Weekend Preview: Athletics NI team set for Home Countries International XC…
On inspection of the official Athletics Northern Ireland fixtures calendar, this weekend appears to be a quiet one – which, if you take into consideration the major events which have taken place over the last few weeks, is understandable as we look towards a very busy summer racing season.
Of course, there are a few races planned over the next few days (these races are listed below), with the Jog Belfast 5k being the highlight locally… but in truth, most of the high profile action will be taking place outside Northern Ireland this weekend, with Athletics NI’s NI & Ulster team heading for the Home Countries International XC in Wales and a wealth of local junior talent expected to travel to Athlone (Ireland) for the Irish Life AAI National Juvenile Uneven Age Group Indoor Track & Field Championships.
Events taking place in Northern Ireland this weekend…
Sunday 26th March 2017:
- Jog Belfast 5k – Ormeau Park, Belfast – 10am (Entries are AVAILABLE on race day)
- Clogher Valley 5k – Clogher Valley Community Centre – 10am – (Entries are AVAILABLE on the day)
Major events taking place outside Northern Ireland this weekend…
Home Countries International XC (Wales):
Current Senior Cross Country Champions Aaron Doherty (City of Derry AC) and Jessica Craig (North Down AC) will lead a strong Northern Ireland & Ulster team at this weekend’s Home Countries International XC in Port Talbot, Wales (Saturday 25th March 2017).
The 13 strong Athletics NI squad will face tough opposition from England, Scotland and Wales at the Welsh Athletics organised event, which also includes the SIAB International XC.
Spartan athlete Aaron will be joined on the senior men’s team by NI & Ulster Senior XC medallist Mark McKinstry(North Belfast Harriers) and in-form Newcastle AC man David O’Flaherty.
Meanwhile, Jessica Craig will hope to continue what has been an excellent cross country campaign as she lines up alongside fellow North Down AC lady Rachel Gibson in the senior ladies team - Willowfield Harriers’ NI & Ulster Masters XC Champion Amy Bulman and Armagh AC’s Fionnuala Ross addfurther class to the team.
Wicklow Way Ultra and Wicklow Way 25k Trail Race (Ireland):
In Ireland on Saturday 25th March 2017, a large number of athletes from Northern Ireland will be in action at the Wicklow Way 51k Ultra and associated Wicklow Way 25k Trail Race just outside Dublin. The race is also a trial for the Ireland mountain-trail team for several upcoming major events, including the IAU Word Trail Running Championships later this year (2017).
The tough ‘out and back’ Ultra route from the legendary Johnnie Foxes Pub in Glencullan to Ballinastoe will take athletes along trails, forest paths and even a ‘board walk’ as they negotiate 51k in distance and 1,940 metres of ascent.
The 51k race has proved successful for local athletes in the past, in the previous two years, East Coast AC’s Justin Maxwell (2014), Glens Runners’ athlete Jonny Steede (2015) and Carnethy HRC's Eoin Lennon (2016) have triumphed, with Jonny clocking a course record of 3:56:47 to win in 2015. Again this year Northern Ireland men will be amongst the potential favourites, with Garmin Mourne Skyline MTR 2015 winner Ian Bailey (Newcastle AC), a runner up here in 2016, likely to play a prominent part in proceedings,
As always, Northern Ireland’s twenty four parkrun events will take place this weekend, for more information on these, or to locate your nearest event, please visit our dedicated ‘parkrun’ section within our fixtures page
Kevin Seaward impresses as local athletes run well in England:
On Sunday 19th March 2017, Northern Ireland man and Irish Olympian Kevin Seaward (St Malachy’s AC) put in a strong performance at the Reading Half Marathon in England.
The Andrew Hobdell coached athlete finished just outside his current personal best to take 5th place in 1:05:38. Northern Ireland international Stephen Scullion (Aldershot, Farnham & District AC) made a welcome return to competitive action with a 1:08:17 finish for 16th place. Great Britain & NI athlete Andy Vernon sealed victory in a new course record of 1:03:08.
BMAF Cross Country Championships
North Belfast Harriers trio Matt Shields, David Clarke and John Patience picked up medals at the British Masters Athletics Federation (BMAF) Cross Country Championships in Liverpool (Saturday 18th March 2017).
The men took on an 8k course, with Matt Shields leading the Vet60 competitors home in 29:45 (1st place). David Clarke collected bronze in the Vet55 category, after crossing the line in 28:27 (3rd place). Matt and David, joined by John Patience (15th place Vet55 in 32:11), guided North Belfast Harriers to victory in the Vet55 to Vet64 team competition. Full results from the event are available HERE.
Magherafelt 5k Classic 2017:
On Saturday 18th March 2017, nearly three hundred athletes took to the start line of the annual Magherafelt 5k Classic, a road race hosted by Magherafelt Harriers
At the head of the pack, Foyle Valley AC's Keith Shiels showed that his getting back to his best with a 15:38 finish for 1st place. His club mate, Oran Gartland (Foyle Valley AC), claimed 2nd place in 16:21, before Desi Foley (Unattached) crossed the line in 16:36 for 3rd place.
In the ladies race, Natalie Hall (Acorns AC) proved a popular winner, dipping under the twenty minute mark to win in 19:13 (1st place). Ciara Goddard (Unattached) took 2nd place in 21:28, while Laura McErlain (Magherafelt Harriers) recorded 21:55 for 3rd place.
Full Results: Magherafelt 5k Classic 2017 Results
Elsewhere this weekend:
Washingbay Green Run Half Marathon, 10k & 5k 2017:
On Saturday 18th March 2017, hundreds of athletes took part in the Washingbay Green Run Half Marathon, 10k and 5k events in County Tyrone. Sperrin Harriers duo Brian Taggart and Cheryl Cardwell impressed in the half marathon winning their respective races in 1:19:24 (1st place) and 1:37:25 (1st place) respectively.
In the 10k, the emerging Vincent McAlister (Unattached) won in 34:09 (1st place), while Helena Quinn (Club Unknown) sealed the ladies title in 42:23 (1st place). Jarlath Hughes (Unattached) broke the tape first in the 5k, crossing the line in 20:24 (1st place) - Acorns AC's Sandra McKeown won the ladies race in 20:39 (1st place), which was enough to see her take 2nd place overall.
Full Results: Washingbay Green Run HM, 10k & 5k 2017 Results
Dromintee Rocky Road 10k 2017:
On Sunday 19th March 2017, athletes from across the province (and beyond) travelled to County Armagh for the annual Dromintee Rocky Road 10k. North East Runners athlete Brian McCluskey won what was a close race, taking top honours in 34:24 91st place). Unattached athlete Lawrence O'Hara (34:35) and Newry City Runners' Don Travers (34:43) claimed 2nd place and 3rd place respectively. Patrice McEntee (Club Unknown) won the ladies race in 44:35, with Aine Fegan (Newry City Runners) taking 2nd place in 47:34 and Anne Travers 3rd place in 49:21.
Full Results: Dromintee Rocky Road 10k 2017 Results
AES Larne Half Marathon 2017:
Mark McKinstry (North Belfast Harriers) and Laura Graham (Mourne Runners) celebrated victory as a record breaking field of close to 2,000 athletes took on today’s AES Larne Half Marathon (Saturday 18th March 2017). The Larne AC hosted event was also part of the Pure Running Half Marathon Series.
Yesterday’s torrential rain and high winds subsided and conditions for the 25th annual running of the increasingly popular event proved excellent, albeit slightly windy in places.
The seemingly endless field of runners set off on the newly revised 13.1 mile journey which would take them along the famous County Antrim coastline, between Larne and Ballygally. First though, they had to negotiate two miles around the Town Centre – during the middle section of the course, the field also took in hilly inland section in Cairncastle, before returning to the Coast Road.
Pre-race favourite Mark McKinstry made his intentions clear from the off as he took up a position at the head of the pack – he led through 3 miles with John Black (North Belfast Harriers), Francis McDaid (Acorns AC) and Neill Weir (Willowfield Harriers) all in tow. In the ladies race, there was very little between Laura Graham, Amy Bulman (Willowfield Harriers) and Gladys Ganiel O’Neill (North Belfast Harriers) early on.
As the athletes moved inland at Ballygally, Mark McKinstry continued to dominate, while behind, John Black had put some distance between himself and the third placed Neill Weir, who in-turn had opened a gap on the fast improving Francis McDaid.
Despite a notable fall, AAI National Marathon and Half Marathon Champion Laura Graham had moved clear in the ladies race, putting approximately twenty seconds between herself and Commonwealth Games star Gladys Ganiel O’Neill at half way. Amy Bulman was looking strong in third place.
After negotiating the tough inland loop from Ballygally to Cairncastle, the athletes descended back towards the Coast Road, re-joining at Ballygally and heading towards Larne Leisure Centre via the Coastal Promenade.
Mark McKinstry looked assured as he continued to lead along the Coast Road – behind, his club mate John Black, who was having the race of his life, was closing the earlier gap. The pair made short work of the return journey and guided by a Police escort, it was Mark McKinstry who dropped down onto the Promenade first. The Northern Ireland international covered the final eight hundred metres with ease, breaking the tape in 1:11:32 (1st place). John Black followed in 1:11:56 (2nd place), before Neill Weir completed the top three in 1:12:16 (3rd place).
It was a similar situation in the ladies race, with Laura Graham proving un-catchable at the head of the pack. The Jimmy’s 10k winner put in an impressive effort along the final stretch of the course, before recording 1:16:59 for 1st place – therefore retaining the title she won in 2016. Gladys Ganiel O’Neill claimed a well-deserved 2nd place in 1:19:12, while Amy Bulman clocked 1:21:16 for 3rd place.
In the team competition, North Belfast Harriers secured victory in both the men’s and ladies race, while in the team relay race, Ballymena Runners topped the final standings.
Top 3 Men: 1st Mark McKinstry (North Belfast Harriers) – 1:11:32, 2nd John Black (North Belfast Harriers) – 1:11:56, 3rd Neill Weir (Willowfield Harriers) – 1:12:16
Top 3 Ladies: 1st Laura Graham (Mourne Runners) – 1:16:59, 2nd Gladys Ganiel O’Neill (North Belfast Harriers) – 1:19:12, 3rd Amy Bulman (Willowfield Harriers) – 1:21:16
Full Results: AES Larne Half Marathon 2017 Results
Ben Branagh & Maeve Lavery excel at SPAR Craic 10k:
Ben Branagh (St Malachy’s AC) and Maeve Lavery (City of Lisburn AC) excelled as thousands of runners took to the streets of Belfast for the 3rd annual SPAR Craic 10k earlier today (Friday 17th March 2017).
In wet and blustery conditions, the record breaking field made their way from Belfast City Hall to the picturesque Titanic Slipways, covering a truly urban course – the race kicked off a day of St Patrick’s Day events in the Capital City.
Pre-race favourite Ben Branagh, winner of Jimmy’s 10k last weekend, once again lived up to expectation. After taking charge early on, Ben cruised through 5k in 15:06, eight seconds clear of Chris Madden (City of Lisburn AC), the man who took second place behind him in Downpatrick.
The St Malachy’s AC athlete then stretched his lead in the second half and despite the adverse weather conditions, recorded an impressive 30:50 for 1st place. Chris Madden claimed 2nd place in a personal best of 31:07, while Chris McGuinness (Foyle Valley AC) saw off some noteworthy opposition to take 3rd place in 32:45.
In the ladies race, Maeve Lavery put in a strong performance to secure a impressive win. The ever-improving City of Lisburn AC lady went through 5k in 18:21 before completing a gun-to-tape victory in 37:39 (1st place); this was just seventeen seconds outside her personal best for the distance. Beechmount Harriers athlete and Northern Ireland masters international Gerrie Short clocked 38:28 for 2nd place, before Dromore AC’s Susan Smyth (39:45) edged out Lagan Valley AC’s Julie Murphy (4th place – 39:51) for 3rd place, with both ladies going under forty minutes for the course.
Altamuskin 5 mile Road Race 2017:
On Friday 17th March 2017 (St Patrick's Day), nearly two hundred athletes turned out for the annual Altamuskin 5 mile road race in County Tyrone.
Omagh Harriers athlete Stephen Duncan continued his recent good form, which includes a win at the Carmen 10k, with another victory. The Northern Ireland international edged out Derry Track Club's Paul Barbour to win in 27:20 (1st place). Paul followed in 27:30 (2nd place), before mountain runner Paul McAnespie (Armagh AC) impressed with a 29:32 finish for 3rd place.
In the ladies race, Heather Foley (Unattached) dominated from start to finish. After being crowned the Irish National Duathlon Champion last weekend, Heather returned to action with another win, taking top spot in 30:55 (1st place); this was enough to see the versatile athlete secure 5th place overall. Olivia Mullin (Greencastle AC) crossed the line in 38:54 for 2nd place, while Clare Maguire (Omagh Triathlon Club) completed the podium in 39:09 (3rd place).
Top 3 Men: 1st Stephen Duncan (Omagh Harriers) - 27:20, 2nd Paul Barbour (Derry Track CLub) - 27:30, 3rd Paul McAnespie (Armagh AC) - 29:32
Top 3 Ladies: 1st Heather Foley (Unattached) - 30:55, 2nd Olivia Mullin (Greencastle AC) - 38:54, 3rd Clare Maguire (Omagh Triathlon Club) - 39:09
Full Results: Altamuskin 5 mile Road Race 2017 Results
Weekend Preview: AES Larne HM takes centre stage…
After the Novosco 10k Grand Prix kicked off in impressive fashion at Jimmy’s 10k in Downpatrick last weekend, it’s now time to look ahead to another of Northern Ireland’s most popular Series’.
This is of course the Pure Running-Championship Ireland Half Marathon Series which started just over a month ago with the DUNE Half Marathon - it’s now pretty much full steam ahead for the long distance enthusiasts with several half marathon and marathon events taking place over successive weeks – Larne Half Marathon, Omagh Half Marathon, Rotterdam Half Marathon and Marathon, and London Marathon are all on the horizon.
This week’s offering is one of the province’s top road races, the AES Larne Half Marathon. The event has attracted a capacity crowd of 2,000 entries and will be the highlight of the weekend action for the local running fraternity. Given its status, and of course a tiny hint of favouritism on our part, our weekend preview will focus on this race (it’s our ‘home town’ Half Marathon) as well as the SPAR Craic 10k, which will bring in excess of 1,300 competitors to the streets of Belfast.
Elsewhere… there are other events taking place this weekend:
Tomorrow, Friday 17th March 2017, as well as the aforementioned SPAR Craic 10k road race, the annual Altamuskin 5 mile road race in County Tyrone will also attract decent numbers. The Washingbay Green Run Half Marathon, 10k and 5k, and the Magherafelt 5k will take place on Saturday 18th March 2017. On Sunday 19th March 2017, athletes in County Armagh can look forward to the Dromintee Rocky Road 10k. More details on these events can be found on the Athletics NI fixture calendar HERE.
SPAR Craic 10k:
Thousands of participants will take to the streets of Belfast tomorrow (Friday 17th March 2017) for the 3rd annual SPAR Craic 10k road race. The St Patrick’s Day event will leave City Hall at 9am, with the impressive urban route taking competitors towards the picturesque finishing area at Titanic Slipways.
Organisers of the event have encouraged families to get involved, kicking off their St Patrick’s Day in a healthy and worthy way, before joining the civic celebrations in the city centre afterwards. This year, the charity partner is Marie Curie, meaning those taking part will not only be doing something that will benefit their own health, but will be helping a very worthy cause. The race also comes at a perfect time for those hoping to take part on the Deep RiverRock Belfast City Marathon on Monday 1st May 2017.
At the head of the pack, St Malachy’s AC star Ben Branagh and City of Lisburn AC athlete Chris Madden will resume battle, following on from their dual at last week’s Jimmy’s 10k in Downpatrick. On that day, Ben dominated proceedings, winning in 31:33 with Chris recording 31:47 for second place after a fast finish. Don Travers (Newry City Runners) and North Belfast Harriers pair Conal McCambridge and Connor Curran will also challenge for a podium place, while James Trainor (Dub Runners) and Kevin O’Boyle (Unattached) add depth to the competitive field. East Down AC’s Brendan Teer may also make a welcome return from injury.
In the ladies race, Lagan Valley AC’s Lauren Quee returns to competitive action and should lead the way. However, the former Glasgow City University runner will have to fend off the continually improving Maeve Lavery (City of Lisburn AC), who with a 10k personal best of 37:22, should be considered as a contender for top honours. Lagan Valley AC duo Suzanne Higgins and Julie Murphy will be aiming for a podium finish, while their former club mate, Ruth Perioli (now of Ballydrain Harriers), will also place well.
AES Larne Half Marathon:
On Saturday 18th March 2017, thousands of athletes will descend on the coastal town of Larne for the 25th annual running of the AES Larne Half Marathon; the second race of the Pure Running Half Marathon Series 2017. The event, which started back in 1993 with 157 participants, is organised by Larne AC and covers a stunning route along the County Antrim coastline between Larne and Ballygally.
The course changed slightly last year, starting closer to Larne Leisure Centre, but still finishing on the picturesque Promenade. Aside from the out and back Coast Road section, there are two short inland sections to break things up; early on, competitors will run along the spectator lined Main Street, then after negotiating the outward section of the Coast Road, the record breaking field will complete an undulating 2-3 miles in and around the Cairncastle area before returning to the Coast Road and making their way back to Larne and the finish line on the scenic Promenade close to Larne Leisure Centre.
Kenyan athlete and podium finisher at last year’s Belfast City Marathon, Dan Tanui (Project Africa Athletics), who has clocked 1:03:12 for the half marathon distance, will head the men’s field, with Glenwherry man and Northern Ireland international Mark McKinstry (North Belfast Harriers) leading the local charge for honours.
Mark has a 13.1 mile personal best of 1:10:20, which he ran in Ards last year (2016); based on his performance at the recent NI & Ulster Senior XC Championships, where he claimed a silver medal, it’s clear that he can go quicker! Larne native John Black (North Belfast Harriers) will be up for this one – racing on home turf, the Belfast based athlete, who has progressed well over the last few years, has a very realistic chance of achieving a podium place. Willowfield Harriers’ Neill Weir, Ballymena Runners’ Ben Morrow and Acorns AC rising star Francis McDaid, who ran a massive personal best of 1:13:54 at the DUNE Half Marathon, will all be in the mix. Other athletes to look out for include Martin Rea (North Belfast Harriers), Chris Moren (Willowfield Harriers), Aaron Meharg (Acorns AC), John McManus (Hunters Bog Trotters), Justin Maxwell (East Coast AC) and Mark Cornett (St Peter’s AC).
This year will see the most competitive ladies field in the 25 year history of the event, with Irish Olympian Catriona Jennings (Letterkenny AC), Northern Ireland Commonwealth Games athlete Gladys Ganiel O’Neill (North Belfast Harriers) and current Athletics Ireland National marathon and half marathon champion Laura Graham (Mourne Runners) all set to compete.
As long as conditions are fairly decent, all three ladies will break eighty minutes, which will make for an epic race and one that is hard to call – it really will be decided by who has it on the day. Catriona (pictured right), a 2:36:31 marathoner, has shown glimpses of the form that took her to the London 2012 Olympic Games, while Gladys and Laura have been in good form very recently – Gladys won the Carlingford Half Marathon in 1:18:24, while Laura won last week’s Jimmy’s 10k in 34:59. This will be a fantastic race!
NI & Ulster Masters XC Champion Amy Bulman (Willowfield Harriers) and experienced Northern Ireland international Karen Alexander (Acorns AC) add further class to the field, as do Sarah Jane-Guiney (Albertville Harriers), Collette McCourt (Dub Runners), Diane Watson (City of Lisburn AC), Martsje Hell (North Belfast Harriers), Beverley Mitchell (Albertville Harriers) and Catherine Roberts (North Down AC).
As always, Northern Ireland’s twenty four parkrun events will take place this weekend, for more information on these, or to locate your nearest event, please visit our dedicated ‘parkrun’ section within our fixtures page
Athletics NI XC League 2016/17:
The recent NI & Ulster Senior XC Championships in Lurgan (Saturday 4th March 2017) brought the local cross country season to an end and with it, also saw the curtains draw on another successful Athletics NI XC League.
Double points were on offer in the final fixture and it therefore meant that a good team performance could make a significant difference to the final placings. This proved to be the case in the men’s section where Newcastle AC (1st place) just managed to hold off North Belfast Harriers (2nd place) with only three points separating them (179 to 176 respectively) after the eight rounds of the league. North Down AC finished in 3rd place on 140 with last season’s winners Foyle Valley AC taking 4th place.
Things were more clear cut in the ladies section where North Down AC were runaway winners on 195 points with Acorns AC claiming 2nd place with 138 points and 2015/16 Champions Foyle Valley AC completing the top three with 117 points. Ballydrain Harriers finished in 4th place with 101 points.
The numbers participating in the league from all clubs showed another significant uplift from last season with a total of 30 men’s teams and 20 ladies teams scoring points. A special mention must go to both North Down AC and Acorns AC who finished teams in both men’s and ladies sections of all eight rounds despite having the option to sit out of two rounds. Athletics NI will be requesting feedback on this season’s format from clubs before next season’s league rules and format are finalised.
Northern Ireland trio strike gold at All Ireland XC:
Northern Ireland trio Cara Laverty (Thornhill College, Derry/L’Derry), Dylan McBride (Grosvenor GS, Belfast) and Fintan Stewart (Lumen Christi, Derry/L’Derry) picked up gold medals as thousands of junior athletes descended on the City of Belfast Playing Fields in Mallusk for the Irish Life Health All Ireland Schools Cross Country Championships (Saturday 11th March 2017).
Underfoot conditions were soft but still provided the platform for plenty of good running on what was a mild day in Mallusk, a venue steeped in cross country history which offered a perfect backdrop and an excellent test of strength and skill.
Cara Laverty kicked proceedings off perfectly with an excellent victory in the opening race of the day, the Minor Girls 2,000m. In a closely contested race, the Thornhill College student saw off Wallace High School’s Victoria Lightbody (2nd place – 8:15) to seal victory in 8:10 (1st place).
Dylan McBride continued his recent good form at local cross country events with a gutsy performance in the Minor Boys 2,550m race. The Belfast athlete left nothing in the preverbal tank as he broke the tape to claim 1st place in 9:52.
Northern Ireland athletes Fintan Stewart and Patrick McNiff (Banbridge Academy) battled it out for the Senior Boys (6,500m) title. In the end, it was Fintan who collected gold, crossing the line in 24:21 (1st place); Patrick followed in 24:25 (2nd place). There were also individual medals for Strathearn’s Amelia Kane (Junior Girls bronze) and Omagh CBS’ Sean Corry (Intermediate Boys bronze).
There was further success for Northern Ireland based schools in the team competition, with St Malachy’s Belfast excelling with gold in both the Junior Boys and Intermediate Boys categories. In the Minor Boys team competition, Omagh CBS top the final standings, taking 1st place and the associated gold. Full results for the All Ireland Schools XC Championships are available on our 'Results' page HERE.
NI men secure British Masters medals:
Northern Ireland was well represented on the podium at this weekend’s British Masters Athletics Federation (BMAF) Indoor Track & Field Championships at the Lee Valley Arena in England (Saturday 11th and Sunday 12th March 2017).
European Indoor 60m and 200m Vet55 Champion Pat Logan (DSD AC / NIMAA) showed his class with two gold medals, winning the 60m in a season’s best of 7.69 (1st place) and the 200m in a season’s best of 25.13 (1st place). Norbert Will (NIMAA) topped the podium in the Vet80 3,000m Walk, after completing the distance in 21:47.49 (1st place).
Robert Reynolds (Unattached) impressed on his return to the hurdles after a 42 year absence, missing gold by just 0.01 when recorded 10.03 (2nd place) in the Vet60 60m hurdles. In the Vet60 400m, Ballymena & Antrim AC’s Bob Douglas added to the local medal haul with a 61.26 finish for 2nd place and the associated silver medal. Full results for the British Masters Athletics Federation (BMAF) Indoor Track & Field Championships (including Winter Throws Championships) are available on the Power of 10 website HERE.
Jimmy’s 10k 2017:
Record numbers of close to one thousand took to the start line of the annual Jimmy’s 10k road race in Downpatrick on Sunday 12th March 2017 and it was pre-race favourites Ben Branagh (St Malachy’s AC) and Laura Graham (Mourne Runners) who stole the headlines with strong front running performances.
The East Down AC organised event was also the first race in the 2nd annual ‘age graded’ Novosco 10k Grand Prix – more information on the Novosco 10k GP can be found HERE.
At the front, Ben Branagh led the way early on, moving through half way in 15:52, almost twenty seconds ahead of City of Lisburn AC’s Chris Madden (16:11), who in-turn had seven seconds on Newcastle AC’s David O’Flaherty (16:18) and Willowfield Harriers’ Neill Weir (16:18) who were running shoulder to shoulder. In the ladies race, London Marathon bound Laura Graham cruised through 5k in 17:49, with Willowfield Harriers’ Amy Bulman (18:33), North Down AC’s Rachel Gibson (18:55) and Ballydrain Harriers’ Denise Logue (19:17) in pursuit.
Despite a heroic effort from Chris Madden in the second half, the always impressive Ben Branagh proved unstoppable as he powered to victory in 31:33 (1st place). Chris followed in 31:47 (2nd place), before David O’Flaherty (32:03) saw off Neill Weir (4th place – 32:10) for 3rd place.
Laura Graham continued her relentless pace in the second half and slashed 72 seconds off her time on this course in 2016 to win in 34:59 (1st place). NI & Ulster Masters XC Champion Amy Bulman crossed the line in 36:50 (2nd place), while Rachel Gibson clocked 37:46 for 3rd place.
Top 3 Men: 1st Ben Branagh (St Malachy’s AC) – 31:33, 2nd Chris Madden (City of Lisburn AC) – 31:47, 3rd David O’Flaherty (Newcastle AC) – 32:10
Top 3 Ladies: 1st Laura Graham (Mourne Runners) – 34:59, 2nd Amy Bulman (Willowfield Harriers) – 36:50, 3rd Rachel Gibson (North Down AC) – 37:46
Full Results: Jimmy’s 10k 2017 Results
Cara Bundoran 10 mile Challenge:
On Saturday 11th March 2017, a large number of runners from Northern Ireland were in action at the Cara Bundoran 10 mile road race in County Donegal, Ireland.
Amongst the plethora of quality performances by local athletes were a number of prize-winning outings, the most notable of which was a win for in-form City of Derry AC athlete Catherine Whoriskey.
Northern Ireland international Catherine, who won last weekend’s SSE Airtricity 10 mile road race with ease, won the ladies 10 mile race in 58:29 (1st place). Four other familiar faces made the top ten – Clare Harkin (City of Derry AC) ran 1:12:05 for 6th place, crossing the line just over thirty seconds ahead of Omagh Triathlon Club’s Sinead Donnelly (7th place – 1:12:37). Ita Kelly (Lifford-Strabane AC) took 9th place in 1:13:29, while Sperrin Harriers’ Tanya Quinn completed the top ten in 1:13:48 (10th place).
There was also podium places for local athletes in the men’s event, with previous winner Conor Duffy (Glaslough Harriers) recording 52:40 for 2nd place behind Ireland international John Travers (1st place – 52:22). Eoghan McGinley (Letterkenny AC) completed the course in 53:01 for 3rd place, finishing just ahead of Conan McCaughey (Derry Track Club), who claimed 4th place in 53:33. Paul Barbour (Derry Track Club) and Stephen Cassidy (Enniskillen Running Club) also secured top ten places, with Paul running 55:41 for 6th place and Stephen recording a new personal best of 56:08 for 10th place.
Full Results: Cara Bundoran 10 mile & 10k Challenge 2017 Results
Glenariffe Mountain Race 2017:
A record number of athletes turned out for the 2017 Northern Ireland Mountain Running Association (NIMRA) Championship opener, the Glenariffe Mountain Race (Saturday 11th March 2017), and it was William McKee (Mourne Runners) and Esther Dickson (Newry AC) who secured well-deserved victories.
The popular and well-organised event, hosted for the first time by Glens Runners following a handover from Ballymena Runners, is affectionately known as ‘the Potato race’ because of the goodie bag consisting of potatoes. The course measured approximately 6 miles, with 370 metres of ascent.
As the athletes came off the flat and fast opening two miles and onto the step ascent, pre-race favourite and current NIMRA Champion William McKee was joined in the lead group by club mate David McKee (Mourne Runners) and Allan Bogle (City of Derry AC). Meanwhile in the ladies race, Esther Dickson climbed side by side at the head of the pack with Megan Wilson (East Down AC). Martsje Hell (North Belfast Harriers) and Shileen O'Kane (Lagan Valley AC) followed.
On negotiating the relentless 370 metre ascent, it was William McKee who reached the summit first, with David McKee hot on his heels and Ryan Stewart (Shettleston Harriers), Paul McAnespie (Armagh AC) and Allan Bogle (City of Derry AC) all in pursuit. Still, very little separated the impressive paring of Esther Dickson and Megan Wilson in the ladies race.
A fierce battle between William McKee and David McKee ensued on the slippy descent and as the athletes reached the bottom and looked ahead to the fast 2 mile finish, it was William who led the way, albeit by approximately two seconds. David was behind, with Allan Bogle in third place approximately thirty seconds further back. David Hicks (Newcastle AC) and the earlier mentioned Ryan Stewart were tussling for fourth position.
This was also were spectators witnessed the first break in the ladies dual – Esther Dickson, who hails from a mainly road running background, had put some distance between herself and Megan Wilson, who also is still quite new to the mountain running world. Experienced international Shileen O’Kane (Lagan Valley AC) looked assured in third place.
Following the flat 2 mile return from Glenariffe Glen, athletes completed a gradual 400 metre climb towards the finish and it was reigning Glenariffe Mountain Race and NIMRA Champion William McKee who set foot onto the road first – the Kilkeel man powered home in an excellent 43:49 for 1st place. David McKee clocked 44:19 to claim 2nd place, while Allan Bogle (45:10) continued his return to fitness with a strong outing for 3rd place.
Given Esther Dickson’s road speed (she’s an 18:29 5k runner), there was no stopping the always improving athlete as she covered the flat and fast river bank section was ease, emerging onto the finishing straight with a fairly sizeable gap on Megan Wilson. Esther crossed the line in 52:22 (1st place) with Megan recording 52:54 for 2nd place. Shileen O’Kane took a comfortable 3rd place in 53:37.
Top 3 Men: 1st William McKee (Mourne Runners) – 43:49, 2nd David McKee (Mourne Runners) – 44:19, 3rd Allan Bogle (City of Derry AC) – 45:10
Top 3 Ladies: 1st Esther Dickson (Newry AC) – 52:22, 2nd Megan Wilson (East Down AC) – 52:54, 3rd Shileen O’Kane (Lagan Valley AC) – 53:37
Full Results: Glenariffe Mountain Race 2017 Results
Photos from the Glenariffe Mountain Race will be added to our FACEBOOK page tomorrow (Sunday 12th March 2017).
Paula's St Paddy’s 5k 2017:
On Saturday 11th March 2017, close to one hundred runners turned out to support the annual St Paddy’s 5k road race in Derry/Londonderry. The event, which took place within Gransha Grounds, was hosted by City of Derry AC in aid of local charity Foyle Hospice.
Foyle Valley AC athlete Chris McGuinness went one better than his runners up place from 2016 when he dominated proceedings to lead the field home in 15:25 (1st place); this was twenty three seconds quicker than Chris' time her twelve months ago. Derry Track Club's Shane McGowan followed in 15:50 (2nd place), while Noel Logan of City of Derry AC recorded 15:55 for 3rd place.
Northern Ireland and Ireland international Ann-Marie McGlynn (Letterkenny AC) cruised to victory in the ladies race, clocking 16:51 for 1st place and 9th place overall. In-form Springwell Running Club lady Ciara Toner claimed 2nd place in a personal best of 18:38, before North Down AC's Sarah Lindsay completed the podium in 18:44 (3rd place).
Top 3 Men: 1st Chris McGuinness (Foyle Valley AC) – 15:25, 2nd Shane McGowan (Derry Track Club) - 15:50, 3rd Noel Logan (City of Derry AC) – 15:55
Top 3 Ladies: 1st Ann-Marie McGlynn (Letterkenny AC) - 16:51, 2nd Ciara Toner (Springwell Running Club) - 18:38, 3rd Sarah Lindsay (North Down AC) - 18:44
Provisional Results: Paula's St Paddy's 5k 2017 Results
Carmen 10k 2017:
On Saturday 11th March 2017, nearly two hundred athletes descended on the County Tyrone town of Carrickmore for the 8th annual running of the Carmen 10k road race, an event hosted by Carmen Runners.
At the front of the field, Omagh Harriers man and former winner of the event, Stephen Duncan, excelled. Stephen saw off the returning Keith Shiels (Foyle Valley AC) to secure victory in 31:42 (1st place). Keith took 2nd place in 32:55, before Sperrin Harriers' Gavin Corey completed the top three in 33:06 (3rd place).
In the closely contested ladies race, Acorns AC athlete Sandra McKeown continued her rise through the ranks with an impressive win. Sandra recorded 43:01 for 1st place. Sinead Currie (Sperrin Harriers) claimed 2nd place in 43:07, finishing just ahead of the host club's Lisa Coyle who crossed the line in 43:13 (3rd place).
Top 3 Men: 1st Stephen Duncan (Omagh Harriers) - 31:42, 2nd Keith Shiels (Foyle Valley AC) - 32:55, 3rd Gavin Corey (Sperrin Harriers) - 33:06
Top 3 Ladies: 1st Sandra McKeown (Acorns AC) - 43:01, 2nd Sinead Currie (Sperrin Harriers) – 43:07, 3rd Lisa Coyle (Carmen Runners) – 43:13
Full Results: Carmen 10k 2017 Results
Weekend Preview: Glenariff Mountain Race and Jimmy’s 10k take centre stage!
As Spring beckons and the focus shifts from cross country and the indoor season track season, towards the roads, mountains, trails and outdoor track season, the local running community will be hoping for some better weather for training and racing.
The official Athletics NI fixtures calendar is bulging with exciting and reputable races over the next few months, and this weekend throws up two classics… and of course several other excellent events.
Following the start of the Northern Ireland Mountain Running Association (NIMRA) season last week at Slieve Gullion, the first race of the NIMRA Championship 2017, the Glenariff Mountain Race, will take place in Waterfoot.
The local road running fraternity will also appreciate the return of the popular Novosco 10k Grand Prix, which kicks off with Jimmy’s 10k; the unique age graded competition allows athletes to compete on a level playing field regardless of age category. Full details are available on the official website HERE.
Although we’ll be focusing this week’s ‘Weekend Preview’ on the aforementioned main events, athletes can also look forward to several other races in the coming days, including the Carmen 10k and St Paddy’s 5k in Derry/Londonderry. Thousands of junior runners will descend on Mallusk Playing Fields for the AAI National Schools XC, while a number of familiar faces will also travel to England for the British Masters Indoor Athletics Championships.
Glenariff Mountain Race:
The action kicks off on Saturday 11th March 2017 when mountain runners from across the province will descend on the coastal village of Waterfoot for the opening race of the Northern Ireland Mountain Running Association (NIMRA) Championship, the Glenariff Mountain Race.
Affectionately known as ‘the Potato race’, or ‘the Spud run’, because of the goodie bag consisting of potatoes; yes, a full bag of potatoes (from race sponsors, Glens of Antrim Potatoes), the race, hosted for the first time by Glens Runners – it used to be Ballymena Runners, attracts runners from all corners of Northern Ireland, and beyond!
The course measures approximately 5.9 miles in distance, with 370 metres of ascent and with the initial flat and fast 2 mile section along the Glen River, which doubles up as the final 2 miles of the race, it makes this course suitable for everyone.
In saying this, nothing can be taken away from the task runner’s face on race day, given the fact that much of the 370 metres of ascent is packed into one climb, which measures just under a mile in distance – it’s steep!
In previous years, the trail and road runners have led the field out, before the mountain men (and ladies) take charge as the competitors move onto the steep and continuous climb up the Glen. It is unclear if current NIMRA Champion and winner of this event in 2016, William McKee (Mourne Runners) will return to defend his title. The Kilkeel man enjoyed an excellent cross country season and should play a prominent part at the front should he decide to compete.
Allan Bogle (City of Derry AC), who lost out to William by just six seconds twelve months ago, should return and with Race Director Jonny Steede likely to race after an excellent performance at Slieve Gullion last weekend, it could be the top three from 2016 who challenge for the top prize once again. Newcastle AC trio Davd Hicks, Colm Murtagh and Pete Grant looked in good shape at last week’s season opener and will again be in the mix here should they travel. Neil Carty (North Belfast Harriers) will hope to replicate some of his impressive cross country outings as he aims for a high placing alongside the likes of Richard Bell (Mourne Runners), Colum Campbell (Newcastle AC), Ricky Hanna (Mourne Runners), Nat Glenn (North Belfast Harriers), Andy Gregg (Larne AC) and Dale Mathers (Mourne Runners).
In the ladies race, current NIMRA Champion and winner of the Slieve Gullion Mountain Race, Diane Wilson (Dromore AC), should toe the line and will prove hard to beat if she does. Last weekend, Diane saw off a strong challenge from Ciara Largey (Unattached) for victory – Ciara will also play at the front here if she races.
Shileen O’Kane (Lagan Valley AC) won here in 2016 and will be eager to get her 2017 mountain running campaign underway after missing the season opener last week – it was worth it though, as the Northern Ireland international helped her Lagan Valley AC team mates to a podium finish at the NI & Ulster Senior XC Championships. Mari Troeng (Newcastle AC) will again be in mix, while the ever consistent Hazel McLaughlin (Lagan Valley AC), Sam McNeilly (Newcastle AC), Ruth Aiken (Ballymena Runners), Elizabeth Wheeler (IMRA), Paulette Thomson (Newcastle AC) and Gillian Wasson (Ballymena Runners) should all finish well up the field.
Carmen 10k Road Race:
On Saturday 11th March 2017, County Tyrone club Carmen Runners will host the 8th annual running of their Carmen 10k road race in Carrickmore. The race has grown in popularity and stature each year and former winners include Stephen Duncan (Omagh Harriers) and Gary O’Hanlon (Clonliffe Harriers), and Breege Connolly (North Belfast Harriers) in the ladies category.
At least one of the above should return, with local favourite Stephen Duncan touted to be returning. Stephen is a classy athlete and following his bronze medal winning performance at the NI & Ulster Masters XC in January (2017), he’ll go into this event with confidence. Paul Barbour (Derry Track Club) could compete, as could defending Champion and NI & Ulster Senior XC silver medallist Mark McKinstry (North Belfast Harriers). Daryl McKee (Acorns AC), Delfim Pimentel (Unattached) and Dermot Kerr (Armagh AC) will place well.
SSE Airtricity 10 mile road race winner Catherine Whoriskey (City of Derry AC) will go into the ladies race as a strong favourite following her recent form, which includes a stunning 2:48:40 marathon debut in Spain last month. Sperrin Harriers’ Pauline McGurren and Acorns AC’s Natalie Hall will also be there or there about if they make use of the on the day entry system.
St Paddy’s 5k Road Race:
On the same day (Saturday 11th March 2017), in County Derry/Londonderry, a sizeable crowd of runners and fitness enthusiasts are expected to take on the annual St Patrick’s Weekend 5k road race organised by City of Derry AC. The event, which takes place within the well-used Gransha Grounds is also known as Paula’s Run.
A host of City of Derry AC’s heroic NI & Ulster Senior XC winning team should turn out for this event, with Declan Reed, Noel Logan and John Lenehan all likely to lead the way. Fellow Spartan Emmett McGinty will run well and could be joined in the chase pack by the likes of Chris McGuinness (Foyle Valley AC) and Kyle Doherty (City OF Derry AC).
NI & Ulster Senior XC individual silver medallist and team gold winner Rachel Gibson (North Down AC) impressed with an 18:22 clocking for victory here in 2016 – now, the Northern Ireland international is capable of quicker, so will prove difficult to knock off top spot should she return. Local athlete Jackie McMonagle (City of Derry AC), Martina McMullan (Foyle Valley AC) and Marina Murphy (Derry Track Club) will also challenge for a podium place.
Irish Life AAI National ‘All Ireland’ Schools XC Championships:
Also in Northern Ireland on Saturday 11th March 2017, a host of schools from Northern Ireland will be represented at the prestigious Irish Life AAI National ‘All Ireland’ Schools XC Championships, which will be held at the City of Belfast Playing Fields in Mallusk. Interestingly, the event coincides with the 101st anniversary of the Irish Schools Athletics Association.
In the past, Belfast based club St Malachy’s AC and Newry school St Colman’s have enjoyed success at the event, which attracts a plethora of up and coming talented from every corner of Ireland. In 2015 and 2016, St Coleman’s claimed a gold medal in the team competition, while individually Rebecca Wallace (Wallace High School) and James Edgar (Friends School Lisburn) celebrated medal winning performances in 2016. The full Athletics Ireland preview in relation to the event is available HERE.
We have no doubt that the Northern Ireland based schools who take part will perform well both as a team and individuals. We (NiRunning) would like to wish everyone taking part the very best of luck!
Jimmy’s 10k Road Race:
On Sunday 12th March 2017, East Down AC will welcome athletes to their annual and very popular Jimmy’s 10k road race in Downpatrick, County Down. The race, which has attracted a capacity crowd of one thousand participants, is the first event of this year’s Novosco 10k Grand Prix 2017 (full details available HERE).
Even now that the official Athletics NI calendar is full to bursting all year round, this event is commonly and quite rightly referred to by many seasoned competitors as the first official 10k race of the ‘road running season’. Aside from one hill early on, the course offers competitors a relatively flat and fast route to get the season off the a good start; a perfect benchmark coming off winter training or to see ‘where you are at’ going into Half Marathon and Marathon season.
In a field littered with talent, it’s difficult to single out a potential winner (but we will!) – St Malachy’s AC star Ben Branagh, who ran 14:39 at the recent Armagh 5k would be our choice, closely followed by the ever improving City of Lisburn AC star Chris Madden, who recorded an excellent 31:36 personal best at the Titanic 10k last year – a time like that would really put him in contention here! Newcastle AC’s David O’Flaherty has been in excellent form of late and defiantly has the potential to go into the 31:00’s here if he’s in the right company – should he do so, he’ll be in the mix for top honours.
Craig McMeechan (North Down AC), Neill Weir (Willowfield Harriers), Stephen O’Gorman (Dromore AC), Lindsey Gordon (North Belfast Harriers) and Andrew Considine (North Belfast Harriers) should all make the top ten, but on a good day, any could cause an upset. Other athletes to look out for include Eddie Cooke (North Belfast Harriers), Ryan Moore (Unattached), Eoin Hughes (Acorns AC), Aidan O’Hagan (Acorns AC), Paul Rowan (Willowfield Harriers) and Gareth Lyons (Ballydrain Harriers).
The ladies race will bring an interesting dual between two of the province’s emerging ladies over the last twelve months, Laura Graham (Mourne Runners) and Amy Bulman (Willowfield Harriers). In late 2016, Laura recorded a new 10k personal best of 34:28 to secure a medal at the NI & Ulster Senior 10k (Road) Championships in Belfast. Despite being in heavy marathon training, the Mourne Runners star, who finished as runner up to Kerry O’Flaherty (Newcastle AC) here in 2016, is capable of producing a personal best over the distance.
Meanwhile, Amy has enjoyed an excellent cross country season which saw her finish on the podium on numerous occasions and win the NI & Ulster Masters XC – however, more relevant, Amy recorded 17:02 over 5k recently, which could transfer to a late 34 or early 35 10k.
Despite their talents, it’s not all about Laura and Amy, and there will be a plethora of running talent hot on their heels just waiting to take charge.
Leading the chase will be Laura Bickerstaff (Dromore AC), Denise Logue (Ballydrain Harriers), Niamh Kellett (East Down AC) and Louise Smith (North Belfast Harriers). Inaugural Novosco 10k Grand Prix winner Ruth Perioli (Ballydrain Harriers) will also start, as will Diane Watson (City of Lisburn AC), Ann Terek (City of Lisburn AC), Laura Gardiner (East Down AC) and Susan Smyth (Dromore AC).
British Masters Athletics Federation Indoor Track & Field Championships 2017:
Over the course of this weekend (Saturday 11th and Sunday 12th March 2017), a number of athletes from Northern Ireland are expected to take part in the British Masters Athletics Federation (BMAF) Indoor Track & Field Championships at the Lee Valley Stadium in England.
In the past, Derry Track Club athletes Cathal McLaughlin and Tim Shiels have enjoyed success and both should return this year following decent outings at the AAI National Masters Indoor Track & Field Championships in Athlone (Ireland) last week.
As always, Northern Ireland’s twenty four parkrun events will take place this weekend, for more information on these, or to locate your nearest event, please visit our dedicated ‘parkrun’ section within our fixtures page.
Masters secure impressive medal haul at Irish Life AAI National Indoor Championships:
Local athletes returned from the weekend’s Irish Life Health National Masters Indoor Championships (Sunday 5th March 2017) with an impressive medal haul on what proved to be an excellent day of competition at the AIT Arena in Athlone, Ireland.
At least 9 gold, 7 silver and 4 bronze medals were brought home by familiar faces. Arguably the most impressive performance of the day came from Keith Shiels (Foyle Valley AC) – the Vet35 athlete, who is returning to competition, sealed gold in the 3,000m in 9:05.22 (1st place).
Also in the Vet35 category – Clones AC star Denise Toner took gold in the 1500m, clocking 4:46.23 for 1st place. This followed on from a silver winning performance by Denise over 3,000m (2nd place – 10:20.91). Omagh Harriers’ Trevor McGlynn secured silver in the 60m hurdles, covering the jumps in 9.96 seconds. In the 60m flat, Mid Ulster AC man Glen Scullion also picked up silver after recording 7.64 seconds for 1st place.
In the Vet40 category, Orangegrove AC’s Northern Ireland international Emma Smith topped the ladies 60m hurdles standings with an impressive 10.58 seconds for 1st place and the associated gold medal. Fellow Orangegrove AC athlete Stephen Orr collected silver after running 2:08.66 for 2nd place in the 800m event. Newcastle AC’s Shane King was awarded silver in the 400m, having broken the beam in 57.24 seconds (2nd place).
There was further success for local athletes in the Vet45 category, with former British and Irish Champion Cathal McLaughlin (Derry Track Club) sealing 3rd place in the 1500m event; Cathal ran 4:27.55 for the distance.
In the Vet50 category, St Anne’s AC man Patrick Crossan picked up two medals, after finishing in 2nd place over 400m (58.36 seconds) and 3rd place over 200m (26.08 seconds). Omagh Harriers’ Breige Molloy ran 78.10 seconds for 3rd place and bronze in the 400m.
The medal haul continued in the Vet55 category, with North Belfast Harriers’ David Clarke winning over 800m (1st place - 2:17.98) and 1500m (1st place – 4:45.12), and City of Derry AC’s Danea Herron collecting gold in the 200m (1st place – 34.59 seconds). Paul LeBlanc (Newry AC) was awarded bronze for his 2:20.40 (3rd place) over 800m and Orangegrove AC’s Beverley Martin claimed silver in the 60m in 10.43 seconds (2nd place).
North West men Frank Stewart (City of Derry AC) and Richie Kelly (Derry Track Club) achieved gold in the Vet75 category, with Frank running 10.07 seconds for 1st place in the 60m event and Richie completing the 200m (1st place – 99.21 seconds) and 400m (1st place - 1:44.47).
Thomas Frazer records marathon personal best in Japan:
Northern Ireland man Thomas Frazer narrowly missed the Commonwealth Games and IAAF World Championships qualifying standards when recording a new marathon personal best in Japan this weekend (Sunday 5th March 2017).
The Chicago based St Malachy’s AC man, racing at the Otsu Marathon, completed the classic distance in 2:17:34 (27th place), taking eleven seconds off his previous best.
This was just outside Athletics NI’s Commonwealth Games nomination standard of 2:16:30 and Athletics Ireland’s IAAF World Championships standard of 2:17:00. Speaking on social media after the race, Thomas, who took fourth place in the Belfast Marathon in 2013, said he was “very pleased with the result”.
Another potential Commonwealth Games and IAAF World Championships (London 2017) hopeful, Gladys Ganiel O'Neill (North Belfast Harriers) recorded an excellent victory at the Carlingford Half Marathon in Ireland on Saturday 4th March 2017.
Gladys ran 1:18:23 for 1st place in the ladies race and 9th place overall. The race was won by Northern Ireland international Don Travers (Newry City Runners) in 1:13:57 (1st place). Full results for the event are available on our results page HERE.
Students Sara Moore and Neil Johnston impress outside NI:
Two of Northern Ireland’s brightest running prospects Sara Moore (Omagh Harriers) and Neil Johnston (Springwell Running Club) have impressed at major events outside Northern Ireland this weekend (Friday 3rd – Sunday 5th March 2017).
In America, Sara Moore was representing Oklahoma City University at the prestigious NAIA Indoor Track & Field Championships.
The performances of Sara and team mates Sheridan Hoyer, Stefani Nell and Aminat Olowora in their 4 x 800m relay will go down in the history books of their university, as it was the first national crown in the university’s history for the ladies track and field team.
Oklahoma City, ranked eighth in the NAIA coaches' rankings, led the race from gone to tape, winning in 9:11.95 (1st place). Sara opened the race for the team, recording 2:15.00 for 800m The success bandwagon continued to roll, with the ladies winning the DMR (1200m, 400m, 800m, 1600m) in 11:51.57 (1st place). Sara then impressed on an individual level when she claimed 3rd place and the associated bronze medal in the 1000m, after running 2:55.24 for the distance. As a senior student, this will be the Omagh Harriers stars final NAIA Indoor Championships, and she walks away with an exceptional 6 all-American Indoor awards.
Meanwhile, closer to home, Northern Ireland international Neil Johnston swapped his Springwell Running Club vest for his QUB AC attire as he represented Queen’s University Belfast at the Irish Universities Athletics Association (IUAA) Cross Country Championships in Abbotstown, Ireland.
Competing over 8,000m on the new purpose built National XC course, Neil performed to his usual high standard, taking 2nd place in 22:32; he therefore picked up the silver medal. In the ladies 4,900m race, QUB AC’s Sinead Sweeney, who impressed at the recent Stormont XC, took 6th place in 18:08.
Northern Ireland's Ciara Mageean forced to withdraw from Euro Indoors 1500m final:
On Saturday 4th March 2017, local hero and European Athletics Championship 1500m (outdoor) medallist Ciara Mageean’s (Coach: Jerry Kiernan) European Athletics Championships Indoor campaign ended in disappointment as the Portaferry woman was unfortunately forced to withdraw from the 1500m final through injury.
After booking her place in the final with a 4:12.81 finish for 4th place in yesterday’s semi-final, Ciara started the final well, positioning herself well early on and establishing a good mid-pack towards the latter stages. However, the UCD AC athlete then stepped off the track with two laps remaining.
Ciara was visibly upset during a post-race interview, and explained “I felt like I was losing power in my right Achilles, I just wanted to get off and get back to my physio.” The local running community will hope that it’s nothing serious for one of our top athletes.
Great Britain & NI’s Laura Muir lived up to her pre-race favourite status with an excellent display of front running for gold. Laura clocked a new British record of 4:02.39 for 1st place.
Slieve Gullion Mountain Race:
On Saturday 4th March 2017, local mountain runners welcomed the start of the 2017 Northern Ireland mountain running season with the Slieve Gullion race taking place just outside Newry.
Although not part of the NIMRA Championship Series, 'Gullion' attracted a sizable crowd of keen and very eager mountain runners, including several of those capable of challenging for top honours in the aforementioned Championship.
Indeed it was former Champion Jonny Steede (Glens Runners) and current Champion Diane Wilson (Dromore AC) who impressed most. In the men’s race, Jonny saw off Newcastle AC duo David Hicks and Colm Murtagh to top the podium in 33:12 (1st place). David followed in 34:53 (2nd place) before Colm crossed the line in 36:35 (3rd place).
Dromore AC’s Diane Wilson dominated proceedings – following a good winter of cyclo-cross, Diane swapped the bike for her fell shoes to seal victory in 40:05 (1st place). Ciara Largey (Unattached) returned to competitive action to take 2nd place in 40:57 (2nd place), while Mari Troeng (Newcastle AC) completed the podium in 45:33 (3rd place).
Top 3 Men: 1st Jonny Steede (Glens Runners) – 33:12, 2nd David Hicks (Newcastle AC) – 34:53, 2nd Colm Murtagh (Newcastle AC) – 36:35
Top 3 Ladies: 1st Diane Wilson (Dromroe AC) – 40:05, 2nd Ciara Largey (Unattached) – 40:57, 3rd Mari Troeng (Newcastle AC) – 45:33
Full Results: Slieve Gullion Mountain Race 2017 Results
SSE Airtricity 10 mile Road Race:
On Saturday 4th March 2017, well over three hundred athletes took to the streets of Northern Ireland’s Maiden City, Derry/Londonderry, for the annual SSE Airtricity 10 mile road race. The event is popular with those building towards upcoming 13.1 mile races, or indeed, the events big brother/sister – the SSE Airtricty Walled City Marathon, which will take place on Sunday 4th June 2017.
The route, which started in Ebrington Square, hugged the banks of the River Foyle, crossing both the Peace Bridge and the Foyle Bridge before finishing adjacent to St Columbs Park running track.
At the front, Foyle Valley AC’s Mark Long excelled, running a massive personal best of 55:19 for 1st place. Termoneeny Running Club athlete Eoin Hughes followed just under a minute later in 56:16 (2nd place), before East Coast AC’s Matthew Hewitt crossed the line in 56:53 for 3rd place.
As expected, City of Derry AC’s Catherine Whoriskey controlled the ladies race from start to finish. The Spartan athlete cruised to victory in 58:00 (1st place) and was followed across the line by Sarah-Jane Guiney (Albertville Harriers) and Jacqueline McMonagle (City of Derry AC) who recorded 1:05:03 (2nd place) and 1:10:06 (3rd place) respectively.
Top 3 Men: 1st Mark Long (Foyle Valley AC) -55:19, 2nd Eoin Hughes (Termoneeny RC) – 56:16, 3rd Matthew Hewitt (East Coast AC) – 56:53
Top 3 Ladies: 1st Catherine Whoriskey (City of Derry AC) – 58:00, 2nd Sarah-Jane Guiney (Albertville Harriers) – 1:05:03, 3rd Jacqueline McMonagle (City of Derry AC) – 1:10:06
Full Results: SSE Airtricity WCM 10 mile Road Race 2017 Results
Aaron Doherty and Jessica Craig secure gold at NI & Ulster Senior XC Championships:
Spartan athlete Aaron Doherty (City of Derry AC) and Northern Ireland international Jessica Craig (North Down AC) stole the headlines on what was an excellent climax to the local senior cross country season.
The picturesque Lurgan Park in County Armagh provided the perfect setting for today’s (Saturday 4th March 2017) Athletics NI Northern Ireland & Ulster Senior XC Championships, which also incorporated the final fixture of the Athletics NI XC League 2016/17.
The senior ladies were first to the start line for their 6k race, which covered three 2k laps of what was described by many as a “real cross country course”.
Jessica Craig made her intentions clear from the off, taking up a position at the head of the pack. It was clear that the pre-race favourite was out to win and despite the best efforts of her club mates Jodi Smith and Rachel Gibson, who battled it out for the remaining podium places, Jessica would emerge victorious.
Jessica put in a strong display of relentless front running to seal top spot in 22:48 (1st place). Rachel Gibson edged an interesting dual with Jodi Smith to take the silver medal in 22:55 (2nd place) – Jodi, who braved a foot injury in an attempt to assist North Down AC in the team competition, claimed 3rd place in 23:06.
Following the dominant performances of the aforementioned trio, and an impressive outing from their fourth counter Sarah Lindsay (19th place – 25:03), North Down AC were crowned team champions with 25 points. The Beechmount Harriers team of Catherine Diver (4th place – 23:25), Gerrie Short (5th place – 23:33), Sarah Lavery (8th place – 23:50) and Daire McCartan (29th place – 25:52) took 2nd place with 46 points, while Liela Ponziani (11th place – 24:20), Shileen O’Kane (14th place – 24:35), Julie Murphy (15th place – 24:41) and Suzanne Higgins (18th place – 24:55) led Lagan Valley AC to 3rd place with 58 points.
On a now cut up course, the senior men set out on a gruelling 12k course, incorporating six 2k laps. Early on, little separated the lead group containing reigning Champion Aaron Doherty (City of Derry AC), Conor Duffy (Glaslough Harriers), Mark McKinstry (North Belfast Harriers), Declan Reed (City of Derry AC) and Newcastle AC duo David O’Flaherty and Seamus Lynch.
As the race progressed through half way, the group had reduced to four, with Conor Duffy, Aaron Doherty, Mark McKinstry and Declan Reed tightly packed. A split was imminent and it did come, with Spartan athlete Aaron Doherty surging clear as the athletes moved into their fourth lap. Conor Duffy progressively covered the move and on entering the final lap, the pair were should to shoulder, with Mark McKinstry approximately twenty metres behind.
Again, Aaron Doherty surged, but this time Conor Duffy was unable to follow and feeling the effects of covering the Spartan’s earlier move, he dropped off the pace allowing Mark McKinstry to move through into the silver medal position. Aaron emerged from the final forest section and onto the home straight, covering the remaining metres with ease to retain his title in 39:08 (1st place). The hard working Mark, a silver medallist here in 2016, crossed the line exhausted in 39:13 for 2nd place, with Conor completing the medals in 39:23 (3rd place).
The heroic performance of Aaron Doherty and team mates Declan Reed (4th place – 39:32), Noel Logan (9th place – 40:50), John Lenihan (10th place – 40:54), Emmett McGinty (15th place – 41:30) and Kyle Doherty (22nd place – 42:04) meant that City of Derry AC (61 points) were crowned Champions in the team competition; they dedicated this to fellow Spartan Gerry Lynch who is recovering from illness.
The North Belfast Harriers team of Mark McKinstry (2nd place – 39:13), John Black (8th place – 40:43), Philip Goss (14th place – 41:27), Lindsay Gordon (16th place – 41:40), Neil Carty (19th place – 41:47) and Conor Curran (25th place – 42:32) totalled 84 points for 2nd place, while Newcastle AC’s David O’Flaherty (5th place – 39:59), Seamus Lynch (6th place – 40:28), Zak Hanna (20th place – 41:52), David Simpson (21st place – 42:02), David McNeilly (27th place – 42:48) and David Steele (34th place – 43:27) taking 3rd place with 113 points.
Full Results: NI & Ulster Senior XC Championships 2017 Results
Ciara Mageaan advances to Euro Indoors 1500m final:
On Friday 3rd March 2017, Northern Ireland’s Ciara Mageean (Coach: Jerry Kiernan) secured a place in the European Championships Indoor 1500m final in Belgrade, Serbia.
It was not a comfortable progression for the UCD AC athlete, after being forced to wait on confirmation of her place. Competing in Heat 2 of the 1500m, Ciara looked comfortable throughout, sitting just off the lead. However, when required to cement her place over the final 200 metres, the outdoor European Athletics Championship 1500m medalist struggled, finishing in 4:12.81 for 4th place – outside the automatic qualification places.
Good news followed for the Portaferry native – after a slower Heat 3, Ciara’s place in tomorrow’s final was confirmed. Speaking after the race, Ciara said, “being a fastest loser wasn’t what my plan was, I wanted to be number one or two. But, look, through to the final and that’s what matters.”
Newcastle AC’s Kerry O’Flaherty (Coach: Richard Rogers) was also in action over 1500m (Heat 3). The AAI National 1500m Champion recorded 4:23.83 for 6th place; this was not enough to progress. The fastest lady over the 1500m heats was Great Britain & NI’s Laura Muir (4:10.28). The final will take place tomorrow (Saturday 4th March 2017) at 18:45hrs GMT.
In a 60m hurdles marred by two false starts and resulting disqualifications, North Down AC’s Ben Reynolds (Coach: Tom Reynolds) showed composure but unfortunately failed to progress to the final. Ben recorded his second quickest time over the distance this season when taking 6th place in 7.81. Great Britain & NI's gold medal favourite Andy Pozzi (7.52) was the quickest athlete in the 60m hurdles heats.
Full results for the European Athletics Indoor Championships are available HERE.
Weekend Preview: Athletes ready for NI & Ulster Senior XC and Euro Indoors…
This weekend will bring several days of top class competition, with the cream of local running talent right at the heart of it. During what will be a busy weekend of competition, runners from Northern Ireland will take to the start line of the prestigious Northern Ireland & Ulster Senior XC Championships and further afield, the European Athletics Indoor Track & Field Championships in Belgrade, Serbia.
Given their significance, these two events will form the basis of our weekend preview. However, we will highlight other major events taking place over the next couple of days, which includes the Northern Ireland Mountain Running Association (NIMRA) season opener at Slieve Gullion and the SSE Airtricity 10 mile Road Race in Derry/Londonderry.
European Athletics Indoor Championships (Belgrade, Serbia):
Olympian and European bronze medallist Ciara Mageean (Coach: Jerry Kiernan) will spearhead Ireland’s hunt for honours at this weekend’s European Athletics Indoor Championships in Belgrade, Serbia (3rd – 5th March 2017).
The UCD AC athlete will line up in the 1500m and will be keen to replicate the same level of performance that saw her collect Ireland’s only medal at the European Athletics Championships in Amsterdam last Summer – at the outdoor event, Ciara won her first European senior medal in the 1500m, narrowly missing silver in an epic finish.
Since then the Portaferry woman, who has an indoor 1500m best of 4:08.66 (2016), has reached the Olympic Games 1500m semi-final and more recently saw off top opposition, including Fionnuala McCormack, to win the AAI National Senior Indoor 3,000m title. Last weekend, Ciara produced a confidence boosting 2:03.73 over 800m to win the Leinster Championships.
Ciara will be joined on the strong Irish team by fellow NI athletes Kerry O’Flaherty (Coach: Richard Rogers) and Ben Reynolds (Coach: Tom Reynolds). City of Lisburn AC’s Amy Foster (Coach: David Reid) was selected, but has unfortunately withdrawn.
Rio Olympian Kerry O’Flaherty has been in excellent form of late. Two weeks ago, in a hectic week of competition, the Newcastle AC athlete clocked a new indoor 1500m personal best of 4:14.63 at the AIT Grand Prix, ran a new 3k road best of 9:19 in Armagh and sealed the AAI National Senior Indoor 1500m title.
Experienced international Ben Reynolds (North Down AC) could face a gruelling day of racing on Day 1 of the Championships, with his 60m hurdles Round 1, Semi-Final and Final all scheduled for Friday 3rd March 2017. However, the Northern Ireland record holder will not mind if he goes all the way to the final. His recent efforts over the 60m hurdles has brought a 7.87 finish for 5th place at the British Athletics Grand Prix in Birmingham and a 7.83 run for gold at the AAI National Senior Indoor Championships. Ben will more than likely have to better his personal best of 7.73 if he wants to make the final.
Timetable for NI athletes (Times are GMT):
Day 1 (Friday 3rd March 2017):
Ben Reynolds (60m hurdles): Round 1 – 12:20hrs (cancelled... straight to semi-finals), Semi-Final – 15:45hrs and Final - 19:10hrs
Ciara Mageean and Kerry O’Flaherty (1500m): Round 1 – 16:05hrs
Day 2 (Saturday 4th March 2017):
Ciara Mageean and Kerry O’Flaherty (1500m): Final – 18:45hrs
The full Ireland team for the European Athletics Indoor Championships is: Phil Healy (Bandon AC) - 60m & 400m, Ciara Neville (Emerald AC) - 60m, Sinead Denny (DSD AC) - 400m, Ciara Mageean (UCD AC) - 1500m, Kerry O’Flaherty (Newcastle AC) - 1500m, Brian Gregan (Clonliffe Harriers) - 400m, Zak Curran (DSD AC) 0 800m, John Travers (Donore Harriers) - 1500m, Tomas Cotter (Dunleer AC) - 3,000m, Ben Reynolds (North Down AC) - 60m hurdles. Team Manager: Patsy McGonagle
NI & Ulster Senior XC Championships 2017:
Northern Ireland’s largest urban park, Lurgan Park in County Armagh, will play host to this weekend’s NI & Ulster Senior Cross Country Championships (Saturday 4th March 2017). The picturesque park has proved a popular choice of venue with competitors over the last number of years and nearly 400 will take part in this year’s event.
The Senior Ladies 6k will kick off proceedings at 1:30pm and the Senior Men’s 12k race will follow at 2:15pm. The event also incorporates the final fixture of the Athletics NI XC League 2016/17, with double points on offer for clubs.
Going into the last event of the 8 race League, Newcastle AC (133 points) hold a slender lead over North Belfast Harriers (124 points) in the men’s table, while North Down AC (139 points) lead the ladies league from Acorns AC (106 points).
In the ladies race, Northern Ireland international Jessica Craig (North Down AC) will play a prominent part in proceedings. The versatile athlete has impressed throughout this cross country season, picking up a silver medal at the AAI Novice XC Championships and winning at the Acorns XC, Comber Cup and Malcolm Cup events. Jessica also claimed a twelfth place finish at the talent laden Scottish National XC.
Prominent challengers could come in the form of North Down AC club mates Rachel Gibson and Jodi Smith, both of whom have been running well over the country. Rachel medalled at both the AAI Novice XC (bronze) and AAI Intermediate XC (bronze) events, while Jodi impressed with a win at the NI & Ulster Intermediate XC Championships. Amy Bulman (Willowfield Harriers), Fionnuala Diver (Letterkenny AC), Gerrie Short (Beechmount Harriers), Natalie Hall (Acorns AC), Suzanne Higgins (Lagan Valley AC) and Esther Dickson (Newry AC) will all feature at the front.
In the ladies team competition, with 4 to score, the North Down AC quartet of Jessica Craig, Rachel Gibson, Jodi Smith and Sarah Lindsay will prove hard to beat. Ballymena Runners, East Down AC, North Belfast Harriers, Ballydrain Harriers and Foyle Valley AC will contest the remaining podium places.
Conor Duffy (Glaslough Harriers) will be the man to beat over the relatively fast Lurgan Park course. The AAI National 5,000m Champion has represented both Northern Ireland and Ireland during this cross country campaign, placing well at both the Antrim XC (16th place) and the Home Countries International in Cardiff (12th place).
Reigning Champion Aaron Doherty and his City of Derry AC club mate Conor Bradley are more than capable of holding their own at the front if they are race fit. Sharpness is something that Newcastle AC’s Zak Hanna need not concern himself with – the Richard Rogers coached athlete has been rewarded for some exceptional performances over the last year with international selection. Earlier this month the former cyclist turned heads with a runners up spot on at the Armagh 3k – he recorded 8:49 to beat some highly respected talent that night.
Other men to look out for include Mark McKinstry (North Belfast Harriers), Seamus Lynch (Newcastle AC), Declan Reed (City of Derry AC), Eoghain McGinley (Letterkenny AC) and Eoghan Totten (Newcastle AC).
It’s 6 to count in the men’s team competition, which will be a fiercely competitive affair. Reigning Champions Newcastle AC are likely to come up against outstanding teams from North Belfast Harriers and City of Derry AC. Given that little separates the three teams, good ‘packing’ will be essential – it really could go any way!
Slieve Gullion Mountain Race:
On Saturday 4th March 2017, local mountain runners will kick off the Northern Ireland mountain running season with the Slieve Gullion race taking place just outside Newry.
Although not part of the NIMRA Championship Series, 'Gullion' is expected to attract a sizable crowd of keen and very eager mountain runners, including several of those capable of challenging for top honours in the aforementioned Championship, and others wishing to test out their winter training.
Last year’s winners Jonny Steede (Glens Runners) and Mari Troeng (Newcastle AC) are expected to return to defend their titles in 2017. Should that be the case, former Northern Ireland Mountain Running Champion Jonny will face tough opposition in the form of William McKee (Mourne Runners), Newcastle AC pair David Hicks and Colm Murtagh, as well as familiar faces such as Dale Mathers, Ricky Hanna, Sam Herron and possibly new dad Gary Bailey (all Mourne Runners) – congratulations Gary and Alex!
Current NIMRA Champion William will go into the event as favourite having shown outstanding form throughout the winter, particularly in recent Cross Country races at Stormont (last weekend) and the Northern Ireland & Ulster Intermediate Cross Country Championship in February. However, as a former Champion himself, Jonny cannot be ruled out when discussing potential winners.
Other names in the picture will be Alex Brennan (Ballymena Runners), Clive Bailey (Mourne Runners) and Barry McConville (Newcastle AC) who all continually perform well here. David McKee and Timmy Johnston (both Mourne Runners) have ran well on the trails this winter - both have been ever present on the podium's at the Born 2 Run events and if they decide to race here, David and Timmy have the potential to continue that prize-winning streak. Local men Don Travers (Newry City Runners) and Paul McAnespie (Armagh AC) cannot be discounted either!
In the ladies race, provided she does return, Mari Troeng (Newcastle AC) will be considered as a potential podium finisher. That said, NIMRA Champion Diane Wilson (Dromore AC) could return after having missed the event in recent years, in which case, she will play a prominent part in proceedings.
Shileen O’Kane (Lagan Valley AC) has competed well in cross country fixtures over the winter and took an impressive third place at the popular Race Over the Glens event on 2nd January 2017. Runner up at Slieve Gullion in 2016, Emma Wilson (Unattached), as well as Anne Sandford (Lagan Valley AC) and her club mate Hazel McLaughlin (Lagan Valley AC) will all run well. Newcastle AC pair Paulette Thomson and Sam McNeilly will also be considered as potential podium placers following a good winter of training.
Although known better for their trail running abilities, Bethany Haugh (Mourne Runners), Martsje Hell (North Belfast Harriers) and former World Mountain Running Championship medalist Karen Alexander may decide to take on 'Gullion'. If they do, each of the ladies will be in with a shout for a podium place. Bethany has impressed in the Born 2 Run Series and Martsje took the win at the aforementioned Race Over the Glens event at the beginning of the year. Only last weekend, Karen claimed the honours at the Sperrin Harriers 10 mile Trail race at Parkanaur.
SSE Airtricity 10 mile Road Race:
Four hundred athletes are expected to descend on the Maiden City of Derry/Londonderry for the annual SSE Airtricity 10 mile road race on Saturday 4th March 2017. The event is popular with those building towards upcoming 13.1 mile races, or indeed, the events big brother/sister – the SSE Airtricty Walled City Marathon, which will take place on Sunday 4th June 2017.
The route, which starts in Ebrington Square, will see competitors hug the banks of the River Foyle, crossing both the Peace Bridge and the Foyle Bridge before finishing adjacent to St Columbs Park running track.
At the sharp end, Derry City Track Club’s Shane McGowan should dictate proceedings. Despite specialising in shorter distance events, the emerging star has impressed as he works his way steadily through the distances – recently, he recorded 16:27 for 5k. East Coast AC’s Matthew Hewitt, who has a 10 mile personal best of 56:48 and Foyle Valley AC’s Mark Long, who recently clocked 16:40 over a tough 5k course, will both be worth watching.
Justin Maxwell (East Coast AC), James Crampsey (Unattached) and Stephen Walker (North Belfast Harriers) could contest a podium spot if on form, while Dave Slater (Enniskillen Running Club), who recently impressed at the AAI National 50k Championships, could be a surprise package over the shorter distance. Declan Doherty (Foyle Valley AC), David Noble (Larne AC) and Martan Keane (Larne AC) should all place well.
In the ladies race, it will be local hero Catherine Whoriskey (City of Derry AC) who starts as pre-race favourite. Last month, the humble competitor produced an exceptional performance on her marathon debut in Seville (Spain), running 2:48:40. Despite having enjoyed some well-deserved rest after this event, the Northern Ireland international should still seal a comfortable victory and a high placing overall. Albertville Harriers’ Sarah-Jane Guiney will challenge for a podium place and could be joined in the pursuit of prizes by the likes of Kerrie McIlmoyle (Springwell Running Club) and Jackie McMonagle (City of Derry AC). Irene Clements (1Zero1), Natasha Henderson (County Antrim Harriers), Gillian Logan (Orangegrove AC) and Catherine Pinkerton (Springwell Running Club) will all make the top ten.
Irish Life AAI National Masters Indoor Track & Field Championships (Athlone, Ireland):
A large number of veteran athletes from Northern Ireland will travel south to the impressive AIT Arena in Athlone (Ireland) for the Irish Life AAI National Masters Indoor Track & Field Championships on Sunday 5th March 2017.
Amongst the obvious local medal hopefuls are Keith Shiels (Foyle Valley AC), Joy McAleer (City of Lisburn AC), Cathal McLaughlin (Derry Track Club), Donna Evans (Finn Valley AC), Adrian Boyle (Derry Track Club), Marina Murphy (Derry Track Club), David Clarke (North Belfast Harriers) and Robert Bigger (Derry Track Club). A provisional entry list for the event is available HERE.
Other events taking place in Northern Ireland this weekend…
Saturday 4th March 2017:
Sunday 5th March 2017:
As always, Northern Ireland’s twenty four parkrun events will take place this weekend, for more information on these, or to locate your nearest event, please visit our dedicated ‘parkrun’ section within our fixtures page.