/get-training
“We are delighted to provide this training app to all participants in this year’s event to support each of you in the build up to reaching the finish line,” says Rebecca Tredant, ASICS UK and Ireland Event Manager. So now you have the app, you must keep yourself hydrated. As title sponsor of the event, Deep RiverRock’s current advertising campaign – “When You Can’t Think Straight…Hydrate” – Centres on the importance of hydration in preventing a decline in mental and physical performance, which athletes are acutely aware of.
“Each year, we as sponsors are overwhelmed by the dedication and commitment of marathon participants and find inspiration in particular in the stories shared by each years chosen charity. Deep RiverRock Belfast City Marathon is a key platform for us to communicate the importance of hydration, especially as part of your training in the lead up to Monday 5th May.” Orla McKenna, Deep RiverRock Brand Manager.
To sign up to the 2014 Deep RiverRock Belfast City Marathon, please go online at www.belfastcitymarathon.com or alternatively contact the Marathon Office on 028 9060 5933. The Deep RiverRock Belfast City Marathon is proud to work with sponsors such as Podium 4 Sport, Translink, Daily Mirror, ASICS, Randox Health, U105, Tayto, Athletics Northern Ireland and Belfast City Council.
If you would like to raise money for charity, we would encourage you to help our official charity, CLIC Sargent Northern Ireland, who are a leading cancer charity for children and young people. All monies raised by Deep RiverRock Belfast City Marathon participants will go directly to CLIC Sargent’s NI Homes from Home Appeal and will stay in Northern Ireland. For more information please contact CLIC Sargent directly on 0845 602 4770 / [email protected]
For further information on this press release please contact:
Claire O’Reilly, Event Manager, Belfast City Marathon on: 077 9981 0473
Conor Toland, Event Assistant, Belfast City Marathon on: 078 2692 6777
Caption – (L-R) Robert Crabbe, Event Manager Deep RiverRock, Clare Houston, Event Team Member Deep RiverRock, Conor Toland, Event Assistant Belfast City Marathon and Orla McKenna, Brand Manager Deep RiverRock encourage everyone to get hydrated at this year’s event on Monday 5th May 2014.
parkrun, more than just a run in the park:
They say that running is a recession sport, well almost a decade after parkrun started in the UK it has finally taken off in Ireland. It started back in London in 2004 when an injured runner, Paul Sinton-Hewitt, used a timed weekly run in a park to help him keep involved with his running friends. The time trial for a few friends quickly grew into a matter of months into a recreational run for hundreds of people.
Word spread and the organisers were asked to help other running enthusiasts to set up mirror events across the UK. The principals of parkrun are to create free weekly 5km runs that are open to all and also build on and extend communities. These simple pillars had helped parkrun spread across the globe; currently there are over 350 events worldwide with over 500,000 runners registered.
The parkrun organisers now have a template that can be implemented in almost any location with virtually no barriers to setting up an event explained Matt Shields, parkrun coordinator for the republic of Ireland. There is an initial set up cost for an event, of which parkrun pays half and the organisers need to source the rest themselves. Once an event is set up parkrun will sustain the event for the future; there won’t be any financial burden on organisers after set up, hence events are free for participation.
“The thing about parkruns is that they are not like a race, in-fact, race and winner are two words we never use because there is no such thing as a winner at a parkrun and there is no such thing as a race; the only race you have is with yourself. You push yourself as hard or as easy as you want to go. You make it what you want it, if you are racing anything it’s your own time,“ says Matt. “We always have a social aspect after the run. We like it if people stay around for a cup of coffee after. We encourage people to hang around to meet like-minded people and maybe find training partners they can go running with during the week. So it’s very community-based and quite sociable; it’s a totally different atmosphere to races and thus attracts people who may just like to run and not race.”
Matt believes the parkrun can also act as a stepping stone for those who want to get into running in a more competitive way. Matt says that any running clubs that gets involved in the parkrun will find that over time the event will bring new members to their clubs, which is often difficult with some many sports competing for members. “parkrun does a lot for the clubs that engage with it; it may not bring in any Olympians, but there will be all sorts of officials. If you get 50 new people in, they will have all kinds of skill-sets.”
parkrun in Ireland:
The first event to start in the Republic was in Malahide in November 2010, and in a few months there will be 12 events operating across the republic of Ireland and 17 in Northern Ireland. Matt has helped launch all events after setting up the first event on the island of Ireland in Belfast. “I got roped in via my running club. We thought this would be an asset to our club, I was right. Once we got involved and experienced the community spirit we were won over by parkrun.”
With respect to family participation, Matt says the pattern usually is that the event is initially very attractive to women, who then start to bring their children along and finally they drag the husband along. “Initially you get lots of women coming along, they appreciate the athletic and social aspect. However if you give an event a year, you will then see lots and lots of families with extended families coming along too, in some cases it’s almost replacing the traditional family outings.”
Some people tell Matt that at the run it’s the only time in the week that they get to see their whole family. “I’ve heard a number of grandparents saying parkrun is great for us because we see the whole family in one go, on a Saturday morning,” says Matt who added that then they all go their own separate ways with their busy lives. “It’s the one time in the week when they can all get together and do something healthy.”
The first Ardgillan parkrun is set to take place on February 8th this year, I spoke with Paul Bissett one of the people who’s getting the Ardgillan run set up with the aid of parkrun.ie - Paul says he did the Malahide run last year and loved the idea and enjoyed the community atmosphere created around the event. Paul felt that the park in Ardgillan would be a great location for a parkrun and so he got to work getting the event set up.
Permission was required from the local council to use the location and selecting a route for the parkrun. The set up costs for insurance, computer equipment for timing events, flags for plotting the course and website are around 6,000 euro explains Paul and parkrun fund half of that which left a sizeable sum for the crew to raise via bag packing, sponsorship of marathon runners and sponsorship from local businesses. Paul says the event needs around ten volunteers to help marshal and run the event each week, so a large group of people are needed to create a roster of helpers. “If there are two hundred people running each week then they can volunteer once in a while to help run the event,” said Paul.
Paul describes himself as a social runner. He got involved in the sport after doing a Ray Darcy run and now he’s helping to organise the Ardgillan run. Remember, every parkrun is every week. Why not check out parkrun.ie to find your local event or perhaps you could even set up your own local event. The Malahide park run starts at 9.20 a.m. with a pre-run briefing to explain how things work to newcomers and go through any course changes. The run kicks off at 9.30 a.m. and finishers start coming through from 16 minutes onwards. The final walkers usually come through after 50 mins. Afterwards most people go into the Avoca cafe on site for tea or breakfast.
Entire article, including photograph, taken from Epoch Times website.
Skyrunning UK announce new race:
It’s no easy task… 15-peaks all over 900m (3,000ft) in 55-km’s. This is the challenge that awaits those who are brave enough to join the journey of the Welsh 3000’s in the V3K Ultra; the new addition to the Skyrunning UK calendar and the Skyrunner® Series UK.
Skyrunning UK embraces tough and technical challenges; the V3K with over 4000m’s of vertical gain is exactly what a Skyrunning race in the UK should be. Where earth meets sky is our ethos and the Welsh 3000’s will provide this in abundance.
Kirsch Bowker, RD for the V3K explains, “It’s an incredible and exciting opportunity. I have followed Skyrunning for the last couple of years. The launch of the Skyrunner® Series UK is a significant moment and to be involved right from the start is quite incredible for us.” This range of mountains provides an absolute classic point-to-point race, starting withSnowdon and finishing with Foel Fras, arguably the toughest section will be Crib Goch. The route will involve scrambling, hand-on-knees climbing and it certainly isn’t a route for those who may be scared of heights. “The route has been my life, I have covered this route time and time again. I adore it,”said Bowker “The idea for the race has been a long-term project. I undertook this with two friends; unfortunately one of those friends has now passed away so this race is a tribute. I know the mountains personally.”
Iain Ridgway, an experienced International mountain fell and ultra runner had this to say, “Superb, it’s about time the Welsh 3000’s received some serious attention, this will generate more interest in a challenge to Colin Donnelly’s record (set in 1988), which is up there with the Bob Graham as one of the all time great UK mountain records. The route has it all from fast running to really technical rough terrain. It must rank as some of the most technical terrain covered by a UK mountain race.”
“The hardest section is down Crib y Ddysgl and then the ascent of Crib Goch and traverse of its pinnacles. That’s followed by almost 2500ft descent to Nant Peris and soon after a 3000ft ascent of Elidir which is a long drag,” Iain says with an obvious excitement about the route “later on you have a steep unrelenting 2000ft descent ofTryfan followed by an immediate re-ascent of 2000ft Pen Yr Ole Wen and then fast running over the Carneddau, so those who cope with those and have good legs from then on will do well.”
The V3K is unique as a UK route because of its successive 2-3000ft ascents and descents (plus many smaller ones). It is going to test each and every participant.
Are you up to the challenge?
Join us on the start line of the V3K Ultra, June 28th, 2014. Enter HERE
Race date: 28th June 2014
Elevation: 4000m +/-
Race venue: Nant Gwynant
Race website: http://www.vegan-welsh-3000s.co.uk/#/v3k/4574002192
Get involved with Skyrunning UK:
Email: [email protected]
What does this have to do with NiRunning, you may ask?
Well, NiRunning's Ryan Maxwell is part of the Skyrunning UK athlete commission, which includes respected athletes Ricky Lightfoot, Andy Symonds, Anna Lupton, Tom Owens and Ben Adelnoor (read about it HERE).
On top of this, there has been huge interest in Skyrunning, both the well-establish World Series and the new Skyrunning UK events, from athletes in Northern Ireland. We spoke to Aaron Shim, who has entered the first Skyrunning UK event, the 3x3 Ultra in Keswick, England – He said “I have been watching the Skyrunning Series for a while now, so the thought of a National Series is really exciting. I have entered the 3x3000 80k Ultra Trail which happens on Saturday 4th October 2014 in the Lake District. I will likely enter more events once the full calendar is released, although a few of us are quietly hoping for a Northern Irish Skyrunning event. We have some of the best trails in the UK, and it would be great to have the best of the best here competing for the Skyrunning national title.'
Justin Maxwell, who competed in the World Skyrunner Series in 2013 (Transvulcania 83k Ultra, Zegama Marathon, Marathon du Mont Blanc and Matterhorn Ultraks 46k Ultra), added: “The addition of V3k event to the Skyrunning UK calendar is fantastic. With 15 peaks over 3000 feet high its certainly a tough one. Reviewing the course, I feel that this welsh race is similar in terrain to some of the World Series events that I have competed in, without the altitude. The amount of ascent (4000 metres over 55k) and the technical rugged descents are very similar to the Zegama-Aizkorri Marathon in the Basque region of Northern Spain, which has about 2700m of ascent over 42k. UK athletes Robb Jebb and Tom Owens have both had successful races there. I am excited by the opportunity to race this type of course, closer to home.
I have noticed a big increase in the popularity of Skyrunning in Northern Ireland, you only have to look at the entries going in for the recently announced UK events and some of their online forums to see that a lot of the chat is coming for NI based competitors. That coupled with the desire and enthusiasm of local runners and mountain running clubs to compete in, and organise trips to, some of the classic European Skyrunning events, such as Zegama, Mont Blanc, Matterhorn Ultraks and Limone Extreme shows a massive increase in popularity for the sport here. I believe that both the V3k and the 3x 3000 80k Ultra trail event will suit anyone who has experience in our own Mourne Mountains. I foresee a few reps of Slieve Donard and long days in the mountains this Spring and summer.”
Respected mountain runner, Richard Bell, has also experienced the atmosphere of a Skyrunning event, having completed the Limone Extreme Skyrace in Italy last year (2013). When we asked Richard what Skyrunning meant to him, he replied, “To me Skyrunning is about testing yourself in inspirational places; it is big race razzmatazz and adventure; it is about a different type of running in the clouds with 'oh my' climbs and pulse quickening terrain; in short, c'est magique!” - You can check out Richard race review of the Limone Extreme Skyrace HERE.
Mourne Way Marathon is Northern Ireland 'Best Challenge' event:
One of the most popular events in the Mournes, the Mourne Way Marathon, has been voted the ‘Best Challenge Event’ in Northern Ireland in the Outdoor NI.com Awards in association with Surf Mountain.
The winners of the OutdoorNI.com Awards were determined by 1,500 public votes which were sent in over the month of December through the OutdoorNI Facebook page with the Mourne Way Marathon receiving over a third of all votes.
“To win the Best Challenge Event award is such a fantastic achievement for me and for the event which is now in its sixth year,” said Ian Cummings of Mourne Way organisers 26 Extreme.
“We were up against some very popular events this year so it’s great to have our Mourne Way Marathon recognised as the best in Northern Ireland. We believe that a combination of aspects set our event apart such as offering a variety of race distances, a dedicated support team on the day and simply unparalleled scenery here in the Mournes.”
Article taken from the Newry Reporter. Photograph by NiRunning (Northern Ireland Running).
Skyrunning UK announce the 3x3 Ultra:
A new year and what better way to start than with the announcement of the first race in the new Skyrunning UK ‘Skyrunner® National Series’ – the ‘3x3 Ultra’ by High Terrain Events. Over 4000m (13,000ft) of ascent await participants of the 3x3Ultra. “It’s an opportunity to cover three classic Lakeland peaks in an accumulative distance of 80km’s”, says High Terrain Events race director, Ian Mulvey.
Salomon athlete, Ricky Lightfoot (IAU World Trail Champion 2013 and Otter course record holder) has been instrumental in combining his skills and knowledge in designing a course that will bring Skyrunning UK an event that ultimately will create the perfect flagship for the Skyrunner® National Series (SNS) within the UK. Based on the classic ‘Lakes 3000’s’ the 80km route will include Scafell Pike, Helvellyn and Skiddaw. An amazing circular route over the best mountains available within the UK, it promises to be a tough challenge.
Lauri van Houten, executive director for the International Skyrunning Federation (ISF) has been instrumental in providing the backing and support to enable Skyrunning UK to become a reality. When asked about Skyrunning in the UK, Lauri had this to say:
“Some of the world’s top athletes come from the UK! Andy Symonds, Tom Owens, Ricky Lightfoot, Robbie Simpson, Tessa Hill, Anna Lupton and past SWS (Skyrunner World Series) Champions Angela Mudge and Rob Jebb... British races are known for being tough and challenging. Skyrunning captures the spirit and tough technical challenges runners are looking for today. That’s the ‘feel’ we’d like to bring to the UK.”
The race route combines all the elements of a classic Lakeland run with aspects of European racing. “Skyrunning UK offers a great opportunity, we already have the main ingredients; technical terrain, beautiful mountains and hills” said Tom Owens (UK based Salomon athlete).
“The UK has brilliant and committed athletes who love racing. We may not have the required altitude that a Skyrunning race would require in Europe but this is compensated for with the amount and steepness of climb that we can accumulate over distance, the 3x3Ultra is a great example of this.”
No stranger to Skyrunning, Salomon International athlete, Andy Symonds has performed with the best-of-the-best all over Europe, his podium finish at Transvulcania La Palma in 2012 a particular highlight also offered his approval of the 3x3Ultra:
"Skyrunning is about running high up on rough ground. Getting up, over and along big mountains with big views. The 3x3Ultra does just that and it's great to see it finalized on the all new Skyrunning UK calendar, it’s an exciting time". The Skyrunner® National Series will bring a new race series to the UK. Made up of five races in each category (Sky and Ultra), runners will accumulate ranking points by competing in at least three out of five races over the SkyRace® and Ultra SkyMarathon® distances. Respective male and female winners of the ‘SNS’ in 2015 will be rewarded with the ultimate prize; not only they will they be crowned champions of the ‘SNS’ but they will also receive the opportunity to race in the final of the Skyrunner® World Series.
Ian Corless, director for Skyrunning UK has been working for months in conjunction with the ISF Athlete Commission to bring this moment to fruition, “It’s about progression and development. Having witnessed Skyrunning from every level for the past 2-years and seen the growth, the excitement, the opportunities; to not be part of this in the UK would be a shame. The sport is growing at all levels. In time I hope we will have a series of UK based Skyrunning teams similar to the model that inov-8 have created. A Skyrunning National Series will provide not only a great structure for the sport but it will also provide a springboard for UK athletes to race in other countries but equally, we hope to attract foreign athletes to race on home soil. The announcement of the 3x3Ultra clearly states our intentions for what a Skyrunning event should be in the UK.”
Lauri van Houten continues, “The only setback has been the difficulty in finding the right person to represent Skyrunning in the UK and bring it in line with other countries. It’s been hard to find a replacement but Ian Corless has embodied that and with his contacts and know-how we’re confident he’ll pull a great movement together.”
The stage is set for the 3x3Ultra. Ian Mulvey, race director for the 3x3Ultra explained his thoughts and vision: “It will showcase what we have to offer in the UK and hopefully attract international runners enabling the top UK athletes to race against the world's best on their home terrain.”
When asked about the benefits Skyrunning will bring to the UK race circuit, Ian replied: “Having raced in Europe I can see the potential of bringing Skyrunning to the UK. In terms of raising the profile of UK ultra running, I think this will take ultra running to the next level and give us recognition on an international scale. Now is the perfect time for this type of event, runners are looking for tougher challenges to strive for. Being part of the Skyrunning UK series I hope will raise the profile of the event and attract international athletes.”
Seize the opportunity now and sign up for what will become an iconic Skyrunning UK event: Enter online HERE.
Race date: 4th October 2014
Elevation: 4000m +/-
Race venue: Keswick, Cumbria.
Race website: www.highterrainevents.co.uk/24.html
Event flyer: www.highterrainevents.co.uk/resources/3x3+ultra.pdf
Get involved with Skyrunning UK:
Email: [email protected]
Remembering Jimmy Nolan (1943-2014), by North Belfast Harriers:
Jimmy Nolan (16 April 1943 – 1 January 2014), a much-loved and long standing member of North Belfast Harriers (NBH), died on New Year’s Day after a lengthy illness. Best known in his later years as the lead junior coach for NBH, Jimmy served the club and the community for more than a quarter-century in capacities including Chair, Secretary, Welfare Officer, the committee that organized the building of the clubhouse in 2004, Waterworks Parkrun participant and volunteer, volunteer with Newtownabbey Racers (a special needs club), and encouraging athletes and volunteers of all ages and abilities.
In 2012 Jimmy was recognised as the 2012 Athletics Northern Ireland Volunteer of the Year and his work was instrumental in NBH receiving awards as the 2013 Athletics Northern Ireland Junior Club of the Year and the 2011 Athletics Northern Ireland Senior Club of the Year.
Jimmy was an ever-present face in the clubhouse, and in his retirement he volunteered at a minimum at least 12 hours a week of his time for little rewards other than the smiley faces of the children that he loved to see. Jimmy enjoyed the social side of running and was one of NBH’s ‘Oul Hands’ along with Sammy Gallagher, Eddie Delaney, Norman Ritchie and Billy Bell, to name but a few. Jimmy made lifelong friendships with these and many more. He regularly went on trips to watch the seniors and vets race, and experienced many of Sammy’s famous trips abroad. All were pledged to secrecy and didn’t discuss anything that happened whilst away. (Sounds masonic?!)
Jimmy was always a practical joker and even came dressed as a woman on one of his first club do’s. His sense of fun extended to organising activity days with the junior athletes. In 2012 at the Belfast Activity Centre Belvoir, Jimmy oversaw more than 70 children, and led by example, climbing on the high platforms, and caving and canoeing with the kids.
When Sean McCaffery, who previously coached the juniors, retired due to the death of a close family member, Jimmy stepped into his position and assumed his greatest role as junior coach. Right from the start he had a connection with the kids who all adored him. He helped establish child protection and took all the courses to help NBH achieve the Clubmark standard. As regulations for volunteers increased, Jimmy rose to the challenge – and encouraged others to do so – by obtaining a level two coaching certificate, as well as child protection, junior coach development, disability awareness, first aid and welfare officer qualifications.
Jimmy’s dedication and willingness to keep learning was a major factor in the rapid growth of the club over the last few years. He was involved with the Harriers’ outreach programme into the schools in North Belfast, which fed numbers at club sessions. The outreach programme also involved acquiring the use of the community schools’ facilities in North Belfast, because transport of the growing numbers to the Mary Peters Track in South Belfast – which Jimmy organised for many years – was no longer feasible. It caused Jimmy pain to abandon the South Belfast kids who had no way to come across town, but he recognised the need in dealing with growing numbers. Jimmy’s legacy includes a volunteer junior coaching staff and a junior membership of more than 100 athletes (up from 50 in 2012 and 30 in 2011). There is now a long waiting list of local children eager to join NBH. Jimmy’s commitment to inclusivity has also resulted in ten children with special needs having been integrated into the club.
Jimmy was instrumental in developing NBH’s holistic approach to athletics, emphasising fun and participation while encouraging juniors to give back to the sport. For example, this year at Belfast’s Culture Night the club provided multi-skills activities for children, while at the City Council’s ‘Belfast Day’ it provided ‘come and try it’ sessions. Juniors also volunteer at the Parkrun. NBH has also devised a rewards system that values good attendance and commitment for training and volunteering, not just performance. This approach encourages new children into all aspects of the sport without applying undue pressure.
Jimmy kept up his own running until he became ill. He was really proud to eventually run his first marathon in Dublin, his home town, when he was in his sixties, regularly took part in the Christmas Cracker races, and was a Waterworks Parkrun stalwart. Jimmy was also involved in weddings, christenings and funerals of many of our members and friends and really was one of the family to so many. He and his wife Denise were the main committee members of a club for widowed and divorced people; in fact, that’s where he met Denise. He was known as “Dublin Jim” when he was a taxi driver but when he retired in 2011 at the age of 68 he was a lorry driver for the health services.
When Jimmy joined the club, NBH trained out of an old corrugated iron building where the existing clubhouse now stands. The membership at one stage would have been down to about 20 athletes, mostly vets, and Jimmy was one of them. Without Jimmy, NBH would not be the club it is today, with hundreds of athletes, young and old, training and having fun with some of the best facilities North Belfast has to offer. He will certainly be missed.
Article compiled by North Belfast Harriers with the assistance of Jimmy's family and club members. Information used with permission from North Belfast Harriers.
Fionnuala Britton continues good form in Brussels:
On Sunday 22nd December 2013, Fionnuala Britton finished in third place at the IAAF Lotto Cross Cup in Brussels. Britton was in control for most of the race and was looking sharper than her outing at the European Cross Country Championships in Belgrade when she finished fourth.
The Wicklow woman was in a winning position in the closing stages before Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands (formerly Ethiopia) came through to win in 19 minutes and 38 seconds, five seconds ahead of Britton. Hassan demonstrated her cross country credentials in recent weeks by winning the under-23 title at the European Championships. Zewdnesh Ayele of Ethiopia, was second, with Britton third – just one second behind.
Britton will face another strong field at the IAAF Greenmount Cross Country International at Antrim on January 4th. Great Britain’s recently crowned European silver medallist Gemma Steel, team mate European U23 bronze medallist Charlotte Purdue and Bahrain’s Maryam Jamal, the 1500m Bronze medallist from the London Olympics are all set to line up. Joining Britton will be Sarah Treacy who finished 31st and Ciara Durkan who placed 36th in Belgrade and Ann-Maire McGlynn.
Brothers Michael and Dan Mulhare will line up in the Men’s race. Michael led the Irish Men’s Senior Team home in Belgrade in 15th place. Their sister Mary will race in the Women U23’s as part of the Celtic International Cross Country Match. The final member of the Men’s Team is Mick Clohissey. Sean Tobin fresh from his top 10 performance in the Junior Men’s Race at the European Championships will compete for the first time in the U23 ranks. Athletics Ireland will also be sending a U23, Junior and Youth Team: team-for-international-cross1
Britton will complete her IAAF cross country race series when she lines up the Great Edinburgh Cross Country, on January 11th, a race that she has won in the previous two years. She will have to face the reigning European Cross Country Champion, Sophie Duarte of France.
Article and photograph taken from Athletics Ireland website.
Online entries for prestigious Greencastle 5 are now open:
On Wednesday 20th November 2013, online entries opened for one of the provinces oldest and most prestigious races, the Greencastle 5 mile road race in County Tyrone. As always, the well-established event, now in its 28th year, will take place on Boxing Day, Thursday 26th December 2013 at 1pm.
In the past, the Greencastle 5 has attracted runners of all abilities from as far away as America, as well as top quality athletes such as Gareth Turnbull, Paul Pollock, James McIlroy, Stephen Scullion, Liz McColgan, Maria McCambridge, Gladys Ganiel O’Neill, Tommy Hughes, Dermot Kerr and Joe McAlister to name a few.
Despite the infamous 'hill’, the route is fast and lends itself to personal bests. The current course record holders are Gareth Turnbull (St Malachy’s AC) and Maria McCambridge (Letterkenny AC); Gareth clocked an excellent 24:14 in 2008, while Maria took the ladies record last year (2012) after recording 28:18.
The entry fee is a very reasonable £10 and includes a quality technical t-shirt, goody bag and post-race refreshments. Chip timing will be in operation and there will be generous cash prizes on offer for the top five male and female athletes as well as the first three male and female finishers in the Junior (Under 20), Vet40, Vet45, Vet50, Vet55, Vet60 and Vet65 categories.
Online registration and full details of the event are now available at www.greencastle5.com
University of Ulster request assistance:
The University of Ulster is currently carrying out research into the psychological and physiological factors that predict performance in ultra-endurance athletes and is looking for volunteers.
The purpose of this study is to provide a better understanding of whether ultra–endurance athletes are more able to reach increased levels of VO2max (a measure of aerobic fitness and maximal oxygen uptake) compared with non ultra-endurance athletes due to their psychology, including personality dimensions and mental toughness, or their physiology, based on their genetic status and ability to tolerate pain.
We are looking for male participants who have recently trained for, and competed in the last three months a running race in excess of marathon distance i.e. 26.2 miles - Are you a healthy male, aged 25-45 years? Have you successfully completed an ultra-marathon event (i.e. beyond 26.2 miles) in the last 3 months?
If you are interested in taking part please send an email to Jeremy Sutton at [email protected]
James Sullivan interviews Northern Ireland man Paul Pollock (article taken from the Running Review website):
Running Review team member James Sullivan has been chatting to Irish marathon runner Paul Pollock, 21st at the recent World Championships in Moscow.
Paul Pollock is an elite distance runner from County Down, Ireland. He represented Ireland at the 2012 World Half-Marathon Championships in Kavarna, Bulgaria, finishing in 34th place. At the 2013 World Championships in Moscow he finished in 21st place in the marathon. His current PB for the marathon is 2:16:30, a clocking he achieved at the 2012 Dublin Marathon.
James: Thank you for taking the time to talk to The Running Review. Easy question to begin, how did you first get involved in athletics?
Paul: I was 17 in August 2003 when my brother Conor first dragged my down the country to run a small road race, the Monaghan 5k. I had never gone running before and was in no way healthy or fit by any definition of the word. However, I managed to run roughly 17.30 and was first junior home. Despite this, the race was definitely not what I would have called enjoyable. Conor realised that I must have some talent and so forced me to start training with his athletics club at the time, Abbey AC. While there I met my first coach Bobby Rea, an inspiring, energetic man who taught me the love of running. The first few months were tough, incredibly tough. There was a lot of vomiting, pain and the humiliation of getting beaten by virtually everyone in training. I wanted to quit many times, but Conor, mum and dad had more belief in me than I did myself at that time and made sure I kept at it. As time went by my love for running and the members of Abbey AC grew until they became like a second family to me. You see a person’s real personality when they lie exhausted at the end of a hard session. There’s a mutual understanding that what you have just done is something special, something most members of the public will never understand or experience. Bobby unfortunately passed away only a few years later and I drifted away from running as the Abbey AC club folded without Bobby pushing things forward.
I graduated in medicine from Queen’s Belfast in 2010. By chance, during that first year of work I went on holiday to Lanzarote with another doctor and triathlete Johnny Boylan. Whilst jogging along the volcanic rocks under a scorching sun with Johnny and his triathlete club, I made the decision that it was time that I gave running another go. With the London Olympics the following year, my main goal was clear. I wanted to run in the Olympics. My other brother, and UK athletics sports doctor, Noel put me in touch with my current coach Andy Hobdell and his world class training group. Things clicked between us and I’ve now been listening to his advice and direction for the past 2 years with good success.
James: Did you have a particular athletics idol growing up?
Paul: At home, being the youngest of four children, sports were always on the television. Whether it was athletics, swimming, cycling or any sporting event we would watch it. There are definitely golden sporting memories that stand out clear in my mind but I never had an athletics idol as such. I have obviously had individuals in my sporting life, be they friends or family, who I respect and listen to. However, I believe that instead of idolising certain sporting individuals I would rather look them in the eye and put my toe on the line beside them in competition. Once you idolise someone you accept that they are better than you. And once you believe that, you have already lost the competition before it has even started.
James: When did you realise that the marathon distance would be your future in the sport?
Paul: To be honest, at the moment my focus is on improving my track times over 5k and 10k. I think I am more suited to the 10k than the marathon. Over the next six months or so, I hope to run times over the 10k distance which will prove to me that I am capable of competing with the best in the major championships. Ultimately I will return to marathons as the feeling at the finish line of them is so unique, so different from any feeling you might experience elsewhere. It’s a feeling I would recommend most people to experience at least once in their lives.
James: What do you believe to be your greatest strength and weakness with regards to athletics?
Paul: One of my weaknesses, as apparent by my many injuries in the past, is my impatience. I want to be fit now, I want to be fast now, I want to be the best now. Running doesn’t work like that. I’m starting to learn that it’s a long, slow journey that can’t be rushed. It’s a sport where repetition and consistency are the gateways to success. My greatest strength is that I believe I know how good I might be. I believe that I can run times that if I told other people they would laugh and say that I have no chance. I’ve now surrounded myself with a team that I hope can bring out my very best, that can push me to the successes that I want to achieve. My greatest strength is my ability, physically and mentally to run hard, to run fast and never give up. Well that’s the idea anyway!
James: At the recent World Championships in Moscow you finished in a highly credible 21st place in your debut major championship marathon. Can you put that experience into words? Did you expect to perform so well?
Paul: As an athlete I always want more than what I actually achieved. I came 21st. That’s twenty people who beat me that I believe with time I will be able to beat. Yes, of course I enjoyed the experience of racing for my country in a major championship but if you ask me in ten years what my best athletic performance was and I even think of Moscow then I’ll be very disappointed. It is a good start to my athletic career and it is a solid placing but hopefully there is much more to come.
James: In Moscow you were the second highest ranked European. How much confidence does this result give you ahead of the European Championships next year? Do you believe you can strongly contend for a medal in Zurich?
Paul: I didn’t realise that I was the second European until I saw the results and it definitely is a confidence boost looking forward to next year. However, there are a number of strong medal contenders who for whatever reason were not present in Moscow. I’m not naive enough to think that it will be easy walking in Zurich but I would be lying if I said that a gold medal isn’t my ambition. I believe if I get through the next 12 months injury free then I should definitely be able to be a realistic contender. The fact that Ireland is strongly targeting the marathon team event at the same competition is an additional bonus. The sport of marathon running is starting to return to Ireland and hopefully we should have a team capable of medalling which would be a great day for Irish Athletics.
James: Away from your own event, how did you enjoy the experience of being part of the Irish athletics team in Moscow?
Paul: I am always proud to wear the Irish vest and never take it for granted. The opportunities to run for your country are limited and whenever one comes along I want to do myself justice. Outside of my own competition I found the whole experience slightly different than what I was expecting. As I was racing on the second last day most of the other Irish athletes had already competed and left Russia by the time I had arrived. It would have been great to watch some of their races and support the team but sadly that didn’t happen. However, it was an amazing experience to see Rob walk his way to gold and then see the medal ceremony in the stadium after.
James: Were you disappointed there was no Irish broadcaster, nor any major Irish broadsheet newspaper reporters present in Moscow, especially given the gold medal winning performance of Rob Heffernan?
Paul: I understand that at the moment, athletics is a minority event in Ireland and doesn’t have the same superstars that can pull in public viewers or readers as other sports do. For me, running is one of the purest and truly global sports. To excel in running you literally have to be the best in the world. In an ideal world if media and money were directed towards sports in proportion to how hard you need to work to be the best then I believe running would be near the top of the list every time. But it is not a fair world and it is up to athletes to capture the imagination of the public so that they will want to watch and follow our sport.
James: You have recently made the decision to train full time. Can you tell us a bit more about that?
Paul: When I first left my job in 2011 to take up running and make a serious attempt at making the Olympics, the plan was always just to run for that year, compete in the Olympics and then return to work. Unfortunately, I got injured six months later and that was my Olympic dream over. I returned to work in Belfast but felt like I had unfinished business with the running. I was still in close contact with Andy, my coach based in London, and I decided that I would work for one year and then return to the running. In that one year of work, I would try and get a good base and get as high mileage weeks in as the job allowed.
It naturally followed that since I enjoy racing I might try the October Dublin marathon. After performing reasonably well, I decided to do London and then got picked for the Worlds and here I am now. I left my job in August three days before the Worlds. I believe I have a good base of strength and hopefully for the next year I’ll be able to make a big push to becoming a real contender on the world athletics stage.
James: What would an average week of training be like, specifically in terms of key sessions and total mileage?
Paul: Every week is virtually the same. Running is about patience and consistency. There is no magic secret. Training is nothing different to what most other runners seem to be doing. Sunday long run, Monday two easy runs, Tuesday session with recovery run that evening, Wednesday two easy runs, Thursday tempo session with recovery run that evening, Friday one easy run, Saturday session with recovery run that evening. And that’s essentially it. If you do those 100+ miles per week for months on end it is inevitable that you will get fit and strong.
James: What are your favourite and least favourite training sessions?
Paul: Sunday is my best and worst day of the week. There is no worse feeling than waking up on a Sunday morning knowing that you have a twenty miler to do, especially if the weather is terrible. It is the one run that I find mentally tough to just get started. Once I’m out running it always goes well but just getting out the door is such an effort. That said, the feeling on a Sunday afternoon, coming in the front door exhausted after a hard long run is the best feeling in the world. I love that feeling of exhaustion where something as simple as standing up is such an effort. Most of my Sundays are spent lying on the sofa constantly eating. It’s a great feeling and my favourite time of the week.
James: Do you do any cross training and if so what type, how often and why?
Paul: No, I don’t do any cross training. At the moment I’m injury free and running hard. I don’t think I would have any energy to cross train even if I wanted to!
James: What are your views on Planned Marathon Pace runs for club and recreational runners? How long should these be and how many should be undertaken in a training program? Do you do any and how do they help?
Paul: I am definitely for anything that promotes the sport of athletics in the country. In terms of specific build up to marathons, the long run is definitely essential. Most Sundays my long run would consist of twenty miles, normally somewhere in the region of 1 hour 40-50 minutes. Race pace at the moment would be around the 1 hour 40 mark so I would do those runs marginally slower than that. Normally my last long run would be 3 weeks before the marathon and then the weeks after that I would come down to 15 miles on the Sunday. Around 5 weeks before race day I would try to add in a couple of extra miles and do a 24 miler at the same pace just for an extra confidence boost.
James: There are some who believe that the marathon qualification standards for major championships are much softer than those for track and field events. What are your views on this?
Paul: I would definitely agree with that. However, marathon races have the scope for many more entrants than track races could ever afford. I think to entice the public to watch there should be no reason why some of the best marathon runners in the world can’t compete. I don’t think anyone wants to watch or compete in a marathon where there are only 8 or 10 guys running. In addition, most athletes can only normally compete in three marathons a year which means that there are only three chances to run qualifying times. I wonder how many 400m or 1500m runners would hit the qualifying times if you said that they can only race two or three times in the year.
James: What are your views on doping in athletics?
Paul: I imagine my views on doping are similar to most other athletes. Doping is cheating. To me, there is no difference to injecting drugs into your arm than jumping on a bike halfway through the race. Running is about pushing your body to its limit. It must be a combination of mental and physical strength. If you take drugs, I don’t see how you can look yourself in the mirror and be proud of what you have done or are doing. Don’t get me wrong, I can see why certain people may do it but I feel pity for those that do. This is a sport that I love, not because of the publicity or rewards that I might get but because I know I am pushing myself to be as fast as I can possibly be. Yes, I would probably be faster if I took drugs but then again, I would probably be faster if I had springs on my shoes.
That is not what running is about. I want to be able to stand on the Olympic podium and say this is where hard work gets you. This is where years of training and dedication gets you. Drug cheats will never be able to do that because they will always know in themselves that it wasn’t their hard work that got them to that medal. In terms of bans for athletes caught doping, I am of the opinion that they should never be allowed to compete internationally again. They should not be allowed to compete at a major championships or outside of their own country. It is up to their own country to decide whether they are willing to let them still compete internally.
James: What one change would you most like to see happen in Irish athletics over the coming years?
Paul: I want to see a much bigger drive in schools to get teenagers involved in the sport as there is undoubtedly talent which is being missed. However, this will only occur once public interest in athletics has again been sparked. Growing up, I remember sitting around the television watching Sonia compete and the great sense of national pride that it inspired. Hopefully in the next few years I will be part of the regrowth of Irish athletics and get to see new Irish superstars being born.
James: That’s great Paul. Thank you for your time and the very best of luck in 2014.
Paul: Many thanks James. I think it’s time to go for another run!
Knockmany Runners raise money for worthwhile causes:
Seventeen members of Knockmany Running Club, Augher who recently completed the Airtricity Dublin Marathon on Monday 28th October 2013; for many of them it was their first attempt at the distance but they were spurred on by the fact that they were running and raising money for Care for Cancer and Dromore Day Care Centre.
The club is also hosting the 4th Annual Eskra 10K and 5K Rudolph Run on Saturday 7th December 2013. The popular is also part of the clubs charity effort, with proceeds going to the local St. Patricks Primary School, Eskra Community Centre and the Typhoon Tragedy in the Phillipines. There will be pacers, team events and cash prizes for winners (including teams) in the 10k and gift bags for the winners of the 5k.
Sean McShane breaks World Record (Story taken from North Belfast Harriers website):
Whilst most of the record breaking Airtricity Dublin Marathon participants were aiming to achieve personal targets, one Northern Ireland runner had his mind set on something more than a personal best. Read on...
North Belfast Harriers’ Sean McShane set a World Record for a Marathon run as a zombie in Monday’s Dublin Marathon (28th October 2013). Sean had applied to the Guinness Book of World Records so his mark is official. He told the Irish Independent:
“I’ve just completed the ‘Fastest Marathon dressed as a Zombie. I had to apply to the Guinness World Records to do it. They gave me a time of three-and-a-half hours and I did it in 3:18 so it’s official!”
Generous prizes on offer at Spooktacular 5k:
A monster crowd is expected to take to the streets of Enniskillen (County Fermanagh) over the Halloween holidays as runners from across the province and further afield line up for one of the most atmospheric events in the Northern Ireland racing calendar.
The third annual Enniskillen Spooktacular 5k Run will be held on Friday 25th October 2013 and organisers are promising runners and spectators alike an evening of frighteningly good fun as well as top quality action; with the race starting at the Diamond at 7.30pm, participants will complete a two and a half lap circuit of the historic island town, before crossing the finish line back on the main street.
In the past two years, around 300 runners of all ages and abilities have joined in the proceedings, this has included quality athletes such as Mark Hoy (Finn Valley AC), Conan McCaughey (Enniskillen Running Club), Teresa McGloin (Finn Valley AC), Cathy McCourt (North Belfast Harriers), Patricia O’Hagan (St Peter’s AC) and Denise Toner (Clones AC); enthusiastic crowds are always on hand to cheer everyone to the finish.
With a bumper prize fund of over £1,000 available (including £100 each for the first male and female home), there's sure to be fireworks at the elite end of the field. In a hotly contested race last year, local star Mark Hoy just pipped Enniskillen Running Club's own Conan McCaughey to the line in a course record of 15:50. Both runners have significantly improved since then, and it will take any visiting athlete to be at the top of his game to claim the honours. In the ladies field last year, Patricia O'Hagan of the St Peter's club in Lurgan claimed the title in a time of 18:06, with Clones AC's Denise Toner nine seconds behind. The ladies course record of 17:40 is held by Teresa McGloin (Finn Valley AC).
As well as prizes for the first three male and female runners across the line, there will also be a host of prizes in the Under 16, Vet40, Vet50 and Vet60 categories. The evening's proceedings kick off at 6pm when registration opens at race HQ, Pat's Bar in the Diamond, which will also host the prize-giving and post-event refreshments. Race director David Somerville said he hoped as many people as possible - from the serious athlete to the occasional running enthusiast - turn out for what should be a very enjoyable evening.
"We have had an amazing response over the last two years and we're hoping 2013 is going to be even bigger and better. The feedback we have had is that people love the atmosphere of a night-time race right through the centre of town. We have pegged entry fees to the same levels as previous years, but have almost doubled our prize fund on 2011. The course is certified by Athletics NI, we will have chip timing from Precision Timing and we have a huge army of marshals and volunteers to make sure everything goes smoothly."
Enniskillen Running Club chairman Stephen Clawson added: "We are looking forward to a high-quality night's racing, as well a fun, family event with a real Halloween holiday feel about it. "We would encourage people who have friends or family members taking part to come out and cheer them on. As the race goes round the town a number of times there's plenty of opportunity to support your runner."
Online entries are now being accepted at www.precisiontiming.net, as well as at www.athleticsni.org. There will be technical t-shirts for the first 250 entrants. Paper entries will be accepted before 5pm, Tuesday 22nd October 2013, at Salon Twenty2, East Bridge Street, and M&S Tyres, Cornagrade Road, Enniskillen. For postal entries, or to view the route and keep up to date with the latest race news contact the organisers at www.facebook.com/enniskilenrc - Entry forms are available HERE.