Northern Ireland Running

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Kelly Neely secures gold at European Masters Indoor Championships:

European Masters Indoor T&F Championships:

On Thursday 31st March 2016, Northern Ireland's Kelly Neely (City of Lisburn AC) secured gold at the European Masters Indoor T&F Championships in Ancona, Italy.


Current Vet35 World Champion and Irish Masters 800m record holder (in her age category) Kelly was in competition over her favourite 800m distance.  Showing fine form, the City of Lisburn AC athlete recorded 2:09.04 (1st place) in what was ultimately a solo effort.  


On the night, Kelly's friend, City of Lisburn AC new-girl Joy McAleer clocked 2:50.47 to take a very credible 6th place in the Vet50 800m event.  These notable performances follow an excellent performances by fellow NI lady Denise Toner (Clones AC) in the 3,000m.  Denise picked up a silver medal in the Vet35 category after crossing the line in 10:14.45 (2nd place).


Up to date results from the European Masters Indoor T&F Championships, which are still ongoing, can be found HERE.

Additional 250 places available for Walled City Marathon 2016:

Walled City Marathon 2016:

Registration for the SSE Airtricity Walled City Marathon 2016 has been reopened for 250 extra participants due to popular demand.


This year’s marathon takes place in Derry~Londonderry on Sunday 5th June and is now firmly established as one of the major events in the city’s calendar. Registration originally closed earlier this month, but organisers have been inundated with requests for further places and now, working with sponsors SSE Airtricity, it has been agreed that entries will reopen for an extra 250 runners. 


SSE Airtricity Walled City Marathon Course Director, Scott Galbraith said:  “Our marathon is now in its fourth year and since 2013 the event has grown bigger and bigger. The support from the public is terrific and really gives the runners a push. We are delighted that an additional 250 participants can now enter, but they will need to be quick, as we’re expecting the extra slots to fill up very fast!” 


Vicky Boden, SSE Airtricity, commented:  “The SSE Airtricity Walled City Marathon is a fantastic community event in Derry~Londonderry and we are delighted to be involved with the race as it continues to grow. We know that runners undertake huge personal sacrifice in getting ready to take part, and so we are urging people to support the event and cheer on the participants on the day. In recent years more than £250,000 has been raised for local charities and we expect something similar this time around, so adding the extra 250 places is good news for everyone.”


Athletes from across the globe will compete over the 26.2 mile course, taking in stunning views of the city’s waterfront roads and paths along the way. The race will take the runners through buzzing neighbourhoods and rural villages, along the banks of the River Foyle and over the city’s famous bridges, before finishing in the historic Guildhall Square. As in previous years, the 2016 marathon promises to be an exciting event for the whole family. There will be plenty of entertainment for all ages, including the one-mile SSE Airtricity Kids Mini Marathon for local children aged 9-17.


To sign-up for the SSE Airtricity Walled City Marathon 2016, go to www.thewalledcitymarathon.com

Shane Donnelly and Karen Alexander excel as Acorns AC dominate in Maghera:

Scenic Carn 10k 2016:

On Monday 28th March 2016 (Easter Monday), just over one hundred runners turned out for the inaugural running of the Scenic Carn 10k and associated 5k race close to Maghera, County Derry/Londonderry.  


The athletes were treated to the beautiful scenery of the Sperrin Mountains landscape as they raced through the peaceful and untouched roads at the foot of Carn Tochair Mountain. 


A downhill stretch to the finish line ensured a fast finish and the first person to experience this was experience Skyrunner Shane Donnelly (Acorns AC).  The ever improving athlete covered the tough course in 36:28 (1st place) and was followed across the line by fellow Acorns AC athlete Eoin Hughes in 37:44 (2nd place).  Ballymena Runners man Alex Brennan finished just five seconds later in 37:49 for 3rd place.


In the ladies race, Karen Alexander (Acorns AC) showed no signs of fatigue from her exploits at the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships just over 48 hours earlier as she cruised to victory in 40:09; this not only saw Karen take 1st place in the ladies race, but also 4th place overall.  Termoneeny RC’s Helena Quinn sealed the runners up prize in 42:44 (2nd place), while Mary Kate Mackle (Club Unknown) took 3rd place in 44:35.


Top 3 Men:  1st Shane Donnelly (Acorns AC) – 36:28, 2nd Eoin Hughes (Acorns AC) – 37:44, 3rd Alex Brennan (Ballymena Runners) – 37:49


Top 3 Ladies:  1st Karen Alexander (Acorns AC) – 40:09, 2nd Helena Quinn (Termoneeny RC) – 42:44, 3rd Mary Kate Mackle (Club Unknown) – 44:35


Full Results:  Scenic Carn 10k (and 5k) Results 2016 Results (Photo above by John T Glover)

Stephen Prentice and Judith Lonnen win Whitehead 5 mile Road Race:

Whitehead 5 mile Road Race 2016:

On Monday 28th March 2016 (Easter Monday), hundreds of athletes and spectators descended on the County Antrim village of Whitehead for the annual Whitehead 5 mile road race, a long standing and popular event over the Easter period.  The event, which is organised by the local community, covers an undulating three lap course, starting and finishing on the spectator lined Main Street.


In the men’s race, former winner of the event, Stephen Prentice (Annadale Striders) showed that he is back in top form with a dominant performance.  The QUB student moved to the front of the 260 strong field early on and gradually increased his lead as the race progressed.  Behind, a group containing Kevin O’Boyle (Unattached), Jonathan McKee (Springwell Running Club), Tommy Simmons (North Belfast Harriers) and Kent Swann (North Belfast Harriers) contested the remaining podium places.  


Jonathan McKee was the first of the aforementioned group to make a move, leading the chasing pack as they went through the crowded Main Street after completing the second lap – from here, the Springwell Running Club athlete continued to move further ahead, but it wasn’t until the latter stages that the podium finally began to take shape.  Stephen completed a gun to tape victory in 26:42 (1st place), with Jonathan following in 26:59 (2nd place).  Kent Swann’s late surge was enough to take him clear of Kevin O’Boyle and Tommy Simmons to secure 3rd place in 27:17.


The always impressive Judith Lonnen (City of Lisburn AC), a podium finisher at the Larne Half Marathon just over a week ago, replicated the performance of her winning male counterpart.  Even in the early stages, Judith looked like a potential winner and that proved to be true.  After taking up position at the head of the ladies field the City of Lisburn AC star did not let her lead reduce, despite the efforts of Gillian Burns (Dromore AC), Jessica Craig (North Down AC) and Paula Arthur-McCarthy (Ballymena Runners).  Jessica was the first to lead the chasing ladies, before Gillian took charge going into the final lap.  In the end, it was Judith who broke the tape first, taking 1st place in 29:46.  Track star Jessica finished strongly to regain 2nd place in 30:20, before Gillian, a regular at this event, completed the top three in 30:28 (3rd place).


Top 3 Men:  1st Stephen Prentice (Annadale Striders) – 26:42, 2nd Jonathan McKee (Springwell Running Club) – 26:59, 3rd Kent Swann (North Belfast Harriers) – 27:17


Top 3 Ladies:  1st Judith Lonnen (City of Lisburn AC) – 29:46, 2nd Jessica Craig (North Down AC) – 30:20, 3rd Gillian Burns (Dromore AC) – 30:28


Full Results:  Whitehead 5 mile Road Race 2016 Results

Barrie Atkinson and Heather Foley excel at annual Ballygalget 10k:

Ballygalget 10k 2016:

On Sunday 27th March 2016, over one hundred and fifty athletes turned out for the annual Ballygalget Community 10k road race in County Down, a well-organised event co-hosted by East Down AC.


Established marathon runner and East Down AC member Barrie Atkinson followed up his recent impressive outing at the Larne Half Marathon with a race winning performance.  Barrie saw off the challenge of Alex Boyd (Lagan Valley AC) to break the tape in 36:28 (1st place).  Alex followed in 36:40 (2nd place).


Commonwealth Games triathlete Heather Foley (Unattached) then crossed the line in 36:49 (1st place) to seal victory in the ladies race and an outstanding 3rd place overall.  Ballydrain Harriers athlete Glen Taylor completed the men’s podium in 37:14 (3rd place).  Larne AC’s Kirsty Sharratt, a podium finisher at the Kilclief 10k, clocked 43:04 for 2nd place in the ladies race, before Joanne Foster (East Down AC) took 3rd place in 43:38.


Top 3 Men:  1st Barrie Atkinson (East Down AC) – 36:28, 2nd Alex Boyd (Lagan Valley AC) – 36:40, 3rd Glen Taylor (Ballydrain Harriers) – 37:14


Top 3 Ladies:  1st Heather Foley (Unattached) – 36:49, 2nd Kirsty Sharratt (Larne AC) – 43:04, 3rd Joanne Foster (East Down AC) – 43:38


Full Results:  Ballygalget 10k 2016 Results

Paul Carroll and Shalene McMurray win Mussenden 10k Challenge:

Mussenden 10k Challenge 2016:

Closer to home on Saturday 26th March 2016, a small but enthusiastic group of athletes descended on the seaside village of Castlerock, close to Coleraine, for the annual Mussenden 10k Challenge, an event hosted by TVW Sports.


The scenic but challenging course covered a multi-terrain route, taking in sections of road, grass and sandy beach, but athletes were rewarded for their efforts with stunning coastal views and a jaunt around the historic Mussenden Temple and Downhill Castle.


Annadale Striders’ Paul Carroll sealed victory in 34:47 (1st place), with Willowfield Harriers man Dean Fisher following in 36:15 (2nd place).  NI & Ulster Senior XC Champion Shalene McMurray then finished in 36:52 (1st place), retaining the ladies title she won in 2015.  North Belfast Harriers’ Greg Lavery completed the men’s podium in 37:38 (3rd place), while Alison Rankin (Springwell Running Club) and Julie Murphy (Lagan Valley AC) crossed the line in 41:15 (2nd place) and 41:21 (3rd place) respectively.


Full Results:  Mussenden 10k Challenge 2016 Results

Enniskillen RC ladies secure victory at Ballyliffin Coastal Challenge events:

Ballyliffin Coastal 10 mile Challenge 2016:

On Saturday 26th March 2016, a number of athletes from Northern Ireland travelled to County Donegal (Ireland) for the annual Ballyliffin 10 mile (and 7 mile) Challenge, a tough event which takes competitors over a scenic multi-terrain course.


Local athletes enjoyed success in both races, with members of Enniskillen Running Club excelling.  However, the first local finisher in the 10 mile race was North Belfast Harriers’ Martin Rea, who continued his return to full fitness with a 5th place finish in 1:01:34 (5th place).  Tara Malone then secured victory in the 10 mile race, clocking 1:10:00 for a brilliant 1st place.  


In the 7 mile event, Enniskillen RC’s Karen Dolan claim the top prize when she led the ladies home in 58:36 (1st place); this not only ensured victory for Karen in the ladies race, but saw her finish in 3rd place overall.


Full Results:  Ballyliffin Coastal Challenge (10 mile & 7 mile) 2016 Results

Paul Pollock leads the way as local runners impress on World stage:

IAAF World Half Marathon Championships 2016:

On Saturday 26th March 2016, a number of familiar faces were in action at the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships in Cardiff, Wales.  The event also incorporated the Home Countries International, which meant that Northern Ireland based athletes featured in both the Ireland and Northern Ireland teams.


On a day when the poor conditions put an end to most people’s chance of a personal best, Northern Ireland’s Paul Pollock showed his strength to run his second fastest time over the 13.1 mile distance.  The Annadale Striders star, representing Ireland, recorded 1:02:46 for 14th place in what was a classy field.  Fellow NI men Thomas Frazer (Crusaders AC) and Kevin Seaward (St Malachy’s AC) also performed well, with Thomas running a personal best of 1:05:20 for 40th place and Kevin 1:05:23 for 41st place.  The Ireland team, which also include Clonliffe Harriers’ Sergiu Ciobanu and Raheny Shamrock AC’s Mick Clohisey, claimed a very respectable 7th place in the team competition.  The elite men’s race was won by Geoffrey Kamworor (Kenya) in 59:10 (1st place).


In the Home Countries International event, the first familiar face to cross the line was Foyle Valley AC’s always impressive Scott Rankin; Scott recorded a new personal best of 1:08:32 for 16th place.  Slieve Gullion Runners man Paddy Hamilton covered the distance in 1:08:55 (20th place), while North Belfast Harriers duo Andrew Annett and Mark McKinstry clocked 1:09:21 (22nd place) and 1:13:01 (54th place) – NI & Ulster 10k Champion Conor Duffy (Glaslough Harriers) finished between the NBH men in 1:09:38 (25th place).  The race was won by Derek Hawkins (Scotland) in 1:04:58 (1st place).


In the ladies event, City of Derry AC’s Catherine Whoriskey was the first of the Northern Ireland ladies to finish, taking 10th place in 1:20:09 - Acorns AC’s Karen Alexander followed in 1:23:19 (15th place).  The ladies race was won by Charlotte Arter (Wales) in 1:13:16 (1st place).


Full Results:  IAAF World Half Marathon Championships 2016 (inc Home Countries International and Cardiff HM) 2016 Results (via official race website).  Photo above taken from Athletics Ireland facebook page.

Gideon Kimosop and Laura Graham continue good form in Omagh:

SPAR Omagh Half Marathon 2016:

On Saturday 26th March 2016, well over 1,500 athletes turned out for the annual SPAR Omagh Half Marathon, a popular event which is also the third race of the ongoing Pure Running – ChampionChip Ireland Half Marathon Series.


In wet and blustery conditions, the competitors negotiated a 13.1 mile route, which despite being undulating in nature, offers personal best potential.  As soon as the starting horn sounded, Kenyan athlete Gideon Kimosop (Project Africa Athletics) set about defending his title – he moved to the head of the pack and was pursued by Gary O’Hanlon (Clonliffe Harriers).  Shane Brady (Clones AC) and Gary Slevin (City of Derry AC) led the chasing pack.


As the race progressed, Gideon further cemented his position at the front and by the 5 mile mark (25:04), the Larne Half Marathon winner had over a minute on AAI National 50k Champion Gary.  In-turn, Gary clocked 26:24 for the first 5 miles, over two minutes faster than Gary Slevin and Armagh AC’s Gary Henderson, who were running side by side; they crossed the 5 mile mat in 28:34.  In the ladies race, Laura Graham covered the first 5 miles in 29:38, just over a minute ahead of North Belfast Harriers’ Louise Smith (30:47).  Behind, Jacqueline McMonagle (City of Derry AC) and Colette Monahan (London Heathside Runners AC) were embroiled in an excellent battle for third place.

In the second half of the race, there was no stopping Gideon as he ran clear to seal victory.  The Project Africa Athletics runner retained his 2015 title, breaking the tape in an impressive 1:05:51 (1st place).  Gary O’Hanlon took the runners up spot in 1:09:05 (2nd place), while Gary Henderson showed that he back to full fitness with an excellent performance for a podium place; the former football player saw off Gary Slevin (4th place – 1:14:30) to secure 3rd place in 1:14:21.


Mourne Runners star Laura stole the headlines for the second week in a row – as she continues to prove herself as one of Northern Ireland’s top female runners, Laura secured the ladies title in a new personal best of 1:18:07 (1st place).  Louise Smith took a well-deserved 2nd place in 1:22:10, before Jacqueline McMonagle completed the podium places after edging it from Colette Monahan – Jacqueline crossed the line in 1:29:21, with Colette recording 1:29:22.


Top 3 Men:  1st Gideon Kimosop (Project Africa Athletics) – 1:05:51, 2nd Gary O’Hanlon (Clonliffe Harriers) – 1:09:05, 3rd Gary Henderson (Armagh AC) – 1:14:21


Top 3 Ladies:  1st Laura Graham (Mourne Runners) – 1:18:07, 2nd Louise Smith (North Belfast Harriers) – 1:22:10, 3rd Jacqueline McMonagle (City of Derry AC) – 1:29:21


Full Results:  Omagh HM 2016 Results  (Photos by Paul Barbour)

Eoin Lennon secures impressive victory at Wicklow Way Ultra:

Wicklow Way 51k Ultra & 25k Trail Race 2016:

On Saturday 26th March 2016, a large number of runners from Northern Ireland travelled south the stunning Wicklow Mountains for the annual Wicklow Way 51k Ultra and 25k Trail Race, organised by the Irish Mountain Running Association (IMRA).  


The event, which was also a trial for the Ireland team for several upcoming major events, including the IAU World Trail Championships, has proved successful for local runners in the last number of years; infact, Northern Ireland and Ireland international runner Jonny Steede (Glens Runners) holds the Ultra course record (3:56:47).


The tough ‘out and back’ ultra route starts and finishes close to the legendary Johnnie Foxes Pub in Glencullan, taking athletes along trails, forest paths and even a ‘board walk’ as they negotiate 51k in distance (incorporating 1,940 metres of ascent) out to Ballinastoe (where the 25k event starts) and back.


In wet and windy conditions, Northern Ireland men Eoin Lennon (Carnethy HRC) and Ian Bailey (Newcastle AC) featured prominently at the front on the outward section of the course.  After reaching the half way mark alongside Irish athlete Tom Hogan, Scottish based Eoin ran a tactical second half – he was side by side with Tom until the pair had approximately 6 miles remaining.  At this point he (Eoin) made what proved to be a race winning decision - moving clear, the Carnethy HRC athlete quickly built up a lead which eventually saw him seal an impressive victory in 4:01:02 (1st place).   Ian Bailey further cemented his position on the return section, claiming 3rd place in 4:08:58.


Full Results:  Wicklow Way 51k Ultra 2016 Results and Wicklow Way 25k Trail Race 2016 Results

Weekend Preview:  Local athletes hunt medals on a busy Easter weekend!

Weekend Preview:  Local athletes on Easter medal hunt…

Traditionally, the Easter Weekend is a busy period within the running world and this year is no different.  


Following on from last week’s successful AES Larne Half Marathon, the Pure Running Half Marathon Series 2016 will continue in the form of the always popular Omagh Half Marathon. Given its prominence, this event will form the basis of our Weekend Preview, however, there are numerous other notable events taking place, both locally and nationally.


The Mussenden 10k Challenge will take place in Castlerock, the Ballygalget 10k will take place in County Down and local athletes will turn out at the Wicklow Way Ultra (and associated 25k Trail Race) in Ireland and the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships (inc Home Countries International) in Wales.  Being Easter Weekend, the Bank Holiday extends out to Monday and the annual Whitehead 5 mile Road race in County Antrim, a long standing and popular event.


SPAR Omagh Half Marathon:

The weekend action will commence in Omagh on Saturday 26th March 2016, when thousands of athletes will take on the well-organised SPAR Omagh Half Marathon.  The event, which is the third race of the Pure Running Half Marathon Series, covers an undulating course with personal best potential, starting and finishing close to Omagh Leisure Centre.

Reigning Champion Gideon Kimosop (Project Africa Athletics) will return in an attempt to defend the title he won so impressively twelve months ago.  In 2015, the Kenyan athlete, who won the Larne Half Marathon in 1:07:28, sealed victory in 1:05:15, seeing off Northern Ireland star Paul Pollock (Annadale Striders) on the way. 


Gideon will start as favourite and in truth it’s hard to see anyone challenging him at the front – however, that will not stop talented marathoner and ultra-athlete Gary O’Hanlon (Clonliffe Harriers) from having a go.  Last month (February 2016), Gary showed his credentials in the ultra-world when he secured the Irish 50k title in a new National record of 2:56:51 at the Donadea 50k.  At the back end of 2015, the Clonliffe Harriers man, who is a regular competitor in Northern Ireland, claimed a silver at the AAI National Marathon Championships, held as part of the Dublin Marathon; there, he clocked 2:25:21.


Aside from Gary, other podium contenders will come in the form of City of Derry AC duo Greg Roberts and Gary Slevin.  Interestingly, Greg Roberts has a half marathon personal best of 1:04:40, which he set at the Wokingham Half Marathon in 2015.  If the Spartan athlete could get close to that, he will definitely be in the mix.  Meanwhile, his club mate Gary Slevin showed his speedy edge when winning the St Patrick’s Day 5k in Derry/Londonderry, where he finished in 15:47; Gary will more than likely head the chasing pack, but has the potential to secure a prize if any of the aforementioned athletes falter on the day.  Armagh AC’s Gary Henderson will also play a part at the front and the same could be said for East Coast AC’s Andy Guy, North Belfast Harriers’ Marc Jennings and St Peters AC’s Gerard Heaney.  Nigel Grier (Dromore AC) and Dave Lonnen (City of Lisburn AC) will also go well. 

In the ladies race, there will be an interesting battle for top spot.  Barring a late entry from Maria McCambridge (Letterkenny AC), who appears to enjoy this event, it looks like it will be a three way race between AES Larne Half Marathon winner Laura Graham (Mourne Runners), Cathy McCourt (North Belfast Harriers) and Irish Olympian Catriona Jennings (Rathfarnham WSAF).


Laura has been in outstanding form this year and continues to improve as she looks towards the upcoming London Marathon – after excelling throughout the Born 2 Run ‘Run Forest Run’ Series, the Kilkeel lady cruised to victory at the Larne Half Marathon, covering the course in a new personal best of 1:19:21.  Cathy McCourt will return to competition and will be looking to replicate her podium place here in 2015, when she crossed the line in 1:20:12 for second place.  Since returning to running after taking a break post London 2012, Catriona has worked her way back to her best and enjoyed her first ultra-running experience at the IAU 50k World Championships in December 2015, where she claimed an excellent fourth place in a new Irish record of 3:31:39.  


Interestingly, the three ladies shared the podium at the Lisburn Half Marathon back in June 2015.  There, Catriona won in 1:21:17, Cathy took second in 1:22:00 and Laura completed the top three in 1:24:06 – all three will run quicker here; it will be interesting to see what order they finish in on this occasion.


City of Derry AC athlete Anne Paul and North Belfast Harriers’ Louise Smith, a podium finisher here last year, add further quality to the line-up, which is further strengthened by the likes of Lyndsey Tyro (Orangegrove AC), Karen McLaughlin (Springwell Running Club), Martsje Hell (North Belfast Harriers) and Eileen Stevenson (St Peter’s AC), all of whom possess the potential to claim a prize on their day.  Niamh Kellett (East Down AC), Kerrie McIlmoyle (Springwell Running Club), Oonagh Fitzpatrick (Enniskillen Running Club), Eileen Jack (Beechmount Harriers) and Ruth Hill (Unattached) will all be hoping for a place in the top ten.  


Note:  On the day entries will be AVAILABLE for the SPAR Half Marathon.. Those wishing to make use of the on the day entries must register before 10am.

Mussenden 10k Challenge:

Also on Saturday 26th March 2016, athletes will descend on the seaside village of Castlerock, close to Coleraine, for the annual Mussenden 10k Challenge, an event hosted by TVW Sports.


The scenic but challenging course will cover a multi-terrain route, taking in sections of road, grass and sandy beach, but athletes will be rewarded for their efforts with stunning coastal views and a jaunt around the historic Mussenden Temple and Downhill Castle.


Allan Bogle (City of Derry AC) was a clear winner here in 2015 and may return to defend his title. The orienteer and runner looked in good shape at the NIMRA Championship opener in Glenariff two weeks ago, when he was involved in an excellent battle with eventual winner William McKee (Mourne Runners); Allan claimed the runners up spot.  Bliadhan Glass (Acorns AC), Chris Millar (Derry City Track Club) and Martin Gallagher (Foyle Valley AC) may also toe the line, while the ladies event could see Rachel Gibson (North Down AC), Ciara McSherry (Springwell Running Club), Gillian Wasson (Ballymena Runners) and Fran McFadden (Springwell Running Club) go head to head.


Wicklow Way Ultra and Wicklow Way 25k Trail Race (Ireland):

In Ireland on Saturday 26th March 2016, a large number of athletes from Northern Ireland will be in action at the Wicklow Way 51k Ultra and associated Wicklow Way 25k Trail Race just outside Dublin.  The race is also a trial for the Ireland mountain-trail team for several upcoming major events, including the IAU Word Trail Running Championships, which will take place in Portugal in October 2016.


The tough ‘out and back’ Ultra route from the legendary Johnnie Foxes Pub in Glencullan to Ballinastoe will take athletes along trails, forest paths and even a ‘board walk’ as they negotiate 51k in distance and 1,940 metres of ascent.  The 51k race has proved successful for local athletes in the past, in the previous two years, East Coast AC’s Justin Maxwell (2014) and Glens Runners’ athlete Jonny Steede (2015) have triumphed, with Jonny clocking a new course record of 3:56:47 to win last year.  Jonny will not compete this year, while Justin will take on the 25k following his recent return to full training and competition. 

Again this year Northern Ireland men will be amongst the potential favourites.  Garmin Mourne Skyline MTR winner and course record holder Ian Bailey (Newcastle AC) will go well and could challenge for honours – the same could be said for Scotland based Eoin Lennon (Carnethy HRC), who has had an excellent couple of years; Eoin has sealed a podium place at the Garmin Mourne Skyline MTR in both 2014 and 2015.  


Other local faces to look out for in the ultra distance event include Phil Hodge (Newcastle AC), Nicki McPeake (Unattached), Ron Peacock (Unattached), Paul Nesbitt (Unattached), Dave Evans (BARF), Ronnie Douglas (BARF), Mark King (Newcastle AC), Gerry Kingston (BARF), Jonathan Gibson (Unattached), Geoff Smyth (BARF), Amy Beggs (Larne AC), Orla McElroy (Unattached) and Jackie Toal (BARF).


In the 25k event, Mourne Runners men Gary Bailey, Sam Herron, William Marks and Richard Bell will join Justin Maxwell (East Coast AC) on the start line, while Hazel McLaughlin (Lagan Valley AC), Helen Weir (North Belfast Harriers), Paulette Thomson (Newcastle AC) and Catherine Maxwell (East Coast AC) will compete in the ladies race.

IAAF World Half Marathon Champions (inc Home Countries International) - Wales:

In Wales on Saturday 26th March 2016, a number of familiar faces will be in action at the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships in Cardiff.  The event also incorporates the Home Countries International, which means that Northern Ireland based athletes will feature in both the Ireland and Northern Ireland team.


England based NI men and training partners Paul Pollock (Annadale Striders) and Kevin Seaward (St Malachy’s AC) will join fellow Northern Ireland man Thomas Frazer (Crusaders AC) in a strong Ireland team which will also include Clonliffe Harriers’ Sergiu Ciobanu and Raheny Shamrock AC’s Mick Clohisey.  Meanwhile, the Northern Ireland team aiming to contest the Home Countries international competition will be made up of Mark McKinstry (North Belfast Harriers), Paddy Hamilton (Slieve Gullion Runners), Andrew Annett (North Belfast Harriers), Catherine Whoriskey (City of Derry AC) and Karen Alexander (Acorns AC).


Ballygalget 10k:

On Sunday 27th March 2016, East Down AC stalwart Joe Quinn and his dedicated race team will co-host the Ballygalget Community 10k road race on the shores of Strangford Lough.  The County Down event offers participants a tough but enjoyable course.


Local hero Brendan Teer (East Down AC) is unlikely to feature as he recovers from injury, which leaves the door open for his club mate, London Marathon bound Barrie Atkinson (East Down AC) to take control should he enter on the day.  The ever improving Drew Fowler and always impressive veteran athlete Norman Mawhinney will head a large Ballydrain Harriers contingent set to compete.  


In the ladies race, Larne AC’s Kirsty Sharratt will hope to show the same kind of form that saw her claim a podium spot at the Ben Dearg 10k last month (February 2016).  Paula McKibbin (Murlough AC) and Ballydrain Harriers pair Rosi Earney and Heather Stanex will also finish well up the field.

Whitehead 5 mile Road Race:

The extended Bank Holiday weekend will also take in the Whitehead 5 mile road race on Easter Monday, the 27th March 2016.  


Hundreds of athletes are expected to turn out for the long standing event, which has now become almost compulsory on every runner's calendar. Starting and finishing in the village’s Main Street the tough but enjoyable course takes in three undulating laps.  


Ben Morrow (Ballymena Runners) produced an excellent performance to take third place at the Larne Half Marathon last weekend after running a new personal best of 1:13:43 and the talented marathoner may compete here on the back of that – should he do so, Ben will prove hard to knock off top spot; he has already tasted victory this year, with a win at the Raceview 10k in Broughshane.  


Annadale Striders man Stephen Prentice has performed well at this event in the past and will feature at the head of the pack should he decide to take to the start line.  Back in 2014, Stephen won in 26:23 and his recent 16:26 for 5k would suggest that he is capable of making the podium.  However, the QUB athlete may have to see off the likes of Tommy Simmons and Kent Swann, both of North Belfast Harriers, if he wants to claim a podium place. Andy Guy (East Coast AC) may start if he recovers well enough from the Omagh Half Marathon and will place well if he does, while Kevin O’Boyle (Unattached), James Turtle (Ballymena Runners), Brendan Grew (North Belfast Harriers), James Brown (Unattached) and David Turtle (East Antrim Harriers) should all place in the top ten.


Cathy McCourt (North Belfast Harriers) won here in 2015 but is unlikely to compete after having participated in the Omagh Half Marathon 48 hours earlier, so a new Champion will be declared.  Potential challengers could come in the form of runner up last year, Gillian Burns (Dromore AC), as well as Ballymena Runners ladies Paula Arthur-McCarthy, Kerry Bamber and Paula McAllister.  Seapark AC’s Gillian Cordner, Larne AC’s Patricia Blair and Lagan Valley AC duo Julie Murphy and Suzanne Higgins will both go well if they decide to race.


Parkrun:

As always, Northern Ireland’s twenty one parkrun events will take place this weekend, for more information on these, or to locate your nearest event, please visit our dedicated ‘parkrun’ section within our fixtures page.

Runners from NI secure impressive medal haul at AAI Masters Indoors:

GloHealth AAI National Masters Indoor Track & Field Championships 2016:

This weekend saw a large number of Northern Ireland based athletes make the now familiar journey to the AIT Arena in Athlone (Ireland).  On this occasion it was for the prestigious GloHealth AAI National Masters Indoor Track & Field Championships.


The long journey was worthwhile, with the local competitors bringing home a huge medal haul – 14 gold, 7 silver and 4 bronze medals were collected on a day that brought some exceptional performances from familiar faces.  None more so than one of Northern Ireland’s most in-form athletes, Kelly Neely (City of Lisburn AC).  The multiple title winning and record holding athlete stepped away from her usual 800m to take on the 1500m, which paid dividends as she powered to victory in 4:20.78 (1st place), a new Vet35 record.  In the same Vet35 race, Clones AC’s Denise Toner (4:42.16) and Beechmount Harriers’ Catherine Diver (5:00.39) also secured medals after taking 2nd place and 3rd place respectively.


After excelling at the British Championships last weekend, Derry City Track Club athletes once again stepped onto the podium.  Robert Bigger took gold in the vet55 800m event after clocking 2:22.11 for 1st, he then went on to claim 2nd place in the 1500m (no time available).  Tim Shiels and Malcolm McCausland stepped up to the mark, both achieve gold over 400m – Tim won the Vet40 category in 54.67secs (1st place), while Malcolm led the Vet60 athletes home in 70.49secs (1st place); Mal then took 2nd place in the Vet60 1500m (no time available).  The ever impressive Cathal McLaughlin topped the Vet45 podium when he sealed gold in 4:25.99 (1st place).


NIMAA member Anne Maguire (St Anne’s AC) completed the Vet65 60m (10.96secs) and 200m (39.20secs) double, taking 1st place in both. Ballymena & Antrim AC star Jonathan Carleton did the same, taking the Vet35 60m title in 7.04secs (1st place) and the 200m equivalent in 23.29secs (1st place).  The dominant Roger Sexton (North Down AC) narrowly missed double gold – after claiming 1st place in the Vet35 60m in 7.59secs, he was forced to settle for 2nd place in a closely contested 200m; he recorded 24.48secs for silver.  In the 60m hurdles, Lifford-Strabane AC athlete Isabell Breslin claimed gold in the Vet40 category after crossing the line in 11.19secs (1st place).

There was a double celebration for local athletes in the 3,000m event, with Nigel McKibbin (Dromore AC) and Denise Toner (Clones AC) both coming away as champions.  In the Vet45 event, Nigel sealed top spot in 9:31.18 (1st place), while in the Vet35 event, Denise led the ladies home in 10:27.78 (1st place).  In the Vet65 800m, City of Lisburn AC’s Barry Morris broke the beam first to take gold in 2:35.20 (1st place).


Meanwhile, in the Vet50 ladies 800m, Orangegrove AC’s Joy McAleer ran well to take 2nd place in 2:50.94 (2nd place). Trevor McGlynn (Lifford-Strabane AC) picked up silver in the Vet35 60m hurdles when he covered the distance in 10.15secs (2nd place).  There was also silver for Alexander Gribben (Orangegrove AC) over 200m; Alexander recorded 31.63secs for 2nd place.  


Larne AC’s Rhonda Brady clocked 67.36secs to secure 3rd place and the associated bronze medal in her Vet40 400m event, while Jim Harris of Orangegrove AC replicated that in his Vet65 category, running 71.46secs for 3rd place.  In the Vet55 200m event, Lagan Valley AC’s Joe Frey ran 30.33secs to take 3rd place.


Full Results:  GloHealth AAI National Masters Indoor Track & Field Championships 2016 Results

Local athletes perform well at Home Countries International XC event:

Home Countries International XC 2016:

On Saturday 19th March 2016, a number of athletes from Northern Ireland were in action at the Home Countries International XC in Scotland, both as part of four Northern Ireland teams and also as part of the Ireland Under 20’s team.


In the Under 20 Ladies 6k race, East Down AC’s Laura Gardiner (Northern Ireland) was the first familiar face to finish, clocking 24:25 for 24th place.  The race was won by England’s Gemma Holoway in 21:31.  In the team competition, England took 1st place, while Northern Ireland took 8th place.  


In the Under 20 Men’s 8k race, North Down AC’s Craig McMeechan (Ireland) produced arguably one of his best performances to date – in the competitive field, Craig, who was representing Ireland, secured 6th place in 26:17.  The first member of the Northern Ireland team to finish was multi-title winning Christy Conlon (Beechmount Harriers), who ran 26:57 (14th place).  The race was won by Chris Olley (England) in 25:07 (1st place), while England took 1st place in the team competition, in which Ireland claimed 4th place and Northern Ireland took 9th place.

Karen Alexander (Acorns AC), winner of the recent Stormont XC, was the first Northern Ireland finisher in the Senior Ladies 8k.  Karen secured 16th place in 31:30, with NI & Ulster Senior XC medallist Gerrie Short (Beechmount Harriers) taking 19th place in 31:51.  Rebecca Henderson (Dromore AC) followed just five seconds later in 31:56 (20th place), while Jodi Smith (North Down AC) crossed the line in 32:40 for 21st place.  The race was won by England’s Claire Duck in 28:32 – England (1st place) won the team prize, while Northern Ireland took 5th place.


The final race of the day saw a strong Northern Ireland team line up in the Senior Men’s 10k.  The in-form Mark McKinstry (North Belfast Harriers) led the local men home in 33:11, claiming a very respectable 16th place. Neil Johnston (Springwell Running Club) crossed the line just four seconds later in 33:15 (17th place), while Newcastle AC’s Seamus Lynch (34:04) and City of Derry AC’s Aaron Doherty (35:28) took 19th place and 21st place respectively.  


The race was won by the almost unstoppable Andrew Douglas (Scotland) in 31:27 (1st place).  England completed a clean sweep of the team prizes, taking 1st place, while Northern Ireland had to settle for 5th place.


As part of the extensive event programme at Callendar Park in Falkirk, numerous local runners took part in the SIAB Schools International Cross Country Championships.  Full results for these races are available below.


Full Results:  Home Countries International XC 2016 Results and SIAB Schools International XC 2016 Results

Gideon Kimosop and Laura Graham set the pace at AES Larne HM:

AES Larne Half Marathon 2016:

On Saturday 19th March 2016, a record breaking field of 1,900 athletes took on the 24th annual running of the AES Larne Half Marathon.  The well organised event, hosted by Larne AC, was also the second race of the Pure Running-ChampionChip Ireland Half Marathon Series 2016.


In perfect running conditions, the seemingly endless field of runners set off on the newly revised 13.1 mile journey which would take them along the famous County Antrim coastline, between Larne and Ballygally. First though, they had to negotiate two miles around the Town Centre – during the middle section of the course, the field also took in hilly inland section in Cairncastle, before returning to the Coast Road.


In the early miles, a lead group containing Gideon Kimosop (Project Africa Athletics), Chris McGuinness (Foyle Valley AC), Ben Morrow (Ballymena Runners), Neil Weir (Willowfield Harriers) and Barrie Atkinson (East Down AC) cruised through the atmospheric main street.  As the athletes exited the Town Centre and headed towards the Coast Road, Gideon broke clear and by the 2.5 mile marker had a lead of approximately thirty seconds on Chris, Ben, Neil and Barrie.  In the ladies race, Mourne Runners’ Laura Graham started well and led the way as they passed 3 miles, behind, Lisa Finlay (Dumfries RC), Judith Lonnen (City of Lisburn AC), Pauline Thom (Ballymena & Antrim AC) and Esther Dickson (Newry AC) were in pursuit and looked like the main podium contenders.

Gideon continued to increase his lead as he wound his way along the Coast Road and through the crowds at Drains Bay, Carnfunnock Country Park and through Ballygally.  He moved through the half way mark in 33:46 and made short work of the most difficult section of the course, before dropping downhill back to the Coast Road.  


At this point, Chris McGuinness, Ben Morrow and Neill Weir were embroiled in an excellent race for the remaining two podium place, with the trio going through halfway pretty much together in 36:15.  It was a similar story in the ladies race, with Laura Graham building her lead on the way out towards Ballygally, going through half way in 38:14, almost a minute ahead of Lisa Finlay (39:09).  In turn, Lisa was now well clear of Judith Lonnen, Pauline Thom and Esther Dickson.


As the crowds gathered at the atmospheric and picturesque finish, it was Kenyan athlete Gideon Kimosop who came into view first.  Clearly visible in his bright yellow Project Africa Athletics branded vest, Gideon moved quickly towards the finish, breaking the tape in a new course record of 1:07:28 (1st place).  Just over six minutes later, Chris McGuinness and Ben Morrow brought cheers from the spectators as they contested the runners up spot until meters from the finish when Chris edged it in a new personal best of 1:13:36 (2nd place); Ben Morrow also recorded new best for the distance when crossing the line in 1:13:42 (3rd place).


There was no significant changes on the return along the Coast Road in the ladies race, with the ever improving Laura Graham once again stealing the headlines.  The AAI National Marathon medalist powered along the unforgiving Promenade finishing straight to seal victory in a new personal best and course record of 1:19:21 (1st place).  Scottish based Northern Ireland international Lisa Finlay followed in 1:21:35 (2nd place), before talented triathlete Judith Lonnen completed the ladies top three in 1:24:44 (3rd place).


In the popular team relay competition, Ballymena Runners’ ‘Mixed’ team led the way, covering the new route in 1:17:53 (1st place).  In the closely contested Men’s relay, Ballymena Runners (1:20:48) just saw off Victoria Park & Conswater AC (1:20:56) for 1st place.  Ballymena Runners then completed a clean sweep of the team prizes when their Ladies team clocked 1:27:21 for 1st place.


Top 3 Men:  1st Gideon Kimosop (Project Africa Athletics) – 1:07:28, 2nd Chris McGuinness (Foyle Valley AC) – 1:13:36, 3rd Ben Morrow (Ballymena Runners) – 1:13:42


Top 3 Ladies:  1st Laura Graham (Mourne Runners) – 1:19:21, 2nd Lisa Finlay (Dumfries RC) – 1:21:35, 3rd Judith Lonnen (City of Lisburn AC) – 1:24:44


Full Results:  AES Larne Half Marathon 2016 Results 


Note:  Photos from the AES Larne Half Marathon will be added to our website in the coming days (from Sunday 20th March 2016 onwards).

Derry City Track Club launch 2nd annual Dental Solutions 5k road race:

Dental Solutions 5K Classic road race 2016 launched:

This week, with the help of a local sports broadcaster, one of Northern Ireland’s best emerging clubs, Derry City Track Club, launched the 2nd annual running of their Dental Solutions 5k Classic road race.


Author and retired BBC sports broadcaster Richie Kelly was back in the public eye as he showed his support for the well-organised event, which was launched at the Foyle Arena in Derry/Londonderry.  Richie’s voice was synonymous with sport in Derry and beyond for more than 30 years but since his retirement from Radio Foyle last year he has been busy mulling over ideas for a follow up to his very successful book Sporting Greats of the Northwest.


That book included chapters on a number of well-known athletes including Olympic marathoners Danny McDaid and Tommy Hughes as well as World Championships steeplechaser Peter McColgan.  However, the former Radio Foyle man has an ulterior motive in promoting the race – he is planning to run in it as well.  Despite fast approaching his 75th birthday, Richie is a familiar figure at the Derry City parkrun and other local 5k races.  “I’ll be entering a new age group in May,” said the former Finn Harps defender. “So I’ll be using the race to get fit for the Northern Ireland Masters’ Championships in June and hopefully the national Masters’ in August.”


The race also sees a change of venue from Eglinton to the Foyle Arena in Derry’s Waterside and it will once again have chip-timing with every entrant receiving a bespoke gymsack and customised race beanie hat. A one-kilometre race for Under 14’s has also been added to the programme and will precede the feature race.  “We’re hoping to build on the success of last year’s inaugural event in Eglinton,” said Derry Track Club chairman Cathal McLaughlin. “We’ve mapped out a fast route around the centre of the city including crossing both Craigavon Bridge (lower deck) and Peace Bridge.  We’re also pleased to have the use of the Foyle Arena thanks to manager Adrian Boyle.”


Dental Solutions proprietor Ciaran Gillan has again generously stepped in to sponsor the race. Ciaran, who has strong ties with Slaughtneil GAC, is happy to be associated with the event for the second year.  “We were delighted with how the race went last year and we’re happy to help promote activities that improve health and wellbeing,” said the Maghera man. “We feel that is in keeping with our own objectives at Dental Solutions in relation to oral health and cosmetic dentistry.”


Further information on the race is available at www.derrycitytc.com and on-line entry is now open HERE.

Weekend Preview:  AES Larne Half Marathon takes centre stage...

Weekend Preview:  AES Larne HM takes centre stage…

After the Novosco 10k Grand Prix kicked off in impressive fashion last weekend in Downpatrick, it’s now time to look ahead to another of Northern Ireland’s most popular Series’.  


This is of course the Pure Running-Championship Ireland Half Marathon Series which started just over a month ago with the DUNE Half Marathon - it’s now pretty much full steam ahead for the long distance enthusiasts with several 13.1 mile plus events taking place over successive weeks – Larne Half Marathon, Omagh Half Marathon, Rotterdam Half Marathon and Marathon, and London Marathon are all on the horizon.


This week’s offering is one of the province’s top road races, the AES Larne Half Marathon.  


The event has attracted a capacity crowd of 1,900 entries and will be the highlight of the weekend action for the local running fraternity.  Given its status, and of course a tiny hint of favouritism on our part, our weekend preview will focus on the aforementioned AES Larne Half Marathon (it’s our ‘home town’ Half Marathon).


However, there are other events taking place:  The Washingbay Green Run Half Marathon and 10k will take place in Coalisland on Saturday 19th March 2016, while on Sunday 20th March 2016, Jog Belfast will welcome hundreds of runners to the inaugural Jog Belfast 5k Celebration Run in Ormeau Park, Belfast.  The Clogher Valley 5k and North Coast Marathon Series events will also take place on the same day.  Outside Northern Ireland local athletes will compete at the GloHealth AAI National Masters Indoor Track & Field Championships in Ireland and the Home Countries International in Scotland.

AES Larne Half Marathon:

On Saturday 19th March 2016, thousands of athletes will descend on the coastal town of Larne for the 24th annual AES Larne Half Marathon; the second race of the Pure Running Half Marathon Series 2016.  The event, which started back in 1993 with 157 participants, is organised by Larne AC and covers a stunning route along the County Antrim coastline between Larne and Ballygally. 


The course has changed slightly this year, starting closer to Larne Leisure Centre, but still finishing on the picturesque Promenade.  Aside from the out and back Coast Road section, there are two short inland sections to break things up; early on, competitors will run along the spectator lined Main Street, then after negotiating the outward section of the Coast Road, the record breaking field will complete an undulating 2-3 miles in and around the Cairncastle area before returning to the Coast Road and making their way back to Larne and the finish line on the scenic Promenade close to Larne Leisure Centre.


In 2015, there was a lot of talk around Gideon Kimosop (Project Africa Athletics) taking part.  However, the Kenyan athlete opted for the Omagh Half Marathon and his fellow countryman Vincent Kiprotich came to Larne and stole the show with a course recorded breaking time of 1:06:12.  This year, Gideon will race and will be out to better Vincent’s time, albeit on a slightly amended course.  Two weeks ago, the Project Africa Athletics representative clocked 50:04 to win the Airtricity 10 mile road race with ease; this showed that he is in good form leading into this race.  Newcastle AC’s David Simpson could be another man to look out for, especially given his recent good form – over the last month or so, David has helped his Newcastle AC team mates to the NI & Ulster Senior XC team title and covered the half marathon distance in 1:11:39 just last week at the Meath Spring Half Marathon in Ireland.


Larne man John Black (North Belfast Harriers), Foyle Valley AC’s Chris McGuinness and East Down AC’s Barrie Atkinson will all feature prominently at the front.  John and Chris enjoyed an epic battle at the Airtricity 10 mile road race in Derry/Londonderry two weeks ago, where John secured a podium place just ahead of Chris in a sprint finish.  That day, John ran 54:45, with Chris following in 54:57 – since, John has run 16:04 for 5k, while Chris took the runners up prize at the SPAR Criac 10k in 33:09.  Barrie, a 2:36:09 marathoner (London 2015), could well be using this event as part of a build up to an upcoming 26.2 mile race, but he’ll still play a part at the head of the pack – last week the East Down AC man ran 34:22 to finish just outside the top ten at Jimmy’s 10k.


Raceview 10k winner Ben Morrow (Ballymena Runners) will be another man looking for a sub 1:16:00 time, which will surely place him inside the top five or six finishers.  On record, Ben’s best 13.1 mile time is 1:16:14, but he is more than capable of dropping well below that; his marathon best is 2:39:26!  London Marathon pacer Martin Rea (North Belfast Harriers) will also start and will contest a top ten finish with the likes of Kyle Doherty (City of Derry AC), Neill Weir (Willowfield Harriers) and Kent Swann (North Belfast Harriers).  St Peter’s AC men Mark Cornett and Gerard Heaney will improve their 13.1 mile personal bests, while Oliver Cook (PACE Running Club), David Turtle (East Antrim Harriers), James Trainor (Dub Runners), Phelim McAllister (Larne AC), Garry Morrow (Willowfield Harriers) and former race director of this event, Andy Gregg (Larne AC), will all finish well up the field.

The ladies field appears to have significant depth, but it will be Mourne Runners athlete Laura Graham who will start as pre-race favourite in the absence of course record holder Breege Connolly (North Belfast Harriers).  Through the winter, Laura has excelled in the Born 2 Run ‘Run Forest Run’ Trail Series and more recently won the DUNE Half Marathon in 1:19:45 and claimed second place at Jimmy’s 10k in an impressive 36:11.  Aside from Laura, potential podium contenders will come in the form of Judith Lonnen (City of Lisburn AC), Lisa Finlay (Dumfries RC) and Martsje Hell (North Belfast Harriers).


International duathlete Judith finished behind Laura at the DUNE Half Marathon, having run an excellent 1:26:55 – Judith’s 38:20 finish at Jimmy’s 10k would suggest that she’ll push the limits of her recorded half marathon best of 1:25:36.  


Scotland based Northern Ireland XC international Lisa Finlay is a very consistent performer and should make the podium if she is in decent shape – last year Lisa ran 1:20:52 at the World Masters Half Marathon Championships; a faster time than this would surely guarantee Lisa a place on the aforementioned podium.  Meanwhile, former Enniskillen Running Club athlete Martsje Hell (North Belfast Harriers), has enjoyed good runs at the Airtricity 10 mile road race, where she clocked 1:05:52 for fourth place and Jimmy’s 10k, where the NBH lady ran 40:00 for eighth place.


Omagh CBS 10k winner and fast improving athlete Esther Dickson (Unattached) is an excellent ‘outside bet’ for a top three finish, while Hazel Smyth (Dumfries RC) and Sarah-Jane Guiney (Albertville Harriers) will also be worth watching.  Pauline Thom (Ballymena & Antrim AC), Nicola Swinson (PACE Running Club), Kerrie McIlmoyle (Springwell Running Club), Diane Watson (City of Lisburn AC) and Irene Clements (Enniskillen Running Club) add the depth that we spoke about earlier. Gillian Cornder (Seapark AC), Janice White (Unattached), Catherine Roberts (North Down AC), Gillian Logan (Larne AC), Catherine Pinkerton (Springwell Running Club) and Gillian Abraham (Unattached) will all run well.

Elsewhere this weekend…

Other major fixtures this weekend include two events which will see Northern Ireland well represented outside the province.  Athletics NI will send a team to the Home Countries International XC in Scotland, while a large contingent of local runners will be in action at the GloHealth AAI National Indoor Track & Field Championships in Athlone.  We’ll look at both now…


Home Countries International XC (Scotland):

On Saturday 19th March 2016, a squad of sixteen athletes from Northern Ireland will be in action at the Home Countries International XC at Callendar Park in Falkirk, Scotland. There will be four NI teams competing against teams from Scotland, England and Wales.


The senior men’s team is headlined by NI & Ulster Senior XC Champion Aaron Doherty (City of Derry AC), who is flying over from Madrid where he works as a teacher, while the senior ladies team will be headed by experienced international Karen Alexander (Acorns AC).  Both junior teams also boast a wealth of experience and many of the junior athletes have already successfully raced on Scottish soil this year at the Celtic International held in Edinburgh in January (2016).  


The teams are as follows:

Senior Men - Aaron Doherty (City of Derry AC), Seamus Lynch (Newcastle AC), Mark McKinstry (North Belfast Harriers) and Neil Johnston (Springwell Running Club).


Senior Women - Jodi Smith (North Down AC), Karen Alexander (Acorns AC), Gerrie Short (Beechmount Harriers) and Rebecca Henderson (Dromore AC).


Junior Men - Fintan Stewart (Finn Valley AC), Eoin McCann (St Malachy’s AC) and Christy Conlon (Beechmount Harriers).


Junior Women - Laura Gardiner (East Down AC), Toni Moore (Omagh Harriers), Rebecca Nixon (Dromore AC), Zoe Carruthers (City of Lisburn AC) and Aife McSheffrey (Springwell Running Club).


Team Managers - Allister Woods, Andrew Han and Mags Mathieson

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

On Sunday 20th March 2016, a large number of athletes from Northern Ireland will make the now almost regular trip to Athlone (Ireland) for the GloHealth AAI National Masters Indoor Track & Field Championships, which will take place at the impressive AIT Arena.


World Masters 800m Champion Kelly Neely (City of Lisburn AC) will lead the local athletes in their charge for medals.  After outstanding veteran record breaking performances at recent indoor events, which included a 2:06.13 clocking for 800m at the AAI National Senior Indoors, it is hard to look past Kelly for gold.  


Derry City Track Club duo Cathal McLaughlin and Robert Bigger will hope to replicate the runs that saw them collect British titles last week at Lee Valley, while Roger Sexton (North Down AC), Denise Toner (Clones AC) and Nigel McKibbin (Dromore AC) will be amongst the other local medal hopefuls.  A full start list for the event is available HERE.


Parkrun:

As always, Northern Ireland’s twenty one parkrun events will take place this weekend, for more information on these, or to locate your nearest event, please visit our dedicated ‘parkrun’ section within our fixtures page. 

Andrew Annett and Theresa Duffy win annual SPAR Craic 10k:

SPAR Craic 10k 2016:

On St Patrick’s Day (Thursday 17th March 2016), thousands of athletes and spectators took to the streets of Northern Ireland’s capital city Belfast for the 2nd annual SPAR Craic 10k road race.  The event, which kicked off a day of celebrations in the city, started at Belfast City Hall and finished on the Titanic Slipway.


North Belfast Harriers’ Andrew Annett looked strong from the off and led the field through 5k in 16:30, with Conal McCambridge (North Belfast Harriers), Chris McGuinness (Foyle Valley AC) and Philip Goss (North Belfast Harriers) in pursuit.  In the ladies race, Theresa Duffy (Unattached) was in control at the half way point, clocking 19:10 for the first 5k.  Sharon Leetch (Ballymena Runners), Suzanne Higgins (Lagan Valley AC), Collette McCourt (Dub Runners) and Geraldine Branagh (North Belfast Harriers) followed.


As the crowds made their way towards the picturesque Titanic Quarter in the hope of catching a glimpse of the first finishers, it was, as expected, Andrew Annett who appeared first.  The versatile international athlete broke the tape in 32:56 (1st place).  Chris McGuinness continued his good recent form to secure 2nd place in 33:09, while Conal McCambridge held of club mate Philip Goss (4th place – 33:49) to take 3rd place in 33:42.


It was a similar story in the ladies race, with the early leaders cementing their positions as the race progressed.  Theresa Duffy led the way, crossing the line in 38:34 for 1st place.  Sharon Leetch covered the 6.2 mile route in 39:43 (2nd place), which secured the runners up spot, while Suzanne Higgins completed the top three in 40:10 (3rd place).


Top 3 Men:  1st Andrew Annett (North Belfast Harriers) – 32:56, 2nd Chris McGuinness (Foyle Valley AC) – 33:09, 3rd Conal McCambridge (North Belfast Harriers) – 33:42


Top 3 Ladies:  1st Theresa Duffy (Unattached) – 39:43, 2nd Sharon Leetch (Ballymena Runners) – 39:43, 3rd Suzanne Higgins (Lagan Valley AC) – 40:10


Provisional Results:  SPAR Craic 10k 2016 Results (Photo above by Pure Running)

Hype builds ahead of Garmin Mourne Skyline MTR 2016 entries opening:

Entries opening for Garmin Mourne Skyline MTR 2016:

Entries for the 3rd annual Garmin Mourne Skyline Mountain Trail-Race and the associated Granite Trail Race (‘GTR’) will open tomorrow, St Patrick’s Day (Thursday 17th March 2016) at 7am.  


Following the success of the previous two years, which has no doubt been helped by the high profile support of innovative GPS brand Garmin and a Channel 4 TV programme about the event in 2015, the Garmin Mourne Skyline MTR has already attracted significant interest from around the globe. 

 

The 200 spaces in the 35k event (which incorporate 3,370m of ascent) are expected to sell out quickly, early entry is therefore advised.  


Over the coming weeks, organisers will release details of the ‘elite’ field, which already includes British Mountain Running Champion Jasmin Paris (Carnethy HRC), Garmin Mourne Skyline MTR 2015 winners Ian Bailey (Newcastle AC) and Diane Wilson (Dromore AC), current NIMRA Champions Seamus Lynch (Newcastle AC) and Shileen O’Kane (Lagan Valley AC), and Northern Ireland and Ireland international Jonny Steede (Glens Runners).

 

The Garmin Mourne Skyline MTR, which takes place on Saturday 22nd October 2016 (9am), is organised by popular local website www.NiRunning.co.uk and is part of the Skyrunning UK Series alongside races in England, Scotland and Wales – It offers competitors the opportunity to test themselves against world class opposition over a tough but incredibly scenic course.  In 2015, Newcastle AC’s Ian Bailey smashed the course record after winning in 3:51:22 – the ladies record stands at 4:24:25 and is held by two time Skyrunner World Champion Stevie Kremer (Team Salomon), who is keen to return in 2016.

The Granite Trail Race (‘GTR’) opens the weekend festivities on Friday 21st October 2016 (7.30pm) and covers an uphill only route.  

The course measures 2 miles in distance with approximately 1,000ft of ascent, taking competitors from the Newcastle Promenade, up the historic Granite Trail to the atmospheric and unique finish at Millstone Quarry, where finishers can take in the stunning night time views over Newcastle and the wider Mourne area.  


Local athlete Seamus Lynch (Newcastle AC) and European XC Championships team medallist Sarah McCormack (Ambleside AC) have dominated the race since its inception in 2014 – Seamus holds the men’s record of 15:53 (2015), while Sarah’s 17:29 from 2014 is the fastest ladies time.


Race Director Ryan Maxwell is enthusiastic about the 2016 event, saying “Since starting the race in 2014, we have been genuinely overwhelmed by the support and kind words from all over the world regarding the Garmin Mourne Skyline MTR and the ‘GTR’.  It would be easy to rest on our laurels after the success of the previous two years, but this is not something we do, nor is it the kind of team we are - we are working tirelessly to build on the success of 2014/2015 and are hopeful that the races will continue to draw positive attention to Northern Ireland and the local running scene.”


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


IMPORTANT NOTE:  Entries open on St Patrick’s Day – Thursday 17th March 2016 at 7am)

Cathal McLaughlin & Robert Bigger crowned British Champions at Lee Valley:

British Masters Athletics Federation Indoor Track & Field Championships 2016:

Over the course of last weekend (Saturday 12th and Sunday 13th March 2016), a number of athletes from Northern Ireland were in action British Masters Athletics Federation (BMAF) Indoor Track & Field Championships at the Lee Valley Stadium in England.


Like their fellow Northern Ireland based veteran athletes who impressed so much at the BMAF XC Championships on the same weekend, the group of local runners brought home some silverware.  The always impressive Cathal McLaughlin (Derry City Track Club) completed the 800m and 1500m double in the Vet45 category, taking 1st place in the 800m in 2:07.87 and 1st place in the 1500m in 4:20.19.  


Fellow Derry City Track Club athlete Robert Bigger also collected gold over 1500m, winning his Vet55 category in 4:49.30 (1st place) – Robert followed that up with a silver in the 800m after clocking 2:18.19 (2nd place).  Tim Shiels completed an excellent weekend for DCTC when he recorded an indoor best of 54.34secs to secures 3rd place in the Vet40 400m event.


Full Results for the event are available HERE.


Ballymena Runners launch Ballymena Belles 5 mile road race:

Ballymena Belles 5 mile Road Race 2016:

Ballymena Runners have launched their Ballymena Belles 5 mile road race, a popular ladies only event. There has been a significant buzz surrounding the race this year with online entries already filling up extremely quickly! 


Starting just outside Galgorm Village, Tuesday 12th April 2016 will see up to 300 ladies take on the undulating course.  Measuring 5 miles in distance, it is a course that should appeal to both the competitive runner and those wanting to have some fun.  Weather presenter Cecilia Daly will be running the race as well as being the official starter for the event! 


Race organiser and ladies club captain, Ruth Aiken, said "I am so excited to be organising the Belles race this year.  This is an opportunity for ladies to come together, have fun and support our chosen charity, Pretty’n’Pink. I see this as a local event that can bring the community together and am delighted with the support we have already received to date!" 


Local businesses have been quick to offer support in various ways.  A massive boost to the race has been securing a deal with Sketchers.  Sketchers have promised tote bags filled with goodies for every entrant along with spot prizes and many more surprises to come!  In addition to Sketchers, other major local sponsors have also been secured.  Woodsides Chemist, who already have strong links to Ballymena Runners as their owner, Ben Morrow, is male vice-captain.  They have been faithful supporters of the race in previous years and were keen to become involved again this year.  Trust Ford already support a cancer charity and were delighted to be approached about being involved. They have made a generous financial donation towards race costs. Look out for their cars along the route!  Local businesses in the Galgorm area continue to come on board and to date the race has had further financial support and spot prizes from Galgorm Dental, Galgorm Dental and Steele Physio!

 

This year’s chosen charity is local breast cancer charity Pretty ‘n’ Pink.  Speaking on behalf of the organisation Noeleen Lynn said “we’re really delighted to have been selected as the nominated charity of this year’s ‘Ballymena Belles’ and look forward to race day.  The partnership will help us make a difference to the lives of breast cancer patients and their families here in Northern Ireland and we are very grateful to Ballymena Runners, race sponsors, and all involved for this opportunity.”  With an amount from every entry fee being donated to the charity the race will help raise money for the Pretty ‘n’ Pink Support Fund which provides practical financial help to breast cancer patients in Northern Ireland.  Participants are also encouraged to raise sponsorship money for the charity and can make arrangements to do so by telephoning the charity on 02890 517043, emailing [email protected], or by visiting the website at www.prettynpink.org.

 

The race will start at 7pm on Tuesday 12th April 2016.  Entries are filling quickly so anyone interested is encouraged to enter online as soon as possible HERE.  Organisers will be running regular competitions on their facebook page (HERE), which will include free entries.

Ruth Perioli crowned British Champion at BMAF XC Championships 2016:

British Masters Athletics Federation XC Championships 2016:

On Sunday 13th March 2016, a group of athletes from Northern Ireland were in competition at the British Masters Athletics Federation (BMAF) Cross Country Championships at Bath University in England.


Amongst the impressive performances was a title winning performance by Lagan Valley AC athletes and well-respected veteran athlete Ruth Perioli.  Ruth covered the 6k route in 24:17 (1st place), which was enough to see her collect gold after leading the Vet55 competitors home.  Ever consistent athlete Debbie Matchett also took a place on the podium, when she clocked 22:43 for 2nd place in the Vet45 category.  


North Belfast Harriers trio Laurence Johnston, Jim Newberry and John Patience collected silver medals in the team category following their individual performances between the Vet55-Vet64 age categories.  Other local athletes who were in competition at the event included Brian McKee (Dromore AC) and Richard Dickson (NIMAA).


Full results for the event can be found HERE.

Newcastle AC athletes secure podium places in County Meath (Ireland):

Newcastle AC trio pick up prizes in County Meath (Ireland):

On Sunday 13th March 2016, a large number of familiar faces were in action at the Meath Spring Half Marathon and 10k races in County Meath, both of which were part of an event promoted by Bohermeen AC.


The races have proved popular with Northern Ireland based athletes in the past and this year was no different, with a large contingent from Newcastle AC making the cross-border journey; three of their athlete secured podium places.  


In the 10k, David O’Flaherty (Newcastle AC) stole the headlines with a win.  David continued his recent good form when he broke the tape in 32:22 (1st place), which was enough to see him win by over one minute.


In the half marathon, David Simpson (Newcastle AC) claimed a well-deserved 2nd place after covering the course in 1:11:39; the race was won by Eoin Callaghan (Star of the Sea AC) in 1:08:20 (1st place).  Sinead Murtagh added to the Newcastle AC prize haul when see claimed 3rd place in the ladies half marathon, crossing the line in 1:25:21.  Ciara Hickey (Bros Pearse AC) led the ladies home in 1:16:58 (1st place).


Full Results:  Meath Spring Half Marathon & 10k 2016 Results

Paddy Hamilton and Kerry O'Flaherty win Jimmy's 10k:

Jimmy’s 10k 2016:

On Sunday 13th March 2016, a record number of over nine hundred athletes took on one of Northern Ireland’s top road races, Jimmy’s 10k in Downpatrick, an event organised by East Down AC.  The race was also the first event in the new ‘age graded’ Novosco 10k Grand Prix.


At the front, former Annadale Striders team mates Paddy Hamilton (Slieve Gullion Runners) and James O’Hare (Annadale Striders) led the way early, but as the men approached 5k, it was Paddy who looked in control.  He passed through the half way marker in 15:55, thirty seconds clear of James (16:25).  Behind, Andrew Agnew (Annadale Striders) and Martin Cox (Derry City Track Club) looked like the most obvious contenders for the final podium spot.


In the ladies race, Rio bound Kerry O’Flaherty (Newcastle AC) looked un-stoppable at the front as she cruised through 5k in 17:31.  The always impressive Laura Graham followed, clocking 18:12 for the first half, with NI & Ulster Senior XC Champion Shalene McMurray (Newcastle AC) just under twenty seconds further back.  Judith Lonnen (City of Lisburn AC) and Louise Smith (North Belfast Harriers) were also running well.


During the second half of the race, Paddy Hamilton further increased his lead at the head of the pack.  The Northern Ireland international powered back towards the town centre, moving into the home straight and breaking the tape in 31:37 (1st place).  James O’Hare followed just over a minute later in 32:55 (2nd place), while the in-form Martin Cox (Derry City Track Club) took 3rd place in 33:07.


Kerry O’Flaherty continued her relentless pace in the final 5k, and increased the gap between herself and the chasing pack.  Well clear of the chasers, Kerry secured an excellent win in 34:49 (1st place).  Laura Graham again showed her potential with a 36:11 clocking for 2nd place, before Shalene McMurray completed the top three in 37:04 (3rd place).


Top 3 Men:  1st Paddy Hamilton (Slieve Gullion Runners) – 31:37, 2nd James O’Hare (Annadale Striders) – 32:55, 3rd Martin Cox (Derry City Track Club) – 33:07


Top 3 Ladies:  1st Kerry O’Flaherty (Newcastle AC) – 34:49, 2nd Laura Graham (Mourne Runners) – 36:11, 3rd Shalene McMurray (Newcastle AC) – 37:04


Full Results:  Jimmy’s 10k 2016 Results (Photo above by John T Glover)

Conor Duffy and Natasha Adams win as local athletes impress in Donegal:

Cara Bundoran 10 mile & 10k Challenge:

On Saturday 12th March 2016, a large number of runners from Northern Ireland were in action at the Cara Bundoran 10 mile and 10k road races in County Donegal, Ireland.


Amongst the plethora of quality performances by local athletes were a number of prize-winning outings, the most notable of which was a win for Conor Duffy (Glaslough Harriers) and a clean sweep of the ladies podium by Northern Ireland based athletes.


NI & Ulster 10k road Champion Conor led the field home in an impressive 52:32 (1st place), while in the ladies race, Natasha Adams (Letterkenny AC) followed on from her win at the Airtricity 10 mile road race last week with another win; Natasha recorded 58:07 for 1st place.  North Belfast Harriers’ Breege Connolly followed in 59:08 (2nd place), with triathlete Heather Foley (Unattached) completing the podium in 1:00:18 (3rd place).  Sperrin Harriers’ Tanya Quinn also finished in the top ten, taking 10th place in 1:11:38.


There was also Northern Ireland representation on the 10k podium, with Enniskillen Running Club’s Karen Dolan claiming 3rd place in the ladies race.  Karen crossed the line in 43:20 (3rd place); the race was won by Jane McGinley (Unattached) in 41:14.


Full Results:  Cara Bundoran 10 mile 2016 Results and Cara Bundoran 10k 2016 Results (Photo above by Teresa McDaid)

Gary Slevin and Rachel Gibson win St Paddy's 5k road race:

St Paddy’s 5k 2016:

On Saturday 12th March 2016, well over one hundred athletes turned out to support the annual St Paddy’s 5k road race in Derry/Londonderry.  The event, which took place within Gransha Grounds, was hosted by City of Derry AC in aid of local charity Foyle Hospice.


In a close race at the front, Gary Slevin (City of Derry AC), Chris McGuinness (Foyle Valley AC) and Noel Logan (City of Derry AC) all featured, but in the end it was Gary who edged, beating Chris in a sprint finish for top spot. Gary crossed the line in 15:47 (1st place), with Chris clocking 15:48 for 2nd place.  Dermot McElhinney (City of Derry AC) came through well to take 3rd place in 16:03.


North Down AC athlete and Northern Ireland XC international Rachel Gibson showed her class in the ladies race, securing the top prize in a speedy 18:22 (1st place).  Jacqueline McMonagle (City of Derry AC) took 2nd place in 18:55, while Angeline McShane (City of Derry AC) recorded 19:40 for 3rd place.


Top 3 Men:  1st Gary Slevin (City of Derry AC) – 15:47, 2nd Chris McGuinness (Foyle Valley AC) – 15:48, 3rd Dermot McElhinney (City of Derry AC) – 16:03


Top 3 Ladies:  1st Rachel Gibson (North Down AC) – 18:22, 2nd Jacqueline McMonagle (City of Derry AC) – 18:55, 3rd Angeline McShane (City of Derry AC) – 19:40


Full Results:  St Paddy’s 5k 2016 Results

William McKee and Shileen O'Kane win NIMRA Championship opener:

Glenariff Mountain Race 2016:

On Saturday 12th March 2016, a record number of athletes descended on the coastal village of Waterfoot for the annual Glenariff Mountain Race, which was also the first race of the Northern Ireland Mountain Running Association (NIMRA) Championship for 2016.


As expected, pre-race favourites William McKee (Mourne Runners), Allan Bogle (City of Derry AC) and Jonny Steede (Glens Runners) all took to the start line, and what ensued was an exceptionally interesting race for spectators.  William, a dominant force throughout the recent Born 2 Run ‘Run Forest Run’ Series and Allan, an athlete who always seems to impress over this course, battled it out over the 5.9 mile course, which incorporated 370m of ascent.


In the end, it was Mourne Runners man William who stole the headlines, securing victory in 43:13 (1st place).  Allan finished just six seconds later in 43:19 for 2nd place, while well-respected race director of the event Jonny Steede completed the top three in 44:25 (3rd place).


In the ladies race, reigning NIMRA Champion Shileen O’Kane (Lagan Valley AC) produced an excellent performance to seal top spot.  The Northern Ireland international cruised to victory in 54:30 (1st place).  The host club’s Gillian Wasson (Ballymena Runners) and Paula McAllister (Ballymena Runners) both ran well to secure the remaining podium places, with Gillian taking 2nd place in 56:43 and Paula claiming 3rd place in 58:49.


Top 3 Men:  1st William McKee (Mourne Runners) – 43:13, 2nd Allan Bogle (City of Derry AC) – 43:19, 3rd Jonny Steede (Glens Runners) – 44:25


Top 3 Ladies:  1st Shileen O’Kane (Lagan Valley AC) – 54:30, 2nd Gillian Wasson (Ballymena Runners) – 56:43, 3rd Paula McAllister (Ballymena 

Runners) – 58:49


Full Results:  Glenariff Mountain Race 2016 Results - Photo above by Ballymena Runners, please check their facebook page for a full album of photos from today's event.

Weekend Preview:  Glenariff Mountain Race, Jimmy's 10k and more...

Weekend Preview:  Glenariff Mountain Race and Jimmy’s 10k take centre stage!

As Spring beckons, local athletes will be hoping for some better weather for training and racing.  The fixtures calendar is bulging with exciting and reputable races over the next few months, and this weekend brings the start of two very enticing Series’.   


Following the start of the Northern Ireland Mountain Running Association (NIMRA) season last week at Slieve Gullion, the first race of the NIMRA Championship 2016 will take place in Waterfoot this weekend.  


The local road running fraternity will also appreciate the start of the inaugural Novosco 10k Grand Prix, which kicks off with Jimmy’s 10k this weekend; the unique age graded competition allows athletes to compete on a level playing field regardless of age category.  Full details are available on the official website HERE.


Although we’ll be focusing this week’s ‘Weekend Preview’ on the aforementioned main events, athletes can also look forward to several other races in the coming days, including the St Paddy’s 5k in Derry/Londonderry, the Addiction NI 10k in Belfast, the Rocky Road 10k in Dromintee and Race 2 of the Valleys 5k Series in Benone Beach, close to Limavady.

Glenariff Mountain Race:

The action kicks off on Saturday 12th March 2016 when mountain runners from across the province will descend on the coastal village of Waterfoot for the opening race of the Northern Ireland Mountain Running Association (NIMRA) Championship, the Glenariff Mountain Race.


Affectionately known as ‘the Potato race’ because of the goodie bag consisting of potatoes; yes, a full bag of potatoes (from race sponsors, Glens of Antrim Potatoes), the race, hosted by Ballymena Runners, attracts runners from all corners of Northern Ireland, and beyond!  


The course measures approximately 5.9 miles in distance, with 370 metres of ascent and with the initial flat and fast 2 mile section along the Glen River, which doubles up as the final 2 miles of the race, it makes this course suitable for everyone.  


In saying this, nothing can be taken away from the task runner’s face on race day, given the fact that much of the 370 metres of ascent is packed into one climb, which measures just under a mile in distance – it’s steep!  


In previous years, the trail and road runners have led the field out, before the mountain men (and ladies) take charge as the field move onto the steep and continuous climb up the Glen.  It is unclear if current NIMRA Champion and 2015 winner of this event, Seamus Lynch (Newcastle AC) will return to defend his title following information that he may focus on the roads in the coming months.  Should the always impressive Newcastle AC athlete opt not to race, it will be race director Jonny Steede (Glens Runners) who starts as pre-race favourite.  


Jonny kicked off his 2016 mountain campaign with an impressive win at the season opener at Slieve Gullion last weekend.  This followed a runners up spot at the Born 2 Run ‘Run Forest Run’ Series finale in Castlewellan, where Jonny finished second to William McKee (Mourne Runners).  That brings us to our next potential candidate - rumour has it that William himself may be targeting the NIMRA Championship this season, which will bring added competition at the front; given his ‘flat speed’ and ability on the climb, this race could very well be perfectly suited to the Kilkeel man. Another athlete who is likely to play a major part in proceedings is Allan Bogle (City of Derry AC), who always seems to impress here.  In 2015, Allan led the way as the athletes moved onto the steep mountain climb, eventually holding on for a podium place; he should achieve similar this time around. Mark McKinstry (North Belfast Harriers) may well be a surprise entry and should place well if he does race.

Newcastle AC men Colm Murtagh and David Hicks impressed at Slieve Gullion but will have their work cut out if they want to replicate those podium finishes.  Albeit well-deserved, they talented duo will have to see off the previously mentioned trio of Jonny, Allan and William, as well as Neil Carty (North Belfast Harriers), Gary Bailey (Mourne Runners), Sam Herron (Mourne Runners), Alex Brennan (Ballymena Runners), Deon McNeilly (Newcastle AC) and Dale Mathers (Mourne Runners).  Shane Donnelly (Acorns AC), Richard Bell (Mourne Runners), Clive Bailey (Mourne Runners) and Billy Reed (East Antrim Harriers) will also be worth watching.


In the ladies race, current NIMRA Champion and winner of this event in 2015, Shileen O’Kane (Lagan Valley AC) should kick off her season.  After missing out on Slieve Gullion last week, Shileen will be keen to get going and should feature well.  


That said, she (Shileen) will face her friend and fellow Northern Ireland international, Diane Wilson (Dromore AC).  Following a stuttered start to 2015, Diane went on to have the year of her sporting life, winning the Ben Nevis Mountain Race and the Garmin Mourne Skyline MTR.  As always, it will be an interesting battle between the ladies at the front – then if you throw young Mari Troeng (Newcastle AC) into the mix, it makes for an epic race!  Orienteer and runner Mari has shown real talent over the last 12-18 months and put in a classy display to win the Slieve Gullion Mountain Race last weekend; she will claim a podium place if she races here.


Hazel McLaughlin (Lagan Valley AC) just saw off club mate Anne Sandford (Lagan Valley AC) for third place last week at ‘Gullion’ and the pair should toe the line here once again.  Sam McNeilly (Newcastle AC), Ruth Aiken (Ballymena Runners), Elizabeth Wheeler (IMRA), Paulette Thomson (Newcastle AC) and Laura Smith (BARF) should all finish well up the field

St Paddy’s 5k Road Race:

On the same day (Saturday 12th March 2016), in County Derry/Londonderry, hundreds of athletes are expected to take on the annual St Patrick’s Weekend 5k road race organised by City of Derry AC. The event, which takes place within the well-used Gransha Grounds is also known as Paula’s Run.


Following his fourth place finish at the SSE Airtricity 10 mile road race last week, Foyle Valley AC’s Chris McGuinness may look to this event for a final sharpener prior to taking on the AES Larne Half Marathon next weekend.  If he does race, Chris will be there or there about when it comes to picking up the top prize. Other men who may contest the honour could include last year’s winner Emmet McGinty (City of Derry AC), the evergreen Pauric McKinney (Inishowen AC) and Derry City Track Club’s Martin Cox, who won the Sonia O’Sullivan 5k in Sligo last week, having recorded 15:52 for the distance.  


Foyle Valley AC duo Pius McIntyre and Roy McGilloway could also start, while in the ladies race, Catherine Whoriskey (City of Derry AC) will start as pre-race favourite.  Catherine looked in good form as she took second place at the SSE Airtricity 10 mile road race last weekend – she clocked an impressive 1:02:08 to finish behind winner Natasha Adams (Letterkenny AC).  Gemma McGinty (Foyle Valley AC) and Martina McMullan (Foyle Valley AC) should also go well.

Jimmy’s 10k Road Race:

On Sunday 13th March 2016, East Down AC will welcome athletes to their annual and very popular Jimmy’s 10k road race in Downpatrick, County Down.  The race, which has attracted well over seven hundred pre-entries, is the first event of the new Novosco 10k Grand Prix 2016 (full details available HERE).


Even now that the official Athletics NI calendar is full to bursting all year round, this event is commonly and quite rightly referred to by many seasoned competitors as the first official 10k race of the ‘road running season’.  Aside from one hill early on, the course offers competitors a relatively flat and fast route to get the season off the a good start; a perfect benchmark coming off winter training or to see ‘where you are at’ going into Half Marathon and Marathon season.


It’s hard to look past SSE Airtricity 10 mile road race winner Gideon Kimosop (Project Africa Athletics) as a potential winner.  The African athlete looked a class act as he cruised to victory last week, covering the 10 mile route in 50:04.  Gideon won this event last year in 30:34 before going on to win the Omagh Half Marathon.  Andrew Agnew (Annadale Striders), Dennis Scott (North Down AC) and up and coming North Down AC man Jamie McMeechan should lead the local charge for honours.  A host of talent will be hunting them down though, with Neill Weir (Willowfield Harriers), Francis Marsh (North Down AC), Greg Lucy (Willowfield Harriers), Lindsay Gordon (North Belfast Harriers) and James Budde (North Down AC) all set to race.  Newcastle AC men Marty Melville and David Steele will go well, as will Gerard Heaney (St Peter’s AC) and Joe McKevitt (Slieve Gullion Runners).


The ladies race will prove to be a competitive affair, with newly crowned NI & Ulster Senior XC Champion Shalene McMurray like to head a strong field which will include Louise Smith (North Down AC), Judith Lonnen (City of Lisburn AC), Joanne Mills (Newcastle AC), Jodi Smith (North Down AC), Martsje Hell (North Belfast Harriers) and Laura Graham (Mourne Runners).  This makes for an exciting race, which any of the mentioned ladies could win on their day.  Niamh Kellett (East Down AC), Niamh O’Connell (Murlough AC), Ann Terek (City of Lisburn AC) and Anne Havern (Newry City Runners) add significance depth to the impressive line-up.

Addiction NI 10k Road Race:

In Belfast on Sunday 13th March 2016, hundreds of runners will turn out in support of the annual Addiction NI 10k road race, which takes places in the area around Ormeau Park and the adjoining Ormeau Embankment.


The race has grown in stature over the last number of years, attracting support from running clubs all over the province.  Previous winners include the likes of Barrie Atkinson (East Down AC), Lindsay Gordon (North Belfast Harriers) and Lyndsey Tyro (Orangegrove AC).  Lindsay Gordon will not return as he is racing at Jimmy’s 10k, but there is a chance that 2014 winner Barrie Atkinson and 2015 ladies winner Lyndsey Tyro, will take to the start line once again.


North Belfast Harriers’ ever consistent Simon Reeve will definitely take to the start line and will be joined there by Resolution Run 5k winner Gavin Campbell (Unattached).  Ryan Hamilton (Unattached) and Mark Shields (North Belfast Harriers) will also be looking for highly placed finishes, while Gillian Logan (Larne AC), winner of the Resolution Run 10k, and Lagan Valley AC’s Rebecca Hunter, should battle it out for the ladies title alongside reigning Champion Lyndsey Tyro.


Rocky Road 10k Challenge:

Elsewhere on Sunday 13th March 2016, running enthusiasts can look forward to the Dromintee Rocky Road Challenge 10k (and associated 5k) which will take place in and around the border village of Jonesborough, just outside Newry.  Starting at Dromintee GAC at 12.30pm, athletes will negotiate a tough but rewarding course which will provide views of Slieve Gullion and the surrounding area.


Last year, North East Runners man Brian McCluskey covered this tough course in 34:07, winning by just over ninety seconds from Slieve Gullion Runners’ Joe McKevitt.  Brian should return this year, but whilst Joe is at Jimmy’s 10k in Downpatrick, his club mate Paddy Hamilton (Slieve Gullion Runners) may well be handed the baton and represent the local club.  


Should Brian and Paddy both race, it will be a close encounter given their recent form, but Paddy may well just edge it.  Don Travers (Newry City Runners) would be an excellent addition to the line-up, should he decide to compete – the rough and tumble nature of this course would suit Don, with his off-road and multi-terrain experience.  Sean Goodman (Newry City Runners) and Martin Quinn (Club Unknown) should also feature, while Attracta Magennis (Newry City Runners), Barbara Owens (Newry City Runners) and Grainne Niuallachain (Unattached) may well contest the ladies top prize.

Valleys 5k Series (Race 2) – Benone Beach:

Also on Sunday 13th March 2016, athletes in the North West of Northern Ireland will have the opportunity to take to Benone Beach and the surrounding area, as they take on Race 2 of the Valleys 5k Series, an event hosted by Valley Running Club.


In Race 1 at Ness Wood, it was Derry City Track Club’s Chris Millar and Eglinton Road Runners’ Anya Hockley who walked away victorious.  Following their performances that day, it’s hard to see why either will not return to make it two wins out of two.  


In saying that, they may face competition from the likes of Mark Mullan (City of Derry AC), Amy McDaid (Derry City Track Club), Fran McFadden (Springwell Running Club) Kerrie McIlmoyle (Springwell Running Club), Martin O’Doherty (Foyle Valley AC) and Ciara McSherry (Springwell Running Club) in their respective races.


Parkrun:

As always, Northern Ireland’s twenty one parkrun events will take place this weekend, for more information on these, or to locate your nearest event, please visit our dedicated ‘parkrun’ section within our fixtures page.


Please Note:  There may be a significant delay in the uploading of summaries and results this weekend as we have limited resources over the coming days.  We apologies for any inconvenience.

Three NI runners to represent Ireland at IAAF World HM Championships:

Northern Ireland trio selected for Ireland:

Today (Tuesday 8th March 2016), three runners from Northern Ireland were named in the Ireland team for the upcoming IAAF World Half Marathon Championships, which will be held in Cardiff (Wales) on Saturday 26th March 2016.


Paul Pollock (Annadale Striders), Kevin Seaward (St Malachy's AC) and Thomas Frazer (St Malachy's AC) will all toe the line at the event as part of the strong Irish team, which will include Sean Hehir (Rathfarnham WSAF), Sergiu Ciobanu (Clonliffe Harriers) and Lizzie Lee (Leevale AC).  It is unclear at this time whether further athletes will be added to the team.


Paul and Kevin have been in excellent form under the guidance of coach Andrew Hobdell - Paul has kicked off 2016 with wins at the Wokingham Half Marathon (1:03:46) and the Chichester 10k (29:42), while Kevin currently holds the fastest Irish qualifying time for the Rio Olympic marathon (2:14:52) after his performance at the Berlin Marathon in 2015.  More recently, he finished just behind Paul at the aforementioned Chichester 10k, dipping below the infamous 30 minute barrier when running 29:59 for fifth place; both Paul and Kevin have reached the qualifying standard for the Rio 2016 Olympic Marathon and will race the London Marathon in April 2016, alongside fellow Northern Ireland man Stephen Scullion.  America based Thomas, a man who has excelled at almost every distance, recently recorded an excellent 14:39 for 5k and will therefore go into the World Championships high in confidence.


The race, which will be televised live by the BBC, will start at the picturesque Cardiff Castle and finish in the shadows of a temporary grandstand, just outside the City Centre.  Although the full line-up has yet to be confirmed, it will contain a plethora of household names from around the globe, with Mo Farah (Great Britain & NI) and Gemma Steel (Great Briatin & NI) likely to be amongst the home nations' best medal hopefuls.


The event website is available HERE.  Photo above by Keith McClure.

Susan McCartney secures podium place at Green Man 46 mile Ultra:

Susan McCartney impresses in England:

On Saturday 5th March 2016, Northern Ireland lady and Ireland international long distance runner Susan McCartney (BARF) secured a podium place at the 'Green Man Ultra', a 46 mile race along the Bristol Community Forest Path in England.


Up against a competitive field, Susan claimed an excellent 2nd place after covering the course in 8:25:36.  The race was won by Clare Prosser (Unattached) in 6:40:50 (1st place).

St Colman's Newry secure 'All Ireland' XC title in Sligo:

GloHealth AAI National ‘All Ireland’ Schools XC 2016:

On Saturday 5th March 2016, hundreds of athletes from Northern Ireland made the cross-border journey to Sligo (Ireland) for the prestigious GloHealth AAI National (‘All Ireland’) Schools Cross Country Championships, which were held at the picturesque Sligo Race Course.


Newry based school St Colman’s had a lot to live up to after taking home the ‘All Ireland’ titles for the last six years, and they well and truly delivered.  Students and Teachers alike celebrated as they secured gold in the Junior Boy’s category, taking 1st place in the team competition.  


There were also team honours for Victoria College (Belfast), St Michael’s (Enniskillen) and Loreto College (Omagh).  Victoria College claimed silver after finishing in 2nd place in the Minor Girls’ team competition – St Michael’s finished in 3rd place in the Minor Boys’ final standings.  Loreto College also took home bronze medals after taking 3rd place in the Intermediate Girls competition.


Individually, North Belfast Harriers lady Rebecca Wallace, representing Wallace High School in Lisburn, produced an excellent performance to finish in 2nd place in the Junior Girls 2,500m event won by SH Westport’s Saoirse O’Brien (1st place) – no times were recorded for this race.  In the Senior Boy’s 6.5k race, City of Lisburn AC star James Edgar (Friends’ School, Lisburn) clocked 21:24 for 3rd place; the race was won by Irish starlet Kevin Mulcaire (St Flannan’s, Ennis) in 20:53 (1st place).


Full Results:  GloHealth AAI National ‘All Ireland’ Schools XC 2016 Results .... TEAM Results and INDIVIDUAL Results

Jonny Steede and Mari Troeng excel at Slieve Gullion Mountain Race:

Slieve Gullion Mountain Race 2016:

On Saturday 5th March 2016, a record number of eighty five athletes took on this year's Slieve Gullion Mountain Race, just outside Newry, the opening fixture of the Northern Ireland Mountain Running Association (NIMRA) season.


Despite the sudden onslaught of horizontal, stinging hailstones prior to the race commencing, there was an excellent atmosphere as the eager runners looked ahead to what will be another fantastic season of mountain running. The sky clear as the runners made their way to the start line and in the following sunshine, the athletes started out on the 3.9 mile course which incorporated 340 metres of ascent.  On the climb, little separated Jonny Steede (Glens Runners) and Tommy Simmons (North Belfast Harriers), but on the descent, Northern Ireland and Ireland international Jonny moved well clear to seal a convincing victory; Jonny broke the tape in 32:42 (1st place). Newcastle AC pair of David Hicks (33:31) and Colin Murtagh (33:37) also negotiated the descent well, taking 2nd place and 3rd place respectively. 


Newcastle AC provided the winner of the ladies race, in the form of the talented Mari Troeng.  Mari enjoyed getting back into the mountains and this was obvious as she ran out clear winner in 41:17 (1st place).  Unattached athlete Emma Wilson took 2nd place in 44:31, while Hazel McLaughlin (Lagan Valley AC) claimed 3rd place in 44:55.


Newcastle AC (1st place) were convincing winners of the team race, packing well with placings of 2nd, 3rd, 6th and 10th.  Mourne Runners took 2nd place with 32 points and BARF were 3rd place with 133 points.


Top 3 Men:  1st Jonny Steede (Glens Runners) - 32:42, 2nd David Hicks (Newcastle AC) - 33:31, 3rd Colm Murtagh (Newcastle AC) - 33:37


Top 3 Ladies:  1st Mari Troeng (Newcastle AC) - 41:17, 2nd Emma Wilson (Unattached) - 44:31, 3rd Hazel McLaughlin (Lagan Valley AC) - 44:55


Full Results:  Slieve Gullion Mountain Race 2016 Results

Gideon Kipsang and Natasha Adams win SSE Airtricity 10 mile Road Race:

SSE Airtricity 10 mile Road Race:

On Saturday 5th March 2016, well over three hundred athletes turned out for the annual SSE Airtricity 10 mile road race, a popular event for those building towards upcoming 13.1 mile races, or indeed, the event's big brother/sister – the SSE Airtricty Walled City Marathon, which will take place on Sunday 5th June 2016.


As expected, the revised route proved popular with competitors – a loop into the flat Gransha Park grounds around 3 miles, replaces the hilly section close to the previous finish, and the new finish is now on the running track in St Columbs Park, replicating the acclaimed 2015 Waterside Half Marathon finish. 


African runner Gideon Kipsang (Project Africa Athletics) looked in top form as he produced an excellent display of front running to secure a well-deserved win.  Bath Half Marathon bound Gideon ran a speedy 50:04 (1st place) and was followed across the line by two North Belfast Harriers men - Andrew Annett (53:35) took 2nd place, while his club mate John Black (54:45) beat Foyle Valley AC’s Chris McGuinness (4th place - 54:47) in an exciting sprint finish for 3rd place.


Natasha Adams (Letterkenny AC) once again showed why she is considered as one of the province’s top athletes as she sealed the ladies title in an excellent 57:51 (1st place).  City of Derry AC's Catherine Whoriskey looked strong as she claimed the runners up spot in 1:02:08 (2nd place), before Acorns AC's Karen Alexander (1:04:02) took 3rd place.


Top 3 Men:  1st Gideon Kipsang (Project Africa Athletics) – 50:04, 2nd Andrew Annett (North Belfast Harriers) – 53:35, 3rd John Black (North Belfast Harriers) – 54:45


Top 3 Ladies:  1st Natasha Adams (Letterkenny AC) – 57:51, 2nd Catherine Whoriskey (City of Derry AC) – 1:02:08, 3rd Karen Alexander (Acorns AC) – 1:04:02


Full Results:  SSE Airtricity 10 mile Road Race 2016 Results

Mark McKinstry and Julie Butler win 7th annual Carmen 10k road race:

Carmen 10k 2016:

On Saturday 5th March 2016, hundreds of athletes descended on the County Tyrone town of Carrickmore for the 7th annual running of the Carmen 10k road race, an event hosted by Carmen Runners.


North Belfast Harriers man and Northern Ireland international Mark McKinstry looked a class act at the head of the pack.  After moving clear of Armagh AC’s Stephen Kerr, Mark recorded 33:10 (1st place) for top spot.  Stephen followed in 34:19 (2nd place), while Acorns AC’s Eoin Hughes (35:31) saw off Unattached athlete Delfim Pimentel (35:35) for 3rd place.


In the ladies race, Omagh Harriers’ Julie Butler carried the same form that she showed in the recent Sperrin Harriers Winter Trail Series as she stormed to victory in 37:35.  Last year’s winner, Pauline McGurren (Sperrinn Harriers) crossed the line in 39:03 for 2nd place, before the host club’s Ciara Coyle completed the top three in 42:53 (3rd place).


Top 3 Men:  1st Mark McKinstry (North Belfast Harriers) – 33:10, 2nd Stephen Kerr (Armagh AC) – 34:19, 3rd Eoin Hughes (Acorns AC) – 35:31


Top 3 Ladies:  1st Julie Butler (Omagh Harriers) – 37:35, 2nd Pauline McGurren (Sperrin Harriers) – 39:03, 3rd Ciara Coyle (Carmen Runners) – 42:53


Full Results:  Carmen 10k 2016 Results

Derry City Track Club's Martin Cox secures impressive win in Sligo:

Sonia O'Sullivan 5k 2016:

On Friday 4th March 2015, Northern Ireland based athlete Martin Cox (Derry City Track) club celebrated success at the Sonia O’Sullivan 5k race in Sligo Ireland.


Up against hundreds of competitors, including the Olympic medallist herself, Martin recorded 15:52 (1st place) to secure a comfortable victory.

Weekend Preview:  Mountain runners look forward to NIMRA season opener...

Weekend Preview:  NIMRA season opener and more…

After a busy and successful weekend for local athletes last week, the competitive running bandwagon rolls on towards the Spring and Summer season.  This weekend will see the return of the Northern Ireland mountain running scene, with the Slieve Gullion Mountain Race kicking off the Northern Ireland Mountain Running Association (NIMRA) season.  


There is also the SSE Airtricity 10 mile road race and the Carmen 10k to look forward too, while local runners will also travel en-mass to Carlingford, where NI based events management company 26extreme will host the Carlingford Half Marathon (and associated 10k).  Familiar faces will also race in Ireland and Wales.


Slieve Gullion Mountain Race:

On Saturday 5th March 2016, local mountain runners will kick off the Northern Ireland mountain running season, with the Slieve Gullion race taking place just outside Newry.  Although not part of the NIMRA Championship Series 2016, 'Gullion' is expected to attract a large crowd of keen and very eager mountain runners, including several of those capable of challenging for top honours in the aforementioned Championship, and others wishing to test out their winter training.  


Last year’s winners Paul McAnespie (Armagh AC) and Mary Mackin (Dromore AC) are expected to return this year.  Information suggests that Paul is in good form and looking forward to taking to the start line, but he will face tough opposition in the form of William McKee (Mourne Runners), Jonny Steede (Glens Runners), David Simpson (Newcastle AC) and Sam Herron (Mourne Runners).  Current NIMRA Champion Seamus Lynch (Newcastle AC) is a likely absentee as he switches his focus over the next few months onto road running.

The ever improving William McKee will go into the event as favourite having shown outstanding form throughout the Born 2 Run ‘Run Forest Run’ Series.  The Mourne Runners man won all but one of the races which he started; subsequently, he was crowned Series Champion.  As well as this, William looked a class act at the Run for Rescue 10 mile road race in Kilkeel at the back end of last year (October 2015), sealing a solo victory in a fantastic time of 57:31, over what was a challenging course.


Former NIMRA Champion Jonny Steede, who now represents Glens Runners ran well on New Year’s Day at Race Over the Glens, taking fifth place in a what was competitive field - just last week, the Northern Ireland and Ireland international took second place at the Born 2 Run Castlewellan 10k behind William McKee.  Newcastle AC’s recent recruit David Simpson is another man who could go well here.  David, who only recently joined the County Down club impressed at the NI & Ulster Senior XC two weeks ago, before winning the Ben Dearg 10k last weekend, only a day after taking second place at the Stormont Cross Country in Belfast.  


Other names in the picture will be Deon McNeilly (Newcastle AC), Dale Mathers (Mourne Runners), Alex Brennan (Ballymena Runners), Clive Bailey (Mourne Runners), Gary Bailey (Mourne Runners), Stephen Kennedy (East Coast AC) and Emmet McAlister (Unattached), who all continually perform well here.


In the ladies race, provided she does return, Mary Mackin (Dromore AC) will be considered as a potential podium finisher.  That said, Diane Wilson (Dromore AC) could return after having missed the 2015 event, in which case, she will play a prominent part in proceedings – current NIMRA Champion Shileen O’Kane (Lagan Valley AC) is unavailable for the race.  After returning from an injury which led to her missing several NIMRA events in 2015, Diane claimed a memorable victory at the Ben Nevis Mountain Race in Scotland, as well an impressive win at NiRunning’s Garmin Mourne Skyline Mountain Trail-Race.  So far this year, the Dromore AC athlete and Northern Ireland international has been focussed on racing on two wheels, in the local cyclo-cross season.  However, Diane returned to running action at Carnethy 5 Hill Race in Scotland last month (February 2016), finishing in ninth place.  


Runner up at Slieve Gullion in 2015, Anne Sandford (Lagan Valley AC), will return and along with club mate Hazel McLaughlin (Lagan Valley AC) will run well.   Newcastle AC pair Paulette Thomson and Sam McNeilly will also be considered as potential podium placers following a good winter of training and racing. Other ladies who are expected to play a part at the front of the field and in their respective categories are previous winner Violet Linton (LVO) as well as Taryn McCoy (BARF) and Laura Smith (BARF).

SSE Airtricity 10 mile Road Race:

Also on Saturday 5th March 2016, well over three hundred athletes are expected to descend on the Maiden City of Derry/Londonderry for the annual SSE Airtricity 10 mile road race, a popular event for those building towards upcoming 13.1 mile races, or indeed, the events big brother/sister – the SSE Airtricty Walled City Marathon, which will take place on Sunday 5th June 2016.


The event will prove even more popular with competitors this year, given that the course has been significantly revised - a loop into the flat Gransha Park grounds around 3 miles, replaces the hilly section close to the previous finish, and the new finish is now on the running track in St Columbs Park, replicating the acclaimed 2015 Waterside Half Marathon finish. 


North Belfast Harriers’ Andrew Annett will feature at the head of the pack and should contest a podium place.  Given his recent outing at the Armagh International 5k, where he recorded 15:08, it’s clear to see that the Kilkeel man will be one to watch.  His North Belfast Harriers club mate, John Black will also be hoping to impress; his personal best for 10 miles is a speedy 56:21, so he’ll go well here.  Foyle Valley AC duo Marty Gallagher and Matthew McLaughlin will be there or there abouts, as will City of Derry AC men Gary Slevin and Paul McCafferty if they decide to enter on the day.


The battle for top honours in the ladies race looks intriguing with Natasha Adams of Letterkenny AC, Karen Alexander of Acorns AC and City of Derry AC’s Jackie McMonagle looking the most likely of the pre-entries.  However, on the day could well bring in a few other contenders for the up-front action and right down the field will see more battles unfold.

Carmen 10k Road Race:

On the same day (Saturday 5th March 2016), in Carrickmore, close to Omagh, Carmen Runners will welcome athletes to the 7th annual running of their well-organised Carmen 10k road race.  The race has grown in popularity and stature each year and former winners include Stephen Duncan (Omagh Harriers) and Gary O’Hanlon (Clonliffe Harriers), and Breege Connolly (North Belfast Harriers) in the ladies category.


Although it is unclear as to whether any of the above named title winners will return for the 2016 instalment, one thing is clear, with the number of new faces in the running world, the podium places will be hotly contested.  In 2015, Derry City Track Club new boy Martin Cox and Sperrin Harriers’ always impressive Pauline McGurren were victorious.  There is a good chance that both will again toe the line with the hope of defending their titles.


Martin has been running well of late and will be hoping to replicate his performance from twelve months ago when he sealed a comfortable victory, clocking 33:43 to win by well over one minute.  Since then, Martin has gone on to run 33:06 for 10k – his recent efforts at the Armagh International ‘Open’ 3k, where he recorded 8:56 for fifth place, did not go un-noticed either.  


Sperrin Harriers front man Gavin Corey was in red hot form throughout the recent Sperrin Harriers Winter League Trail Series and also enjoyed a 15:32 personal best at the Armagh International 5k last month (February 2016); add his win at last week’s Desertmartin 10k to the equation and it’s clear to see he  will be well worth watching here.  The likes of Michael Crawley (Unattached), Pierce McCullagh (Sperrin Harriers), Delfim Pimentel (Unattached) and Michael Kerr (Carmen Runners) will add significant depth to the list of potential podium finishers


The ladies race should be a competitive one, with Pauline McGurren (Sperrin Harriers), winner in both 2014 and 2015, likely to race.  Last year, Pauline recorded 38:55 for the win; should she run something similar this time around, it will secure a podium place at the very least.  The in-form Esther Dickson (Unattached) may also compete, while Natalie Hall (Acorns AC) and Angela O’Neill (Sperrin Harriers) will feature at the front if they enter on the day.   Oonagh Fitzpatrick (Enniskillen Running Club), Ciara Coyle (Carmen Runners) and Patricia Campbell (Omagh Harriers) could be amongst those contesting the top ten places.

Carlingford Half Marathon & 10k (Ireland):

Just over the border in Ireland on Saturday 5th March 2016, Northern Ireland based events management company 26extreme will welcome well over one thousand competitors to their annual Carlingford Half Marathon and 10k event, which will be held in the coastal town of Carlingford, located on the scenic Cooley Peninsula (approximately 7 miles south of the border).


Hundreds of the expected participates will be familiar faces from Northern Ireland and local men Barrie Atkinson (East Down AC), Martin Rea (North Belfast Harriers), Aaron Woodman (PACE Running Club) and Phelim McAllister (Larne AC) are likely to be amongst those chasing prizes, while the ever consistent pairing of Nicola Swinson (PACE Running Club) and Janice White (Unattached) will be there or there abouts in the ladies category. 


Other NI based athletes to look out for include Thomas Craig (Larne AC), Ryan Cornett (St Peter’s AC), Natalie Bowbanks (Unattached), Mark Ramsey (Unattached), Attracta Magennis (Newry City Runners), Karl Joyce (East Coast AC), Michael McKeown (East Down AC), Michael O’Donoghue (Orangegrove AC), Keith Hetherington (Eats Coast AC), Ryan Armstrong (Ballymena Runners), Janine Ramsey (Belfast Running Club) and Andrea Heslip (Dromore AC).


GloHealth AAI National ‘All Ireland’ Schools XC Championships (Ireland):

Also in Ireland on Saturday 5th March 2016, a host of schools from Northern Ireland will be represented at the prestigious GloHealth AAI National ‘All Ireland’ Schools XC Championships, which will be held at the Sligo Race Course in Sligo.  Interestingly, the event coincides with the 100th anniversary of the Irish Schools Athletics Association.


In the past, Belfast based club St Malachy’s AC have enjoyed success at the event, which attracts a plethora of up and coming talented from every corner of Ireland.  In 2015, St Coleman’s of Newry claimed a gold medal in the team competition, while City of Lisburn AC man and Friends School of Lisburn student James Edgar topped the podium in the Intermediate Boys race.  We have no doubt that the Northern Ireland based schools who take part will perform well both as a team and individuals.  We (NiRunning) would like to wish everyone taking part the very best of luck!


Wrexham Marathon Festival (Wales):

On Sunday 6th March 2016, at least one runner from Northern Ireland will be taking to the start line at the Wrexham Marathon Festival in Wales. Peter Fleming (Ballymena Runners) will compete over 26.2 miles, at the event which offers athletes the choice of a full marathon, a 20 miler or a half marathon.


Parkrun:

As always, Northern Ireland’s twenty one parkrun events will take place this weekend, for more information on these, or to locate your nearest event, please visit our dedicated ‘parkrun’ section within our fixtures page.

Note:  Remember - If you would like to catch up on the news from February 2016, just click HERE.  This includes information on the Athletics NI XC League 2015/16 and the SSE Airtricity Walled City Marathon 2016.  You can also view the 'news' archive by using the navigation bar at the top of the page.