Local athletes compete in USA and Scotland:
On Saturday 31st January 2015, at least three athletes from Northern Ireland were in action at outside the province at events in America and Scotland.
Commonwealth Games star Katie Kirk (QUB AC) and America based Andrew Monaghan (Lagan Valley AC) were in action at the prestigious New Balance Armory Invitational Track & Field meeting in New York. Up against world class opposition, both performed well; in the 800m event, Katie recorded 2:06.23 to secure 7th place. Although Katie was a little disappointed with her run, which was approximately three seconds outside her personal best, it bodes well for the upcoming campaign given it's so early in the season. The race was won by American athlete Ajee Wilson (Adidas – USA) in 2:01.13 (1st place).
Earlier in the day, Mississipi State student Andrew Monaghan recorded 8:26.59 to finish in 2nd place in Heat 2 of the hotly contested 3,000m event. This time was enough to see the Rathfriland man finish in 18th place overall, in the competition won by Malachy Schrobilgen (Wisconsin College) in 7:59.08 (1st place). Much of the talk from the world class event surrounded the Irish team's performance in the DMR (Distance Medley Relay) – a race with four legs measuring 1200m, 400m, 800m and finally 1600m - the four man team of Brian Gregan, Declan Murray, Ciaran O'Lionaird and Donegal man Mark English clocked 9:25.37 to finish in 2nd place. Interestingly, this was within the previous world record; however, winners USA are the new world record holders after finishing in 9:19.93 (1st place).
In Scotland, Larne AC lady Rhonda Brady was in action over 200m and 400m at the Scottish Athletics Masters Indoor Championships at the Emirates Arena in Glasgow, Scotland. In the 200m, Rhonda crossed the line in 30.00secs (4th place); this was enough to secure 2nd place in her Vet40 category. The race was won by Jacqui Hodgson (Durham City) in 28.10secs (1st place). In the 400m, Rhonda recorded 1:07.32 to secure 3rd place in the race overall and 1st place in her Vet40 category. Jacqui Hodgson (Durham City) completed the 200m-400m double, leading the field home in 1:03.80 (1st place).
Sperrin Harriers Winter League Trail Series (Race 4) 2015:
On Saturday 31st January 2015, well over one hundred athletes turned out for the penultimate race of the Sperrin Harriers Winter League Trail Series in An Creagan, just outside Omagh (County Tyrone). The race measured 5 miles in distance and interestingly, entries increased a massive 70% from last year, proving the Series' popularity.
In snowy conditions, Omagh Harriers' Paul Barbour, a pre-race favourite, completed a hat-trick of race wins in this years Series. After taking up a prominent position form the off, Paul went on to break the tape in 26:48 (1st place). Former Omagh Harriers man, Martin Cox (Project Africa Runners), followed in 27:36, before Connor Reid (Ballymena Runners) beat club mate Alex Brennan by the narrowest of margins. Almost like their battle to the finish of ROTG 2015, Connor edged out Alex (4th place – 29:20), taking 3rd place in 29:19.
The host club's Pauline McGurren (Sperrin Harriers) celebrated her return to action with a master-class in front running. The classy athlete dominated proceedings from the off before sealing victory in 32:45 (1st place). Ballymena Runners' Sharon Leetch also looked back to her best as she claimed the runners up spot in 34:29 (2nd place), while Natalie Hall (Sperrin Harriers) completed the top three in 35:02 (3rd place).
Top 3 Men: 1st Paul Barbour (Omagh Harriers) – 26:48, 2nd Martin Cox (Project Africa Runners) – 27:36, 3rd Connor Reid (Ballymena Runners) – 29:19
Top 3 Ladies: 1st Pauline McGurren (Sperrin Harriers) – 32:45, 2nd Sharon Leetch (Ballymena Runners) – 34:29, 3rd Natalie Hall (Sperrin Harriers) – 35:02
Hundreds turn out for Stormont XC 2015:
On Saturday 31st January 2015, hundreds of athletes from across Northern Ireland descended on Stormont Estate, Belfast for the penultimate fixture of the ongoing Athletics NI Cross Country League, the Stormont XC, hosted by Northern Ireland Civil Service AC.
Conditions on the day were almost perfect, barring the blustery wind. The race day programme kicked off with Primary School races, before moving onto the Junior races, all of which were hotly contested. The 'main event' of the day was the combined Senior and Masters Men's and Ladies race, which saw the ladies complete two laps (3.2 miles) and the men three laps (4.8 miles).
After the field had negotiated the tight first section and things began to settle, it was Seamus Lynch (Newcastle AC) and Neil Johnston (Springwell Running Club) who took up position at the front of the men's pack, with Stephen Wylie (North Down AC) just behind and David Steele (Newcastle AC) heading a large chase group. In the ladies race, Cathy McCourt (North Belfast Harriers) started well, and quickly put a gap between herself and the pursuing Lauren Quee (Lagan Valley AC), Laura Hassan (Springwell Running Club), Emma Burgess (Highgate Harriers) and Gerrie Short (Beechmount Harriers).
Cathy McCourt led the ladies into their second lap, which took them from the Pavilion area of the scenic estate right across to the famous 'Avenue', were they crossed the road and negotiated a tough 'boggy' section before again crossing to head back towards the Pavilion. The aforementioned 'Avenue' crossing played a bigger part in proceedings than just a perfect backdrop for photos; as the ladies came off the boggy back section of the course and crossed the road, Lauren Quee and recently crowned NI & Ulster Intermediate XC Champion Laura Hassan were locked in battle. However, the Springwell Running Club athlete tripped and was passed by not only Lauren, but also Gerrie Short. In the end, Cathy McCourt broke the tape in 21:03 (1st place); Northern Ireland international Lauren Quee took 2nd place in 21:27, while Gerrie Short secured the final podium place in 21:53 (3rd place). In the team competition, Springwell Running Club claimed the top prize,
As the men made their way into the final lap, it was the in-form Seamus Lynch who was in control. Young Neil Johnston was approximately twenty metres back, while Stephen Wylie and David Steele had cemented themselves into third and fourth place respectively. Nothing changed in the final stages apart from the distance between Seamus and Neil; Seamus moved further clear and secured an impressive and well-deserved win in 27:14 (1st place). Neil followed in 27:27 (2nd place), before Stephen Wylie completed the top three in 28:16 (3rd place). In the team standings, the ever impressive Newcastle AC were victorious.
Top 3 Ladies (3.2 miles): 1st Cathy McCourt (North Belfast Harriers) – 21:03, 2nd Lauren Quee (Lagan Valley AC) – 21:27, 3rd Gerrie Short (Beechmount Harriers) – 21:53
Top 3 Men (4.8 miles): 1st Seamus Lynch (Newcastle AC) – 27:14, 2nd Neil Johnston (Springwell Running Club) – 27:27, 3rd Stephen Wylie (North Down AC) – 28:16
St Patrick's College Dungiven 10k 2015:
On Saturday 31st January 2015, St Patrick's College in Dungiven welcomed over one hundred and fifty athletes to the second annual running of their 10k (and associated 5k) road race in County Derry/Londonderry.
At the competitive end of the field, John Paul Gartland (Unattached) and David Hughes (Reach RC) always looked liked potential winners, with Jeffrey Farrell (Unattached), Paul Coyle (Foyle Valley AC), Thomas Doherty (Termoneeny Running Club), Manus McShane (Unattached) and Roland Black (Foyle Valley AC) all contesting the remaining podium place. Despite the efforts of David Hughes, it was John Paul Gartland, a 2:46:08 marathoner, who claimed victory. John Paul crossed the line in 36:23 (1st place), just over thirty seconds ahead of David Hughes who clocked 36:54 (2nd place). Jeffrey Farrell finished well to secure 3rd place in 39:58.
In the ladies race, North Belfast Harriers' Sarah-Jane McFadden held off the strong challenge of Termoneeny Running Club athlete Catriona Murphy to take top honours. In a close encounter, Sarah-Jane broke the tape in 45:58 (1st place), with Catriona following in 46:05 (2nd place). The final podium place went to Unattached runner Stephanie Brolly, after she completed the route in 47:00 (3rd place).
Top 3 Men: 1st John Paul Gartland (Unattached) – 36:23, 2nd David Hughes (Reach RC) – 36:54, 3rd Jaffrey Farrell (Unattached) – 39:58
Top 3 Ladies: 1st Sarah-Jane McFadden (North Belfast Harriers) – 45:58, 2nd Catriona Murphy (Termoneeny Running Club) – 46:05, 3rd Stephanie Brolly (Unattached) – 47:00
Full Results: St Patrick's College Dungiven 10k 2015 Results
Local coach appointed as Athletics Ireland Regional Development Officer:
Today, Friday 30th January 2015, it was announced that Northern Ireland Commonwealth Games star and Irish Olympian Paul McKee has been instated as Athletics Ireland’s Regional Development Officer for the North West Region. Paul, a former World Championships 400 metre medallist, currently coaches several of Northern Ireland’s top sprinters and will commence his ‘RDO’ role immediately, taking over from the retiring Eamon Harvey.
Paul enjoyed a glittering domestic and international career, representing both Northern Ireland and Ireland. Aside from winning numerous NI & Ulster and AAI National (or “All Ireland”) Championships, he (Paul) was part of Ireland’s 4x400m team at the Sydney Olympics in 2000 and represented Northern Ireland at the Commonwealth Games (Manchester 2002). Undoubtedly, the performance for which Paul will be remembered for is his bronze medal winning 45.99secs (for 400m) at the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Birmingham, England in 2003. This made well respected personal trainer and Sports Therapist the first Irish athlete to win a medal on the world stage for 70 years, therefore adding to the prestige of his achievement.
Even since retiring from the senior international stage, Paul has shown his class. In 2013, he powered to victory at the NI & Ulster Masters Championships at the then newly refurbished Mary Peters Track in Belfast, covering 100m in 11.46secs. In the same year, he also secured gold at the AAI National Indoor Championships over 60m and 200m. Paul’s 300m and 400m personal bests of 33.71secs and 45.58secs respectively, still stand as Northern Ireland records.
Weekend Preview: The non-stop action continues with local, national and international events...
After what proved to be a busy and successful weekend for the local running fraternity, this coming Saturday (31st January 2015) and Sunday (1st February 2015) should bring the same excitement with plenty on offer for those seeking competition.
Arguably the highlight of the local races is the penultimate event in the Athletics NI XC League 2014/15, the Stormont XC; however, there is also the Dungiven 10k, NI & Ulster Indoor Age Group Track & Field Championships and the Sperrin Harriers Winter League Trail Race in An Creagan (close to Omagh) to look forward to.
Athletes from Northern Ireland will also travel to the GloHealth AAI Games in Ireland, the Scottish Masters Indoor Championships in Scotland and the New Balance Invitational in America.
Athletics NI XC League 2014/15 – Stormont XC:
On Saturday 31st January 2014, athletes from across the province are expected to descend on the home of Parliament Buildings, Stormont Estate in Belfast for the penultimate race of the Athletics NI XC League 2014/15, the Stormont XC.
The event, which is hosted by the Northern Ireland Civil Service Athletic Club (NICSAC), has been run on the trails around Stormont Estate over the last few years because of concerns over the state of the land, but is now back onto the grass. As with most of the recent cross country races, there will be several Junior races taking place before the Senior and Masters athletes take to the start line. A full timetable is available HERE.
The Senior and Masters Men’s 4.8 mile race should attract a plethora of talent, with league leaders Newcastle AC set to field a strong squad. This should headed by the in-form Seamus Lynch, who was a podium finisher at last weekend’s Fermanagh XC – Lining up alongside Seamus will be David Steele, Ian Bailey, David O’Flaherty, David McNeilly, Luke McMullan and Barry McConville amongst others. After taking the team title at the Fermanagh XC, the former Junior XC team Champions will be high in confidence and hoping to cement their position at the top going into the final fixture at Lurgan Park, where any points gained will be doubled. Current runners up City of Derry AC may well be without newly crowned NI & Ulster Masters XC Champion Declan Reed as he gears up for the AAI National Masters XC Championships. However, his club mate Emmet McGinty, who seems to be returning to top form, will prove to be a good leader. Noel Logan (City of Derry AC) will play a major part at the front, while fellow Spartans Lochlainn Connolly, Conor Doherty, Gerry Duddy and Peter Lilburn will assist in ensuring that City of Derry AC still feature in the team standings.
North Belfast Harriers’ Mark McKinstry missed last week’s Fermanagh XC as he was racing at the Raheny 5. That proved to be an excellent decision for the always impressive athlete, as he recorded a new personal best of 25:57; he’ll be eager to show the same kind of speed and strength here. Alan O’Hara (North Belfast Harriers) and Eamon White (North Belfast Harriers) produced an epic finish at the NI & Ulster Masters XC in Coleraine earlier this month, with Eamon just about edging out his club mate that day. The talented pairing should be in or around the podium places, as will Chris Madden (City of Lisburn AC), Andrew Considine (North Belfast Harriers) and Stephen Wylie (North Down AC). Acorns AC men Glenn Donnelly, Darrell McKee and Aaron Meharg, and North Belfast Harriers’ Conal McCambridge, should also place well.
The Senior and Masters Ladies 3.2 mile race should also be a hotly contested affair, with potential candidates including last week’s Fermanagh XC winner Karen Alexander (Acorns AC) and newly crowned NI & Ulster Intermediate XC Champion Laura Hassan (Springwell Running Club).
Both ladies produced impressive performances to win the aforementioned events and will provide spectators with an excellent dual should they both turn out. If you add the likes of Lauren Quee (Lagan Valley AC) and Heather Foley (Unattached) to the mix, it makes for an even more interesting race, given the battle this pair enjoyed at the Moira XC a few weeks ago. Heather was victorious that day, but young Lauren looked strong at the more recent NI & Ulster Intermediate XC, were she picked up a silver medal. Springwell Running Club and City of Derry AC will also be well represented in the ladies race, with Sonia Knox and Sarah Kivelehan likely to be at the forefront of any challenge for team honours.
Emma Burgess (Highgate Harriers) is another lady worth watching, while Louise Smith (North Belfast Harriers), Claire Connor (North Belfast Harriers), Debbie Matchett (Ballydrain Harriers), Angela McShane (City of Derry AC) and Jodi Smith (North Down AC) should also run well. Geraldine Quigley (Larne AC), Una Gavin (City of Derry AC), Jacqueline Mulligan (Acorns AC) and Lagan Valley AC ladies Hazel McLaughlin, Shileen O’Kane, Ursula Daly and Wendy Davis will be aiming for high placing’s.
Sperrin Harriers Winter League Trail Series – Race 4:
Also on Saturday 31st January 2015, Sperrin Harriers will host the fourth race of their Winter League 5k Series in An Creagan, between Omagh and Cookstown. Despite the snowy conditions, Race 3 attracted a record number of athletes – so, organisers will welcome the latest snowfall if it draws in similar numbers.
If there was an award for 'athlete of the month', Paul Barbour (Omagh Harriers), would surely be amongst the contenders. The former boxing star has enjoyed an excellent January, winning two races of this Series, alongside the Raphoe 5k, Acorns XC and the Lifford 5k. Should he (Paul) toe the line here, it's hard to see anyone stopping him claiming a hat-trick of wins in the Winter League. In saying that, local men Gavin Corey (Sperrin Harriers), Paul O'Callaghan (Sperrin Harriers), Michael Kerr (Carmen Runners) and Ballymena Runners men Alex Brennan, Connor Reid and Mark Alexander should also be competing for podium places. Delfim Pimentel will also go well.
In the ladies race, runner up in Race 3, Charlene Abraham should play a part at the head of the field if she enters on the day. Series and podium regular Collette McCourt (Dub Runners) and runner up in Race 2, Denise Ward (Foyle Valley AC), will also be there or there abouts, while Sperrin Harriers ladies Natalie Hall and Cheryl Cardwell will also be aiming for a prize-winning place; the same could be said for Ballymena Runners dup Jacqueline McIlrath and Christine Caulfield.
NI & Ulster Age Group Indoor Championships:
On the same day (Saturday 31st January 2015), Junior athletes from Northern Ireland and Ulster will travel to the Meadowbank Sports Arena in Magherafelt for Day 1 of the NI & Ulster Age Group Indoor Track Championships. Day 2 will follow on Sunday 1st February 2015. In previous years, the Championships have brought a host of up and coming athletes to the fore and this year will be no different. The event kicks off at 10am and with categories ranging from Under 12 to Under 19, the two days of action is sure to be intense.
Selecting possible race winners is practically impossible, however, Martin Mellon (Mid Ulster AC), Sean Corry (Omagh Harriers), Daniel Atkinson (East Down AC), Sean Terek (City of Lisburn AC), Jake Harbinson (Ballymena & Antrim AC), Emma Hutchinson (Ballymena & Antrim AC), Lois Hagan (Willowfield Harriers), Lydia Mills (Ballymena & Antrim AC), Scott McKeag (Ballydrain Harriers), Conor McQuillan (North Belfast Harriers), Rebekah Nixon (Dromore AC) and Toni Moore (Omagh Harriers) are all likely to be medal contenders.
In Dungiven on Saturday 31st January 2014, local school St Patrick’s College, will host their annual 10k road race. Last year saw 150 competitors take to the start line in what proved to be an enjoyable event, attracting a mixture of well-known athletes as well as fitness enthusiasts.
Brendan Grew (North Belfast Harriers) and Karen Alexander (Acorns AC) claimed victory twelve months ago but it is unclear as to whether either will return to defend their title, with Brendan having been relatively quiet of late and Karen likely to represent Acorns AC in the Athletics NI XC League fixture at Stormont Estate in Belfast. In their absence, Paul Horan (North Belfast Harriers), Bliadhan Glass (Sperrin Harriers), Shane Donnelly (Acrons AC), Denise Toner (Clones AC) and Gemma Turley (Springwell Running Club) could well be the athletes to watch out for.
New Balance Games Invitational:
Further afield, in America, Northern Ireland Commonwealth Games star Katie Kirk (pictured left) will be part of a world class line-up at the prestigious New Balance Invitational Games over the weekend (Friday 30th and Saturday 31st January 2015).
The impressive start list includes athletes of the stature of Galen Rupp (Nike – USA) and Jordan Hasay (Nike – USA). New Balance sponsored athlete, Katie, who collected 800m gold at the AAI National Indoor Championships last weekend, will take on the likes of Mary Cain (Nike – USA) over 800m.
Scottish Athletics National Masters Indoor Championships:
Closer to home, but also outside Northern Ireland on Saturday 31st January 2015, a number of athletes from Northern Ireland will travel to the Scottish Athletics National Masters Indoor Championships at the Emirates Arena in Glasgow, Scotland. Amongst those set to compete are Eoghan Devlin (Mid Ulster AC), Alex Donald (Ballymena & Antrim AC) and Rhonda Brady (Larne AC).
GloHealth AAI Open Indoor Games:
On Sunday 1st February 2015, a large number of athletes from Northern Ireland will travel south to the AIT Arena in Athlone (Ireland) for the annual GloHealth AAI Open Indoor Games. The event will be streamed live via the internet, please see HERE for full details.
City of Lisburn AC athlete and 2014 AAI National Senior indoor 60m Champion Amy Foster will make her seasonal debut at the event. Amy was in remarkable form throughout the last indoor season, winning the aforementioned National title and running a personal best of 7.32secs. She (Amy) will have one eye on the 7.36secs qualifying time required for the European Indoor Championships in Prague. Other local athletes to look out for include Andrew Wright (Willowfield Harriers), Conor Bradley (City of Derry AC), Kerry O'Flaherty (Newcastle AC), Ann-Marie McGlynn (Letterkenny AC), Danny Mooney (Letterkenny AC), Dean Adams (Ballymena & Antrim AC), James O'Hare (Annadale Striders), Neil McCartan (East Down AC), Keith Shiels (Foyle Valley AC), Christy Conlon (Beechmount Harriers), Jessica Craig (North Down AC) and Rachel Gibson (North Down AC).
As always, Northern Ireland’s nineteen parkrun events will take place this weekend, for more information on these, or to locate your nearest event, please visit our dedicated ‘parkrun’ section within our fixtures page.
Local athlete selected to represent GB & NI at INAS European XC Championships 2015:
Today (Wednesday 28th January 2015), it was announced that local athlete James Hamilton (Ballymena Runners) would represent the UKSA (Sports Association for People with Learning Disabilities) Great Britain & Northern Ireland team at the upcoming INAS European Cross Country Championships in Yorkshire, England.
The event, which will take place between the Thursday 19th February and Monday 23rd February 2015, is recognised by the International Paralympic Committee and is expected to attract a plethora of talented athletes from across Europe. Speaking about his selection, which in itself caused quite a stir on social media, James explained, “I'm honoured and very pleased to have been selected and I'm really looking forward to racing”.
James' well-deserved selection comes off the back of several impressive performances over the last few months, the best of which was arguably a top ten finish at the NI & Ulster Intermediate Cross Country Championships two weeks ago.
Firmus Energy Series 2015 dates announced:
Lagan Valley AC is pleased to announce that Firmus Energy will again be supporting their summer Track & Field Series in 2015. The dates are as follows; Thursday 16th April, Thursday 30th April, Thursday 28th May, Thursday 18th June, Thursday 23rd July and Thursday 20th August.
Celebrating the 25th anniversary of the popular Lagan Valley Series; for the first time, the club is trialling an extra date, bringing the total to six throughout the season.
Lagan Valley invites 1-2 representatives per club to the official launch on Wednesday 25th February 2015 in the Les Jones Room at Mary Peters Track, Belfast. The launch commences at 7pm and will include presentation of the provisional timetables for all of the meets, and invite questions and discussion. Also on this evening, the 2014 ‘Athletes of the Series’ awards will be presented by a special guest. Story taken from Athletics NI website.
Local athletes secure silverware at GloHealth AAI National U-20/U-23 Championships 2015:
On Sunday 25th January 2015, hundreds of athletes from Northern Ireland and Ireland descended on the impressive AIT Arena in Athlone (Ireland) for the GloHealth AAI National Under 20 and Under 23 Indoor Championships.
On what proved to be an excellent day of racing, at least two local athletes claimed National titles and the associated gold medals. Willowfield Harriers' Andrew Wright got the day off to a great start when he secured the Under 23 1500m title in 4:02.20 (1st place).
Later in the day and during the live coverage (via internet streaming), Northern Ireland ladies Katie Kirk (QUB AC) and Aislinn Crossey (UCD AC) lined up in the in the Under 23 800m race. On the sound of the starting gun, Katie took to the front and dominated the race, with Aislinn in pursuit. Little separated the pair until the third of four laps when Katie upped the pace. Despite Aislinn's own impressive run and strong finish, she was unable to catch the outstanding Katie, who claimed victory in 2:08.19 (1st place). Aislinn was rewarded for her efforts with a silver medal after crossing the line in 2:10.40 (2nd place).
In the Under 23 1500m, Unattached athlete Emma Mitchell added to the Northern Ireland medal haul when she collected a silver medal. In a close race won by Emerald AC's Amy O'Donaghue (1st place – 4:33.60), Emma broke the beam in 4:34.01 (2nd place). As well as the U-23 and U-20 races , there was also an exciting 'Invitational' 1500m event; the men's race was dominated by Northern Ireland based runners. After picking up the 1500m gold earlier in the day, Andrew Wright (Willowfield Harriers) was given the task of pacing, and the young athlete done a sterling job. As he dropped off after approximately 900m, Annadale Striders' James O'Hare took the race on and looked strong as he led the way through to the final bend when Commonwealth Games athlete Danny Mooney (Letterkenny AC) took charge. Danny powered down the final straight to take the victory in 3:43.85 (1st place). Conor Bradley (City of Derry AC) continued his return from injury, sealing 3rd place in 3:46.30. Despite falling with just yards remaining, the brave James O'Hare took 5th place in 3:53.97.
Raheny 5 mile Road Race 2015:
On Sunday 25th January 2014, a number of Northern Ireland based athletes made the journey south to Dublin (Ireland) for the 31st annual running of the Raheny 5 mile road race, an event which attracted a record breaking 3,000 entries. At the head of the pack, Martin Fagan (Mullingar Harriers) took the men's title in 23:36 (1st place), while Lizzie Lee (Leevale AC) won the ladies race in 26:33 (1st place)
There were several notable performances for local runners, with Foyle Valley AC's Scott Rankin producing arguably the performance of the day. The talented athlete narrowly missed a podium finish when he recorded a new personal best of 24:15 (4th place). Former St Malachy's AC man John Frazer (Crusaders AC) was the next familiar face to finish in 24:35 (7th place), before Ciaran Doherty (Letterkenny AC) followed in 25:17 (10th place). Mark McKinstry also enjoyed an impressive outing, after clocking a massive new personal best of 25:56 (17th place).
Ann-Marie McGlynn (Letterkenny AC) secured 2nd place in the ladies race; in what was Euro XC team medallist's first outing over the 5 mile distance on the road, she crossed the line in a speedy 27:12. Beechmount Harriers man Stuart Kennedy followed on from an excellent performance at the Castlewellan Christmas Cracker when he ran 28:09 (60th place), while North Belfast Harriers' Paul Horan followed just sixteen seconds later in 28:25 (73rd place).
Sam Crawford (East Antrim Harriers) crossed the line just after Paul, but his chip time of 28:25 (79th place) was exactly the same. Beechmount Harriers' Michael Magee (85th place – 28:47), East Antrim Harriers' David Turtle (107th place – 29:05), Ballymena Runners' Gary Davison (122nd place – 29:23), North Belfast Harriers' Cathy McCourt (12th place lady – 29:52) and Armagh AC's Paul Murphy (140th place – 29:51) all finished under the infamous 30 minute marker. On doing so, Cathy McCourt also picked up the top prize in her Vet40 category.
Steven Beggs (East Antrim Harriers) narrowly missed a sub thirty finish when he crossed the line in 30:09 (158th place). Larne AC's David Noble (165th place – 30:17) and East Antrim Harriers' Chris Collins (166th place – 30:19) finished within two seconds of each other, just before Gerrie Short (Beechmount Harriers) reached the finish line in 30:30 (16th place lady).
In the space of twelve seconds, North Belfast Harriers' Rory Kane (194th place – 30:50), East Antrim Harriers' Philip McNeill (202nd place – 30:53) and Albertville Harriers' Robert Morrison (212nd place – 31:02) all crossed the line. Michael Allen (East Antrim Harriers) ran 31:33 for 250th place and fellow Northern Ireland man Brian Campbell (Willowfield Harriers) took 251st place, but in a faster chip time of 31:31.
David Allen (Albertville Harriers) and Jim Finlay (East Antrim Harriers) recorded 31:57 (293rd place) and 32:16 (311th place) respectively, while Larne AC's John Neill clocked 32:12 (314th place). Just twenty seconds later, another of the Albertville Harriers contingent, Anthony Lavery (33nd place – 32:32) finished and he was followed into to the funnel by Armagh AC's Declan Toal (430th place – 33:58). Ian Brennan (Larne AC) dipped under the 35 minute barrier in 34:47 (506th place), while East Antrim Harriers men Darren Veigney and Eddie Blaney followed in 36:14 (650th place) and 36:16 (653rd place) respectively. Albertville Harriers' Sean Murphy was the 800th place finisher in 37:42, before East Antrim Harriers' Norman Caughey was the final local athlete to achieve a sub 40 minute time, after running 39:25 (978th place). Although, veteran athlete Tom Kane ran well to finish in 42:55 (1,380th place).
Full Results: Raheny 5 mile Road Race 2015 Results (Group photo above taken from the East Antrim Harriers facebook page)
Local athletes secure wins at Raphoe 5k:
On Sunday 25th January 2015, a number of Northern Ireland based athletes joined a field of three hundred athletes at the Raphoe 5k road race in Lifford, County Donegal (Ireland).
Omagh Harriers man Paul Barbour made it four wins in three weeks; following on from victories at the Lifford 5k, Sperrin Harriers Winter Trail Race and the Acorns XC, the former boxing star claimed top spot in 15:39 (1st place). He was joined on the podium by Martin Cox (Project Africa), who recorded 16:24 for 3rd place. Dery City Track Club athletes Cathal McLaughlin and Matt Doherty also secured top ten place, crossing the line in 16:42 (6th place) and 17:05 (10th place).
In the ladies race, another athlete in top form, Claire McGuigan (Lifford AC) took the top prize. Claire, who won the Lifford 5k two weeks ago, showed the same speedy age as she led the ladies home in 18:53 (1st place). Fellow Northern Ireland based athlete Hannah McGowan (Derry City Track Club) also claimed a podium place, taking 3rd place in 20:18.
Full Results: Raphoe 5k 2015 Results
Athletics NI XC League 2014/15 – Fermanagh XC
On Saturday 24th January 2015, hundreds of athletes and spectators descended on the scenic Nescarne Estate in County Fermanagh for the seventh race of the popular Athletics NI Cross Country League 2014/15, the Fermanagh XC, hosted by Enniskillen Running Club.
The well supported junior race proved a perfect opener for what was an excellent day of competition and brought victories for Dan Haigney (Omagh Harriers), Bronagh Duffy (Mount Lourdes), Cathaoir Donnelly (Omagh Harriers), Enya Haigney (Omagh Harriers), Domhnall Lynam (St Michael's) and Toni Moore (Omagh Harriers).
In the ladies 4.5k race, Acorns AC athlete Karen Alexander put in a classy performance. Despite the efforts of early leader Sonia Knox (Springwell Running Club) and chasers Jackie McGinley (City of Derry AC) and Martsje Hell (Enniskillen Running Club), it was the Northern Ireland international who came through to produce a dominant performance.
After taking control at the front, Karen powered to victory in 17:07 (1st place). Sonia Knox followed in 2nd place after clocking 17:12, while local lady Martsje Hell completed the ladies podium in 17:22 (3rd place). In the team competition, City of Derry AC (1st place) took top honours, with Springwell Running Club and Enniskillen Running Club claiming 2nd place and 3rd place respectively.
In the men's 7.5k, City of Derry AC athlete and newly crowned NI & Ulster Masters XC Champion Declan Reed replicated his Spartan like performance from seven days ago when he took control from early on. There was no stopping the relentless veteran as he continually increased the gap between himself and the chasing pack before breaking the tape in 23:48. Novice XC Champion and podium finisher at the NI & Ulster Intermediate Championships, Conan McCaughey (Enniskillen Running Cub) ensured that the host club were represented on the men's podium when he crossed the line in 24:34 (2nd place). The always impressive Seamus Lynch (Newcastle AC) took 3rd place in 24:49 and the close 'packing' of his club mates ensured that Newcastle AC won the team competition, further cementing their position at the top of the Athletics NI XC League. City of Derry AC claimed 2nd place in the team standings, with Acorns AC finishing in 3rd place.
Top 3 Ladies (4.5k): 1st Karen Alexander (Acorns AC) – 17:07, 2nd Sonia Knox (Springwell Running Club) – 17:12, 3rd Martsje Hell (Enniskillen Running Club) – 17:22
Top 3 Men (7.5k): 1st Declan Reed (City of Derry AC) – 23:48, 2nd Conan McCaughey (Enniskillen Running Club) – 24:34, 3rd Seamus Lynch (Newcastle AC) – 24:49
Top 3 Ladies Teams: 1st City of Derry AC, 2nd Springwell Running Club, 3rd Enniskillen Running Club
Top 3 Men's Teams: 1st Newcastle AC, 2nd City of Derry AC, 3rd Acorns AC
IMPORTANT NOTE: Due to an equipment malfunction, only the top sixty five times in the men's race were recorded. Organisers offer their sincere apologies, this was down to an issue with a finish line stopwatch.
East Coast AC Junior XC Series (Race 2):
On Saturday 24th January 2015, nearly one hundred junior athletes turned out for Race 2 of the East Coast AC Junior XC Series in Larne, County Antrim. Following on from the success of Race 1 two weeks ago, this event saw competitors take on a challenging but enjoyable 700m loop of the Curran Park, with the number of laps being increased with each age category.
The 'Mini' age group kicked off proceedings and it was Race 1 winner Eimear Ward (East Coast AC) who once again celebrated victory, covering the 700m route in 4:34 (1st place). St Anthony's PS student Kian McAllister produced one of the performances of the day to win the Mini Boys (700m) race in 4:20 (1st place).
The 1400m Minor Girls race was won in impressive fashion by Hannah Clements (East Coast AC); Hannah led from start to finish, breaking the tape in 7:13 (1st place). In a close Minor Boys race, which saw Charlie Patterson (Olderfleet PS) and East Coast AC duo Harry Plumb and Rhys McManus battle it out all the way, Charlie eventually moved clear to win in 6:40 (1st place). The final race of the day was the 'Mixed' Junior Boys and Girls 2,100m race; Callum McIlroy (North Belfast Harriers) showed the same form that led him to victory at Sandy Bay two weeks ago to run out winner in 10:01 (1st place). Up and coming star Kelly Patterson (Larne Grammar School) not only won the girls race in 10:46 (1st place), but claimed second place overall.
Born 2 Run Gosford 10k:
On Saturday 24th January 2015, nearly five hundred athletes turned out for the re-scheduled Born 2 Run Gosford 10k in Markethill, just outside Armagh. The event, which is part of the Run Forest Run Series, saw competitors take on a tough undulating course within the vicinity of the scenic Gosford Forest.
Late entrant, Brian McCluskey (North East Runners), looked sharp as he dominated proceedings at the head of the pack. The North East Runners man, who partnered Gary O'Hanlon (Clonliffe Harriers) to victory at the Castlewellan Christmas Cracker despite picking up a bad head injury en-route, proved his worth once again as he cruised to victory in 34:25 (1st place). Pre-race favourite Stuart Paulin (Unattached) claimed 2nd place in 36:34, before local athlete Danny Fagan (Armagh AC) completed the top three in 36:50 (3rd place).
It was another late entrant who took the top prize in the ladies race; Dromore AC's Gillian Burns took control in the absence of pre-race favourite Karen Alexander (Acorns AC) and produced an excellent performance to lead the field home in 41:23 (1st place). There was an excellent battle for the final podium places, with Helen Perry (Unattached), Roslyn Dobson (St Peter's AC) and Niamh O'Connell (Murlough AC) all involved. In the end, it was Helen Perry who just edged out Roslyn Dobson (3rd place – 44:15) to take 2nd place in 44:11.
Top 3 Men: 1st Brian McCluskey (North East Runners) – 34:25, 2nd Stuart Paulin (Unattached) – 36:34, 3rd Danny Fagan (Armagh AC) – 36:50
Top 3 Ladies: 1st Gillian Burns (Dromore AC) – 41:23, 2nd Helen Perry (Unattached) – 44:11, 3rd Roslyn Dobson (St Peter's AC) – 44:15
Full Results: Born 2 Run Gosford 10k 2015 Results
Weekend Preview: XC, Road, Track and Trail...
After the successful and well supported Northern Ireland & Ulster Intermediate/Masters Cross Country Championships in Coleraine last weekend, attention now reverts back to the Athletics NI Cross Country League 2014/15 and in particular, the Fermanagh Cross Country, which will take place this weekend alongside the re-arranged Born 2 Run Gosford 10k trail race.
Athletes will also be looking forward to North West Triathlon Club’s 5k event in Derry/Londonderry; for the junior athletes, there is the East Coast AC and McGrady Financial Junior XC events. A number of Northern Ireland based runners are also expected to line up at the AAI National U-20 and U-23 Indoor Championships in Athlone (Ireland).
Born 2 Run Gosford 10k:
The weekend action will kick off in Gosford Forest in Markethill, just outside Armagh on Saturday 24th January 2015, when Born 2 Run Events will welcome athletes from all over the province (and beyond) to their re-arranged Gosford 10k trail race. The event, which is part of the Run Forest Run Series, was postponed last week because of the snowy conditions.
Prior to the postponement of the event last week, the attention at the front of the pack was very much around the battle between Matthew Bell (Unattached) and Stuart Paulin (Unattached). However, Matthew will be absent, so it’ll be down to Stuart to carry the pre-race favourite mantle into the event. The Tollymore Trail Marathon podium finisher should win, but will have to see off the challenge of North Belfast Harriers’ Simon Reeve and Unattached athlete Geoff Smyth if he wants to take the top prize. Local athlete Daniel Fagan (Armagh AC) should finish well up the field, while BARF's Aaron Shimmons, who found out just last week that he will be travelling to Chamonix, France in the Summer for the UTMB CCC, will be looking to kick off his training for the event with a quality outing here.
The ladies race should see a comfortable win for Acorns AC athlete Karen Alexander; having excelled at the Acorns XC and the Sperrin Harriers Winter League Trail Series over the last two weeks, were she celebrated victory on both occasions. The battle for the runners up spot should be an interesting affair, with Gillian Abraham (Unattached), Eileen Stevenson (St Peter's AC), Nicola Mathers (Murlough AC), Natalie Bowbanks (Unattached) Niamh O'Connell (Murlough AC), Kathryn Walls (Dromore AC), Joanne MacCauley (St Peter’s AC) and Helen Perry (Unattached) all likely to be in the mix.
Athletics NI XC League 2014/15 – Fermanagh XC:
Meanwhile, on the same day (Saturday 24th January 2015), Enniskillen Running Club will host the seventh race of the well supported Athletics NI Cross Country League 2014/15, the Fermanagh XC. The event, which will take place at the Necarne Estate in Irvinestown, will start at 11.45am with junior races, before the Senior/Masters Ladies 4.5k and Senior/Masters Men’s 7.5k close proceedings at 1pm and 1.45pm respectively.
A sizeable turnout is expected, with current Athletics NI XC League male and female leaders Newcastle AC and Springwell Running Club likely to be well represented. City of Derry AC currently sit in second place in both the men's and ladies competition, a mere four points behind Newcastle AC in the men's league and just one point behind Springwell Running Club in the ladies standings. Newly crowned NI & Ulster Masters XC Champion Declan Reed (City of Derry AC) should toe the line and will prove hard to beat going by his performance in Coleraine last week.
That day, he (Declan) started strongly and progressively built a lead on those behind him, before taking the title. Omagh Harriers men Stephen Duncan and Paul Barbour could also be contenders; Stephen has been off the radar for a while but never fails to impress, while Paul has enjoyed several wins recently, including the Acorns AC XC and the Sperrin Harriers Winter League Series race in Drum Manor. Newcastle AC athletes Seamus Lynch, David Steele, Deon McNeilly, David O'Flaherty, PJ McCrickard, Luke McMullan, Paul Carlin and Barry McConville will be hoping to cement their club's position at the top with high placings, but the County Down men will be up against a strong City of Derry AC squad, which should include Emmet McGinty, Connor Doherty, Gary Slevin and Paul McCafferty, and the aforementioned Declan Reed, amongst others.
Mark McKinstry, who lead North Belfast Harriers to the NI & Ulster Intermediate XC team title last week, should also compete. He (Mark), will more than likely be joined by Stephen Prentice (Annadale Striders), Scott Rankin (Foyle Valley AC), Keith Shiels (Foyle Valley AC), Fergus McGirr (Enniskillen Running Club), Stephen Wylie (North Down AC), Eamon White (North Belfast Harriers), Alan O'Hara (North Down AC) and Francis Marsh (North Down AC).
The ladies race will be a close affair and in truth, one that is hard to call. Springwell Running Club's Laura Hassin, one of the top performers at the NI & Ulster XC Championships, may turn out to assist the club as they progress towards top honours in the team competition. She (Laura) should have club mates Sonia Knox and Gemma Turley by her side, while City of Derry AC ladies Catherine Whoriskey, Angeline McShane, Hannah Shields, Jackie McGinley and Sarah Kivelehan should also compete. Larne AC's Geraldine Quigley looked back to her best last weekend, narrowly missing a top ten place, something that she will hope to replicate in Fermanagh. Jacqueline Mulligan (Acorns AC), Sam McNeilly (Newcastle AC), Julie Butler (Omagh Harriers), Tara Malone (Enniskillen Running Club) and Ita Kelly (Omagh Harriers) will also finish well up the field if they choose to race.
East Coast AC Junior XC Series (Race 2):
On Saturday 24th January 2015, junior athletes will once again be in for a treat, when East Coast Athletic Club host Race 2 of their popular Junior Cross Country Series in Larne.
Two weeks ago, approximately seventy athletes turned out for the Series opener and even more are expected to take part in Race 2, which will take place in the Curran Park in Larne. There are races for athletes in age categories ranging from Under 6 to Under 15, which is sure to prove popular with running enthusiasts both locally and in the wider County Antrim area. Full details of the event are available HERE.
GloHealth Under 20 and Under 23 AAI National Indoor Championships:
On Sunday 25th January 2015, close to four hundred of Ireland’s top Junior and Under 23 athletes will take to the track at the impressive AIT Arena in Athlone (Ireland) for the GloHealth National Indoor Junior (Under 20) & Under 23 Championships. This year (2015) represents a big one for both these age categories with European Outdoor Championships events scheduled for later in the summer.
Amongst the plethora of talent who will race is at least sixteen athletes from Northern Ireland. New Balance Games bound Katie Kirk (QUB AC) will go head-to-head with fellow NI lady Aislinn Crossey (UCD AC) over 800m, while Andrew Wright (Willowfield Harriers) Oisin O'Callaghan (Newry AC), Jane Matthews (Lagan Valley AC), Jonathan Browning (Ballymena & Antrim AC), Robbie Marrs (City of Lisburn AC) and Jake Harbinson (City of Lisburn AC) will also be hoping for medals. The same could also be said for Ryan Henry (Willowfield Harriers) and City of Lisburn AC's Gareth Thompson, Karl McClean, Ben Fisher, Adam Hill and Jonathan Hill. For a full preview of the event, please visit the Athletics Ireland website HERE. Live streaming of the event will also be available on race day – Please click HERE for the link to the live streaming website.
North West Triathlon Club (NWTC) Winter 5k Series:
On Sunday 25th January 2015, North West Triathlon Club (NWTC) will host the third race of their ongoing Winter 5k Series along the banks of the River Foyle in Derry/Londonderry. Thus far, the Series has attracted some well-known athletes and this event should be similar. Race 2 winners Stephen Connor (Foyle Valley AC) and Katherine Woods (Springwell Running Club) should return in an attempt to add to their wins, while Mark Mullan (City of Derry AC), Matt Doherty (Derry City Track Club), Darragh Crossan (Derry City Track Club) and Leona Dunne (Letterkenny AC) will all be hoping to challenge for podium places.
McGrady Financial XC Series:
On the same day (Sunday 25th January 2015), there will be another excellent event for junior athletes, with the latest round of the McGrady Financial XC Series taking place in Delamont Park in County Down. The well-organised Series, which see's athletes from Newcastle AC, Burren AC, Dromore AC and East Down AC go head-to-head, always brings in a good crowd, and this event, which is the penultimate of the 2014/15 Series should provide an excellent spectacle. Proceedings kick of at 1pm and full details can be found HERE.
As always, Northern Ireland’s nineteen parkrun events will take place this weekend, for more information on these, or to locate your nearest event, please visit our dedicated ‘parkrun’ section within our fixtures page.
IAAF Antrim International XC 2015:
The annual Antrim IAAF International Cross Country event will take place later in the season this year, combining with the Home Countries International on Saturday 14th March 2015. Awarded one of only 12 IAAF World Cross Country permits the event is the highlight of the Cross Country calendar in Northern Ireland and attracts many international athletes of note.
This year, organisers Athletics Northern Ireland will welcome back 21 year old Japhet Korir who is the current World Senior Cross Country Champion, following his impressive victory at Antrim last year (2014). This was the first time in the 36 year history of the meeting to feature a current World Champion.
Kenyan athlete Japhet Korir caused a sensation in March 2013 in Bydgoszcz, Poland when as a 19 year old, he became the youngest ever winner of the Senior title. Japhet had previously taken the bronze medal in the World Junior race in 2010. In Poland he showed a maturity beyond his years, to break away from the opposition over an energy sapping muddy course, to secure victory by 6 seconds from defending champion Imane Merga of Ethiopia.
At Greenmount last January, Japhet fought a ferocious battle with two other Africans over the difficult course, and in a sprint finish just edged out the previous year's winner Thomas Akeyo of Uganda. Later in the year, he ran a PB in the Half Marathon in Belgium and also won the big SPAR 10k road race in Dublin. Early this month, Japhet finished 2nd in the Edinburgh 4k cross country to Garrett Heath of the US. Japhet is hoping to gain selection for Kenya, to defend his World title in China two weeks after Greenmount.
Organised by Athletics Northern Ireland and supported by Antrim Borough Council, the races will be held in the picturesque surrounds of CAFRE at Greenmount Campus in Antrim. $15,000 prize money is once again on offer, with $7500 for each of the men's and women's races.
Annadale Striders athlete, Ryan McDermott joined Gary Keenan, President of Athletics Northern Ireland and Mayor of Antrim, Cllr Brian Graham to launch the 2015 event. The 22 year old Annadale Striders athlete, Ryan McDermott is enjoying a successful cross country season with victories in the McConnell Shield and Malcolm Cup. Last year's NI Junior Champion also competed for Ireland last month in the European U-23 Cross Country Championships in Bulgaria.
Athletics Northern Ireland’s President Gary Keenan, welcomed the event saying “The Antrim venue is a perfect location for both athletes and spectators alike. I very much look forward to welcoming this showcase event to the Greenmount Campus and anticipate a fantastic sporting occasion with a very competitive field at a world class venue which is a must for all sports fans.”
The Antrim IAAF International Cross Country is one of the largest and most popular events in the Northern Ireland sporting calendar, with more than 1,200 competitors taking part and race categories ranging from Under 11's to Masters. Mayor of Antrim, Councillor Brian Graham said, “We are delighted that Athletics Northern Ireland has chosen to return to Antrim for the IAAF International Cross Country. CAFRE, Greenmount Campus is an ideal venue for this world class competition. With its central location and ease of access it is ideal for the many competitors who will travel from overseas.”
This year Athletics Northern Ireland will also play host to the prestigious Home Countries International in which teams from England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales will all compete for Individual and Team Trophies. Cllr Graham continued, “Antrim Borough Council is proud to support this prestigious event, which will no doubt contribute significantly to the Borough, particularly with the inclusion this year of the Home Countries International Cross Country event. We wish Athletics Northern Ireland, CAFRE and the runners every success for March 2015.”
Gary Keenan, stated “This year’s home counties IAAF Cross Country Challenge once again puts Northern Ireland centre stage of the sporting world. The event, which has become one of the key fixtures of the Cross Country calendar, attracts top class international athletes from across the world, as well as giving our local talent the opportunity to mix it with the best.”
Although the U-20 and Senior events are closed internationals, entries are open for U-13 and U-15 and primary school age groups. The NI & Ulster Senior Cross Country Championships is a separate event this year and will take place on Saturday 14th February 2015, Lurgan Park, Lurgan. Please visit the Athletics NI website for full details.
Pure Running Half Marathon Series 2015 (in association with ChampionChip Ireland, Athletics NI and Ward Sports Management):
Northern Ireland's premier race Series enters its seventh year and continues to grow but retaining the same ideals of participation and competition as always and of course Pure Running as the chief sponsor.
In response to feedback from the competitors, the prize structure has been increased and the number of races required to count in the categories is reduced from 6 to 5. The Series began in 2009 when there were 6 races and they attracted just over 5,600 entrants, the following year had 7 races and just over 7,000 entrants. In 2011 there were 6 races again but the entrants continued to flock in and there were over 1,000 entrants on average for each race. Then in 2012 the Series expanded to 8 races and the 8,000 mark was exceeded comfortably. In 2013, the new structure of 10 races attracted just short of 9,000 competitors with 18 runners completing all 10. Last year (2014) also had 10 races covering more of the country than ever, with a new race called Dambusters held round the Silent Valley area in the Mourne Mountains and organised by Born to Run Events.
Michael Jenkins has been a supporter of the Half Marathon Series since its inception in 2009 and continues to do so with his Pure Running brand www.purerunning.co.uk. Pure Running are the chief sponsor along with ChampionChip Ireland, Ward Sports Management and Athletics NI. Two runners have taken part in all 47 races to date. Angus McCready of Up & Runners from Antrim and Michael McKeown who runs for East Down AC and is a regular prize winner also in his category.
The Pure Running Half Marathon Series will be comprised of the following races:
Sunday 15th March 2015 – DUNE Cross Border Half Marathon (from Dundalk to Newry)
Saturday 21st March 2015 – Larne Half Marathon
Saturday 28th March 2015 – Omagh Half Marathon
Sunday 24th May 2015 – Newry Half Marathon (and Marathon)
Wednesday 17th June 2015 – Lisburn Half Marathon
This completes the first half, runners must record a finishing time in at least 2 of these races.
Friday 26th June 2015 – Ards Half Marathon
Saturday 18th July 2015 – Kennedy Kane McArthur Dervock Half Marathon
Sunday 2nd August 2015 – Cookstown Half Marathon
Friday 14th August 2015 – Groomsport Half Marathon
Saturday 22nd August 2015 – Dambusters Half Marathon
Runners must complete at least 5 races from the series with at least 2 from the first half and 2 from the second half and one from either set. The conditions and prize fund have been changed slightly but runners still must complete all the races in the Series to be awarded a special garment at the end.
The cumulative times of each competitor will be taken to calculate the rank in each category. If a competitor finishes in more than 5 races then their best 5 times will be used provided they still have completed 2 races from the first half of races and 2 from the second set of races plus one other. A competitor will stay in the age group they ran in at their first race. Where two or more competitors have the same cumulative time at the end then their fastest time will be used as a tie break. Note: Half way (13.1 mile) times in the Newry Marathon will be admissible if so desired.
Athletics NI will provide a page on its web site with regular updates on the leaders in each category and news of the Series. Competitors are required to register their time through an online form on the Athletics NI site so that their progress can be logged and ranks accurately recorded. A runner who fails to register their times through the Athletics NI website could be overlooked when the final prizes are awarded as it’s difficult to accurately log all the times from 10,000 entrants across the Series.
The prize structure is available HERE. Prizes will be in the form of vouchers from Pure Running.
Clif Bar show support for Rathlin Run 2015 - Early bird entries now AVAILABLE!
NiRunning (Northern Ireland Running) are very proud to announce that after the success of last year’s Rathlin Run, we will once again be working in association with highly respected charity, Belfast Activity Centre (aka BAC) for the 2015 event, which will take place on Saturday 29th August 2015 (1pm).
Already, world renowned all-natural and organic energy food and drink company Clif Bar have come on-board to support the event, which is expected to sell out quickly. David Smith, Marketing Manager for Clif Bar & Company in the UK and Ireland is enthusiastic about the partnership; “Clif Bar & Company is very excited to be partnering with the iconic ‘Rathlin Run’ in 2015.”
Focused on sports nutrition and snacks for adventure, the family and employee-owned company is committed to sustaining its people, brands, business, community and planet. For more information on Clif Bar & Company, please visit www.clifbar.co.uk, check out their Facebook page at Facebook.com/ClifBar and follow on Twitter @ClifBar.
The Rathlin Run is Northern Ireland's most unique, and arguably, most challenging road race. This will be the 14th annual running of the event, which was originally introduced by Raleigh International, before Belfast Activity Centre took the reins several years ago. The '10 mile challenge', the original distance that caught the imagination of the local running community and cemented the event as an annual favourite, will once again be the feature race. The associated 5k run will also return, and offer an alternative for those wanting to test themselves over (or enjoy) a flatter, shorter course.
NiRunning’s Ryan Maxwell spoke about this year’s event, “After the overwhelming success of the Rathlin Run 2014, we (NiRunning) are very excited about going forward into 2015 and working alongside BAC once again. The atmosphere on the island over the entire race weekend was memorable and although it would be easy to rest on those memories and the success that went with it, that is not and will never be something we do.
Again, this year, we will be looking at ways to cement the Rathlin Run as one of the best and most iconic races in the UK. To have the likes of Clif Bar, a world renowned sports nutrition company, come on-board is also an exciting addition and for me highlights the potential in the event.”
Belfast Activity Centre's Andrea Kilpatrick added, "BAC have been organising Rathlin Run for a number of years and have always thrived on the atmosphere and uniqueness of the event. As running develops in Northern Ireland and the number of events increases, we felt it important to partner with NiRunning to ensure that we keep up with the expectations of runners.
Rathlin Run 2014 was a resounding success, almost doubling the numbers on the previous year and with the sun shining, atmosphere flowing and the combined expertise of BAC and NiRunning staff it was a highly enjoyable day for all. Rathlin Island is a beautiful location, where the local community make us feel very welcome and have embraced the race with a number of people from the Island assisting with the organisation, health and safety on the day, volunteering for water stops, running a BBQ and ensuring that everyone reached the island safely and on time via the ferry. With 2014 bringing a fresh breath of air to the Rathlin Run and the recipe of a passionate and dedicated team behind it, we are confident that numbers will continue to grow year on year and it will continue to be a much anticipated event in the Northern Ireland running calendar.”
Entries will be limited to 300 (inclusive of both events), so we would encourage everyone to enter early make use of the early-bird options, which are priced at £15 for the 10 mile race and £10 for the 5k.
To enter the Rathlin Run 2014 please visit the Belfast Activity Centre website at HERE, or contact BAC on 028 90 600 132; you will be able to pay by debit/credit card (or call to the office with cheque or cash). The entry fees for 2015 are: RATHLIN 10 mile Challenge - £25 per individual entry (£15 early bird entry available until 31st January 2015). RATHLIN 5k Run - £15 per individual entry (£10 early bird entry available until 31st January 2015).
Special Charity Fundraising Package:
Enter a team of 10 runners to fundraise for your good cause and qualify for a special charity group entry rate of £100 (register and pay by 30th June 2015).
Transport - Important Information:
All runners and supporters must make their own ferry arrangements. To book your outbound and return ferry with the Rathlin Island Ferry visit their on line booking website at www.rathlinballycastleferry.com or contact the booking office on 028 2076 9299. We would recommend that you reserve book your return ferry crossings first before confirming your race registration and payment.
Let your friends know that the challenge is back and save the date! Please follow us on facebook (NiRunning) and twitter (@NiRunning) if you would like to be kept up to date with the Rathlin Run 2015. You can also follow Belfast Activity Centre on facebook (Belfast Activity Centre) and twitter (@BACCharity).
NI athletes represent Ulster at Celtic XC Championships:
On Sunday 18th January 2015, a host of Northern Ireland's top junior stars represented Ulster at the Celtic XC Championships in Dunboyne, County Meath (Ireland). At the event, the Ulster Under 17, Under 20 and Under 23 athletes faced strong opposition in the form of teams from Scotland, Wales and Ireland (the Ireland team did not include athletes from Ulster).
There were several impressive performances, none more so than that of young Beechmount Harriers star Christy Conlon. Christy, an NI & Ulster Age Group XC and AAI National Age Group XC Champion, showed his strength on the international stage, when he secured victory and the associated gold medal in the Under 17 race, after covering the 6k course in 19:51 (1st place). Under 17 Ulster team mates Eoin McCann (6th place – 20:59), Patrick McNiff (8th place – 21:02) and Fintan Stewart (11th place – 21:36) followed within ninety seconds to ensure that Ulster claimed top spot in the team competition as well.
There were also team medals for Ulster's Under 17 ladies and Under 20 men's teams. In the Under 17 ladies 4k race, which was won by Scotland's Laura Stark (15:03), City of Lisburn AC's Olivia Nelson led the Ulster team home in 15:25 (5th place). Enya Haigney (15:50), Kate Gourley (16:21) and Emma Hutchinson (16:50) followed in 9th place, 15th place and 19th place respectively. This saw the ladies claim 3rd place in the team competition, which was won by Scotland.
The Ulster Under 20 men collected the same colour of medal (bronze), when Johnny Whan (City of Lisburn AC) led his team mates home having negotiated the 6k route in 20:41 (8th place). Paddy Robb (9th place – 20:43), Oisin Gallen (10th place – 20:45) and Peter Gibbons (15th place – 21:25) ensured that the four man team finished within forty four seconds of each other. This excellent packing was rewarded, when the men cemented 3rd place in the team race, which was won by Scotland. Scotland's Jonathan Glen won the race in 19:44 (1st place).
In the ladies Under 20 event, which measured 4k, Scotland's Gillian Black celebrated victory in 14:43 (1st place). The first Ulster finisher was Annalee AC front runner Clodagh O'Reilly, who crossed the line in 15:27 (5th place). Northern Ireland based stars Aoife McSheffrey (9th place – 16:11), Eilish O'Flanagan (12th place – 16:26) and Emer Magee (15th place – 17:07) also ran well. The team competition was won by Scotland, with the Ulster team taking 4th place.
Unfortunately, neither the ladies or men's Under 23 Ulster teams had enough runners to fulfil team classification, but that did not stop the individual athletes performing well. In the men's 10k race, Springwell Running Club's Neil Johnston recorded 35:41 (7th place); fellow Ulsterman Dalton McGuigan clocked 37:32 (10th place). The race was won by Max McNeill (Scotland) in 33:54 (1st place). In the ladies 5k, which was won by Shona Heslip (Ireland) in 19:09 (1st place), Northern Ireland based ladies Emma Mitchell (Banbridge AC) and Katie Moore (North Down AC) both claimed top ten places; Emma crossed the line in 19:51 (6th place), while Katie followed in 20:47 (9th place).
Full Results: Celtic XC Championships 2015 Results
Scottish Athletics National Open Indoor Track & Field Meeting 2015:
On Saturday 17th January 2015, a number of athletes from Northern Ireland travelled to Scotland for the Scottish Athletics National Open Indoor Track & Field Meeting at the impressive Emirates Arena in Glasgow. Despite the stress of travel disruption, due to snow en-route, all put in noteworthy performances.
In the 'Mixed' 800m event, up and coming star Aislinn Crossey (UCD AC) led the the ladies home in 2:12.39, which saw her claim 2nd place overall, behind race winner Lewis Ross (Unattached), who clocked 2:09.68 (1st place). Young Newry AC men Eoghan O'Callaghan and Oisin O'Callaghan also impressed over 800m – In his race, Eoghan crossed the line in 2:37.66 to finish in 5th place; the race was won by Unattached athlete Scott Tindle (2:34.78). Meanwhile, Oisin covered the distance in 2:01.57, taking 5th place in a top quality race, which was won by Giffnock North AC's Grant Muir in 1:54.91 (1st place).
Also in the 800m - Newry AC's Gavin Crilly took top spot in his Section 2 'Mixed Race', breaking the beam in 2:17.65 (1st place). In another 'Mixed' (800m) event, East Down AC star Laura Gardiner ran 2:51.10; this was enough to secure 3rd place overall and see Laura lead the ladies home. The race was won by Josh Law (Inverclyde AC) in 2:38.30 (1st place).
North Down AC athlete Jessica Craig kicked off her 2015 track campaign in fine fashion. Taking the form that she has shown in recent cross country races, Jessica powered to a new personal best of 4:42.80. This was enough to secure 5th place overall and see Jessica finish as third place lady. The race was won by Harry Nimm (Giffnock North AC) in 4:37.80 (1st place), while fellow Giffnock North AC athlete Sarah Olivia Eunson led the ladies home in 4:40.90. East Down AC's Laura Green also ran well over 1500m; the Under 17 athlete covered the distance in 5:04.70 (9th place). The 'Mixed' race was won by Lewis Raeburn (Shettleston Harriers) in 4:35.90 (1st place). Aoife Cochrane (East Down AC) was also in competition over 1500m, were she ran 5:34.41 (4th place), in a 'Mixed' race won by Gregor Campbell (Unattached) in 5:25.50 (1st place). Newry AC's Paul Le Blanc clocked 4:48.40 (9th place) over 1500m; the race was won by Kobe Stevens (Moorfoot Runners) in 4:28.30 (1st place). In the very close 60 metre hurdles, City of Lisburn AC's Kate Farrelly recorded 9.61secs (7th place); the race was won by Whitemoss AC's Holly McArthur in 9.06secs (1st place).
Sperrin Harriers Winter League Trail Series (Race 3) 2014/15:
On Saturday 17th January 2015, well over one hundred and fifty runners turned out for Race 3 of the Sperrin Harriers Winter League Trail Series. On this occasion, competitors faced a 10k course in the snow covered and picturisque Drum Manor, just outside Cookstown in County Tyrone.
The in-form Paul Barbour (Omagh Harriers) followed up wins at the Acorns XC and Lifford 5k last week with another top quality performance. Just like Race 2 of the Series, Paul led from the front and in truth, dominated proceedings before claiming a well-deserved victory in 35:49 (1st place). In an exciting battle for the runners up spot, Willowfield Harriers' Neill Weir just pipped local hero Gavin Corey, with Neill recording 37:26 (2nd place) and Gavin 37:27 (3rd place).
Following the postponment of the Born 2 Run Gosford 10k, talented international trail runner Karen Alexander (Acorns AC) still managed to get her race fix, opting for this event as an alternative. She (Karen) looked a class act, crossing the line in 41:04 (1st place). Unattached athlete and consistent competitor Charlene Abraham took 2nd place in 43:10, before the host club's Natalie Hall (Sperrin Harriers) completed the top three in 44:25 (3rd place).
Top 3 Men: 1st Paul Barbour (Omagh Harriers) – 35:49, 2nd Neill Weir (Willowfield Harriers) – 37:26, 3rd Gavin Corey (Sperrin Harriers) – 37:27
Top 3 Ladies: 1st Karen Alexander (Acorns AC) – 41:04, 2nd Charlene Abraham (Unattached) – 43:10, 3rd Natalie Hall (Sperrin Harriers) – 44:25
ChampionChip Ireland NI & Masters Intermediate/Masters XC 2015:
On Saturday 17th January 2015, hundreds of athletes from across the province descended on the University of Ulster's Coleraine Campus for the ChampionChip Ireland sponsored NI & Ulster Intermediate and Masters Cross Country Championships.
An excellent day of competition saw impressive wins for Declan Reed (City of Derry AC), Conor Duffy (Glaslough Harriers), Louise Smith (North Belfast Harriers), Laura Hassan (Springwell Running Club) and Terry Eakin (North Down AC).
The cold and at times snowy conditions took nothing away from an atmospheric and spectator friendly event, which kicked off with the Masters Men's 7.5k, five lap race, during which, current AAI National Masters XC Champion Declan Reed (City of Derry AC) showed his class. Almost as soon as the starting gun sounded, Declan made his way to the front of the pack and despite the best efforts of well-known Inishowen AC athlete Pauric McKinney, there was no stopping the Spartan athlete.
As the laps progressed, Declan increased his lead gradually; behind, Pauric was also cementing his position, while further back, North Belfast Harriers men Alan O'Hara and Eamon White were battling it out for the final podium place. There was no stopping the relentless Declan Reed as he powered to victory in 27:10 (1st place). Pauric McKinney followed in 27:47 (2nd place), before Eamon White edged out club mate Alan O'Hara for 3rd place by the slightest of margins. Both men recorded 28:03 for the course, but Eamon was given the nod by officials. In the team standings, North Belfast Harriers took 1st place, with Inishowen AC and Finn Valley AC claiming 2nd place and 3rd place respectively.
Next up was the Intermediate and Masters Ladies 4.5k race, which also included the Vet65+ Men. In what was an exciting race, Lauren Quee (Lagan Valley AC), Laura Hassan (Springwell Running Club), Louise Smith (North Belfast Harriers), Fionnuala Diver (Letterkenny AC), Claire Connor (North Belfast Harriers) and Anne Linden (Carrick Aces AC) all played their part at the head of the field.
Despite their actual positions changing on several occasions, it was these six ladies who ended up taking the podium places in their respective Intermediate and Masters categories. Laura Hassan and Lauren Quee enjoyed an early exchange of places, before Laura moved ahead and began to put some distance between herself and Northern Ireland international Lauren. In the end, it was Laura who took top spot in 19:43 (1st place) with Lauren following in 19:57 (2nd place) – this filled the top two places in the Intermediate category.
The always impressive Louise Smith then crossed the line in 20:07, claiming 1st place in the Masters category; Fionnuala Diver and Claire Connor then recorded 20:07 and 20:17 respectively, thus securing 2nd place and 3rd place in the Masters category. In a finish that replicated that for third place in the Masters Men's race, Anne Linden (20:25) just pipped Springwell Running Club's Sonia Knox (4th place – 20:25) for 3rd place. North Down AC's Terry Eakin showed the same kind of form that he did at the British & Irish Masters XC at the back end of 2014 to lead the Masters Men's Vet65+ field home in 20:23 (1st place). In the ladies team standings, City of Derry AC took gold after securing 1st place in the Intermediate Ladies category – Finn Valley AC claimed 2nd place, while Springwell Running Club took 3rd place. In the Masters category, Ballydrain Harriers (1st place) celebrated victory, with Lagan Valley AC and City of Derry AC taking 2nd place and 3rd place respectively.
The final race of the day, the Intermediate Men's 10.5k event (formally known as the Junior XC), proved to be an excellent culmination of a day of fine racing. Over what was now a cut up and slippy course, a large lead pack, which included Conor Duffy (Glaslough Harriers), Conan McCaughey (Enniskillen Running Club), Conal McCambridge (North Belfast Harriers), Stephen Prentice (Annadale Striders), Scott Rankin (Foyle Valley AC) and Conor Christie (Springwell Running Club), amongst others, looked strong in the early stages. However, it wasn't long before the pack had whittled down to Conor Duffy, Conan McCaughey, Scott Rankin, Stephen Prentice and Mark McKinstry - Mark had worked his way into contention well.
The five then turned to three, with Conor, Conan and Stephen leading the field into lap four of seven. It was at the next passing of the Start/Finish area that a possible champion was starting to show, as Glaslough Harriers man Conor Duffy, who recently took a podium place at the Greencastle 5, had put in a surge that was not replicated by Conan McCaughey or Stephen Prentice, who were now approximately ten metres behind.
This proved to be a race winning move by Conor, as he gradually increased the gap, before cruising into the finishing straight to win in 40:17 (1st place). In the final laps, Conan had moved clear of fellow County Fermanagh man Stephen, to claim 2nd place in 40:42, while Stephen completed the top three in 40:54 (3rd place). In the prestigious Intermediate Men's team competition, North Belfast Harriers lifted the sizeable winners trophy, while the closely packed Acorns AC secured 2nd place and the associated silver medals. Former winners, City of Derry AC (3rd place), completed the top three teams.
Masters Men (7.5k): 1st Declan Reed (City of Derry AC) – 27:10), 2nd Pauric McKinney (Inishowen AC) – 27:47, 3rd Eamon White (North Belfast Harriers) – 29:03
Intermediate Ladies (4.5k): 1st Laura Hassan (Springwell Running Club) – 19:43, 2nd Lauren Quee (Lagan Valley AC) – 19:57, 3rd Anne Linden (Carrick Aces AC) – 20:25
Masters Ladies (4.5k): 1st Louise Smith (North Belfast Harriers) – 20:00, 2nd Fionnuala Diver (Letterkenny AC) – 20:07, 3rd Claire Connor (North Belfast Harriers) – 20:17
Masters Men 65+ (4.5k): 1st Terry Aiken (North Down AC) – 20:23, 2nd Davy Nicholson (Ballymena Runners) – 23:36, 3rd Barry Morris (City of Lisburn AC) – 23:41
Intermediate Men (10.5k): 1st Conor Duffy (Glaslough Harriers) – 40:17, 2nd Conan McCaughey (Enniskillen Running Club) – 40:42, 3rd Stephen Prentice (Annadale Striders) – 40:54
Full Results: NI & Ulster Intermediate and Masters XC Championships 2015 Results – Photos from the NI & Ulster Intermediate/Masters XC will be added to our Photo Gallery in the coming days (more than likely Sunday 18th January 2015).
NI & Ulster Intermediate/Masters XC and more...
As we look ahead to the third weekend of racing in 2015, the exciting cross country season continues and once again takes centre stage, with the NI & Ulster Intermediate and Masters XC Championships taking place in Coleraine. However, there are other events on offer, with Born 2 Run Events and Sperrin Harriers hosting quality trail races in Gosford Forest (Armagh) and Drum Manor (Cookstown) respectively.
NI & Ulster Intermediate/Masters XC Championships:
The main event of the weekend will of course be the aforementioned NI & Ulster Intermediate and Masters XC Championships, which will take place on Saturday 17th January 2015 at the University of Ulster's Coleraine Campus in County Derry/Londonderry.
The entry criteria means that any athlete who has won a medal at the NI & Ulster Senior XC Championships or AAI Senior/Intermediate XC Championships as an individual or part of the winning team; or has been placed 1st or 2nd as an individual or part of a team in the NI & Ulster Senior XC Championships, the AAI Senior XC Championships, or won the NI & Ulster Intermediate XC as an individual or as part of a team cannot participate in the ‘Intermediate’ Women’s or ‘Intermediate’ Men’s races.
The Masters Men will kick off the Championship events with their 7.5k race, which starts at 1.15pm. City of Derry AC's current AAI National Masters XC Champion Declan Reed will go into the event as pre-race favourite and will be exceptionally hard to beat, especially if he shows the same kind of form which saw him win the North West XC last month (December 2014). In saying that, reigning NI & Ulster Masters XC Champion Stephen Duncan (Omagh Harriers) will return to defend the title he won so impressively twelve months ago in Lurgan. That day, Stephen forced the pace early on and ran out clear winner, which was the springboard to an excellent run of wins. Letterkenny AC's Ciaran Doherty is also worth watching, as is Annadale Striders' Mark Wright and North Belfast Harriers man Conor Curran. Another North Belfast Harriers athlete, Alan O'Hara, will continue his return from injury and alongside the likes of Eamon White and highly respected mountain man Neil Carty, amongst others, will spearhead the Belfast clubs challenge for the team title. Paul Rowan (Willowfield Harriers), Matt Wray (Ballymena Runners), Barrie Atkinson (East Down AC), Pauric McKinney (Inishowen AC), Nigel McKibbin (Dromroe AC) and James Crampsey (City of Derry AC) should also place well.
The Masters and Intermediate Women's event will follow at 2pm and will see competitors complete a revised 4.5k course, which is sure to be muddy following several days of wet weather. In truth, it's hard to look past the likes of Natasha Adams (Lifford AC) and Fionnuala Diver (Letterkenny AC) for overall race winners, but with the ladies racing in the Intermediate and Masters categories respectively, both may well collect gold medals.
The Intermediate race will also feature the very talented Lauren Quee; the Northern Ireland international cross country athlete has returned home from her studies in Scotland and followed in the footsteps of her sister in wearing the famous Lagan Valley AC colours. Following an excellent run and second place finish at the Moira XC last week, Lauren will be high in confidence and will be backed up by a strong Lagan Valley AC team, which will include Ursula Daly, Hazel McLaughlin, Shileen O'Kane, Anne Sandford, Susan Lambe and Julie Murphy.
Catherine Whoriskey (City of Derry AC) and Catherine O'Connor (East Down AC) will also finish well up the pack, as will Lois Hagen (Willowfield Harriers), Sinead Peoples (Letterkenny AC), Lisa Sturgeon (North Belfast Harriers), Gemma McGinty (Foyle Valley AC) and Springwell Running Club ladies Sonia Knox and Gemma Turley, who will be aiming to lead their club to a team medal.
The previously mentioned Fionnuala Diver (Letterkenny AC) will be joined in the Masters line-up by the ever impressive Cathy McCourt (North Belfast Harriers), who will also be a medal challenger. Aside from personal goals, Cathy will have one eye on guiding North Belfast Harriers to a place on the team podium; she (Cathy) will have good back up, in the form of Claire Connor, Louise Smith and Mary Margaret Meade. Meanwhile, Jenny Black (Orangegrove AC), Marina Campbell (City of Derry AC) and Denise Logue (Ballydrain Harriers) will all have high hopes going into the event. Debbie Matchett (Ballydrain Harriers), Anne Paul (City of Derry AC), Lorna Sibbett (Ballymena Runners), Gillian Burns (Dromore AC), Fran McFadden (Springwell Running Club), Donna Evans (Finn Valley AC) and Geraldine Quigley (Larne AC) will also be in or around the top ten.
The final race of what should be an excellent day of competition will bring Intermediate Men to the start line at 2.30pm. The 10.5k race should attract a plethora of talent and if the pre-entry list is correct, Foyle Valley AC front runner Scott Rankin, a multiple Championship medal winner, should head the pack. A consistent performer over the cross country terrain, Scott is a likely medal winner. He'll also be looking for top honours in the team competition and will be ably assisted by club mates Chris McGuinness, Pius McIntyre, Adrian McGowan, Stephen Connor and the returning Keith Shiels, who will also be a gold medal candidate.
Classy Glaslough AC athlete Conor Duffy should go well, especially after his prize-winning exploits at the Greencastle 5 mile road race on Boxing Day. The in-form Paul Barbour (Omagh Harriers), who won the Acorns AC XC last week, will also be there or there abouts and should be joined by the fast improving pair of Chris Madden (City of Lisburn AC) and Mark McKinstry (North Belfast Harriers). Andrew Annett, Adam Boyd, Brendan Grew, John Black, Andrew Considine and Greg Lavery will add to a strong North Belfast Harriers line-up, while Annadale Striders' Stephen Prentice and his former Enniskillen Running Club team mate Conan McCaughey, a Novice XC Champion, will also be in the hunt for medals.
Born 2 Run Gosford 10k *IMPORTANT NOTICE: THIS EVENT HAS BEEN POSTPONED DUE TO ADVERSE WEATHER CONDITIONS* :
Also on Saturday 17th January 2015, Born 2 Run Events will welcome athletes from all over Northern Ireland to their Gosford 10k trail race, which is part of the ongoing Run Forest Run 10k Series.
Up front, the two men who battled it out at Born 2 Run's last event, the Kilbroney Park 10k trail race, will return. Matthew Bell (Unattached) and Stuart Paulin (Unattached) both showed their gritty edge when they took to the trails in Warrenpoint two weeks ago; that day, Matthew came out on top, but having won here (Gosford) twelve months ago, Stuart will be hopeful of overturning that this time around. Local athlete Daniel Fagan (Armagh AC) should finish well up the field, while BARF's Aaron Shimmons, who found out just this week that he will be travelling to Chamonix, France in the Summer for the UTMB CCC, will be looking to kick off his training for the event with a quality outing here.
The ladies race should see a comfortable win for Acorns AC athlete Karen Alexander; having excelled at the Acorns XC last weekend, were she came through well to claim victory, Karen will enjoy being back on the trails and should therefore be on top form. The battle for the runners up spot should be an interesting affair, with Gillian Cordner (Seapark AC), Eileen Stevenson (St Peter's AC), Nicola Mathers (Murlough AC), Catherine Roberts (North Down AC), Niamh O'Connell (Murlough AC), Verity Comford (Orangegrove AC) and Helen Perry (Unattached) all likely to be in the mix.
Sperrin Harriers Winter League Series (Race 3):
On the same day (Saturday 17th January 2015), the Sperrin Harriers Winter League Series will resume in County Tyrone, with athletes taking on Race 3 of the popular Series. On this occasion, competitors will cover a 10k route within the scenic Drum Manor, close to Cookstown.
It is almost certain that Race 2 winners Paul Barbour (Omagh Harriers) and Anne Paul (City of Derry AC) will not race, given their club commitments at the NI & Ulster XC in Coleraine. This leaves the door wide open for the host club's Gavin Corey (Sperrin Harriers) to control the men's race. However, a win for the international duathlete isn't set in stone, as he could be joined on the start line by Matthew Hewitt (East Coast AC), Alex Brennan (Ballymena Runners), Delfim Pemintel (Unattached) and Connor Reid (Ballymena Runners). Should all of the aforementioned men show up, it could make for an excellent race for top spot.
In the ladies event, the pressure of pre-race favourite status may sit on the shoulders of Dub Runners lady Collette McCourt. After winning Race 1 of the Series and taking third place in Race 2, Collette will be hoping to emulate that kind of placing once again. Other likely contenders could include Densie Ward (Foyle Valley AC), Natalie Hall (Sperrin Harriers), Cheryl Cardwell (Sperrin Harriers), Louise Lemon (Orangegrove AC) and Patricia Campbell (Omagh Harriers).
As always, Northern Ireland’s nineteen parkrun events will take place this weekend, for more information on these, or to locate your nearest event, please visit our dedicated ‘parkrun’ section within our fixtures page.
Local stars impress in England and Ireland:
On Sunday 11th January 2015, Northern Ireland’s top endurance athlete, Paul Pollock (Annadale Striders) kicked off his indoor track campaign in outstanding fashion. The Northern Ireland half marathon record holder, who was racing in the 3,000m ‘A’ race at the British Milers Club (BMC) Indoor Track Meet in Sheffield, recorded a new personal best of 7:59.25 (1st place) to claim victory in what was a closely contested race.
After Richard Weir (Derby AC) had made much of the early running, Paul hit the front and took the race, which looked to be heading for a time of around 8:05.00, by the scruff of the neck. The World Championship marathoner upped the pace, with Shaftesbury Barnet AC’s Jake Shelley in tow, and relentlessly covered the remaining four laps to claim a well-deserved win. Jake Shelley followed just behind in 7:59.57 (2nd place). This was also a qualification standard for the European Indoor Championships, which are scheduled to take place in Prague (Czech Republic) on the weekend of the 6th to 8th March 2015.
Another Northern Ireland man also showed good form in the season opener; Steven Morrow (Ballymena & Antrim AC) claimed 2nd place in the 800m ‘C’ race after covering the distance in 1:54.53, his quickest first 800m outing of the season since 2010. The race was won by Inverness AC man Stephen MacKay in 1:53.41 (1st place).
GloHealth Indoor Track & Field League (Round 1) 2015:
Also on Sunday 11th January 2015, but closer to home, Northern Ireland based athletes Oisin O’Callaghan (Newry AC), Rachel Gibson (North Down AC) and Denise Toner (Clones AC) were in action at Round One of the GloHealth Indoor League at the AIT Arena in Athlone, Ireland. Oisin toed the line in the 800m Guest Race, during which he recorded 2:00.76; this was the eleventh fastest guest time of the day. Mullingar Harriers AC man Shane Fitzsimons clocked the fastest 800m time of the day when he crossed the line in 1:52:33. Meanwhile, in their ladies 800m event, versatile star Rachel Gibson (2:15.56) and NI Masters International Denise Toner (2:17.68) ran the second and fourth fastest time of the day. Alannah Lally (GCH) was the fastest lady of the day over 800m, running 2:15.03.
East Coast AC Junior XC Series (Race 1):
On Sunday 11th January 2015, Larne based club East Coast AC welcomed nearly one hundred junior athletes, between the ages of 4 years old and 14 years old to their first race in the inaugural Junior XC Series in Larne, Country Antrim.
The weekend weather conditions forced organisers to lengthen the course lap from 500m to 700m; this meant that the Mini's (Under 6) would take on a 700m course, while the Minor Boys and Girls (Under 11) and the Junior Boys and Girls (Under 15) would cover 1,400m and 2,100m respectively.
The Mini's kicked off proceedings with their one lap 700m race and it was the host club's Sam McKeown and Eimear Ward who led their respective field home in 4:13 (1st place) and 4:22 (1st place) respectively. In the Minor Girls 1,400m race, Hannah Clements (East Coast AC) enjoyed a gun to tape victory, crossing the line in 7:14 (1st place).
The Minor Boys event was a close affair and it took a sprint finish from Harry Plumb (East Coast AC) to fend of his club mate Rhys McManus (East Coast AC) to top spot, with Harry recording 6:42 (1st place) and Rhys 6:43 (2nd place).
The penulitmate race of the morning schedule was the Junior Girls 2,100m race, during which Bradie Hogg (East Coast AC) paced herself well in the early stages to come through and win in 11:14 (1st place). The Junior Boys race brought an exciting battle between brothers Callum McIlroy (North Belfast Harriers) and Matthew McIlroy (East Coast AC); the pair could not be split over the three lap course and it wasn't until the final 50m that Callum made what proved to be the race winning move. Despite a strong challenge from Matthew, Callum just held on to secure the win in 9:38 (1st place), with Matthew finishing in 9:39 (2nd place).
The next race in the three race Series will take place on Saturday 24th January 2015 in the Curran Park, Larne (Registration opens 10am, Races commence 11am) – The Series is open to Junior athletes (Under 6 to Under 15) from any club, school or organisation (ie football team, hockey team etc).
Full Results: East Coast AC Junior XC Series 2015 (Race 1) Results - Photo above by Bill Guiller
Moira XC 2015:
On Saturday 10th January 2015, a large number of athletes from across the province descended on the scenic, yet wintry Moira Demesne, just outside Lisburn (County Antrim) for the annual Moira XC, hosted by City of Lisburn AC.
On a day which will be remembered for the cold temperatures and changeable weather conditions, there were a number of top quality performances to heat things up. In the well supported junior races, there were wins for Oghran Hamilton (3 Ways AC), Hannah Cochrane (Richmount PS), Jack Scott (Tandragee PS), Rachel Scott (Lagan Valley AC), Jack O'Farrell (Burren AC) and Rachel Scott (North Down AC), while Kate Mulholland (St Peter's AC) and Scott McKeague (Ballydrain Harriers) won their respective Under 18 events.
In the Senior/Master Ladies 3 mile race, there was an excellent battle between Heather Foley (Unattached) and Lagan Valley AC new girl Lauren Quee at the front; Gerrie Short (Beechmount Harriers), Shileen O'Kane (Lagan Valley AC), Catherine Diver (Beechmount Harriers) and Catherine O'Connor (East Down AC) were also amongst the front runners.
In the latter stages of the race, triathlete and Heather Foley put in a surge, which saw her move just ahead of Scotland based Lauren Quee, and from this point, the Greencastle 5 Champion (Heather) didn't look back, sealing victory in 16:34 (1st place). Lauren followed just one second later in 16:35 (2nd place), while marathon expert Gerrie Short just edged out Catherine O'Connor (4th place -16:42) for 3rd place, clocking 16:38.
The Senior/Masters Men capped off an excellent day of racing with a showing that matched the earlier ladies event for entertainment. In the 4 mile encounter, North Belfast Harriers men Alan O'Hara and Eamon White made the early running, with Martin Cox (Project Africa), Chris Madden (City of Lisburn AC), Christy Conlon (Beechmount Harriers) and James Edgar (City of Lisburn AC) all in hot pursuit.
As the race progressed, it was Martin Cox who headed the pack, but that didn't remain the case, as multiple Junior XC Champion Christy Conlon made a move. Despite their efforts, the men who pursued him, Chris Madden, Martin Cox and James Edgar couldn't catch the fast finishing Christy, who increased his lead quickly to broke the tape in 18:39 (1st place). Chris Madden claimed the runners up spot in 19:18 (2nd place), while Martin Cox took 3rd place in 19:26.
Top 3 Ladies (3 miles): 1st Heather Foley (Unattached) – 16:34, 2nd Lauren Quee (Lagan Valley AC) – 16:35, 3rd Gerrie Short (Beechmount Harriers) – 16:38
Top 3 Men (4 miles): 1st Christy Conlon (Beechmount Harriers) – 18:39, 2nd Chris Madden (City of Lisburn AC) – 19:18, 3rd Martin Cox (Project Africa) – 19:26
NI Open Indoor Track & Field Meeting (by John Glover):
On Saturday 10th January 2015, the indoor track season got underway at the Ulster University Jordanstown, with events over 60 metres flat, 60 metres hurdles and Shot Putt for athletes aged Under 14 and upwards. Given the ring rustiness of the fast twitch brigade who have not competed for over three months there were some excellent performances both from well known stars and at least one interesting newcomer.
Young Tara Meier made the journey up from Boyne AC and was rewarded with clear victory in the opening race of the day, the Girls 60m hurdles, which she won in 9.74secs. In the Senior 60m hurdles the winner also came from outside Northern Ireland but from somewhat further afield. Queen University student Louise van Eecke ran 9.49secs to beat City of Lisburn AC youngster Kate Farrelly. With the barriers removed youth had its say with impressive wins for Anna McAuley, Peter Wright, Simon Jackson and Ollie Wakefield before the Seniors gave battle. North Belfast Harriers Caitlin Maguire dominated both the ladies races while the heats of the men's 60m event promised an exciting showdown between Long Jumper Adam McMullan, now competing for Crusaders AC, and comeback former sprint champion Dean Adams (Ballymena & Antrim AC).
The small but enthusiastic crowd were not disappointed with Adam McMullan (7.02secs) just getting a jump on Dean (7.08secs) on this occasion, with young pretender Karl McLean (7.11secs) not far behind. The Shot Putt provided a very close competition between two Finn Valley AC rising stars Niamh McGranaghan and Bridget McDyer with the latter having to go to her better second throw to break the deadlock as both threw 10.49 metres.
Full Results for the event can be found HERE.
Acorns AC XC 2015:
On Saturday 10th January 2015, hundreds of athletes of various ages braved cold, windy and at times, blizzard like weather as they took on the well-organised Acorns AC Cross Country, which was held at the Mid Ulster Sports Arena in Cookstown (County Tyrone).
The junior athletes battled against the worst of the weather, but that didn't stop Conor Gourley (Unattached), Fionn Nagle (North Belfast Harriers), Sarah Monaghan (Clones AC), Freya Kennedy (Unattahced), Tony McCambridge (North Belfast Harriers) and Callum Dalzell (Unattached) impressing with wins in their respective age category races.
In the Senior and Masters Ladies 3 mile race, which also included Vet65+ Men, it was the host club's Karen Alexander (Acorns AC) who dominated proceedings. Despite Orangegrove AC's Jenny Black taking the early lead, it was Karen who came through strongly to claim victory in 21:10 (1st place). Jenny followed in 31:52 (2nd place), while Debbie Matchett (Ballydrain Harriers) completed the ladies top three in 22:44 (3rd place). Eoin Woodman (Orangegrove AC) led the Vet65+ Men home in 38:01 (1st place).
The Senior and Masters Men's 5 mile race was the final race of the well-supported inaugural event. At the head of the pack, there was an excellent battle between in-form Omagh Harriers man Paul Barbour and mountain specialist Allan Bogle (City of Derry AC). In the end, it was Paul who edged it, securing the win in 31:45. Allan (31:55) crossed the line ten seconds later in 2nd place, before Darrell McKee (Acorns AC) took 3rd place in 32:38.
In their respective team competitions, the men and ladies from host club Acorns AC excelled. After showing the same kind of representation and form that has saw them perform well in the Athletics NI XC League 2014/15, both teams topped the final standings, thus celebrated victory.
Top 3 Ladies (3 miles): 1st Karen Alexander (Acorns AC) – 21:10, 2nd Jenny Black (Orangegrove AC) – 22:01, 3rd Debbie Matchett (Ballydrain Harriers) – 22:44
Top 3 Men (5 miles): 1st Paul Barbour (Omagh Harriers) – 31:45, 2nd Allan Bogle (City of Derry AC) – 31:53, 3rd Darrell McKee (Acorns AC) – 32:38
Full Results: Acorns AC XC 2015 Results
Great Edinburgh XC (inc Inter-District XC Championships) 2015:
On Saturday 10th January 2015, at least two runners from Northern Ireland were in action at the prestigious Morrisons Great Edinburgh Cross Country in Scotland. The event, which attracted a plethora of talent from around the globe, also incorporated the Inter-District University Championships.
Team NI Commonwealth Games competitor Danny Mooney (Letterkenny AC) lined up in the newly added International 2 x 1k XC Relay alongside Irish Olympian and current AAI National Marathon Champion Maria McCambridge. The pair performed well against top class competition, eventually taking 8th place in a total time of 7:00. The race was won by England's 'B Team' in 6:43 (1st place).
In the earlier Inter-District University Championships 8k event, County Fermanagh man Conan McCaughey (Enniskillen Running Club) represented the University of Stirling. In what was a quality race won by North of England's Dan Cliffe (Liverpool Harriers) in 27:13 (1st place), Conan recorded 29:55 for 34th place.
In the main races of the day, the International Men's 8k and and Ladies 6k, USA's Chris Derrick looked strong at the head of the men's field, forging a gap in the final two laps to claim victory in 25:31. After running an excellent race, Team GB's Emelia Gorecka broke clear in the last lap to claim victory in 21:26. Ireland's Fionnuala Britton, who was representing Team Europe, took 2nd place in 21:33, with fellow Irish ladies Sara Treacy (22:37) and Michelle Finn (22:49) taking 16th place and 22nd place respectively.
Provisional Results: Inter-District XC Championships (Men) 2015 Results and International 2 x 1k Relay 2015 Results
Weekend Preview: Athletes set for first cross country and track events of 2015…
After an excellent Christmas and New Year of racing, its back to the ‘grindstone’ and an exciting weekend of racing. The major focus is on Cross Country, with events in Moira (County Antrim), Cookstown (County Tyrone), Larne (County Antrim) and Edinburgh (Scotland).
The local track and field fraternity will also be happy to see the first track event of the year taking place in Jordanstown (County Antrim).
Moira Cross Country:
The action will kick off in Moira (County Antrim) on Saturday 10th January 2015, when City of Lisburn AC host the annual running of their Moira XC event in scenic Moira Demesne. The event offers races for all ages, from junior athletes right through to Masters.
The Primary School race heads the timetable (starting at 11.45am), with races for Year 8, Year 9 and Year 10 athletes following before the Under 18 Boys (3 mile) and Girls (2 miles) events lead into the Senior/Masters Ladies 3 mile race (1pm) and the Senior/Masters Men’s 4 mile race (1.25pm). On the day entry is available.
Although this event is not part of the Athletics NI Cross Country League 2014/15, currently league leaders Newcastle AC should field a strong team. This should be led by the in-form Seamus Lynch; after enjoying a successful Christmas and New Year period, were he won the BARF Turkey Trot and claimed podium places at the Castlewellan Christmas Cracker and Race Over The Glens, Seamus will be high in confidence as he toes the line. Other contenders may include Chris Madden (City of Lisburn AC) and David Steele (Newcastle AC) – Chris impressed in the latter stages of 2014, with his 32:53 clocking for 10k being the most notable of several good outings, while mountain man David, who partnered Seamus (Lynch) at the Castlewellan Christmas Cracker will be eager to get a good run over 'the country' having missed the opening Athletics NI League fixtures. David O'Flaherty (Newcastle AC), Paul Carroll (Annadale Striders), Mark Wright (Annadale Striders), Michael Magee (Beechmount Harriers), Stephen Morris (City of Lisburn AC), Stuart Kennedy (Beechmount Harriers) and junior XC star Christy Conlon, a multiple age group Champion, will all be chasing top ten places.
The ladies race could be a battle of the mountain runners, with Northern Ireland internationals Catherine O'Connor (East Down AC), Shileen O'Kane (Lagan Valley AC) and Hazel McLaughlin (Lagan Valley AC) all possible starters. Catherine will be hoping to bring the same kind of form that saw her make her Northern Ireland debut in 2014 into the new year, but the talented athlete will have to be on top of her game if she wants to out pace Lagan Valley AC friends Shileen and Hazel. Shileen was a runner up here last year, while Hazel also finished well up the field. Ursula Daly (Lagan Valley AC), a podium finisher at the Greencastle 5 on Boxing Day, will also be one to watch, as will Debbie Matchett (Ballydrain Harriers), Geraldine Quigley (Larne AC), Ruth Magill (Lagan Valley AC), Sam McNeilly (Newcastle AC), Mel Menshull (City of Lisburn AC), Mary Mackin (Dromore AC) and Nikki Heywood (North Down AC).
Acorns AC Cross Country:
Also on Saturday 10th January 2015, Acorns AC will welcome athletes from across the province to the first annual running of their Acorns XC, which will be held at the Mid Ulster Sports Arena in Cookstown (County Tyrone).
Like the aforementioned Moira XC, this event offers an excellent range of races, with the Under 11, Under 13, Under 15 and Under 17 races kicking off proceedings from 12pm; the Senior/Masters Ladies, including Vet70+ Men 3 mile race will start at 2pm, with the Senior/Masters Men’s 5 mile race capping the programme at 2.45pm. On the day entry is available.
North Belfast Harriers man Mark McKinstry should play a major part in proceedings here. After an excellent performance at Race Over The Glens on New Years Day, were he claimed second place, Mark will prove hard to beat. Although he may face competition from club mates Alan O'Hara and Andrew Considine if they are race fit and turn out on race day.
Orangegrove AC should be well represented, with the likes on Titanic Run (10k) winner John Craig likely to lead their charge for prizes. Acorns AC men Aaron Meharg, Bliadhann Glass and Darrell McKee will all be there or there abouts, while Thomas Leitch (Orangegrove AC), Paul Woodman (Orangegrove AC), Delfim Pimentel (Unattached), Diarmuid O'Kane (Acorns AC), Alan Shaw (Acorns AC) and Martin McGirr (Acorns AC) should all go well.
Local athlete and the host clubs leading lady, Karen Alexander (Acorns AC) will dominate the ladies event should she enter on the day. The international athlete has been relatively quiet throughout this cross country season but has shown her talent on the roads and trails, with wins at the Burren 12 mile road race and the Born 2 Run Tollymore Trail Race last month (December 2014). Cathy McCourt (North Belfast Harriers) will provide strong opposition for Karen should she take to the start line, while Rhian Pegram (Acorns AC) and Pauline McGurren (Sperrin Harriers) may battle it out for the remaining podium place. Orangegrove AC ladies Sile Brennan, Liz Leitch, Emma McWilliams and Julie McKimm will also finish well up the field should they make use of the late entry system.
NI Open Indoor Track & Field Meeting:
Meanwhile, in Jordanstown (County Antrim) on the same day (Saturday 10th January 2015), athletes from across the province will enjoy the first Track event of 2015, the Athletics NI Indoor Open Track Meet, which will be held at the impressive indoor facility at the University of Ulster’s Jordanstown Campus.
A host of recognisable faces should travel to this event, with the likes of Tom Reynolds (North Down AC), Christine McMahon (Ballymena & Antrim AC), Laura Frey (Lagan Valley AC), Megan Marrs (City of Lisburn AC), Conor McLaughlin (Strabane AC), Emma Smith (Orangegrove AC), Curtis Woods (North Down AC) and Jonathan Browning (Ballymena & Antrim AC) being amongst the possible starters.
BUPA Great Edinburgh Cross Country:
Further afield, on Saturday 10th January 2015, at least two runners from Northern Ireland will be in action at the Great Edinburgh Cross Country. The event, which attracts a plethora of talent from around the world takes places in the famous Holyrood Park in Edinburgh, Scotland. Team NI Commonwealth Games start Danny Mooney (Letterkenny AC) will line up in the International Mixed 2 x 1k Relay event alongside Irish Olympian Maria McCambridge (DSD AC). Enniskillen Running Club's Conan McCaughey (University of Stirling) will also be in action, representing the Scottish Universities Team at the Inter-Districts XC Championships, which takes place as part of the wider race programme.
East Coast AC Junior Cross Country Series:
On Sunday 11th January 2015, and following on from an excellent of cross country events a day earlier (Saturday 10th January 2015), junior athletes will once again be in for a treat, when East Coast Athletic Club host their inaugural Junior Cross Country Series opener in Larne.
The first event of the three race Series will take place at Sandy Bay Playing Fields in Larne, and with races for athletes in age categories ranging from Under 6 to Under 15, it is sure to prove popular with running enthusiasts both locally and in the wider County Antrim area. Full details of the event are available HERE.
Northern Ireland man claims Irish 50k record:
Over the weekend (Saturday 3rd January 2015), Northern Ireland man Thomas Frazer (St Malachy's AC) produced a top class performance to claim a new Irish 50k record whilst competing in America.
The Indianapolis based star, who made his Irish debut at the European Championships in Zurich (Switzerland) last year (2014), started conservatively before increasing the pace gradually. The 2:17:45 marathoner (Berlin 2013) went through the final few miles at 5:28 pace, before crossing the line in a new course record time of 2:58:00 (1st place), thus claiming a memorable victory.
Thomas' time was twenty two seconds quicker than Mick Molloy's long standing 50k track record of 2:58:22, set in 1978 and just over a minute quicker than Gary O'Hanlon's 2:59:18 from the Donadea 50k ultra-trail race in 2014.
Full Results: Pistol Ultra 50k 2015 Results
Foyle Valley AC athletes claim prizes at Letterkenny AC event:
On Sunday 4th January 2015, a number of athletes from Northern Ireland opened their new year racing account with quality performances at the Black & Amber 5 mile road race in Letterkenny, County Donegal (Ireland).
The performance of the day came from Foyle Valley AC’s Keith Shiels; the Northern Ireland international star suffered a frustrating second half to 2014 because of injury but followed up impressive recent outings over 5k with a victory, leading the field home in a speedy 25:27 (1st place). His Foyle Valley AC club mate Johnnie Canning also made the top ten in the one hundred and eighteen strong field, taking 6th place in 29:02.
In the ladies, another of the Foyle Valley AC contingent made the podium. Gemma McGinty (33:36) claimed 2nd place after a close race with eventual winner Sinead Peoples (Letterkenny AC), who secured victory in 33:19 (1st place). Verona Campbell (Foyle Valley AC) also scraped a top ten spot (in the ladies race), after crossing the line in 37:30 (10th place).
Full Results: Black & Amber 5 mile Road Race 2015 Results
Born 2 Run Kilbroney 10k 2015:
On Saturday 3rd January 2015, events management company Born 2 Run welcomed nearly four hundred athletes to Kilbroney Forest Park, close to Warrenpoint (County Down) for the third race in their popular six race Run Forest Run Series.
The Kilbroney Forest 10k course saw athletes negotiate a tough undulating, but scenic route, and it was Matthew Bell (Unattached) who stole the headlines. Matthew, who claimed the runners up spot at the recent Born 2 Run Tollymore 10k, broke the tape in 38:43 (1st place). This was enough to see off podium regular Stuart Paulin (Unattached) – Stuart secured 2nd place in 38:50, while Newcastle AC's Marty Melville took 3rd place in 39:18.
In the ladies race, the ever consistent Lorna Fitzpatrick (Beechmount Harriers) showed the same kind of form that she did for Queens University at the recent UAA Road Relays in Ireland, to take top honours in 45:46 (1st place). Unattached athlete Helen White followed in 46:20 (2nd place), before Niamh O'Connell (Murlough AC) was rewarded for an excellent run when she crossed the line in 47:24, thus taking 3rd place.
Top 3 Men: 1st Matthew Bell (Unattached) – 38:43, 2nd Stuart Paulin (Unattached) – 38:50, 3rd Marty Melville (Newcastle AC) – 39:18
Top 3 Ladies: 1st Lorna Fitzpatrick (Beechmount Harriers) – 45:46, 2nd Helen White (Unattached) – 46:20, 3rd Niamh O'Connell (Murlough AC) – 47:24
Full Results: Born 2 Run 'Kilbroney 10k' 2015 Results
Race Over The Glens 2015:
On Thursday 1st January 2015, a record number of over four hundred athletes descended on the scenic Glenariff Forest Park just outside Waterfoot (County Antrim) for the 19th annual running of Ballymena Runners' traditional Race Over the Glens.
The course, which measured approximately 6 miles in distance, saw athletes start on a fast road section before ascending to the course's highest point were they were greeted by a lone piper; from here, the field negotiated a long descent, were they would then face a gruelling climb back up towards the piper. The final stretch saw competitors descend towards the finish which was located just off the entrance road into the Forest Park, close to the Exhibition Centre.
Given the plethora of talent on the start line it was obvious that top spot would be hotly contested and that did indeed prove to be the case. In the early stages, Mark McKinstry (North Belfast Harriers) and Jonny Steede (Ballymena Runners) led the pack, with James McIlroy (Larne AC), just behind and Seamus Lynch (Newcastle AC), Jarlath Falls (Ballymena & Antrim AC), Matthew Hewitt (East Coast AC), Michael Crawley (Acorns AC) and Stephen Wylie (North Down AC) all in pursuit. As the men negotiated the gruelling ascent from the course's lowest point, Mark McKinstry and Jarlath Falls had assumed the first two positions, while close behind, Jonny Steede and Seamus Lynch were embroiled in a battle for third place.
As the race progressed past the 'piper' for the final time, it was eight times winner of the event Jarlath Falls who stamped his authority on proceedings as he assumed control and began to build a lead on the chasing Mark McKinstry. The Ballymena & Antrim AC man descended quickly and continued his relentless pace along the undulating final stretch to claim his ninth win at the event in 36:39 (1st place). The in-form Mark McKinstry took 2nd place in 37:12, before Seamus Lynch edged Jonny Steede (4th place – 37:31) to 3rd place in 37:23.
Unattached athlete Shalene McMurray was the most impressive performer in the ladies event; in the absence of pre-race favourites Sharon Trimble (North Belfast Harriers) and Claire MacAuley (Bellahouston Harriers), the previous NIMRA Tollymore Trail Race winner dominated from start to finish. In the end, Shalene's time of 42:37 (1st place) not only sealed the ladies top prize and the 'Queen of the Glens' title, but saw her finish well up the field overall. Behind, there was an excellent race, with Shileen O'Kane (Lagan Valley AC), Susan Smyth (Dromore AC), Penny Lindsay (North Belfast Harriers), Jenny McCready (Invictus Triathlon Club) and Taryn McCoy (BARF) all running well. However, it was experienced mountain runner and reigning ROTG Champion Shileen O'Kane who claimed the runners up spot, after covering the 6 mile course in 46:03 (2nd place). North Belfast Harriers' Penny Lindsay replicated her finishing position from 2014 when she crossed the line in 47:22 for 3rd place.
Top 3 Men: 1st Jarlath Falls (Ballymena & Antrim AC) – 36:39, 2nd Mark McKinstry (North Belfast Harriers) – 37:12, 3rd Seamus Lynch (Newcastle AC) – 37:23
Top 3 Ladies: 1st Shalene McMurray (Unattached) – 42:37, 2nd Shileen O'Kane (Lagan Valley AC) – 46:03, 3rd Penny Lindsay (North Belfast Harriers) – 47:22
Full Results: Race Over The Glens 2015 Results – Photos from Race Over The Glens will be added to our Photo Gallery on Saturday 3rd January 2015.