Runners from Northern Ireland selected for Euro Indoor Championships 2015:
Today (Tuesday 24th February 2015), two runners from Northern Ireland were named in the Ireland team for the upcoming European Athletics Indoor Championships in Prague (Czech Republic), which will take place on the weekend of Thursday 5th to Sunday 8th March 2015.
Paul Pollock (Annadale Striders) and Danny Mooney (Letterkenny AC) will be part of a twelve strong squad taking part in the prestigious Championships.
Paul (Pollock), who is best known for representing Ireland at marathon distance, has once again shown his versatility by reaching the qualification standard for the 3,000m, when he recorded 7:59.25 for the distance in Sheffield (England) last month (January 2015). Earlier this month Paul ran 4:06.92 for the mile at an indoor event in England, before securing the AAI National 3,000m title last weekend in 8:09.81.
Letterkenny AC man Danny (Mooney) represented Northern Ireland at the Commonwealth Games in 2014, so will look forward to gaining further experience on the ‘big stage’. The in-form athlete will line up in the 1500m after achieving the necessary standard when running a new personal best of 3:42.69 at the AAI Indoor Games in Athlone (Ireland) earlier this month (February 2015).
The full Ireland team, which also includes Northern Ireland Long Jumper Adam McMullan (Crusaders AC) is available HERE.
NWTC 10k Road Race 2015:
On Sunday 22nd February 2015, sixty hardy athlete braved wet and windy conditions as they completed the North West Triathlon Club (NWTC) 10k race in Derry/Londonderry.
Mark Mullan (City of Derry AC) a regular at the NTWC 5k Series put in a classy performance at the front to lead the field home in 35:10, a decent time given the tough conditions. Stephen Connor (Foyle Valley AC) crossed the line twenty seven second later, clocking 35:37 for 2nd place, while City of Derry AC's James Crampsey completed the men's podium in 36:41 (3rd place).
In the ladies race, Annalisa Mullan (BOLT Running Club) followed up her recent top ten performance at the Lifford 5k, with another notable outing. The ever improving athlete broke the tape in 45:04 (1st place) to win. Verona Campbell (Unattached) and Deborah McMahon (Foyle Valley AC) crossed the line in 46:32 and 47:08 respectively, therefore securing 2nd place and 3rd place.
Top 3 Men: 1st Mark Mullan (City fo Derry AC) – 35:10, 2nd Stephen Connor (Foyle Valley AC) – 35:37, 3rd James Crampsey (City for Derry AC) – 36:41
Top 3 Ladies: 1st Annalisa Mullan (BOLT Running Club) – 45:04, 2nd Verona Campbell (Unattached) – 46:32, 3rd Deborah McMahon (Foyle Valley AC) – 47:08
Full Results: NWTC 10k Road Race 2015 Results
Round-Up – Local athletes compete at events outside Northern Ireland:
Over the weekend (Saturday 21st and Sunday 22nd February 2015), a number of runners from Northern Ireland have been in competition at races outside the province, namely the Scottish XC Championships, the Midlands Counties Track & Field Open Meeting, the Malta Marathon and the Finn Valley AC 5k Series (Race 2).
On Sunday 22nd February 2015, Northern Ireland international Conan McCaughey represented Scottish club Central AC at the Scottish National Cross Country Championships in Calendar Park, Falkirk (Scotland). In what proved to be a top quality event, attracting in excess of five hundred competitors for the Men’s 12k alone, Conan ran well, crossing the line in 41:35 (26th place); the Northern Ireland man therefore contributed to the overall success of the Central AC team, who secured top honours in the team competition. The individual race was won by Andrew Butchart (Central AC) in 38:06 (1st place).
On the same day (Sunday 22nd February 2015), at least seven local athletes completed the Malta Marathon. Despite the windy conditions and at times, tough course, all performed well. East Antrim Marathon Series organiser Craig Mills, who was completing his thirty fourth marathon, was the first familiar face home in 3:19:39. Seapark AC’s Bobby Irvine followed in 3:21:02, before Ken Beggs (East Antrim Harriers) dipped under the four hour mark in 3:57:14. Friends Janice White (Ballymena Runners), Andy Leathem (Unattached) and Peter Grimes recorded 4:16:54, 4:16:57 and 4:21:33 respectively. Adrian McCalden (Unattached) completed the local contingent in 4:51:19. The 26.2 mile event was won by Muhammed Hajjy (Morocco) in 2:19:28 (1st place), while Samantha Woodward (England) claimed the ladies title in 3:09:06 (1st place).
In England, on Sunday 22nd February 2015, Northern Ireland Commonwealth Games star Leon Reid (Birchfield Harriers) lined up in the Midland Counties Track & Field Open Meeting in Birmingham. Leon secured an impressive victory in the 200m, clocking a speedy 21.17secs (1st place). Leon also ran in the 60m, covering the distance in 6.87secs to take 2nd place behind race winner Oliver Bromby (Southampton AC) in 6.80secs.
Closer to home, on Sunday 22nd February 2015, Northern Ireland based clubs were well represented at Race 2 of the Finn Valley Spring 5k Series in County Donegal (Ireland). The host club’s Gerard Gallagher (Finn Valley AC) led the field home in 15:55 (1st place), before NI men Adrian McGowan (Foyle Valley AC) and Conor McDevitt (BOLT Running Club) both claimed top ten places, with Adrian taking 2nd place in 16:07 and Conor 7th place in 18:37. Letterkenny AC’s Sinead Peoples was the first lady to finish in 18:59 (1st place)
Ben Dearg 10k Road Race 2015:
On Sunday 22nd February 2015, hundreds of athletes and spectators braved wet and windy conditions as they descended on the coastal village of Kilclief (County Down), for the Ben Dearg 10k road race and associated 5k and 3k fun runs.
As the rain poured down, East Down AC duo James Savage and Michael Cultra battled it out for top honours in the men's race. In the end, it was triathlete James who got the better of his club mate, breaking the tape in 38:31 (1st place). Michael followed in 38:45 (2nd place), before Newcastle AC's Martin Melville completed the top three in 39:14 (3rd place).
Pre-race favourite Catherine O'Connor (East Down AC) well and truly lived up to expectation. The Northern Ireland mountain running international recorded 42:09 (1st place) to secure the ladies title and an impressive ninth place overall. Larne AC's Kirsty Sharratt also enjoyed a strong performance despite the conditions, taking 2nd place in 42:44. Dromore AC's Mary Mackin covered the 6.2 mile route in 45:47, which was enough to see her claim 3rd place.
In the associated 5k, University of Birmingham AC athlete Joanne Mills continued the form that saw her achieve a podium finish at Athletics NI XC League fixture in Jordanstown at the back end of 2014, to lead the entire field home in 19:18 (1st place). North Belfast Harriers' John McConnell followed eighteen seconds later in 19:36 (1st place), taking the men's title.
Top 3 Men: 1st James Savage (East Down AC) – 38:31, 2nd Michael Cultra (East Down AC) – 38:45, 3rd Martin Melville (Newcastle AC) – 39:14
Top 3 Ladies: 1st Catherine O'Connor (East Down AC) – 42:09, 2nd Kirsty Sharratt (Larne AC) 0 42:44, 3rd Mary Mackin (Dromore AC) – 45:47
Full Results: Ben Dearg-Kilclief 10k (and associated 5k) 2015 Results (Photo above courtesy of Mags Mathieson)
Day 2 – GloHealth AAI National Indoor Championships 2015:
On Sunday 22nd February 2015, athletes from Northern Ireland were amongst those in competition at the GloHealth AAI National Indoor Championships in Athlone, Ireland. On a day of exciting competition, Paul Pollock (Annadale Striders), Kerry O'Flaherty (Newcastle AC) and Christine McMahon (Ballymena & Antrim AC) ensured that three National gold medals came back across to the border to Northern Ireland.
Current AAI National XC Champion and multiple National title winner Paul Pollock (Annadale Striders) added the 3,000m gold medal to his growing list of achievements when he came through late to take hold of what was an excellent race. Fellow Northern Ireland athlete Conor Bradley (City of Derry AC) had led early on, before John Coughlan (Metro AC) and Brendan O'Neill (DSD AC) both enjoyed spells at the front as the race progressed. However, it was the fast finishing Holywood doctor, Paul Pollock who broke the beam first, winning in 8:09.81 (1st place). Conor Bradley secured 10th place in 8:28.01, while Ciaran Doherty (Letterkenny AC) followed in 8:37.01 (12th place).
No less than four Northern Ireland ladies lined up in the 1500m event, but it was Steeplechaser Kerry O'Flaherty (Newcastle AC) who stole the headlines. In what was a very close race, Kerry took a brave approach and went out in front of top stars Claire Tarplee (DSD AC) and Sara Treacy (Dunboyne AC) as the trio geared towards the European Indoor Championships qualifying standard of 4:14.00. On the bell, Claire Tarplee took the lead, but in a brave finish, Northern Ireland 3,000m and a 3,000m Steeplechase record holder Kerry just edged it 4:16.49 (1st place). Letterkenny AC's Ann-Marie McGlynn took 5th place in 4:29.02, while fellow NI ladies, Banbridge AC's Emma Mitchell and North Down AC's Rachel Gibson recorded 4:32.62 (6th place) and 4:41.55 (11th place) respectively.
Talented Ballymena & Antrim AC lady Christine McMahon added to the Northern Ireland medal haul with an impressively strong performance in the 400m. After running 55.54secs in yesterday's heats, Christine led the field home in 55.06secs, taking 1st place and the associated gold medal.
In the 800m final, ex-Newry AC athlete, Aisliin Crossey (UCS AC) a fourth place finisher at the European Junior Athletics Championships in 2013, faced UCD AC team mate ant title favourite Ciara Everard – There was all to play for until the final lap when Ciara surged clear of Northern Ireland's Aislinn to win in 2:06.62 (1st place). Aislinn took a well-deserved 2nd place and the silver medal in 2:09.39.
In the men's 1500m final, which was won by John Travers (Donore Harriers) in 3:49.93 (1st place), Danny Mooney (Letterkenny AC) and James O'Hare (Annadale Striders) both ran well. Danny narrowly missed a podium spot after crossing the line in 3:53.43 for 4th place, with James following in 3:57.13 (5th place). Ballymena & Antrim AC's Jonathan Browning improved on his 60m personal best of 6.99secs twice; in his heat (Heat 2) Jonathan clocked 6.95secs for 3rd place, while in the final, he finished in 6.96secs (6th place). On both occasions, Jonathan was beaten by Keith Pike (Clonliffe Harriers), who ran 6.93secs (1st place) in the heats before recording 6.86secs (1st place) in the final, which ensured top spot on the podium.
INAS European XC Championships 2015:
Over the course of the weekend (Saturday 21st and Sunday 22nd February 2015), local athlete James Hamilton (Ballymena Runners) was in competition at the 7th annual INAS European Cross Country Championships in Wakefield, England.
Up against quality opposition, James performed well. After representing Ballymena Runners throughout the Athletics NI XC League 2014/15, James carried the same form into this event. In the 'short course', a 3k race held on Saturday 21st February 2015, James secured 3rd place in 9:08. The race was won by Jose Azevedo (Portugal) in 8:33 (1st place). In the team competition, Portugal took 1st place, while James Great Britain team claimed 2nd place.
On Sunday 22nd February 2015, the participants then competed over the 'long course', which measured 6k in distance. Again, James produced an excellent performance; this time taking 2nd place and the associated silver medal in 20:52. The race was won by Joe Azevedo (Portugal) in 20:00. Again, Portugal seal top spot in the team standings, with Great Britain taking 2nd place.
Full results will be added as soon as they are available.
Day 1 - AAI National Senior Indoor Championships 2015:
On Saturday 21st February 2015, a number of runners from Northern Ireland were in action at Day 1 of the GloHealth AAI National Senior Indoor Championships in Athlone, Ireland. The day was all about the 'Heats/Semi-Finals' and qualification for the finals, which will take place tomorrow (Sunday 22nd February 2015) on Day 2.
The day got off to an excellent start for the local athletes, when Ballymena & Antrim AC's Jonathan Browning recorded 7.06secs to take 1st place in his 60m heat (Heat 3), and more importantly, secure his place in the final. Jonathan's club mate, Commonwealth Games competitor, Christine McMahon also booked her place in the final, this time over 400m – Christine clocked 55.54secs (1st place) to win Heat 3.
In Heat 2 of the ladies 800m, talented Ireland junior international Aislinn Crossey (UCD AC) led the field home in 2:21.63 (1st place) to secure her place in the final. Annadale Striders athlete Johnny Foster (2:03.41) also ran over 800m, taking 6th place in Heat 1 of the men's competition. Unfortunately this was not enough to qualify for tomorrow's final – Race winner, Declan Murray (Clonliffe Harriers) will line up in the final after running 1:53.95 (1st place).
The 1500m heats saw no less than six Northern Ireland based athletes take to the start line. In Heat 1 of the men's competition, James O'Hare (Annadale Striders) continued his recent good form as he claimed 3rd place, crossing the line in 3:59.07. The race was won by one of the title favourites, Eoin Everard (Kilkenny City AC), in 3:45.76 (1st place). In Heat 2, which was won by Donore Harriers' John Travers in 3:55.05 (1st place), Danny Mooney (Letterkenny AC) covered the distance in 3:55.23 (3rd place). This ensured that both James and Danny will line up in the 1500m final tomorrow.
Four local ladies will also compete for National honours tomorrow after qualifying from their 1500m heats. In Heat 1, Newcastle AC's Kerry O'Flaherty (4:41.62), Banbridge AC's Emma Mitchell (4:41.83) and North Down AC's Rachel Gibson (4:42.78) took 2nd place, 3rd place and 4th place to qualify. North Down AC's Jessica Craig also ran well, finishing in 4:46.97 (5th place); unfortunately this was not enough to secure Jessica a place in the final. Heat 1 was won by St Laurence O'Toole AC lady Deirdre Doyle in 4:40.77 (1st place). In a very close Heat 2 (1500m), which was won by Laura Crowe (An Riocht AC) in 4:41.57, Northern Ireland's Ann-Marie McGlynn (Letterkenny AC) finished in 3rd place; Ann-Marie's time of 4:41.76 was enough to ensure a 1500m final place.
Omagh CBS 10k 2015:
On Saturday 21st February 2015, well over three hundred athletes turned out for the 2nd annual Omagh CBS 10k (and associated 5k) road race in Omagh, County Tyrone.
In the men's race, Project Africa athlete Ciaran Collins, who ran 9:34 at the Armagh 3k on Thursday night, showed little or no signs of fatigue as he battled it out with Unattached athlete Delfim Pimentel at the front. After a close dual, it was Ciaran who claimed victory in 36:04 (1st place), with Delfim following in 36:11 (2nd place).
Sean Meyler (Omagh Harriers) crossed the line just under three minutes later in 39:00, securing 3rd place. Pauline McGurren (Sperrin Harriers) lived up to her pre-race favourite status and went one better than her finishing position at this event in 2014. Pauline cruised across the line in 39:34 (1st place), which not only sealed top spot in the ladies race, but an impressive seventh place overall. Grainne O'Hagan (Knockmany Runners) took the runners up prize in 42:36 (2nd place), before Unattached athlete Breige McCaffrey crossed the line in 44:07 (3rd place).
In the associated 5k race, up and coming Omagh Harriers star, and multi age group title winner Sean Corry led the field home in 19:10 (1st place), while Aiobhin Murray (Club Unknown) took the ladies title in 22:59 (1st place).
Top 3 Men: 1st Ciaran Collins (Project Africa) – 36:04, 2nd Delfim Pimentel (Unattached) – 36:11, 3rd Sean Meyler (Omagh Harriers) – 39:00
Top 3 Ladies: 1st Pauline McGurren (Sperrin Harriers) – 39:34, 2nd Grainne O'Hagan (Knockmany Runners) – 42:36, 3rd Breige McCaffrey (Unattached) – 44:07
Full Results: Omagh CBS 10k (and associated 5k) 2015 Results
St Aidan's 10k Road Race 2015:
On Saturday 21st February 2015, a small but enthusiastic group of athletes took on the 2nd annual St Aidan's 10k road race in Derrylin, Country Fermanagh.
At the head of the pack it was Gregory Murphy (Club Unknown) who dominated things; the local athlete performed well as he led the field home in 35:29 (1st place). Enniskillen Running Club's Derek Somerville followed in 36:35 (2nd place), before Martin Cox (North Belfast Harriers) competed the top three in 36:58 (3rd place).
In the ladies race, marathon runner Irene Clements (Enniskillen Running Club) showed her speed over the much shorter 6.2 mile distance as she claimed victory in 43:25 (1st place). Fellow Enniskillen Running Club ladies, Oonagh Fitzpatrick (pictured left) and Mary Rutledge both looked strong throughout and were rewarded for their efforts with podium places. Oonagh crossed the line in 44:38 for 2nd place, while Mary recorded 48:16 (3rd place).
Top 3 Men: 1st Gregory Murphy (Club Unknown) – 35:29, 2nd Derek Somerville (Enniskillen Running Club) – 36:35, 3rd Martin Cox (North Belfast Harriers) – 36:58
Top 3 Ladies: 1st Irene Clements (Enniskillen Running Club) – 43:25, 2nd Oonagh Fitzpatrick (Enniskillen Running Club) – 44:38, 3rd Mary Rutledge (Enniskillen Running Club) – 48:16
Full Results: St Aidan's 10k 2015 Results
Weekend Preview: GloHealth AAI National Senior Indoor Championships and more…
After what proved to be a busy and exciting midweek, with the AAI International Indoor Meeting and the prestigious Armagh International Road Races taking up most of our time, it’s now time to take a brief look ahead to what lies ahead this coming weekend.
Locally, 10k road races seem to be the order of the day, with events taking place in Omagh, Derrylin and Kilclief. North West Triathlon Club will also host the finale of the their Winter 5k Series in Derry/Londonderry, but in truth, much of the attention will be directed towards the GloHealth AAI National Senior Track & Field Championships, which take place over the weekend in Athlone, Ireland. At least one runner from Northern Ireland will also compete at the 7th annual INAS European Cross Country Championships in Wakefield, England.
GloHealth AAI National Senior Indoor Track & Field Championships:
The GloHealth AAI National Senior Indoor Track & Field Championships will take place over two days, Saturday 21st and Sunday 22nd February 2015 in the impressive and well used AIT Arena in Athlone, Ireland and will attract a plethora of talent, including a number of Northern Ireland’s best athletes.
For all but three of the runners due to participate, this will more than likely prove to be the final opportunity to achieve the qualification standard for the upcoming European Indoor Track & Field Championships in Prague (Czech Republic) next month (March 2015). However, Danny Mooney (Letterkenny AC), Paul Pollock (Annadale Striders) and Ciara Mageean (UCD AC) have already achieved the standard so will be hoping to cement their place on the team with classy performances.
The battle of the weekend could be the ladies 1500 metres, when Ciara Mageean will face recent New Balance Ireland DMR team mate Clare Tarplee (DSD AC) and Dunboyne AC’s formidable Sara Treacy, who led the field home at the British 3,000 metres title in Sheffield last weekend (14th February 2015). 22 year old Ciara Mageean who is making a highly successful return to the sport following a two year injury period, has already qualified for Prague over 3,000 metres following her superb personal best time of 8:55.09 in New York (USA) last weekend. However, her preference is for selection for the 1,500 metres, where a required time of 4:14.00 is well within her grasp given her current form.
Kerry O’Flaherty (Newcastle AC) was so close to achieving the aforementioned 4:14.00 standard when running 4:15.04 for 1500m in Athlone this week and will also line up in this event. Fellow NI ladies and classy performers at the Armagh International, Emma Mitchell (Banbridge AC) and Ann-Marie McGlynn add event more depth to the field, which also includes North Down AC athletes Jessica Craig and Rachel Gibson.
England based Paul Pollock who has also reached the required standard for the 3,000 metres at the European Indoors, will be determined to make amends for what he, given his impeccably high standards, will consider as an average (at best) run in Sheffield a week ago. The Holywood doctor will be racing against Donore Harriers’ John Travers and with Ciaran O'Lionaird (Ireland) having pulled out, the AAI National title is there for the taking!
Commonwealth Games athlete Danny Mooney will fancy his chances in the 1500 metres where he hopes to go one better than last year's silver, following his recent qualification time of 3:42.69. In the Women's 800 metres QUB AC’s Katie Kirk will try to keep pace with the rampant Ciara Everard of UCD AC, who will be going to Prague courtesy of a recent fast time of 2:03.39. If Katie can build on her solid start to the indoor season and move towards the form that saw her record a personal best of 2:02.63 at the Commonwealth Games last year (2014), she’ll challenge for the gold medal.
Two NI athletes could make the rostrum in the ladies 400 metres, with Lagan Valley AC’s Mandy Gault and Ballymena & Antrim AC’s Christine McMahon both set to compete. Mandy leads the Irish rankings with 55.27secs, while Ballymena lady Christine McMahon ran 56.01secs for 400m as part of the New Balance Ireland DMR team at the New Balance Games in New York (USA). Other local athletes who will be chasing personal bests and include Cathal McLaughlin (Derry City Track Club), Ciaran Doherty (Letterkenny AC), Neil McCartan (East Down AC), James O’Hare (Annadale Striders), Jonathon Foster (Annadale Striders) and Ballymena & Antrim trio Dean Adams, Jonathan Browning and Steven Morrow.
Omagh CBS 10k:
Locally, the action will kick off in Omagh (County Tyrone) on Saturday 21st February 2015 with the Omagh CBS 10k road race (and associated 5k). The annual event, which starts at 11am always seems to attract a sizeable crowd, of which, there are always recognised athletes.
This year should prove no different, with local athlete Paul Barbour (Omagh Harriers) and Martin Cox (Project Africa) likely to take to the start line despite racing last night at the Armagh International, where they recorded 15:08 and 15:17 respectively. The talented duo may well be joined at the front of the pack by Stephen Cassidy (Enniskillen Running Club), Ciaran Collins (Project Africa), Oisin Donnelly (Omagh Harriers) and Michael Kerr (Carmen Runners), while Derek Somerville (Omagh Harriers), Martin McLaughlin (Omagh Harriers), Andrew Bates (Knockmany Runners) and Omagh Triathlon Club men Chris McGuigan and Pete Neill should also challenge for top ten places.
In the ladies event, last year’s winner, Heather Foley (Unattached) may return. Two weeks ago, Heather produced a superb season opener at the Setanta Triathlon in Dundalk (Ireland), taking the ladies title and finishing well up the pack overall. Should the Northern Ireland international cross country star turn out here, she’ll be considered a strong pre-race favourite. Sperrin Harriers’ Pauline McGurren has been racing sparingly of late, but should place well here if she decides to compete. Up and coming talent, Toni Moore (Omagh Harriers) will also be there or there about, as will Eskra 10k winner Grainne O’Hagan (Knockmany Runners). Other ladies to look out for include Ciara Coyle (Carmen Runners), Patricia Campbell (Omagh Harriers) and Mairead McCann (Omagh Harriers).
St Aidan’s 10k:
Also on Saturday 21st February 2015, athletes in the border region of County Fermanagh will welcome the inaugural running of the St Aidan’s HS 10k road race in Derrylin (County Fermanagh). Given its aim to raise worthwhile charitable funds, the race will bring a mixture of athletes and exercise enthusiasts to the start line.
Amongst those likely to start is Enniskillen Running Club athlete Fergus McGirr. The Belfast marathon pacer should play a part at the front, while his female club mates Martsje Hell, Karen Dolan and Oonagh Fitzpatrick will no doubt chasing a place on the ladies podium. Finn Valley AC lady Donna Evans could provide strong opposition for the Enniskillen Running Club contingent and based on her excellent run last week at the NI & Ulster Senior XC Championships, where her Finn Valley AC team picked up a team medal, Donna will run well.
INAS European Cross Country Championships:
Over the course of the weekend, Saturday 21st and Sunday 22nd February 2015, Ballymena Runners athlete James Hamilton will represent the UKSA Great Britain team at the INAS European XC Championships in Wakefield, England. James and his Team GB team mates will compete in two events within Thornes Park, a 4k on (Saturday 21st February 2015) and then a 6k on Sunday (Sunday 22nd February 2015).
Ben Dearg (Kilclief) 10k:
On Sunday 22nd February 2015, East Down AC will host the annual Ben Dearg 10k road race, which takes place in the village of Kilclief in County Down.
Brendan Teer (East Down AC) made his return from injury a few weeks ago at the at the Rollercoaster Road Races, where he won. The East Down AC man may use this local event to once again test his fitness as he works his way back to full strength. Even taking into consideration the fact that Brendan may not be fully fit, he should still play a prominent part in proceedings. Newcastle AC’s David O’Flaherty and reigning Ben Dearg 10k Champion, Brian Young (Unattached), may also race and both will contest prize winning places if they do. Alan Johnston (Murlough AC), Paul Burns (East Down AC), Michael Cultra (East Down AC) and Nigel Grier (Dromore AC) may also start.
Catherine O’Connor (East Down AC) will carry the mantle of pre-race favourite if she makes use of the on the day entries, but the Northern Ireland international mountain runner will be chased by her young club mate Laura Gardiner and Newcastle AC’s Dearbhla Magee, who performed well here last year (2014). Virginia Ervine (Mourne Runners) and Lisa Milligan (East Down AC) will also have high hopes of finishing on the podium.
NWTC Winter 5k Series:
On the same day (Sunday 22nd February 2015), North West Triathlon Club (NWTC) will host the final race of their popular NWTC Winter 5k Series in Derry/Londonderry. As with the previous three events, the race will take place over a flat and fast course along the banks of the River Foyle in the Maiden City. Based on the previous Series events, well over one hundred runners are expected and that should include previous race winners Stephen Connor (Foyle Valley AC) and Katherine Woods (Springwell Running Club). City of Derry AC’s Mark Mullan should also perform well, as will Derry City Track club trio Darragh Crossan, Robert Bigger and Hannah McGowan, if they decide to participate.
As always, Northern Ireland’s nineteen parkrun events will take place this weekend, for more information on these, or to locate your nearest event, please visit our dedicated ‘parkrun’ section within our fixtures page.
Armagh International 2015:
On Thursday 19th February 2015, athletes from across the globe descended on the Cathedral City of Armagh for the 25th annual running of the Armagh International Road Races, a well organised event hosted by Armagh AC.
An exciting night of racing brought wins for Racheal Bamford (Leeds City AC), Joe Stilin (USA) and local man Paddy Robb (St Malachy's AC).
The atmosphere within the oval shaped 'Mall' area of the historic city was electric, with supporters turning out in force to cheer on the thousands of junior and senior athletes as they took on the flat and fast course. After the junior races, which attracted in excess of 1,000 entries, had warmed things up perfectly, it was the turn of the elite fields to take to the roads. Perfect conditions and talented laden fields awaited, all that had to be delivered was the performances to match... and they were! No less than 56 athletes recorded a finishing time of less than 15:00 in the International Men's 5k, but that wasn't all! Read on...
Ladies 3k: “Four years in the making” for Racheal...
First up was the Ladies 3k event, which proved to be an excellent race. Early on, there was nothing to split the leading athletes, with Racheal Bamford (Leeds City AC), Gemma Hillier (Loughborough University), Ann-Marie McGlynn (Letterkenny AC), Sarah Howard (Liverpool AC) and Racheal Felton (England) amongst those in the lead group. As the ladies progressed through the bell, Racheal Bamford led by the slightest of margins, with Gemma Hillier amongst those in pursuit; Finn Valley AC's newly crowned NI & Ulster Senior XC Champion Teresa Doherty had also worked herself into the mix. The gathered press hurried towards the finish line and it wasn't long before the flashing blue lights of the lead motorcycle came into view, and just behind them was Commonwealth Games Steeplechaser Racheal Bamford.
In the final 1,000m, Racheal had moved clear of her competitors and opened up a gap of at least twenty metres. The Leeds City AC athlete covered the remaining metres quickly to break the tape in 9:16.14 (1st place). The fast finishing Teresa Doherty took 2nd place in 9:22.95, before Gemma Hillier secured a well-deserved 3rd place exactly one second later in 9:23.95. Northern Ireland international Ann-Marie McGlynn was the first local athlete home in 9:39.62 (6th place), while Emma Mitchell (Banbridge AC) produced a stunning performance to record 9:48.28 (10th place). Just four seconds later, the always impressive Danielle Fegan completed the top three Northern Ireland finishers in 9:52.87 (12th place).
International Men's 5k: Pre-race favourite Joe shows his class...
The International Men were next to the start line, and after the waiting photographers had caught their 'must have' promotional shots with the well-lit Courthouse providing the perfect of back-drops, the field set off at a courageous and seemingly unsustainable pace.
Relentlessly, the athletes, all of whom had to have recorded sub 17 minutes for 5k to enter, completed their opening lap and it was Olympic triathlon medallist Jonny Brownlee who led the way. However, the multi-sport competitor was soon absorbed back into the chasing pack, which included the likes of Richard Weir (Ken Pike AC), Jacuba Nowak (Poland), Artur Kern (Poland) and John Beattie (Newham & Essex Beagles). American athlete Joe Stilin (ZAP Fitness Group) showed glimpses of his talent, moving to the fore, before dropping back within the group. But when European Steeplechase medallist Krystian Zalewski (Poland) moved forward, Joe matched his surge and the pair headed the group into the final lap.
Like the ladies event, it was all to play for and quite literally, any of the eight or nine front runners could have taken the title. In the end though, it was pre-race favourite Joe Stilin who appeared into view first; he (Joe) had the narrowest of leads on the fast finishing Daniel Cliffe (Liverpool AC) and Jonny Brownlee (Bingley Harriers) but the well-respected American couldn't be caught as he powered along the finishing straight to secure victory in 13:58.34 (1st place). Daniel and Jonny followed in quick succession, with Daniel recording 13:59.47 (2nd place) and Jonny 14:00.13 (3rd place).
In the race to be the leading Northern Ireland competitor, St Malachy's AC man Gary Murray followed on from his excellent performance at the recent Wokingham Half Marathon as he crossed the line in 14:19.85 (16th place). The in-form Scott Rankin (Foyle Valley AC) was the next familiar face home in 14:28.42 (28th place), before young Andrew Wright (Willowfield Harriers) completed the top local finishers in 14:33.62 (33rd place).
Men's 3k – Paddy leaves it late...
The final race of the superbly organised event was the Men's 3k race, which attracted one hundred and fifty seven starters. After the initial tussle for places, it was Clones AC man Paul Gleeson who made the early running – However, by the time the men had completed their second lap and moved into the final 1,000m, it was Stockport AC man Jake Littlehales who led the way, with Letterkenny AC's Ruairi Finnegan in pursuit.
That wasn't the end of the exchange of positions though; in a late twist, the previously un-noticed St Malachy's AC man Paddy Robb had worked his way into contention in impressive fashion. Using his experience of high calibre events, the junior international moved onto the 400m long home straight and began to dominate proceedings. He (Paddy) surged clear of the now tiring Ruairi and Jake to break the tape in 8:43.56 (1st place).
Ruairi crossed the line in 8:47.69 (2nd place), while Jake followed in 8:56.77 (3rd place). Beechmount Harriers' Christy Conlon (4th place – 8:59.84) and City of Derry AC's Conor Doherty (5th place – 9:06.71) completed the top three Northern Ireland finishers.
Podium Place and Northern Ireland finishers:
Top 3: 1st Racheal Bamford (Leeds City AC) – 9:16.14, 2nd Teresa Doherty (Finn Valley AC) – 9:22.95, 3rd Gemma Hillier (Loughborough University) – 9:23.95
Top 3 Northern Ireland finishers: 6th Ann-Marie McGlynn (Letterkenny AC) – 9:39.62, 10th Emma Mitchell (Banbridge AC) – 9:48.28, 12th Danielle Fegan (Armagh AC) – 9:52.87
International Men's 5k:
Top 3: 1st Joe Stilin (USA) – 13:58.34, 2nd Daniel Cliffe (Liverpool AC) – 13:59.47, 3rd Jonny Brownlee (Bingley Harriers) – 14:00.13
Top 3 Northern Ireland finishers: 16th Gary Murray (St Malachy's AC) – 14:18.64, 28th Scott Rankin (Foyle Valley AC) – 14:28.42, 33rd Andrew Wright (Willowfield Harriers) – 14:33.62
Top 3: 1st Paddy Robb (St Malachy's AC) – 8:43.56, 2nd Ruairi Finnegan (Letterkenny AC) – 8:47.69, 3rd Jake Littlehales (Stockport AC) – 8:56.77
Top 3 Northern Ireland finishers: 1st Paddy Robb (St Malachy's AC) – 8:43.56, 4th Christy Conlon (Beechmount Harriers) – 8:59.84, 5th Conor Doherty (City of Derry AC) – 9:06.71
Full Results: Armagh International Road Races 2015 Results (Please note that these are PROVISIONAL results only. Team results will also be added as soon as they are available)
AIT International Indoor Grand Prix 2015:
On Wednesday 18th February 2015, a number of Northern Ireland based athletes travelled south to the AIT Arena in Athlone (Ireland) for the AIT International Indoor Grand Prix.
The line up for the event included world class athletes such as three time Olympic medallist and former World Champion Carmelita Jeter (USA) and former 100m world record holder Asafa Powell (Jamaica). Unfortunately, Asafa Powell was forced to withdraw after aggravating a niggle in his warm up; Carmelita Jetter took 2nd place in her 60m event, clocking 7.44secs to finish behind Tahesia Harrigan (British Virgin Islands), who crossed the line in 7.29secs (1st place).
Local athletes also showed their class, with Newcastle AC's Kerry O'Flaherty producing an excellent performance in her 1500m race. The Commonwealth Games athlete covered the distance in a new indoor personal best of 4:15.04, taking 2nd place behind German Gesa Krause (1st place – 4:12.46). This was a mere 1.04secs outside of the European Indoor Championships qualifying standard of 4:14.00, but bodes well as Kerry now looks ahead to the AAI National Indoor Championships this coming weekend. In the same race, Banbridge AC's Emma Mitchell crossed the line in 4:31.70 (7th place).
In the highly anticipated Mile race, local men Danny Mooney (Letterkenny AC), Conor Bradley (City of Derry AC) and James O'Hare (Annadale Striders) also excelled. Danny ran a new personal best of 4:03.88 for 3rd place; Conor showed that he is getting back to his best with a 4:05.33 (6th place) clocking, while James recorded an excellent 4:08.68 for 9th place. The race was won in impressive fashion by American Ben Blankenship in an outstanding 3:56.75 (1st place).
Special Preview - Armagh International Road Races 2015:
This coming Thursday (19th February 2015), Armagh AC will host one of Northern Ireland's premier running events, the Armagh International Road Races.
The prestigious event has once again impressed with the calibre of athlete which it has attracted – Given the shear amount of talent which will be on show, the eyes of the world will be on the event as it celebrates its milestone 25th anniversary. If you also throw in the fact that an incredible forty five athletes achieved a sub 15 minute 5k clocking and everyone finished within ninety seconds of the winner at last year’s (5k) race, you’ll understand why this highly anticipated event is worth talking about!
The extensive race programme, which takes place in the scenic and atmospheric 'Mall' area, in the heart of Armagh City Centre, will kick off at 6.30pm. Nine junior races will be contested before the International/Open and Junior Ladies take to the line at 8.05pm for their 3k event, the International Men's 5k will follow at 8:20pm; then, the Open Men's 3k will round off proceedings at 8:45pm.
Ladies 3k Race:
In the ladies 3k, the top two athletes from 2014, Laura Whittle (Loughborough University AC) and Elle Vernon (Stockport AC) will not return, which leaves the door open for Racheal Bamford (Leeds AC), a third place finisher twelve months ago (2014) and fourth place finisher in 2013, to lead the charge. The 4:32 miler has been in good form over 1500m this year, clocking 4:19 last month (January 2015); just last Saturday (14th February 2015), Racheal made it through to the final of the 1500m at the British Athletics Indoor Championships in Sheffield, but withdrew just before the race with a slight niggle, which hopefully will not affect her here. Racheal will be up against a number of quality athletes, none more so than course record holder (9:07.88) and winner of the event in 2013, Mary Cullen (North Sligo AC), and her Ireland international team mate Ciara Durkan, as well as Coventry AC's Katrina Wootten, Loughborough University's Gemma Hillier and Edinburgh AC's Laura Dunn.
Despite Racheal's history at the event and her recent form, it will be Mary Cullen who will go into the event as pre-race favourite. After being hindered by niggles for the best part of 2014, Mary burst back onto the competitive scene with a 15:37 clocking over 5k, which saw her win the Jingle Bells 5k in Dublin (December 2014). Fellow Irish athlete Ciara Durkin will also be worth watching if she is in good shape, and her 9:22.70 for 3,000m in Cork (Ireland) at the back end of 2014 would suggest that she is. Katrina Wootten is also a classy athlete; the England based runner holds an impressive array of personal bests – obviously her 9:02 for 3,000m is the most relevant given the distance of this event, but Katrina's 5k (15:30), 10k (32:23) and 5 mile (26:31) bests prove that she possess the strength to hold the pace over the distance when some of the shorter distance specialists may fade.
Gemma Hillier will line up for the England team and the Loughborough student will be hoping to improve on her 10:20 finish in 2014, and with a personal best of 9:28, we do expect better from Gemma this time around; just last Saturday (14th February 2015), Gemma recorded 4:23 for 1500m at the British Athletics Indoor Championships.
Scotland's Laura Dunn is another well-known athlete who has excelled at National level, however (with the greatest of respect), she will have to improve on the 9:59 she ran at the British Indoor Championships last weekend if she wants to make the top ten, never mind the podium.
Derby based Ellie Stevens (pictured right with Racheal Bamford and Elle Vernon) was named in the England Athletics Development Squad but in truth, given Ellie's previous performances at this event, she should really have been in the 'first team' – The former Larne AC lady has been a regular at the Armagh International since 2010 and has made the podium twice, taking second place (9:29) in 2010 and third place in 2012. If she is on form, Ellie is one to watch! Liverpool AC's Sophie Whiteside will also challenge for a high finish, as will local lady and European XC team medallist Ann-Marie McGlynn (Letterkenny AC), who finished in fourth place last year (2014). Jenny Bannerman (Inverness Harriers), Fionnuala Ross (Armagh AC), Danielle Fegan (Armagh AC), Natasha Adams (Letterkenny AC), Lauren Quee (Lagan Valley AC). Emma Mitchell (Banbridge AC), North Belfast Harriers ladies Cathy McCourt, Louise Smith and Claire Connor, and Finn Valley AC's newly crowned NI & Ulster Senior XC Champion Teresa Doherty will all aim to finish well up the field.
In the Junior categories, which will be included in this event, Catriona McGloin (City of Lisburn AC), Rebekah Nixon (Dromore AC), Madison Bowyer (City of Lisburn AC) and Amy Hamill (Glaslough Harriers) should contest the Junior A title, while Kate Mulholland (St Peter's AC), Emma Hutchinson (Ballymena & Antrim AC) and Rebecca Douglas (City of Lisburn AC) will be amongst those who battle it out for the Junior B honours.
International Men's 5k Race:
In the men's 5k, much of the pre-race hype surrounds the inclusion of Olympic Triathlon medallist and accomplished runner Jonny Brownlee (Bingley Harriers) and 3:52 miler Ross Murray (Gateshead Harriers). However, despite the duo's obvious talent and well-deserved praise, it would be lazy journalism (not that I claim to be a journalist!) to focus solely on them, when the field is littered with athletes who should, on paper, make it hard for Jonny and Ross to make the top ten.
At the forefront of the chase for top honours will be USA man Joe Stilin (pictured left). Joe made a huge impact on the All American University scene while studying at Princeton University, smashing several records, including the mile record which was held by Olympic silver medallist Leonel Manzano, when he (Joe) recorded 3:58 for the distance. Joe, who recently made his USA Senior debut at the Great Edinburgh XC, holds a 5k personal best of 13:33. His most recent outing was a very credible fifteenth place at the highly competitive US Cross Country Championships. Joe's fellow USA countrymen Cameron Bean and Griff Graves should also play a part at the front; probably Griff more so if recent form is to be considered – Griff has qualified for the USA 'Rio 2016' marathon trials after clocking 1:03:27 at the Houston Half Marathon – He also holds a 5,000m personal best of 14:18.
Current European Championships silver medallist in the 3k Steeplechase, Krystian Zalewski (Poland), should also be there or there abouts, but he will have to out-pace the likes of Richard Weir (Ken Pike AC), Leuan Thomas (Wales), Gordon Benson (Leeds AC), Andy Wiles (Morpeth AC), Adam Clarke (Aldershot, Farnham & District AC), Aaron Scott (Notts AC) and Josh Bull (Ken Pike AC) if he wants a podium place. Richard Weir has impressed at the Armagh International 5k in 2013 and 2014, taking the runners up spot on both occasions. Interestingly, his times hardly changed; Richard ran 14:12.40 in 2013 and 14:12.37 in 2014 – If the Derby man can knock a few seconds off that time, it may be a case of 'third time lucky'.
In what was an excellent finish, Luean Thomas crossed the line just over one second behind Richard twelve months ago, clocking 14:13.92; he too will be hoping to replicate, or slightly better that time. Meanwhile, Gordon Benson, Andy Wiles, Adam Clarke Aaron Scott and Josh Bull also have experience of this race, with just twelve seconds splitting the men's best times over the course; Gordon has run 14:16 (2014), Andy 14:17 (2013), Adam 14:20 (2013), Aaron 14:21 (2013) and Josh 14:28 (2014). Last weekend, Aaron showed his strength over the longer distances when he won the tough Valentines 30k in England in 1:37:53. Will he have recovered sufficiently to increase the leg turnover enough to keep with the aforementioned men? Only time will tell!
Of course, the earlier mentioned Jonny Brownlee (pictured right) and Ross Murray will also be prominent figures at the front of the field, who will all have ran a sub 17 minute 5k to be allowed to start; so too will the exceptionally talented Luke Cragg (Leeds AC), Matt Bowser (Lincoln Wellington), Owen Hind (Ken Pike AC), Marek Skorupa (Poland), John Beattie (Newham & Essex Beagles AC) and Phil Sesemann (Blackheath AC).
Outside bets for highly placed finishes could include established mountain runners Robbie Simpson (Deeside Runners) and Chris Steele (Borrowdale AC). Salomon athlete Robbie has shown his speed over the shorter (and flatter) distances previously, with bests of 14:45 for 5k and 30:01 for 10k. Chris, on the other hand wouldn't be just as well known for his experience over the shorter distances, but the England international mountain runner covered 5 miles earlier this month (February 2015) in 25:31. Shilden Central AC man Cameron Boyek was agonisingly close to breaking the four minute mile when he ran 4:00.23 at the Letterkenny AC 'Sub 4 Minute Mile' event in 2014, and he may lower his current 5k personal best of 14:30 here. Runners Life writer Dave Norman (Altrincham AC) will also perform well.
Focusing on things from a local perspective, it's hard to bypass the 'man of the moment' Declan Reed (City of Derry AC) as a possible leading NI finisher. Given the form the Spartan athlete has shown when claiming the NI & Ulster Masters XC, AAI National Masters XC and NI & Ulster Senior XC titles over the last four weeks, we would not be surprised if Declan improved his 14:42 best for 5k – He (Declan) really did look a different class in Lurgan on last Saturday (14th February 2015). Fellow North West based men Scott Rankin (Foyle Valley AC) and Gary Murray (St Malachy's AC) will also finish well up the field, while Glaslough Harriers' Conor Duffy and St Malachy's AC's Joe Mc Alister will no doubt produce the impressive performances they have become known for.
Open 3k Race:
The final race of what is sure to be an excellent night of competition will be the Open Men's 3k race, which will also include 'Junior A' and 'Junior B' athletes. The race will provide some of the provinces top up and coming talent the opportunity to line up and experience a high profile international event, and it's likely that established junior stars such as Christy Conlon (Beechmount Harriers), Oisin O'Callaghan (Newry AC) and Paddy Robb (St Malachy's AC) will excel under the spotlight, given their experience at events like this. However, the junior stars will have to use the extra energy that comes with their youth if they want to see off the likes of Mark Gardner (Lancaster & Morecombe AC), Allan Bogle (City of Derry AC), Ciaran Doherty (Letterkenny AC), Darren McBrearty (Letterkenny AC), Robert Rossborough (Cambuslang Harriers), Martin Cox (Project Africa), Nigel McKibbin (Dromore AC), Francis Marsh (North Down AC), Gary Henderson (Armagh AC) and Mark Wright (Annadale Striders) in what should be a hotly contested finale.
Of all the mentioned athletes, Allan Bogle, Ciaran Doherty, Darren McBrearty and Mark Gardner should be amongst the front runners overall, but in the Junior A race, Oisin O'Callaghan, Daniel Dawson (Dromore AC), Connor McCann (St Malachy's AC) and Matt Doherty (Derry City Track Club) will all fancy their chances. Meanwhile, in the Junior B race, Christy Conlon, Jack O'Farrell (Burren AC), Eoghan O'Callaghan (Newry AC) and Craig McMeechan (North Down AC) will be vying for top spot.
As always, our NiRunning team will be on hand, providing live updates from the Armagh International Road Races (signal permitting). Please follow us on Twitter (@NiRunning) and Facebook (NiRunning) to keep up to date with the action. Our event summary and race results will be online late on Thursday night (19th February 2015).
Photo Credits: Photo of Mary Cullen (North Sligo AC) courtesy of Irish Independent Newspaper, while photo of England team from 2014 courtesy of England Athletics.
Athletics NI XC League 2014/15 winners announced:
Following the final round of the Athletics NI Cross Country League 2014/15 at the NI & Ulster Senior XC Championships in Lurgan on Saturday 14th February 2015, were double points were on offer, Athletics NI have confirmed the overall prize and title winners.
In the Men’s League, after an incredibly close finish, Newcastle AC have secured top spot. The consistent performers, who packed well throughout the Series, finished on a total of 137 points. City of Derry AC accumulated a total of 126 points, which was enough to take 2nd place ahead of the always well represented Springwell Running Club (83 points) and Acorns AC 78 points), who claimed 3rd place and 4th place respectively.
In the Ladies final standings, which proved to be just as close as the men's event, Springwell Running Club topped the table with an overall total of 140 points. City of Derry AC notched up 135 points for 2nd place, while newly formed Acorns AC completed the top three with 67 points. Foyle Valley AC (43 points) finished in 4th place.
On their official website, Athletics NI said “The success of the league has been very pleasing with a noticeable increase in participation at Cross Country races over the past season. A total of 22 Clubs scored points in the Men’s section and 16 clubs in the Women’s. The ANI Cross Country Committee will be reviewing the workings for the league in the near future and will be seeking the views of participating clubs in an effort to improve the appeal of the league. Possible changes include an increase in the number of team points available, a refinement of the participation points scoring, and the grading of clubs. However, no changes will be announced until clubs have had the chance to feed in their views. An online survey will be opened for comment over the coming week.”
Full Results: Athletics NI XC League 2014/15 Final Overall Standings
British Athletics Indoor Championships 2015:
Over the course of the weekend (Saturday 14th and Sunday 15th February 2015), a group of Northern Ireland's top athletes have been in competition at the Sainsbury's British Athletics Indoor Championships in Sheffield, England.
On Day 1 (Saturday 14th February 2015) of the exciting two day programme, which attracted a plethora of world class talent, Northern Ireland and Ireland internationals Amy Foster (City of Lisburn AC), Paul Pollock (Annadale Striders) and Ben Reynolds (North Down AC) all lined up in their respective 60m, 3,000m, and 60m hurdles competitions.
Amy, who was opening her season, breezed through her 60m heat, which was won by Swansea Harriers' Rachel Johncock (1st place – 7.37secs) in 7.47secs (2nd place); this was this joint second quickest qualifying time of the day and saw the Northern Ireland 100m and 200m record holder take her place in the final. In the final, Amy covered the distance in slightly slower 7.54secs, taking 7th place. The title was won by Blackheath AC's Dina Asher-Smith in 7.15secs (1st place).
In the 3,000m race, Paul Pollock had his sights firmly set on the European Indoor Championship qualifying standard of 8:00.00, but unfortunately in what (with the greatest of respect) proved to be a slow race, the Annadale Striders athlete clocked 8:13.53 for 7th place. The race was won by Lee Emanuel (Central Sheffield AC) in 8:03.92 (1st place). Unfortunately, Ben Reynolds was disqualified from his 60m hurdles heat.
Day 2 (Sunday 16th February 2015) brought Northern Ireland Commonwealth Games star and Northern Ireland 3,000m and 3,000m Steeplechase record holder Kerry O'Flaherty (Newcastle AC) to the start line of the 3,000m. Up against recently crowned European XC Champion Emelie Gorecka (Aldershot, Farnham & District AC), Team GB athletes Jessica Judd (Chelmsford AC), Hannah England (Oxford City AC) and Irish international team mates Maria McCambridge (Letterkenny AC) and Sara Treacy (Dunboyne AC) in what was a classy line-up, Kerry put in a strong performance, securing 7th place in 9:19.51; this was less than one second away from Kerry's recent indoor personal best at the AAI Games in Athlone. In what was an enthralling race throughout, Maria McCambridge held the early pace, before pre-race favourite Emelie Gorecka took control. However, Ireland's Sara Treacy showed her fighting spirit to stick with the Euro XC Champion and in a nail biting finish, Sara secured victory in 9:06.23 (1st place).
Full Results: British Athletics Indoor Championships 2015 Results
Local runners compete in Ireland, England and Scotland:
On Saturday 14th February 2015, at least four Northern Ireland athletes were in action at top quality mountain and trail running events in Ireland, Scotland and England, during which, with at least three claiming top ten finishes.
Windy Hill Mountain Race (England):
The pick of the day's performances was that of Gavin Mulholland (Calder Valley AC) at the Windy Hill Mountain Race in England. The Northern Ireland international always played a part at the front and eventually claimed an excellent 2nd place, after covering the 9 mile course, which included 390m of ascent, in 56:13 (2nd place). Mourne Runners members Ricky Hanna and Sarah Graham also ran well, with Sarah crossing the line in 1:17:52 (8th place lady) and Ricky 1:17:55 (97th place). The race was won by Gavin's club mate Ben Mounsey (Calder Valley AC) in 54:22 (1st place), while Heidi Dent (Howgill Harriers) took the ladies title in 1:05:47 (1st place).
Carnethy 5 Mountain Race (Scotland):
In Penicuik, close to Edinburgh in Scotland, Northern Ireland men Iain Whiteside (Carnethy HRC) and Pete Grant (Newcastle AC) toed the line of the infamous Carnethy 5 mountain race, an event measuring 6.2 miles in distance with 760m of ascent. In what was a quality field, Iain ran well to claim 8th place in a brilliant 53:06, while Pete, another strong performer, followed in 1:13:20 (217th place). The race was won by Inverclyde AC athlete Andrew Douglas in 49:23 (1st place).
Donadea 50k incorporating AAI National 50k Championships (Ireland):
Closer to home, BARF athlete Joanne Curran took on the challenging Donadea 50k trail race, which doubled up as the AAI National 50k Championships in Ireland. Joanne put in an impressively consistent performance, covered each of the 5k in either 24 or 25 minutes, before finishing in 4:08:18; this was enough to see Joanne take 7th place in the ladies race, which was won by Mary Laverty (North East Runners) in 3:43:03 (1st place).
Despite the performances by the above mentioned ladies, the race will be remembered for an exceptional run by Gary O'Hanlon (Clonliffe Harriers). Gary, a regular competitor in Northern Ireland, won the men's race in a new Irish 50k record of 2:57:06 (1st place); interestingly, this is the quickest 50k time in the world for the last two years!
Northern Ireland lady impresses in USA:
On Saturday 14th February 2015, Portaferry lady Ciara Magee produced an impressive performance at the Millrose Games in New York (USA). Competing in the ladies 3,000m event, the Northern Ireland lady secured qualification for the upcoming European Indoor Championships when she took 7th place in 8:55.09. The race was won by Sally Kipyego (Nike OTC) in 8:41.72 (1st place).
After the race, Ciara spoke to popular Irish website Jumping-The-Gun and said, “I’m happy enough with the time; the aim was to run the European standard. I’m not that happy about my position in the field. I’ll go home now, get some rest, then run Nationals at the weekend, and I hope to get the 1500m standard for Prague there.” - The full interview with Ciara Mageean can be found HERE.
Full Results: Millrose Games 2015 Results
Northern Ireland & Ulster Senior XC Championships 2015:
On Saturday 14th February 2015, hundreds of athletes from across Northern Ireland and Ulster descended on Ireland's second largest public park, Lurgan Park in County Armagh for the NI & Ulster Senior Cross Country Championships, which also incorporated the final round of the Athletics NI XC League 2014/15.
In what was perfect conditions, the ladies faced a three lap 6k course and the men took on a gruelling six lap 12k route, both of which covered the same 2k loop. The course was prominently firm underfoot, which made for good running.
The Ladies 6k race was first off, and almost immediately, the three main contenders came to the fore. Teresa Doherty (Finn Valley AC), Danielle Fegan (Armagh AC) and Breege Connolly (North Belfast Harriers) made the early running, in that order. Behind, Cathy McCourt (North Belfast Harriers), Laura Hassan (Springwell Running Club) and Louise Smith (North Belfast Harriers) were all looking strong and it was undoubtedly these performances that would later ensure podium places for their teams.
As the race progressed, Teresa looked increasingly confident and composed as she cemented her place at the front, while Breege caught and passed Danielle, who was feeling the effects of her outstanding victory at the GloHealth AAI National Intermediate XC Championships just six days ago. In the final lap, despite her best efforts, and what was an excellent performance, Breege was unable to close the gap on her cousin and previous winner of the Laganside 10k (Teresa) as she powered to victory in 20:57 (1st place). Breege secured the silver medal in 21:14 (2nd place), before Danielle Fegan completed the ladies top three in 21:25 (3rd place).
In the ladies team competition, the strong North Belfast Harriers scoring four of Breege Connolly (2nd place – 21:14), Cathy McCourt (4th place – 22:15), Louise Smith (6th place – 22:35) and Claire Connor (7th place – 22:50) claimed the gold medal, while Finn Valley AC and Springwell Running Club took 2nd place and 3rd place respectively.
Next up in the small but exciting race programme was the Men's 12k, which as previously mentioned, covered six laps of the Lurgan Park course. After a fast start, little separated the men after the first lap, with a large group containing the likes of Declan Reed (City of Derry AC), Seamus Lynch (Newcastle AC), Mark McKinstry (North Belfast Harriers), Scott Rankin (Foyle Valley AC), Stephen Wylie (North Down AC), Andrew Annett (North Belfast Harriers), Allan Bogle (City of Derry AC) and Russell White (Dromore AC) leading the way.
This didn't last for much longer though, as recently crowned NI & Ulster Masters XC and GloHealth AAI National Masters XC Champion Declan Reed began to stamp his authority on proceedings. The in-form Spartan looked a class act as he gradually moved clear of the chasing Scott Rankin and Mark McKinstry and built a strong lead. The aforementioned Scott and Mark enjoyed their own epic battle for the runners up spot, and it was quite possible this dual that allowed the relentless Declan Reed to increase his lead to approximately fifty seconds going into the last lap.
At this point, it was only a matter of time before Declan added the prestigious NI & Ulster Senior XC title to his recent accolades; behind, Mark McKinstry now had a few meters on Scott, while the impressive Keith Purdy (Annadale Striders) and Alan O'Hara (North Belfast Harriers) were closing what was previously a sizeable gap.
As the crowds began to line the finishing straight, the classy Declan Reed descended from the wooded back section of the course confidently and quickly made his way towards the line. Greeted by loud applause, the City of Derry AC man broke the tape in 37:17 (1st place) to secure the well-deserved gold medal. Mark McKinstry was rewarded for what was quite possibly the run of his life with a silver medal, after crossing the line in 38:09 (2nd place). Scott Rankin saw off a late challenge by Keith Purdy to take 3rd place in 38:20.
In the hotly contested team competition, City of Derry AC's six scorers of Declan Reed (1st place – 37:17), Emmet McGinty (8th place – 38:57), Allan Bogle (11th place – 39:23), John Lenahan (12th place – 39:27), Aaron Doherty (15th place – 39:46) and Brendan Murphy (21st place – 40:14) picked up gold medals after finishing in 1st place. Newly crowned NI & Ulster Intermediate XC team Champions North Belfast Harriers claimed 2nd place, while Newcastle AC took 3rd place.
Individual Podium Places:
Top 3 Ladies (6k): 1st Teresa Doherty (Finn Valley AC) – 20:57, 2nd Breege Connolly (North Belfast Harriers) – 21:14, 3rd Danielle Fegan (Armagh AC) – 21:25
Top 3 Men (12k): 1st Declan Reed (City of Derry AC) – 37:17, 2nd Mark McKinstry (North Belfast Harriers) – 38:09, 3rd Scott Rankin (Foyle Valley AC) – 38:20
Team Podium Places:
Top 3 Ladies Teams: 1st North Belfast Harriers - 19pts, 2nd Finn Valley AC - 45pts, 3rd Springwell Running Club - 51pts
Top 3 Mens Teams: 1st City of Derry AC - 68pts, 2nd North Belfast Harriers - 78pts, 3rd Newcastle AC – 122pts
Weekend Preview: NI & Ulster Senior XC Championships take centre stage as local athletes prepare to compete in Northern Ireland, Ireland, Scotland, England and America:
After an entertaining Winter, filled with exciting cross country action, this coming weekend brings the culmination of the seasons mucky action. Athletes from across the province will descend on Ireland’s second biggest public park, Lurgan Park (Lurgan), for the Northern Ireland & Ulster Senior Cross Country Championships. The prestigious fixture also incorporates the final round of the Athletics NI Cross Country League 2014/15, with double points on offer for this particular race.
Of course, as always, there will also be local athletes in action elsewhere, with the British Athletics Indoor Grand Prix in Sheffield (England), the Carnethy 5 Mountain Race just outside Edinburgh (Scotland), the AAI National 50k Ultra-Trail Championships taking place in Donadea (Ireland) and the Scottish Athletics National Age Group Indoor Championships in Glasgow (Scotland) all attracting local interest. At least one local runner will also be racing at the NYRR Millrose Indoor Games in New York (USA).
NI & Ulster Senior Cross Country Championships:
Undoubtedly the highlight of the local calendar this Valentines weekend is the aforementioned NI & Ulster Senior XC Championships, which will take place on Saturday 14th February 2015 in Lurgan Park, Lurgan. The concise but at the same time enthralling programme of events starts with the Senior Ladies 6k at 1.30pm. Aside from the obvious individual medals up for grabs, there are also the prestigious team honours, which will be based on the top four scoring/finishing members of each team. The first two ladies to finish will also gain automatic selection for the Northern Ireland team for the upcoming IAAF Antrim International XC in March 2015.
After a glance at the pre-race entry list, it’s hard to look past North Belfast Harriers’ Breege Connolly as an obvious choice for pre-race favourite, especially given her recent win at the Trim 10 mile road race, were she (Breege) recorded an excellent 57:31 for the distance. However, another lady who is well worth a mention is newly crowned GloHealth AAI National Intermediate XC Champion Danielle Fegan (Armagh AC). The young Armagh AC star was a podium finisher at this event last year when it was run as part of the IAAF Antrim International XC, and will surely be one of the figure-heads this time around.
Despite racing sparingly, Danielle never fails to impress when she toes the line; targeting races well and delivering results. The final podium place and exactly who it goes to is the million dollar question – Established international Karen Alexander (Acorns AC), newly crowned NI & Ulster Intermediate XC Champion Laura Hassan (Springwell Running Club), multiple NI & Ulster XC medallist Lauren Quee (Lagan Valley AC), AAI National XC category gold medallist and overall podium finisher Cathy McCourt (North Belfast Harriers), and North Down AC’s Northern Ireland international duo Rachel Gibson and Jessica Craig are all contenders.
However, the seemingly endless list of talent throws up other names, such as Claire Connor (North Belfast Harriers), Jennifer Black (Orangegrove AC), Alex Kirk (Springwell Running Club), Louise Smith (North Belfast Harriers), Catherine O’Connor (East Down AC), Gerrie Short (Beechmount Harriers), Marina Campbell (City of Derry AC) and Catherine Whoriskey (City of Derry AC), all of whom possess the ability to mix it up at the head of the pack on their day; any of these ladies could cause an upset if they perform well. Other ladies who should finish well up the field include Jackie McGinley (City of Derry AC), Jacqueline Mulligan (Acorns AC), Debbie Matchett (Ballydrain Harriers), Shileen O’Kane (Lagan Valley AC), Gemma McGinty (Foyle Valley AC), Angeline McShane (City of Derry AC) and Hazel McLaughlin (Lagan Valley AC).
Looking at the team competition, and considering we have already mentioned four North Belfast Harriers athletes above (Breege Connolly, Claire Connor, Louise Smith and Cathy McCourt), which is the scoring number… we’ll therefore consider them as favourites. North Down AC, Lagan Valley AC, City of Derry AC, Springwell Running Club and Acorns AC should also be there or there abouts given their strong representation and history of close packing.
The Men’s event will start at 2.15pm and will cover a gruelling 12k course. Of course, the top three individual finishers will deservedly take the plaudits, but like the ladies race, there are bragging rights at stake in the team competition, which for the men is six to score/count. The first two men across the line will also gain automatic selection for the Northern Ireland team for the upcoming IAAF Antrim International XC in March 2015.
Given the closely contested Athletics NI XC League and the doubling of points here, this will make it an extremely exciting finish between current leaders Newcastle AC and chasers City of Derry AC. Firstly though, we’ll look at the individual event, which in truth, reads like a who’s who list of Northern Ireland’s most talented athletes. One man who won’t feature, despite his inclusion on said list is Paul Pollock (Annadale Striders).
Paul is racing in England (see preview below), but fellow Annadale Striders men Andrew Agnew, Eddie McGinley, Owen Carelton, Paul Carroll, James O’Hare, Glenn Phair, Stephen Prentice, Keith Purdy, Mark Wright, Conor McMullan and current NI & Ulster Junior XC Champion Ryan McDermott will all finish well up the field, with Eddie and Ryan in particular, likely to feature in the lead pack and ultimately, the podium should they start.
Declan Reed will lead an incredibly strong City of Derry AC squad and the NI & Ulster Masters XC and AAI National Masters XC Champion will hope to continue the rich vein of form he has been in recently. Declan's City of Derry AC club mates Allan Bogle, Emmet McGinty, John Lenehan, Aaron Doherty and Greg Roberts, who took fourth place at last week's Wokingham Half Marathon, will all play their part in what should be an exciting race upfront. The same could definitely be said for NI & Ulster Intermediate XC Champion Conor Duffy (Glaslough Harriers), who has really come to the fore over the last couple of months; the aforementioned XC title as well as a podium place in what was a quality field at the Greencastle 5 on Boxing Day (2014) shows that this young athlete has a lot of potential – this could well be the day that he stamps his authority on the local scene! Dromore AC's Russell White, although better known for his exploits in the triathlon world, could be a good outside bet for a medal, while Scott Rankin (Foyle Valley AC), Gerard Gallagher (Finn Valley AC) and the returning Brendan Teer (East Down AC) will have similar ambitions. It's unclear as to whether St Malachy's AC man Gary Murray will participate as he doesn't feature on the published entry list; however, should he race, the talented St Malachy's AC man will run well, especially if he replicates the same kind of performance that saw him secure third place at the Wokingham Half Marathon last week.
Seamus Lynch and his Newcastle AC team mates, which include David O'Flaherty, David McNeilly, Iain Bailey, David Steele and Luke McMullan amongst others, will want to finish well up the pecking order, both for themselves and the team. Their good 'packing' throughout the XC League has impressed and they'll be hoping for similar here to ensure they take the XC League title ahead of their Spartan rivals. On the day, Annadale Striders will be pre-race favourites for the team honours, with the battle for the runners up spot likely to be between Newcastle AC and City of Derry AC. In saying that, the North Belfast Harriers team, which includes Mark McKinstry, Neil Carty, Alan O'Hara, Andrew Considine, Darryl Blair, Andrew Annett, Nat Glenn and Greg Lavery, and the Foyle Valley squad, headed by Scott Rankin, Stephen Connor, Pius McIntyre, Adrian McGowan and Declan Doherty, will both be worth watching. Following their NI & Ulster Intermediate XC prize, Acorns AC will also be hoping to be in the mix, while Dennis Scott, Stephen Wylie and James Budde will ensure that North Down AC are well up there.
British Athletics Indoor Grand Prix (including British Indoor Championships):
Also on Saturday 14th February 2015, a number of local athletes will be part of a classy line-up at the Sainsbury's British Athletics Indoor Championships in Sheffield, England.
Northern Ireland Half Marathon record holder and current GloHealth AAI National Senior XC Champion Paul Pollock (Annadale Striders) will race over 3,000m. Lagan Valley AC's Mandy Gault will take on the 400m, while Conor Bradley (City of Derry AC) and Danny Mooney (Letterkenny AC) will line-up in the 1500m. Northern Ireland 100m and 200m record holder Amy Foster (City of Lisburn AC) will also kick off her indoor season at the event. After missing the recent AAI Indoor Games, Amy is set to compete in the 60 metres here. Newcastle AC's Kerry O'Flaherty and North Down AC's Ben Reynolds will race in the 3,000m and 60m hurdles respectively.
Carnethy 5 Mountain Race:
Elsewhere on Saturday 14th February 2015, in Scotland, at least two Northern Ireland runners will toe the line at the tough Carnethy 5 Mountain Race, close to Edinburgh (Scotland).
Northern Ireland man Iain Whiteside, running for local club Carnethy Hill Runners and the well-known and respected mountain runner Peter Grant (Newcastle AC) should both compete well at the event, which takes competitors over five major peaks, covering 6 miles in distance and 2,500ft in ascent. Amongst the sell-out six hundred strong field, the NI contingent will have to battle it out with some of the UK's top mountain runners. In the absence of 2014 Champion Orlando Edwards (Hunters Bog Trotters), last year’s runner up and 2013 winner, Finlay Wild (Lochaber AC) looks to be favourite for the men’s title. Salomon International athlete, Tom Owens (Shettleston Harriers) who took fourth place at the Saikung 28km race in Hong Kong last weekend (and won this event in 2011 and 2012), Inov-8's current English Fell Running Champion Tom Addison (Helm Hill Runners), Prasad Prasad (Squadra Porcini), Irish International Paul Tierney (Ambleside AC) and local boy Andrew Fallas (Carnethy HRC) will all run well.
In the ladies event, there are no noticeable entries from Northern Ireland. There is no sign of fourteen times winner and course record holder Angela Mudge (Carnethy HRC) on the start list either. Another notable absentee is 2014 winner and winner of the Mourne Skyline GTR, Sarah McCormack (Moorfoot Runners). Another previous winner, Scottish International mountain runner Claire Gordon of Hunters Bog Trotters, along with Carnethy HRC top fell running pair Charlotte Morgan and Jasmin Paris, should be amongst the front runners at the popular event.
Donadea 50k Ultra-Trail Race (incorporating AAI National 50k Championships):
In Ireland, on Saturday 14th February 2015, a number of Northern Ireland based ladies will travel to County Kildare (Ireland) for the Donadea 50k ultra-trail race, which will incorporate the AAI National 50k Championships.
BARF’s Causeway Coast Ultra winner Joanne Curran will feature in high quality and well-supported AAI National Championship event. Amongst those also due to start is Great Britain & Northern Ireland endurance specialist Debbie Consani (Centurion Ultra Team).
Although Debbie normally excels over longer distances, she (Debbie) will go into this event as favourite. Last year’s third place finisher and a regular competitor in Northern Ireland, Donna McLoughlin (Avondale AC) will be up against North East Runners duo Jolene Mellon and Emma Louise Kirk, who both have an opportunity to be the leading Irish lady home. Jolene (Mellon) has previously had success at the 'Lost World's' 50k Causeway Crossing and the testing 26 Extreme Mourne Way Ultra. Club-mate Emma Louise (Kirk) showed good form in taking third place in the aforementioned Mourne Way event. Both ladies will have to work hard if they want to take the Irish title.
The men's race does not have any Northern based participants, but 2014 Irish 50k Champion Gary O'Hanlon, Ireland International ultra-runner and previous winner of the Energia 24 hour event, John O'Regan (Le Chéíle AC) and Eion Keith of Ultra Running Ireland, all regular competitors in the north, will line up against top GB & NI ultra-trail runner Marco Consani (Garscube Harriers). Latvian runner and second place finisher in 2014, Raivis Zalkis (West Waterford AC) will again take the start line. Others to watch out for are Peter Mooney (MCI), Craig Britton (Unattached) and Ronan Hartnett (Garda AC).
NYRR Millrose Indoor Games:
Further afield on Saturday 14th February 2015, Ciara Mageean (UCD AC) will have the pleasure of lining up against some of the world's best athletes at the 108th Millrose Indoor Games in New York, America. After playing her part in the New Balance Ireland team who finished third in the DMR at the New Balance Games last weekend, Ciara will now turn her attention to the 3,000m and a European Indoor Championships qualifying standard.
Scottish Athletics Age Group Indoor Championships:
On Saturday 14th and Sunday 15th February 2015, a host of young athletes from Northern Ireland will experience the impressive facilities at the Emirates Arena in Glasgow, Scotland as they compete in the Scottish Athletics National Age Group Indoor Championships. City of Derry AC athletes Mark Gallagher, Aaron Sweidan, Ruairi Begley, Gemma Mullan, Fintan Stewart, Luke McCarron, Aela Stewart, Ciara Boyle, Clodagh Laverty, Matthew Mason, Erin Gallagher, Stephen McGahey, Michael Surman, Naomi Morgan, Michael Melarkey, Orla O'Doherty, Lucy Appleton, Martin McGeady, Aisling Walsh, Eimer Stewart, Aoife Laverty, Conor Breslin and Sean Sweeney will be joined by up and coming City of Lisburn AC runners Jake Harbinson, Conor Irving, Anna McCauley, Erin Gallagher, Amie Bradley and Gareth Thompson, as well as Lagan Valley AC's Callum Crawford-Walker.
As always, Northern Ireland’s nineteen parkrun events will take place this weekend, for more information on these, or to locate your nearest event, please visit our dedicated ‘parkrun’ section within our fixtures page.
Hill and Dale Series 2015:
This week, Newcastle AC have announced the date and location of their eleven ‘Hill & Dale Series’ races for 2015. Seen by many as a gradual introduction to Mountain Running, the popular Series takes competitors to the gentle slopes of Castlewellan and Tollymore prior to the challenge of the tougher climbs and open mountain. Last year, over six hundred athletes took part in the Series, many for the first time and record numbers completing all eleven races.
Online Registration for Senior is now OPEN and available HERE. All races (except the Slieve Donard race) will start at 7.30pm SHARP. Entries will close at 7.15pm and entry fees will be: £8 per Race, Non-Registered / Unattached / Non Affiliated Clubs – £10. Juniors between 16 and 19 competing in Senior Race: £3. All fee's will be payable on the night of each race.
Important: Please note that Slieve Donard (Saturday 16th May 2015) race starts at 2:00pm and entries close at 1:45pm.
Hill & Dale Series 2015 Calendar:
Thursday 16th April – Castlewellan (5.5 miles/1,080ft)
Thursday 23rd April – Tollymore (5miles/900ft)
Thursday 30th April - Slieve Martin (4.25miles/1,740ft)
Thursday 7th May – Slieve Binnian (2miles/2,000ft)
Saturday 16th May – Slieve Donard (5.5miles/2,300ft)
Thursday 21st May – Rocky (4.25m/1,600ft)
Thursday 28th May – Loughshannagh (5miles/1,700ft)
Thursday 4th June – Milestone (4miles/1,500ft)
Thursday 11th June – Hen & Cock (3.5miles/1,600ft
Thursday 18th June – Meels (3.5miles/1,800ft)
Friday 26th June – Drinhilly (4.75miles/1,080ft)
Competitors: Your best six results from the eleven races will count, and organisers have stressed the following safety requirements must be adhered too: 1. All competitors must carry a whistle; 2. If the weather is poor, all competitors must carry a waterproof coat; 3. All runners must report to the finish; 4. Reasonable fitness levels needed. Cut off times will apply at the discretion of the organisers; 5. Safety equipment required for races: compass, whistle, full body cover which should be brought to ALL races; 6. All efforts should be made by runners to car share, and park safely at all races.
Please visit the NIMRA or Newcastle AC websites for specific information on each event including race sign-in and start/finish areas. Both websites will also publish any updates in relation to the Series.
Northern Ireland man makes indoor debut in Italy:
On Wednesday 11th February 2015, Northern Ireland man Nigel McKibbin (Dromore AC) was in action at the Ancona Track & Field Meeting, which took place at the Palanindoor Arena in Ancona, Italy.
In what was Nigel's first 1500m race since August 2014 and his indoor debut, the international cross country star performed well, covering the distance in 4:27.93. This was enough to secure 5th place in the race won by Italian athlete Luca Leone in 4:00.72 (1st place) and bodes well for Nigel as he looks forward to next weeks Armagh International.
Full Results: Ancona Track & Field Meeting 2015 Results
At least three local athletes claim medals at IUAA Indoor Championships 2015:
On what proved to be a busy and successful weekend for Northern Ireland based athletes on a local, national and international level, it was the performances of several local up and coming athletes at the Irish Universities Athletic Association (IUAA) Indoor Track & Field Championships at the AIT Arena in Athlone (Ireland), on Friday 6th February 2015 that got the weekend off to the prefect start.
Aislinn Crossey, a much talked about young athlete with a bright future ahead, represented her Dublin based university UCD at the prestigious Championships and lived up to her reputation. Competing over her favourite 800m distance, Aislinn cruised through her heat, clocking 2:19.37 for 1st place. In the final, the AAI National U-23 silver medallist saw off the challenge of DCU student Deirdre Doyle to secure gold in 2:11.51 (1st place). Although well off her personal best of 2:03.93 at the European Junior Championships in 2013, this performance and the aforementioned medal at the AAI National U-23 Championships shows that Aislinn is getting back to her best after a period of illness and injury last year (2014).
In the 60m hurdles, Queen's University student Adam Hill produced an excellent performance to claim the gold medal. Up against a competitive field, Adam, who represented QUB AC at the BUCS Championships in Sheffield last year covered the distance in a speedy 8.64secs (1st place), which not only secured top spot and the associated gold medal, but ensured that Adam now tops Queen's University's list of 60m hurdlers. There was also a medal for fellow Queen's University athlete Neil Johnston; the Springwell Running Club man was in competition over 3,000m and recorded an impressive 8:46.94 – this saw Neil top the Heat 2 standings and finish in 3rd place overall. The gold medal went to UCC athlete Ben Thistlewood who was the fastest in Heat 1 and overall in a time of 8:43.50 (1st place).
Northern Ireland athletes perform well in USA, Belgium and England:
Over the weekend (Saturday 7th February and Sunday 8th February 2015), aside from the already mentioned local, national and international events, athletes from Northern Ireland have been in action at other events in England, Belgium and America.
On Saturday 7th February 2015, young Omagh Harriers athlete Sara Moore, who is currently studying at the Oklahoma City University in America was in competition at the Missouri Southern Invitational Indoor Track & Field Meeting, during which the Irish junior international produced an excellent performance over the classic mile distance. Sara recorded 5:03.21 to finish in 2nd place, less than one second behind race winner Elizabeth Luckel (USA) who ran 5:02.90 (1st place). This was not only a personal best for the ever improving athlete, but was also enough to secure an 'A' standard for the upcoming NAIA Nationals, which take place in Ohio (USA) later this month (February 2015).
In Gent (Belgium) on Saturday 7th February 2015, Team NI Commonwealth Games athlete Danny Mooney (Letterkenny AC) and City of Derry AC man Conor Bradley were part of a large Irish contingent competing at the IFAM Indoor Track & Field Meeting. Danny Mooney lined up in the 1500m, were he covered the distance in a solid 3:46.98, which was enough to seal 3rd place. The race was won by Ethiopian athlete Asefa Uma Mulugeta in 3:43.41 (1st place).
In the 3,000m race, which was won by Halil Akkes (Turkey), former Athletics NI 10k (Road) Champion and 4:01.83 miler Conor Bradley recorded 8:10.79 to claim 9th place. Although just over six seconds outside his personal best, this is another step in the right direction for Conor as he returns from a period of injury in 2014.
On Sunday 8th February 2015, two local men were in action at the Wokingham Half Marathon in England. St Malachy's AC athlete Gary Murray and City of Derry AC's Greg Roberts both had excellent runs, with Gary claiming 3rd place in a new personal best of 1:04:40 and Greg taking 4th place in 1:08:12. The race was won by 2014 Energia 24 hour (100k) competitor Paul Martelletti (Victoria Park Harriers) in 1:04:18 (1st place).
Northern Ireland athletes dominate podium at Lifford AC 5k:
On Sunday 8th February 2015, a large number of athlete from Northern Ireland were amongst a field of nearly three hundred and seventy athletes who turned out for the final race of Lifford AC's Spring 5k Series.
Organisers were forced to alter the original course due to overnight frost, but in some ways this worked well, as the revised course comprised of a three lap town centre based route, which ensured an excellent atmosphere as spectators lined the streets.
Local athletes made up the majority of the top ten, with Omagh Harriers' Paul Barbour producing the most notable performance. Following on from wins at Race 1 and 2 of the Series, Paul secured a hat-trick of victories and the overall Series win as he crossed the line first in 15:28 (1st place). Finn Valley AC's Gerard Gallagher finished in 15:44 (2nd place), while another NI man, Martin Cox (Project Africa) followed up from his runners up placing at yesterday's Roe Valley Trail Race with another podium finish; Martin clocked 15:59 for 3rd place.
Derry City Track Club duo Matt Doherty and Cathal McLaughlin followed in 16:23 (4th place) and 16:30 (5th place) respectively, before another NI man, Pierce McCullagh (Sperrin Harriers) crossed the line in 16:37 (6th place). The familiar faces continued as Ciaran Collins (Project Africa) and Mark Mullan (City of Derry AC) both secured top ten places, with Ciaran running 16:39 (7th place) and Mark 16:42 (8th place).
There was also room for celebration in the ladies event, with NI ladies dominating the podium. Claire McGuigan (Lifford AC) claimed her third victory of the Series, as well as the overall Series title in 18:21 (1st place), before Foyle Valley AC's Gemma McGinty (2nd place – 19:24) and Derry City Track Club's Hannah McGowan (3rd place – 20:38) completed the top three. Orla Moran (Foyle Valley AC) and Annalisa Mullan (Bolt Running Club) also made the top ten, running 20:47 (4th place) and 21:21 (7th place) respectively.
Full Results: Lifford AC 5k Series (Race 3) 2015 Results
Northern Ireland athletes claim impressive medal haul:
On Sunday 8th February 2015, a number of athletes from Northern Ireland travelled Tuam in County Galway (Ireland) for the GloHealth AAI National Intermediate and Masters XC Championships.
On what was a misty day, it was the performances of the Northern Ireland based runners that shone through, with no less than five local athletes picking up gold medals after completing the hilly but fairly dry course.
After the Junior races had taken place it was the Masters Ladies who took to the start line for their 4,000m race, which brought the first gold medal of the day. Strabane based Natasha Adams, a recent addition to the increasingly impressive Letterkenny AC contingent, put in a quality performance to lead the field home in 15:34 (1st place). North Belfast Harriers' in-form Cathy McCourt also claimed a podium place, taking 3rd place in 15:50; this was also enough to see Cathy secure top spot in her Vet40 category. City of Derry AC's Jacqueline McGinley also picked up a category medal – Jackie's 16:25 clocking saw her take 11th place and 3rd place in her Vet45 category.
In the Masters Men's 7,000m event, reigning Champion and recently crowned NI & Ulster Masters XC Champion Declan Reed (City of Derry AC) battled it out with Letterkenny AC's Ciaran Doherty. Little separated the men with 1,000m remaining, but it was Declan who summoned the strength to finish stronger, eventually breaking the tape in 23:15 (1st place). Ciaran followed just four seconds later in 23:19 (2nd place).
In the Masters Men team competition, Northern Ireland club North Belfast Harriers collected silver medals after their scoring four of Alan O'Hara (14th place – 24:26), Eamon White (18th place – 24:32), Andrew Considine (23rd place – 25:01) and Tommy Simmons (60th place – 26:22) finished in 2nd place behind winners Donore Harriers (1st place). There was further success for North Belfast Harriers men in the Vet60 category, with Matt Shields (84th place - 27:11) and Paul Elliot (111th place - 27:59) securing gold and silver medals respectively.
Arguably the performance of the day came from young Armagh AC athlete and Northern Ireland international XC star Danielle Fegan. Competing in the Intermediate Ladies 5,000m, Danielle, who is the current AAI Novice XC Champion, ran what appeared to be a tactically perfect race – Danielle placed herself within a lead group of 4-5 ladies until the final lap, when she (Danielle) upped the pace in the closing stages to win in 19:10 (1st place).
Junior athletes enjoy East Coast AC XC finale:
On Sunday 8th February 2015, nearly eighty Junior athletes between the ages of four and thirteen years old turned out for the Grand Final (Race 3) of the East Coast AC Junior XC Series in Larne.
Perfect running conditions greeted the up and coming stars as they negotiated a tough and at times technical 800m loop, which made up the impressive course. As always, the 'Mini' athletes kicked off proceedings and it was the ever consistent Eimear Ward (East Coast AC) who sealed victory, covering the 800m route in 4:53 (1st place). In the Mini Boy's race, young Kian McAllister (St Anthony's PS) claimed his second successive win in the Series, leading the field home in 4:24 (1st place).
The Minor Girls were next to toe the line for their 1600m race, and the host club's Hannah Clements (East Coast AC), winner of both Race 1 and Race 2, once again sealed victory in 7:55 (1st place). Charlie Patterson (Olderfleet PS) made it two wins from two outings when he broke the tape in 7:17 (1st place).
As the age grouping increased to the Junior athletes, as did the distance – the Junior races covered 2400m. In the Girls race, Kelly Patterson (Olderfleet PS) made it a family double; like brother Charlie, Kelly celebrated her second win in two races when she recorded 11:26 (1st place) to finish just one second ahead of Bradie Hogg (East Coast AC), who ran 11:27 (2nd place). In the final race of the day, North Belfast Harriers' Callum McIlroy continued his dominance when he notched up a hat-trick of wins, crossing the line in 10:31 (1st place).
After the Race 3 prizes had been handed out, special guest, Team NI Commonwealth Games star Kerry O'Flaherty kindly presented the prizes for the overall Series. Interestingly, the winners of all of the races 'on the day' also collected the top prizes for the overall Series.
NI athletes part of New Balance Ireland DMR team:
On Saturday 7th February 2015, Northern Ireland ladies Christine McMahon (Ballymena & Antrim AC), Katie Kirk (QUB AC) and Ciara Mageean (UCD AC) lined up alongside Ireland international team mate Claire Tarplee as they represented a New Balance Ireland team at the New Balance Grand Prix in Boston (USA).
The ladies performed well, taking 3rd place in a time of 11:03.07. Claire Tarplee covered Leg 1, which measured 1200m in 3:21.06, before Christine McMahon recorded a speedy 56.01secs for her 400m Leg 2. Katie Kirk completed Leg 3 (800m) in 2:09.46, before Ciara Mageean rounded things off with the 4:36.55 for 1600m. The race was won by USA in 10:42.57 (1st place).
The following article, written by Cathal Dennehy for www.jumping-the-gun.com includes post-race comments from the team...
Jumping-The-Gun talk to the New Balance Ireland ladies after their DMR race:
The Irish quartet of Claire Tarplee, Christine McMahon, Katie Kirk and Ciara Mageean finished third in the distance medley relay at the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix in Boston tonight, running 11:03.07. The race was won by US Team New Balance in 10:42.57. “It was good,” said Claire Tarplee afterwards, who led the team off with a 3:21.06 1200m leg to hand over in third place. “The first 200 was about 32, the first 400 64, and I knew after that I was going to be running on my own, but I just held it together as best I could. I’m pleased with how I ran.”
Tarplee handed over to Christine McMahon, who consolidated the team’s position in third place with a 56.01-second 400m leg. “To be in around the 55, 56 seconds was always going to be the target, with this being my first race. It’s hard running by yourself; the last thing you want to do is die. I went out hard, which was the plan, then kept the pace relaxed, but I was a little apprehensive with pushing on in the final lap. It’s the first race out of the legs, and it went according to plan.”
Tarplee handed over to Katie Kirk, who ran 2:09.46 on the 800m leg after blazing through the first 400. “I went out far too hard,” said Kirk. “I went through in 27 and 58. I was on my own for the whole race. I’m not going to get too hung up on the time; today was a bit of fun. A lot of girls have run fast indoors already, and I was hoping to, too, but I had a really good time out there so I’m not going to get down about it. The atmosphere was really enjoyable. It would have been nice to be on top form here, but that’s just not going to happen for me right now.” Kirk handed over to Mageean on the final leg.
“It was good. I’m happy enough,” said Mageean, who split 4:36.55 on the anchor leg. “I was hoping I’d have someone to chase. It felt like a time trial, so it was hard to judge but it was my first indoor race. It was fantastic. The girls went out hard. I’ll run Millrose next weekend, and hopefully try to get my indoor standard for 3,000m for European Indoors. I’ll hopefully get both 1500m and 3,000m standards, then sit down with my coach and decide what to go for.”
East Down AC host Rollercoaster Road Races at Downpatrick Race Course:
On Saturday 7th February 2015, East Down AC welcomed Junior, Senior and Masters athletes from across the province to their Rollercoaster Road Races at the Downpatrick Race Course in County Down.
The 'main event' of the day was the Senior and Masters 5k, which like the Junior races before it, took place on the perimeter road around the famous horse racing venue.
Local hero and our (NiRunning) tip for top spot Brendan Teer (East Down AC) lived up to his pre-race 'favourite' status as he marked his return to competitive action with a victory. Brendan crossed the line in 16:08 (1st place) to win; event regular David O'Flaherty (Newcastle AC) took 2nd place in 16:34, while North Belfast Harriers athlete Paul Blaney claimed 3rd place in 17:34.
In the ladies race, Dromore AC starlet Rebecca Murtagh produced an excellent performance over the undulating course. The up and coming star edged out 2014 winner and pre-race favourite Gerrie Short (Beechmount Harriers) to win in a speedy 18:38 (1st place). Gerrie followed in 18:46 (2nd place), while highly respected masters athlete Ruth Magill (Lagan Valley AC) completed the podium places in 20:46 (3rd place).
Top 3 Men: 1st Brendan Teer (East Down AC) – 16:08, 2nd David O'Flaherty (Newcastle AC) – 16:34, 3rd Paul Blaney (North Belfast Harriers) – 17:34
Top 3 Ladies: 1st Rebecca Murtagh (Dromore AC) – 18:38, 2nd Gerrie Short (Beechmount Harriers) – 18:46, 3rd Ruth Magill (Lagan Valley AC) – 20:46
Full Results: Rollercoaster Road Races 2015 Results
Born 2 Run Rossmore 10k 2015:
On Saturday 7th February 2015, Northern Ireland based events management company Born 2 Run took their popular 'Run Forest Run' Series to Monaghan Town (Ireland), were they hosted the Rossmore 10k.
Despite being outside Northern Ireland, the three hundred strong field was littered with local athletes. However, it was Ireland based athlete Brian McCluskey (North East Runners), winner of the Gosford 10k, who claimed a comfortable victory. Brian clocked an impressive 35:20 (1st place) to finish ahead of Northern Ireland duo Matthew Bell (Unattached) and Danny Fegan (Armagh AC). Both Matthew and Danny have performed well in the Series so far and it took a photo finish to split them here, with both recording 37:32 – In the end, it was Matthew (2nd place) who was given the runners up spot by officials, with Danny settling for 3rd place.
Long distance specialist Fran McFadden (Springwell Running Club) showed her worth over a somewhat shorter distance than what she is used to. Considering Fran is well-known for racing over four times 10k distance, the Springwell Running Club lady claimed the title in 43:10 (1st place), well over one minute ahead of 2nd place lady Sinead Mullan (Unattached) who ran 44:33. Helen Perry (Unattached) secured 3rd place in 45:15.
Top 3 Men: 1st Brian McCluskey (North East Runners) – 35:20, 2nd Matthew Bell (Unattached) – 37:32, 3rd Danny Fegan (Armagh AC) – 37:32
Top 3 Ladies: 1st Fran McFadden (Springwell Running Club) – 43:10, 2nd Sinead Mullan (Unattached) – 44:33, 3rd Helen Perry (Unattached) – 45:15
Full Results: Born 2 Run Rossmore 10k 2015 Results
Springwell Running Club host annual Roe Valley Trail Races:
On Saturday 7th February 2015, athletes and spectators from across the province descended on the scenic Roe Valley Country Park in Limavady for the annual Springwell Running Club Roe Valley Trail Races.
After the Junior races which had kicked off the extensive race programme, it was the turn of the Ladies, Masters Men and Open Men to take to the start line for their respective 8k races, all of which were run separately.
In the Ladies race, Springwell Running Club duo Gemma Turley and Gillian Wasson battled it out at the front. After two of the three laps, little if anything sperated the pair, but in the final lap Gemma Turley, a top ten finisher at last week's Stormont XC, edged clear, eventually breaking the tape in 32:54 (1st place). Gillian Wasson followed just six seconds later in 33:00 (2nd place), while another Springwell Running Club athlete, Kerry McIlmoyle completed the top three in 35:57 (3rd place).
26extreme Tollymore Trail Ultra winner Peter Cromie (Springwell Running Club) was the early leader in the Masters Men's race, but the in-form Ballymena Runners athlete Alex Brennan showed the same kind of strength that has saw him claim several podium places at the Sperrin Harriers Winter Trail Series to assume control and break the tape in 28:57 (1st place). Peter took the runners up spot in 29:21 (2nd place), before Brian Edgar (Springwell Running Club) secured 3rd place in 30:26.
The final event of the day was the Open Men's race, which in truth, was all but 'sorted' after the first four hundred metres. As the men set off, the always impressive Scott Rankin (Foyle Valley AC), who clocked 24:51 for 5 miles two weeks ago in Dublin, initially placed himself amongst a lead group of four or five athletes before upping the pace very early.
As the Foyle Valley AC man moved clear, Martin Cox (Project Africa) and Justin Maxwell (East Coast AC) manoeuvred themselves into second and third place respectively. Despite the efforts of those behind, this is how it remained – Scott broke the tape in 26:13 (1st place), with Martin recording 27:28 (2nd place) and Justin 28:22 (3rd place).
Top 3 Ladies (8k): 1st Gemma Turley (Springwell Running Club) – 32:54, 2nd Gillian Wasson (Springwell Running Club) – 33:00, 3rd Kerry McIlmoyle (Springwell Running Club) – 35:57
Top 3 Masters Men (8k): 1st Alex Brennan (Ballymena Runners) – 28:57, 2nd Peter Cromie (Springwell Running Club) – 29:21, 3rd Brian Edgar (Springwell Running Club) – 30:26
Top 3 Open Men (8k): 1st Scott Rankin (Foyle Valley AC) – 26:13, 2nd Martin Cox (Project Africa) – 27:28, 3rd Justin Maxwell (East Coast AC) – 28:22
Full Results: Roe Valley Trail Races 2015 Results
Weekend Preview: Local athletes set for events in Limavady, Downpatrick, Monaghan, Athlone, Tuam, Gent and Boston:
Another weekend approaches and we can once again look forward to action over various terrain and events both in Northern Ireland and outside the province.
Over the past few weeks there has been an abundance of notable achievements and performances by local athletes and that should continue as we focus our attention on Springwell Running Club's Roe Valley Trail Race, East Down AC's Rollercoaster Road Races and several events outside the province, including the AAI National Intermediate and Masters XC Championships, Born 2 Run's Rossmore Forest 10k, the New Balance Indoor Games and the IFAM indoor Track & Field Meeting. East Coast AC will also host the Grand Final of their Junior XC Series.
Irish Universities Indoor Track & Field Championships:
Before all of the aforementioned events take place, the first action of the weekend will take place today (Friday 6th February 2015) at the AIT Arena in Athlone (Ireland). This will be in the form of the Irish Universities Athletics Association (IUAA) Indoor Track & Field Championships. A host of local athletes should be in competition at the event and this could well include recent AAI National U-23 Championships medallist Aislinn Crossey (UCD AC), as well as North Down AC ladies Jessica Craig and Rachel Gibson. Stephen Prentice (Annadale Striders), Neil McCartan (East Down AC) and Neil Johnston (Springwell Running Club) may also travel to the event.
Roe Valley Trail Race:
On Saturday 7th February 2015, Springwell Running Club will host their annul Roe Valley Trail Races in the scenic Roe Valley Forest Park in Limavady (County Derry/Londonderry). The event offers an extensive race programme, starting with Primary School races and progressing through to Junior, Masters and Open races.
In the men's event, which will see the Junior/Open and Masters athletes complete an undulating course measuring approximately 8k, Ballymena Runners' Jonny Steede may take to the start line to test his fitness ahead of the NIMRA season opener at Slieve Gullion in a few weeks. In the absence of 2014 winner Allan Bogle, Jonny could well be joined at the head of the pack by the likes of Mark McKinstry (North Belfast Harriers) and fellow Ballymena Runners men Alex Brennan and Conor Reid, both of whom have shown great form in the ongoing Sperrin Harriers Winter League Trail Series. East Coast AC's Justin Maxwell will test his training regime ahead of upcoming longer distance events in Ireland and Scotland. Mark Alexander (Ballymena Runners), Thomas Leitch (Orangegrove AC), Simon Reeve (North Belfast Harriers) and Luke Dinsmore (Springwell Running Club) will all be vying for a top ten finish.
We expect a strong contingent from Springwell Running Club to challenge for top honours in the ladies race. This could be headed by the consistent pairing of Gemma Turley and Sonia Knox, both of whom have performed well for the club in the Athletics NI XC League. Unfortunately, current NI & Ulster Intermediate XC Champion Laura Hassan (Springwell Running Club) is unlikely to feature, which could leave the door open for City of Derry AC's Anne Paul to sneak into the podium places. Karen McLaughlin (Springwell Running Club) is another athlete worth watching, as is Larne AC's Geraldine Quigley who seems to be back to her best based on recent XC outings. Sharon Leitch (Ballymena Runners), Ruth Aicken (Ballymena Runners), Liz Leitch (Orangegrove AC), Christine Caulfield (Ballymena Runners) and Aife McSheffrey (Springwell Running Club) will all be there or there abouts in what should be a closely contested ladies event.
Roller Coaster Road Races:
Also on Saturday 7th February 2015, East Down AC will welcome athletes from across the province to another action packed programme of events at their popular Roller Coaster Road Races, which will be held at Downpatrick Race Course in County Down.
The races take place on the perimeter road around the well-known horse racing venue and will start with Junior events, providing an excellent 'warm up' to the Senior and Masters races which will finish off what is sure to be an exciting day of racing.
Local hero Brendan Teer (East Down AC) may return from injury to defend the title he won so impressively twelve months ago. Brendan hasn't been able to compete in 2015 and our last record of him racing locally was the Comber Cup XC, which he won. Given the close proximity of this event, it would be the perfect opportunity for the former NI & Ulster Junior XC star to return.
Newcastle AC are usually well represented at this race and David O'Flaherty (Newcastle AC) has enjoyed great success here over the years. However, given their cross country commitments of late and the importance of the NI & Ulster Senior XC the following weekend, it's hard to say if the local boy's will race here. If they do so, there's no doubt that the aforementioned David O'Flaherty will be joined at the head of the pack by club mates Seamus Lynch, David Steele, David McNeilly and Ian Bailey amongst others. Barrie Atkinson (East Down AC), Ryan Andrews (Ballydrain Harriers), Richard Coey (Ballydrain Harriers) and Conor McMullan (Annadale Striders) may also toe the line.
The always impressive Gerrie Short (Beechmount Harriers) took top honours in the ladies race last year and should return. Given her recent form and in particular the podium finish at last week's Stormont XC, Gerrie is sure to be amongst the front runners. The 2014 Champion may have to fend off the likes of Catherine O'Connor (East Down AC), Shileen O'Kane (Lagan Valley AC) and Laura Gardiner (East Down AC), all of whom possess the ability to win on their day. Another Lagan Valley AC athlete, Ruth Magill, should also run well, as will Fiona Prue (Ballydrain Harriers), Denise Logue (Ballydrain Harriers) and Debbie Matchett (Ballydrain Harriers).
Born 2 Run Rossmore 10k:
On the same day (Saturday 7th February 2015), Northern Ireland based events management company Born 2 Run will take their popular 'road show' across the border to Monaghan Town, County Monaghan (Ireland) for the penultimate race of their Run Forest Run 10k Series, the Rossmore Forest 10k.
Classy North East Runners athlete Brian McCluskey will start as outstanding favourite for the event. The Irish athlete partnered Gary O'Hanlon (Clonliffe Harriers) to victory at the Castlewellan Christmas Cracker at the back end of 2014; more recently, he (Brian) cruised to victory at the Born 2 Run Gosford 10k a few weeks ago. Joining Brian on the start line will be Scott Paulin (Unattached), who we suspect to be a relative of Born 2 Run podium regular Stuart Paulin (Unattached). Scott should be in or around the top three, but to secure that place he'll have too ensure that he see's off the likes of Matthew Bell (Unattached), Declan Egan (Unattached), Ryan Armstrong (Ballymena Runners), Ricky Watt (Unattached) and Dermot Winters (Slieve Gullion Runners).
The ladies race will be a close affair, with potentially three or four ladies capable of taking the top prize (barring any further late entries). Gillian Abraham (Unattached) has been running well of late, with a podium spot at the Greencastle 5 being the highlight; Gillian will be there or there abouts here, but Niamh O'Connell (Murlough AC) and Eileen Stevenson (St Peter's AC) also look like potential winners. Then if you add the likes of Natalie Bowbanks (Unattached), Donna Owens (Omagh Harriers), Andrea Heslip (Dromore AC) and Verity Comford (Orangegrove AC) it shows the strength in depth of the ladies field. It'll be interesting to see who comes out on top here...
IFAM Indoor Meeting (Belgium) and New Balance Indoor Grand Prix (USA):
Further afield on Saturday 7th February 2015, athletes from Northern Ireland will be in action outside the province, at events in Gent (Belgium) and Boston (USA). At the IFAM Indoor Track & Field Meeting in Gent, Conor Bradley (City of Derry AC), Steven Morrow (Ballymena & Antrim AC) and AAI Games hero Danny Mooney (Letterkenny AC) will all toe the line with hopes of continuing their good indoor form.
Meanwhile, at the New Balance Grand Prix, NI ladies Katie Kirk (QUB AC), Christine McMahon (Ballymena & Antrim AC) and Ciara Mageean (UCD AC) will join forces with fellow Irish international Claire Tarplee in the much talked about Distance Medley Relay (DMR). We expect Katie to take on the 800m leg, while Ciara and Christine may run the 1600m and 400m legs respectively. Claire will start things off with the 1200m opening leg.
GloHealth AAI National Intermediate & Masters XC Championships:
On Sunday 8th February 2015, a number of local athletes will make the long journey south to Tuam, County Galway (Ireland) for the GloHealth AAI National Intermediate and Masters XC Championships.
Reigning Champion and newly crowned NI & Ulster Masters XC Champion Declan Reed (City of Derry AC) will return to defend the title he claimed twelve months ago. Based on his recent form, which includes wins at the Coleraine XC and the Fermanagh XC, it is hard to look past Declan as pre-race favourite. His club mate Jackie McGinley (City of Derry AC) will race in the ladies event, while a North Belfast Harriers team headed by Alan O'Hara, Andrew Considine, Neil Carty and Matt Shields will be aiming to replicate the team success of their Intermediate club mates at the NI & Ulster XC Championships last month (January 2014).
East Coast AC Junior XC Series (Race 3):
Also on Sunday 8th February 2015, Larne based club East Coast AC will host the third and final race of their popular Junior Cross Country Series in Larne. The Grand Final of the three race Series will take place within the vicinity of 'The Cliff' Complex in Larne, and with races for athletes in age categories ranging from Under 6 to Under 15, it is sure to prove popular with running enthusiasts both locally and in the wider County Antrim area. Full details of the event are available HERE.
As always, Northern Ireland’s nineteen parkrun events will take place this weekend, for more information on these, or to locate your nearest event, please visit our dedicated ‘parkrun’ section within our fixtures page.
Local athlete shows his class over the one mile distance:
On Wednesday 4th February 2015, England based Northern Ireland man Paul Pollock was in action over the classic one mile distance at the Lee Valley Indoor Meeting at the Lee Valley Stadium in England.
On what was probably Paul's final race before the British Athletics UK Indoor trails in Sheffield next weekend (Saturday 14th February 2015), the AAI National XC Champion looked sharp as he followed the pacer through the opening laps before taking the race on with approximately 800m remaining. He (Paul) continued a relentless pace, covering the distance in 4:06.92 (1st place), which was enough to win by almost five seconds.
Full Results: Lee Valley Indoor Meeting 2015 results (Mile races only) - A video of Paul's race (as well as the other events) is available HERE.
Queen's 'Race Around the River' 5k 2015:
At the recent launch of the annual Powerade Queen’s 5k ‘Race Around the River’ which will take place on Wednesday 25th March 2015 at 7pm, it was announced that this year’s race has been awarded Northern Ireland and Ulster Championship status for 2015.
The already popular road race, which is organised by Queen’s Athletics Club and Queen’s Sport, covers a fast and unique course beside the River Lagan consisting of two laps around the King’s Bridge and Ormeau Bridge, with the Physical Education Centre (PEC) acting as the Race HQ for pre and post-race requirements.
Year after year the event attracts a significant number of competitors, ranging from those taking on their first competitive 5k to athletes of international standard. Regardless of experience or ability, all set themselves the challenge of improving their personal best on what is a fast course.
John Allen, General Secretary of Athletics Northern Ireland, said: "I am delighted that such high calibre events such as the Powerade Queen’s 5k Road Race will host the prestigious 2015 Northern Ireland and Ulster Road Race Championships. Over the past number of years the Championships have grown in stature with titles sought after by both individual athletes and clubs. Each of these races caters to a large number of club athletes and fun runners from all parts of Ireland and further afield and I am sure this year's event will be no exception".
There are robust guidelines in place in relation to awarding championship status to any road race. These cover factors such as accurate distance measurement, adequate stewarding and policing, provision of toilets, first aid, water and refreshments and the general quality of the course and event organisation. Championship status can only be awarded to one event in each distance category per year, being chosen as a Championship host is evidence of the confidence Athletics Northern Ireland has in the commitment of the event organisers involved and the quality of each race.
Neil Johnston, Captain of Queen’s Athletics Club said “We encourage those interested in taking part to enrol early as the first 500 entries will be guaranteed the specially branded Queen’s 5k T-shirt. We are also encouraging more students, local recreational runners and parkrun enthusiasts who live in the surrounding area of South Belfast to get involved and challenge themselves over 5k. This year’s race will also bring some added student rivalry with Queen’s Clubs and Societies competing for a new team prize that will be awarded to the fastest team of four across Male and Female student categories”.
Stephen Cassidy, Senior Key Account Manager from Coca-Cola HBC Northern Ireland “We are proud to continue our partnership with Queen’s Sport by supporting the Powerade Queen’s 5k Road Race and we are delighted with the ongoing success of this event. This is one of a number of sporting initiatives we are working on, in partnership with Queen’s Sport and the University Development Office and we are committed to developing the talent of the future, as well as the sports stars of today. We recognise the Powerade Queen’s 5K Road Race as an important community sporting event and hope the number of participants continues to grow.”
For more information on the race, entry fees and the course visit www.queenssport5k.com
Elite runners return for biggest race yet on Thursday 19th February 2015:
The official countdown to the Brooks International Road Race in Armagh got under way today (Monday 2nd February 2015) after details of the annual athletic stand-off were confirmed by organisers at a special launch event to celebrate its 25-year history.
Taking place on Thursday 19th February 2015, the iconic race is widely acknowledged as one of the best road races in the world for the calibre of its participants and the fierce competition among athletes vying to take the top spot in the men’s and women’s high-speed races.
Organisers say that this year’s event, which is sponsored by sports footwear specialist Brooks and supported by Armagh City and District Council, will feature some of the most hotly-contested racing challenges seen for many years. With a host of athletes combining National, European, World and Olympic experience between them, competition for the winning places in the men’s 5k and the women’s 3k international challenges will be fiercer than ever.
Last year, the race standard in the international men’s race was so high that 45 runners came in under 15 minutes, with the last finisher only 90 seconds behind the winner. Laura Whittle from Loughborough University was victorious in the women’s 3k with a time of 9:25.73, while Nick McCormick from Morpeth AC in North East England came first in the men’s 5k international race with a winning time of 14:11.90.
This year, racing fans will be on the lookout for another record-breaking performance in the women’s 3k race. Former European champion, Brooks-sponsored Mary Cullen, with a personal best time of 8:43.74 for 3,000m, returns to lead the Irish national team, which will also include Donegal’s Ann-Marie McGlynn. However, both runners will have the contention of another Brooks-sponsored athlete, Katrina Wootton from Coventry, who is currently in top form. Other athletes to look out for are Ireland’s Ciara Durkin, England’s Gemma Hillier, Laura Dunn of Edinburgh and Derby-based Ellie Stevens.
In the men’s 5k international race, a revitalised US team led by Joe Stilin, who boasts a best time of 13:33.13 for the distance on the Armagh course, will be up against Polish challenger Krystian Zalewski, the current European 3000m steeplechase silver medallist. Other big names confirmed include racing champions Luke Cragg, Armagh International regular Jonny Mellor and John Beattie from England, while former Irish national cross country champion Gary Murray joins Scotland’s finest, Jake Wightman, in the battle for the prestigious Armagh title that could also see America’s David Nightingale’s 2009 race record of 13:54 come under fresh pressure.
The full programme, which includes details of the 12 races scheduled, is available at www.armaghroadrace.com. The first race starts at 6.30pm at the top of Mall East in the city centre.
Cathy Rafferty, Lord Mayor of Armagh City & District Council, said: “After a quarter of a century, Armagh’s International Road Race continues to grow in size and stature and we look forward to welcoming so many of the world’s greatest athletes to our city to compete and to celebrate this iconic competition’s anniversary.
Armagh International Road Race Director, Brian Vallely, added:
“It is encouraging for everyone across Armagh that we have so many taking part this year and I hope that the thrill and excitement of the race can inspire many to take up the sport and one day compete in this thrilling event. On behalf of everyone across Armagh, I’m grateful for the solid support and encouragement from our main sponsor, Brooks, which has so generously provided its full backing and encouragement to this major annual event. In addition to sports retailer Intersport, I would also thank our local business community for their proactivity in getting involved and supporting us to make sure that this year’s race will be one of the biggest and best of its kind in the world.”
As always, NiRunning will feature the long established event. We’ll have a full pre-race preview in the days leading up to the event and will be on hand to provide live updates on race night. This is a must do event; with its atmosphere, fast course and quality field, it’s a perfect opportunity to improve your personal best over 3k or 5k.
Local athletes perform well at events outside Northern Ireland:
On Sunday 1st February 2015, a number of athletes from Northern Ireland took to the start line of events further afield. Namely, the Bewley's 1840 (Trim AC) 10 mile road race in Meath (Ireland), the John Treacy Dungarvan 10 mile road race in Waterford (Ireland) and the Torremolinos Half Marathon in Spain.
The star performance was undoubtedly that of North Belfast Harriers' lady Breege Connolly. Racing at the Bewley's 1840 10 mile road race, hosted by Trim AC in Meath (Ireland), Breege sealed top spot in a new personal best of 57:31 (1st place). This not only secured the ladies top prize but saw Breege finish in sixteenth place overall. The men's race was won by Martan Fagan (Mullingar Harriers) in 48:23 (1st place).
In Waterford (Ireland), at least five local athletes took on the 22nd annual running of the John Treacy Dungarvan 10 mile road race, an event that attracted over one thousand five hundred athletes. Former St Malachy's AC man John Frazer (Crusaders AC) crossed the line in 51:56 to take 6th place.
Orangegrove AC's Thomas Leitch was the next familiar face to cross the line, recording 1:02:17. Magherafelt Harriers trio Alvin Taylor (1:06:38), Francis Stewart (1:09:37) and Paul Martin (1:15:08), and their Sperrin Harriers friend Russell Bell (1:17:09) also ran well. Liz Leitch cruised to a 1:20:50 finish, while Ballymena & Antrim AC's Ian Kenny ran 1:21:50. The race was won by Mark Clohesy (Raheny Shamrocks AC) in 48:45 (1st place).
Further afield, in Spain, East Coast AC pair Paul Clements and Sandy Plumb toed the line of the popular and scenic Torremolinos Half Marathon in Spain. Despite the scorching weather conditions, Paul crossed the line in a new personal best of 1:44:53, while Sandy braved the effects of a recent injury to finish in 2:08:00. Full results for the event are currently unavailable.
A plethora of NI talent in competition at GloHealth AAI Indoor Games 2015:
On Sunday 1st February 2015, a host of Northern Ireland's top athletes were in action at the GloHealth Athletics Ireland AAI Open Indoor Games at the AIT Arena in Athlone, Ireland. Amongst the strong local contingent were Team NI Commonwealth Games competitors Kerry O'Flaherty (Newcastle AC) and Danny Mooney (Letterkenny AC).
The aforementioned Danny Mooney produced the performance of the day when he won his 1500m race in a European Indoor Championships qualifying time of 3:42.69 (1st place). After a good start, when Danny ran almost side by side with fellow NI men James O'Hare (Annadale Striders) and Conor Bradley (City of Derry AC) just off the leaders, the Letterkenny AC man took up a position at the front with 400m remaining. On the bell, he was overtaken by Andreas Bueno (Denmark), but in a gutsy finish, Danny came off the final bend at an incredible rate before pipping Andreas in an extremely close finish. Conor Bradley took 9th place in 3:49.77, with James O'Hare following less than a second later in 3:50.59 (10th place).
Earlier in the day, the first local athletes to take to the start line were Kerry O'Flaherty and Strabane based Irish European XC team medallist Ann-Marie McGlynn (Letterkenny AC). The always impressive duo got the day off to a good start in their 3,000m race. Despite eventual race winner Sara Treacy (Dunboyne AC) taking to the front and dominating throughout, the Northern Ireland pair put in good performances. Kerry paced herself well and finished strongly to claim 2nd place in 9:18.17; Ann-Marie followed in 9:35.28 (3rd place). Although unable to reach her target of sub nine minutes, race winner Sara Treacy crossed the line in a new personal best of 9:12.22 (1st place).
Aislinn Crossey (UCD AC), Emma Mitchell (Unattached) and Denise Toner (Clones AC) all lined up in the ladies 800m. In Race 1, AAI National U-23 silver medallist Aislinn Crossey sat off the the leading trio for the first 400m before upping the pace in the third lap. She (Aislinn) then moved into second place, but after tiring in the final 100m the talented athlete was forced to settle for 3rd place in 2:09.76. Emma finished approximately one second outside her current personal best, crossing the line in 2:13.42 (5th place). The race was won by UCD AC's Ciara Everard in a European Indoor Championship qualifying time of 2:03.39 (1st place).
In Race 2 of the 800m, Northern Ireland cross country star Denise Toner never moved outside the podium places as she produced a strong performance to claim 2nd place in 2:17.54; the race was won by Leevale AC's Carol Finn in 2:14.06 (1st place). Foyle Valley AC athlete Keith Shiels took to the start line of the 3,000m alongside the likes of well-known Irish athlete John Travers (Donore Harriers). John, a 3:55 miler, led from the gun to win in 8:19.30 (1st place), but Keith put in a disciplined display to take the runners up spot in 8:49.37 (2nd place), showing that he is pretty much back to his best after injury.
North Down AC ladies Rachel Gibson and Jessica Craig were in action over 1500m – In the early stages, Rachel appeared to be running strongly in third place; despite tiring in the final stages, she managed to hold on to claim an excellent 5th place in 4:35.20. Club mate Jessica Craig followed in a new personal best of 4:40.60 (6th place). The race was won by Irish athlete Claire Tarplee (DSD AC) in 4:18.36 (1st place). Neil McCartan (East Down AC) was also in competition over 1500m, racing in Race 2, Neil led in the early stages before being overtaken by eventual winner, UCD AC's Richard Owens (1st place – 3:55.86). The East Down AC man tired in the latter stages but battled well to finish in 4:03.58 (7th place), rounding off an excellent day for the local contingent.
Full Results: GloHealth AAI Indoor Open Games 2015 Results