Northern Ireland Running

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Three NI athletes named in Ireland Euro XC Championships squad:

Athletics Ireland announce squad for European XC Championships:

On Thursday 27th November 2014, Athletics Ireland selectors announced the Ireland squad for the 21st annual SPAR European Cross Country Championships, which will take place in Samokov, Bulgaria on Sunday 14th December 2014.  


Northern Ireland based athletes Paul Pollock (Annadale Striders), Ryan McDermott (Annadale Striders) and Ann-Marie McGlynn (Letterkenny AC) are all included in the line-up.


Recently crowned AAI National XC Champion Paul Pollock showed last Sunday (23rd November 2014) that he is in good shape after retaining his title at the GloHealth Inter-County XC Championships in Dundalk (Ireland), despite only returning from a hip injury just over a month earlier; Paul will spearhead the men’s challenge for honours.   The always impressive Ann-Marie McGlynn, a sixth place finisher at the Inter-County XC, will join double European XC Championships gold medallist Fionnuala Britton (Kilcoole AC) in the senior ladies team, while McConnell Shield XC winner and third place Under 23 finisher at the Inter County XC, Ryan McDermott is named in the Under 23 team. 


The full Ireland team line-up and management structure for the European XC Championships 2014 is available on the Athletics Ireland website HERE.

Christine McMahon takes prestigious prize at AAI National Athletics Awards:

Northern Ireland based athlete claims prestigious award:

On Wednesday 26th November 2014, Northern Ireland Commonwealth Games team member and Ireland international Christine McMahon (Ballymena & Antrim AC) was awarded the 'Emerging Athlete of the Year' award at the prestigious Athletics Ireland National Athletics Awards, which were held in association with GloHealth and Emerald Crystal in the Crown Plaza Hotel, Santry (Ireland). 


Christine's category was one of the most hotly contested of the day, with athletes of the calibre of Phil Healy (Bandon AC), Sarah Lavin (UCD AC) and fellow NI athlete Ciara Mageean (UCD AC) all in the reckoning. However, it was the unassumming and talented Ballymena & Antrim AC athlete who took the award after enjoying a breakthrough year in 2014.


Guided by Coach Ian Neely, Queens University student Christine claimed the AAI National U-23 400m and AAI National Senior 400m hurdles titles and lowered her personal best for the 400m hurdles from 59.46secs to 56.97secs. She also qualified for the semi-finals at the IAAF European Athletics Championships and represented Northern Ireland at the Commonwealth Games over the summer.


Full story and a list of prize-winners are available on Athletics Ireland website HERE.

Local runners take on Benidorm 10k and Half Marathon events:

Northern Ireland based athletes compete in Spain:

On Sunday 23rd November 2014, at least four runners from Northern Ireland joined a record breaking field of nearly two thousand five hundred athletes from around the world on the start line of the Benidorm Half Marathon and 10k road races in Spain.  The cloudy but mild weather conditions set things up well for the local athletes as the took on the undulating course which took in both the old and the new parts of the popular holiday destination.


Janine Ramsey (Belfast Running Club) and Lorna McKinstry (Jog Belfast) were in action in the 10k race, which started just prior to the 13.1 mile race.  Janine followed up her excellent outing at the 26extreme Tollymore event with another good run, dipping under the one hour mark in 59:11. Lorna stepped up to the 6.1 mile distance well, covering the route in 1:15:13.  The 10k race was won by Juan Antonio Gil Martinez (Mexico) in 33:00 (1st place), while Natalia Gurchenkova (Finland) took the ladies title in 41:56 (1st place).


In the Half Marathon event, Mark Ramsey (Belfast Running Club) and Thomas McKinstry (North Belfast Harriers) both ran well.  Mark was the first of the pair to reach the well supported finish area when he crossed the line in 1:51:24, a course best for the Belfast based athlete.  It wasn’t long before Thomas was also collecting his finisher medal;  approximately eight minutes later, the North Belfast Harriers man clocked 2:03:55 for the distance.  The Half Marathon was won by Pablo Lopez Sanchez (Spain) in 1:06:56 (1st place), while Yamilka Gonzalez Viamonte (Spain) took the top prize in the ladies race after finishing in 1:22:26 (1st place).


Full Results:  Benidorm Half Marathon and 10k 2014 Results

Paul Pollock retains AAI XC title as local athletes impress in Dundalk:

GloHealth AAI Inter County XC Championships (inc Even Age Group Championships) 2014:

On Sunday 23rd November 2014, a large number of athletes from Northern Ireland excelled at the GloHealth AAI Senior and Inter County Cross Country Championships (including Even Age Group Championships) in Dundalk, Ireland; with places on the Ireland team for the upcoming European Cross Country Championships up for grabs, there was no better time to step up to the mark, and a number of the local athletes did just that – most notably Paul Pollock (Annadale Striders), who retained the crown he won so impressively last year.


The day got off to an excellent start, when Northern Ireland based Under 12 Junior stars Amelia Tyler (North Down AC), Cara Laverty (City of Derry AC), Megan Briggs (North Down AC) and Tuloupe Jide-Ojo (Springwell Running Club), and fellow Ulster provincial team mates Andrea Browne (Finn Valley AC) and Lucy Hogan (Annalee AC) all claimed bronze medals after finishing in 3rd place in the overall Provincial standings.  Leinster topped the table.


In the Under 14 category brought the first individual medal of the day for an NI based athlete, with Lagan Valley AC' Cormac O'Rourke secured silver after finishing in 2nd place behind race winner, Donore Harriers' Fathl Aden (1st place).  Cormac's performance spurred his Lagan Valley AC team mates Peter Carty, Callum McCabe and Tim Scott to take 2nd place in the team competition behind Westport AC (1st place).  The Ulster team, which included the aforementioned Cormac and Tony McCambridge (North Belfast Harriers), Peter Murray (St Peters AC), Connor Maguire (Monaghan Phoenix AC), Andrew Gordon (Springwell Running Club) and Jack Moore (Omagh Harriers) topped the Provincial standings and therefore were awarded gold medals.


There was further success for Ulster when Niamh Carr (Springwell Running Club), Jessica Scott (North Down AC), Jane Duffy (Shercock AC), Karen Gallagher (Finn Valley AC), Aoife McGrath (Finn Valley AC) and Meaghan McGiveny (Inny Vale AC) collected silver medals.  Leinster picked up the gold medals. 


The Under 16 race brought one of the best performances of the day by a local athlete; Beechmount Harriers' Christy Conlon continued his impressive run of results, which has saw the future star claim no less than five AAI National Age Group titles in his short career, when he sealed victory and the associated gold medal.  Christy's efforts also assisted his Ulster team mates Eoin McCann (St Malachy's AC), Finton Stewart (City of Derry AC), Donal Farren (Letterkenny AC), Patrick McNiff (Banbridge AC) and Sean Corry (Omagh Harriers) to top spot and gold medals in the overall Provincial table.

The Omagh Harriers Under 16 girls team of Enya Haigney, Naimh Heaney, Caelainn McQuaid and Morgan Owens lifted bronze medals after taking 3rd place in the club competition;  Enya and Naimh's performances also saw them and Ulster team mates Abigail McBroom (Springwell Running Club), Rebecca Duffy (Beechmount Harriers), Emma Hutchinson (Ballymena & Antrim AC) and Kate Mulholland (St Peter's AC) secure silver medals after finishing in 2nd place behind the dominant Leinster.  


Omagh Harriers once again proved that their Junior set up is one of the best in the country when their Under 18 ladies team of Eilish Flanagan, Roisin Flanagan, Edel Monaghan and Toni Moore picked up bronze medals after taking 3rd place in the club  competition; Leevale AC won the gold medal (1st place).  In the Under 18 men's Provincial table, Leinster again took gold medals (1st place), while the Ulster team of Petter Gibbons (Letterkenny AC), Jonny Whan (City of Lisburn AC), Oisin Gallen (Finn Valley AC), David Gormley (Omagh Harriers), Daniel Dawson (Dromore AC) and Luke Dinsmore (Springwell Running Club) were awarded the bronze medals after taking 3rd place.


The Under 20 category brought the first County medal for Northern Ireland, when the strong County Antrim team of Andrew Wright (Willowfield Harriers), Ryan Sharkey (Lagan Valley AC), Paddy Robb (St Malachy's AC), Conal McCambridge (North Belfast Harriers), James Smyth (St Malachy's AC) and Chris Connolly (St Malachy's AC) took to the podium to collect silver medals after finishing in 2nd place to County Dublin (1st place).


The penultimate race of the day was the Senior and Under 23 ladies 8k, which reigning Champion and world renowned athlete Fionnuala Britton (Kilcoole AC) controlled from the off.  Despite some company in the early stages, the talented athlete moved clear to win with ease, clocking 26:59 (1st place).  Strabane based athlete Ann-Marie McGlynn (Letterkenny AC) was the first Northern Ireland based athlete to finish in 28:40 (6th place), just ahead of Kerry O'Flaherty (Newcastle AC), who recorded 28:51 for 7th place.  In the Under 23 category, Unattached athlete Joanne Mills led the NI contingent home in 31:33 (10th place U-23).  The category was won by Mary Mulhare (Portloaise AC) in 29:38 (1st place U-23).


Arguably the race of the day was the prestigious Senior and Under 23 men's event, which covered 10k in distance.  In the early stages of the race, Leevale AC's Mark Hanrahan moved clear of the field but he was reigned in by defending Champion Paul Pollock (Annadale Striders) and Michael Clohinsey (Raheny Shamrock AC); an exit battle ensued and it wasn't until the final 200 metres that Paul Pollock made his move.  Despite only returning from injury recently, Northern Ireland man, Paul showed no lack of sharpness when he surged clear in the final metres to secure victory in 30:40 (1st place).  In the Under 23 category, Annadale Striders' Ryan McDermott put in a quality performance to take 3rd place (Under 23) in 32:34; the category was won by Liam Brady (Tullamore Harriers) in 31:43 (1st place U-23).


Full Results:  GloHealth AAI National Senior and Inter County XC Championships (inc Even Age Group Championships) 2014 Results

Athletes from NI claim British & Irish International XC medals in England:

British & Irish Masters International XC 2014:

On Saturday 22nd November 2014, a strong team of Northern Ireland runners were in action at the British & Irish Masters Cross Country Championships in Wollaton Park, Nottingham (England).


The local athletes were up against teams from England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland – Incidentally, the Ireland team was also made up of some Northern Ireland based athletes.  


Although all of the local contingent performed to their usual high standard, it was Terry Eakin (North Down AC), Paul Elliot (North Belfast Harriers), Sharon Barlow (Ripon Runners), Brigid Quinn (Ballymena Runners) who brought home individual medals.


In his Vet65 6k event, Terry Eakin looked strong as he negotiated the course in 23:55 (1st place); this not only sealed a gold medal for Terry, but it was also enough to steer the Northern Ireland Vet65 team, which included City of Derry AC's Gerry Lynch (9th place – 24:57) and North Down AC's David Seaton (16th place – 26:11) to a bronze medal (3rd place).  The Vet65 team prize was won by Ireland.  In the Vet60 8k, Paul Elliot was wearing the green vest of Ireland and the multiple Vet60 record holder lived up to his pre-race billing of a possible podium finisher when he crossed the line in 29:10 (1st place); this secured the gold for Paul and also guided the Irish team to a 3rd place finish in the team competition behind Scotland and England, who took 1st place and 2nd place respectively.

Ballymena Runners' Brigid Quinn, an almost weekly prize-winner on the local circuit, continued what has been an excellent year when she claimed 2nd place in the Vet70 6k. Brigid recorded 32:26 (2nd place) to finish as runner up to Scotland's Betty Gilchrist (1st place – 30:49).  England based Sharon Barlow (Ripon Runners) spent most of her Vet35 6k race just outside the podium places but an impressive finish ensured that the NIMAA XC winner added to the Northern Ireland medal haul when she finished in 3rd place having ran 22:02.  Quality performances by Sharon's team mates, City of Derry AC's Marina Campbell (6th place – 23:05) and Orangegrove AC's Jenny Black (12th place – 23:34) meant that the ladies took 3rd place in the team standings.  The race was won by England's Louise Rudd in 21:24 (1st place), with England also taking the team prize.


In the Ladies Vet45 6k race, which was won by England's Julie Briggs in 21:51 (1st place), City of Derry AC's Jackie McGinley (7th place – 23:35), Dumfries AC's Lisa Finlay (8th place – 23:37) and Ballydrain Harriers' Debbie Matchett (10th place – 23:52) finished in quick succession, which was enough to see the trio lift silver medals for Northern Ireland in the team prizes.  England took the top prize.  


North Belfast Harriers' Cathy McCourt, who was representing Ireland in the Vet40 6k, accompanied team mates onto the podium as they collected silver medals for finishing in 2nd place behind a strong England team; Cathy's individual time of 22:35 saw her claim 6th place in the race won by England's Claire Martin in 21:14 (1st place).


Full Results:  British & Irish Masters XC International 2014 Results

NI man Martin Rea produces top quality performance on world stage:

North Belfast Harriers' Martin Rea performs well on world stage:

On Friday 21st November 2014, Northern Ireland based athlete Martin Rea (North Belfast Harriers) represented Ireland at the 27th annual IAU 100k World Championships in Doha, Qatar.  


Despite the humid conditions, the Belfast school teacher put in a top quality performance, going through 50k in 3:43:39, before going on to to finish in an excellent 7:50:38, which was enough to secure 52nd place in what was a world class field of approximately two hundred runners.


The men's race was won by American athlete Max King in 6:27:43 (1st place), while Team GB's Ellie Greenwood secured the ladies title in 7:30:48 (1st place).  Podium finisher at NiRunning's recent Mourne Skyline Mountain-Trail Race, Jo Meek (Team GB) narrowly missed a top three finish when claiming 4th place in 7:43:38.


Full results will be added when available.

Weekend Preview:  Local athletes look ahead to major XC events...

Weekend Preview:  Local athletes look forward to Major XC events…

After an enjoyable start to the Cross Country season and in particular the Athletics NI Cross Country League, this weekend brings more mucky action, with local athletes looking forward to the British & Irish Cross Country Championships in Nottingham (England) and the AAI Inter-Counties and Senior Cross Country Champions (inc Even Age Group Championships) in Dundalk (Ireland).  


Locally, there will be the NWTC Winter Series 5k in Derry/Londonderry.  Northern Ireland athletes will also compete at the IAU 100k World Championships (Qatar) and the Powercourt Ridge Mountain-Trail Race (Ireland)


Despite the aforementioned Cross Country events taking centre stage, the action for locally based athlete’s will kick off later today (Friday 21st November 2014) at the IAU 100k World Championships in Doha, Qatar.


Approximately two hundred of the world’s top ultra-runners, from thirty nine countries will take on the 27th annual running of the prestigious event. Amongst those taking to the start line will be Northern Ireland man Martin Rea (pictured above left, pacing the Belfast City Marathon).  The North Belfast Harriers star will represent Ireland alongside current Irish 100k record holder Keith Whyte as both men aim to make an impression within the quality field.


A little closer to home but again outside the province; on Saturday 22nd November 2014, a strong team from Northern Ireland will compete against teams from Ireland, England, Wales and Scotland at the British & Irish Masters XC International.


The strength and depth of all of the Northern Ireland teams make them look like potential podium finishers in the overall competition, but on an individual front, Stephen Duncan (Omagh Harriers), Peter Lilburn (City of Derry AC), Cathal McLaughlin (Derry City Track Club), Helen Stockdale (Clones AC), Lisa Finlay (Dumfries AC) and Ruth Magill (Lagan Valley AC) appear to be the most obvious contenders.  


Northern Ireland runners Paul Elliot (North Belfast Harriers), Paul Blaney (North Belfast Harriers), Christy McMonagle (City of Derry AC), Roisin Lynch (City of Derry AC), Cathy McCourt (North Belfast Harriers) and Natasha Adams (Lifford AC) will represent Ireland at the same event.  A full list of the Northern Ireland teams, prior to any amendments, is available within our October 2014 ‘News’ section.

Also on Saturday 22nd November 2014, Lagan Valley AC and Northern Ireland international mountain runners Anne Sandford and Hazel McLaughlin will be in action at the Irish Mountain Running Association's (IMRA) Powercourt Ridge Mountain-Trail Race in the famous Wicklow Mountains in Ireland. 


The event is approximately 10 miles in distance with almost 1000 metres of ascent. From Crone Car Park, Enniskerry, runners will set of at 11am, ascend Maulin mountain first and then over to the better known Djouce. 


The mountain trail course then takes competitors back to the start/finish along the famous Wicklow Way.  Interestingly, Diane Wilson, Alwyn Shannon, Gary Bailey and Robbie Bryson have all had success in this race in recent years. 


Later on Saturday 22nd November 2014, the Northern Ireland Mountain Running Association (NIMRA) will hold their annual prize-giving for the Mountain Running Championship – This will take place in Newcastle, County Down.  Full details of the event are available on the NIMRA website, while a run down on the prize winners is available below this ‘Weekend Preview’ as part of a separate article.


On Sunday 23rd November 2014, hundreds of athletes from Northern Ireland will travel south to Dundalk (Ireland), for the AAI National Inter-County and Senior Cross Country Championships (incorporating Even Age Group Championships).


A plethora of the provinces top junior athletes, including Beechmount Harriers' Christie Conlon, will line up in the 'Even Age Group' Championships, while Ireland's top long distance runner, Northern Ireland man, Paul Pollock (Annadale Striders/Kent AC) will return from England for the Senior Championships, with the aim of gaining selection for the IAAF European XC Championships in Bulgaria in three weeks’ time.  The 28 year old Holywood man leads a number of familiar faces who are hoping to gain selection following the trials, which are also incorporated within this event, which will see athletes cover a 10k course.  The race will be the first real test for Paul who has recently returned to competition following an injury which required several weeks’ recuperation.  He returned to training in October (2014) and recently finished a close second in a cross country league race in Surrey (England). While the former World Championship marathon competitor will be pushed to repeat his Inter Counties victory from a year ago, he will no doubt have one eye on the selection list for Bulgaria.

Paul will lead a strong County Antrim team which has finished as runners up in the past two years to County Dublin.  He will be supported by Kevin Seaward (St Malachy's AC), who will be making only his second outing since his excellent twenty eighth place in the marathon in Zurich (Switzerland), where he was second Irish finisher.  


Also racing is Annadale AC’s Ryan McDermott who will be aiming to gain selection again for the Irish Under 23 squad.  Other top Northern Ireland finishers may include Joe McAlister (St Malachy's AC), Brendan Teer (East Down AC), Alan O'Hara (North Belfast Harriers) and Willowfield Harriers’ Andrew Wright.  The aforementioned men will be joined on the start line by DSD AC’s Brendan O’Neill who has returned to impressive form this season with victories at the Autumn Open Cross Country in October (2014) and the Dublin Championships in November (2014).  Other notable contenders include Raheny Shamrocks AC men Mick Clohissey and Conor Dooney, along with Donore Harriers athlete, John Travers. 


Double European Cross Country Champion Fionnuala Britton (Kilcoole AC) headlines a star studded Senior Women’s 8k race which includes the return of Mary Cullen (Sligo AC) to a national cross country setting. Fionnuala is targeting a fifth Inter County title and if she achieves this she will join fellow cross country greats Catherina McKiernan and Anne Keenan Buckley who have both won five of these titles. 


Northern Ireland will also be well represented in the ladies field; Strabane based Anne Marie McGlynn (Lifford AC), who gained Irish selection a year ago on the basis of her fourth place finish, will be one of the leading local contenders taking to the line.  Also entered is Glasgow 2014 athlete, Kerry O'Flaherty of Newcastle AC and County Down, who has competed three times in the European XC Championships. North Down AC pair Jessica Craig and Rachel Gibson are also set to compete, as is Birmingham based Joanne Mills (Unattached).  AAI National Inter-Counties and Senior Cross Country Championships (incorporating Even Age Group Championships) preview partially compiled with information Athletics Ireland and Athletics NI.


Also on Sunday 23rd November 2014, North West Triathlon Club (NWTC) will host the second race of their popular Winter 5k Series which takes in the Maiden City's Atlantic Quay and Bay Park.  


Local clubs City of Derry AC's, Foyle Valley AC, BOLT Running Club and organisers, North West Triathlon Club are expected to be well represented, with the likes of Pius McIntyre (Foyle Valley AC), Mark Mullan (City of Derry AC), Gavin Crawford (24/7 Tri Club), Kevin Harkin (Lifford AC), Catherine Whoriskey (City of Derry AC) and Hannah Shields (City of Derry AC) amongst those who should contest podium places. The event kicks of at 11am, with registration opening at 10am in the Coffee House in Atlantic Quay.


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.

Northern Ireland Mountain Running Association set for annual awards:

NIMRA Championship 2014 Prize-Giving:

This week, ahead of the annual prize-giving function, Northern Ireland Mountain Running Association (NIMRA) have confirmed the winners of their newly structured Championship Series.  


The new Series comprised of three short, three medium and three long races and each athlete’s best five results, which had to include at least one short, medium and long event, were assigned Championship points.  The remaining two counting races could not both be from the same category.


Impressive wins at Glenariff, Commedagh Chase, Annalong Horseshoe, Flagstaff to Carlingford and the Spelga Skyline event means that Jonny Steede of Ballymena Runners is the Overall Male winner of the 2014 Championship.  

Although pushed throughout the season by Newcastle AC’s Seamus Lynch, Jonny won all of the Championship races he competed in; with numerous second places finishes under his belt, Seamus (Lynch) went on to take the honours at Loughshannagh and the Classic Seven Sevens, to secure the runners up spot in the 2014 Series.  Sam Heron (Mourne Runners) completed an impressive season finishing in 3rd place overall.  Sam’s results at Annalong Horseshoe (2nd place), Seven Sevens (2nd place) and ultimately the Slieve Bearnagh race (1st place), as well as good runs at Commedagh Chase and Loughshannagh secured the final podium place for the Mourne Runners athlete.


As far as the ladies go, 2013 Champion and winner of the Glenariff, Slieve Commedagh, Annalong Horseshoe, Loughshannagh, Flagstaff to Carlingford and Slieve Bearnagh races, Diane Wilson of Dromore AC was again the outright Champion in 2014.  Shileen O’Kane (Lagan Valley AC) started the 2014 campaign off well, with 2nd place finishes at the first five events of the season, before a bad wrist injury at the Flagstaff to Carlingford race put an early end to the International’s season.  Luckily, Shileen had recorded her five counting races, enough to secure another second place finish in the Championship.  Hazel McLaughlin, another Lagan Valley AC athlete, took the final position on the Championship podium. Hazel (McLaughlin) showed a variety of strengths as she raced to podium places at Commedagh Chase (3rd place), Seven Sevens (2nd place) and The Fallows (3rd place).  Those performances and good placing at Glenariff and Slieve Bearnagh secured the 3rd place in the ladies overall standings.

The new Championship series again included various categories prizes, for both male and female participants.


In the Men's Vet 40 competition it was Ballymena Runners' Alex Brennan who took the top prize.  Alex (Brennan) has enjoyed a memorable season, having impressed both on and off the mountain.  Good results at Slieve Bearnagh (4th place) and The Fallows (2nd place) cemented his position at the head of this category.  Clive Bailey (Mourne Runners) was runner up in the category, having completed the required amount of races, most notably a well calculated 3rd place at Seven Sevens and also a 3rd place finish over the faster Fallows course.  Mark Alexander (Ballymena Runners) made it two Ballymena based athletes on the MV40 podium with an excellent 3rd place finish.  In the Ladies Vet 40 category, no athletes completed enough (five) events to be in contention.  However, both Laura Smith (Larne AC) and Violet Linton (LVO) took three category wins throughout the season.


The Men's Vet 45 category was never in doubt, with the evergreen North Belfast Harriers member Neil Carty taking maximum points at Glenariff (3rd place overall), Commedagh Chase, Annalong Horseshoe, Loughshannagh and Flagstaff to Carlingford amongst others.  Pete Grant (Team Purple) took 2nd place in the overall Series respectively having completed every Championship race.  The Overall Series winner, Diane Wilson (Dromore AC) also sealed the Ladies Vet 45 prize, having led the FV45 runners home in each of her aforementioned race wins.  Shileen O’Kane (Lagan Valley AC) claimed 2nd place in this category.  No other FV45 competitors completed the Series. However, it is worth noting that long distance specialist Denise Mathers (Newry City Runners), a FV45, completed 4 events and won the longer races at Spelga Skyline and the Seven Sevens events. 


Newcastle AC’s Deon McNeilly, who produced a top class performance at the Mourne Skyline MTR, took the honours in the Men's Vet 50 category, on the back of notable performances at The Fallows (1st place) and Annalong Horseshoe (3rd place).  Good runs at Commedagh Chase, Loughshannagh, Flagstaff to Carlingford and Spelga Skyline ensured the renowned mountain athlete retained the MV50 prize.  Dale Mathers (Newry City Runners) completed the Championship Series with a run around the ‘medium distance’ Fallows course, as course director, whilst carrying an injury picked up during his ‘tour of Mont Blanc’ in August (2014).  Dale’s performances earlier in the season at Glenariff, Loughshannagh, Spelga Skyline, Seven Sevens and Slieve Bearnagh ensured that despite this set back the well-respected athlete took 2nd place in the final standings.  David Bell (Mourne Runners) completed six of the nine Championship races to finish 3rd place in this category.  No Ladies Vet 50 competitors finished the Championship Series.

In the Men's Vet 60 category it was 2013 winner Stewart Cunningham (Mourne Runners) who retained the title in 2014.  Stewart competed to his usual high standard with good runs at Glenariff, Commedagh, Annalong Horseshoe, Loughshannagh, Spelga Skyline and the Seven Sevens. Stewart’s club mate and friend Harry Teggarty took 2nd place in the MV60 category, having finished behind him (Stewart) at Glenariff, Commedagh, Loughshannagh, Spelga Skyline and the Seven Sevens. No Ladies Vet 60 competitors finished the Championship Series.


Jim Patterson (Newcastle AC) narrowly piped NIMRA Chairman Ricky Cowan (Mourne Runners) to the top spot in the Men's Vet 65 category.  Jim (Patterson) led the MV65 runners home at Glenariff, Commedagh, Annalong Horseshoe, Spelga Skyline and Slieve Bearnagh.  


These five wins ensured that Jim took maximum (5) points and meant that Ricky’s wins at Loughshannagh, Flagstaff to Carlingford, Seven Sevens and The Fallows, as well as numerous 2nd place finishes, whilst impressive, weren't enough to take the top podium position overall but secured a second place MV65 finish.  Ricky was another of the very few competitors to complete every race in the new Championship Series.  No other MV65 runners completed the Series, but Ian Taylor (BARF) was competitive in the early stages of the Championship, with good runs at Glenariff and Annalong.  No Ladies Vet 60 competitors finished the Championship Series.


Prize Winners – NIMRA Championship Series 2014 (Final Standings):


Men's Open:

1st Jonny Steede (Ballymena Runners)

2nd Seamus Lynch (Newcastle AC)

3rd Sam Heron (Mourne Runners)


Ladies Open:

1st Diane Wilson (Dromore AC)

2nd Shileen O’Kane (Lagan Valley AC)

3rd Hazel McLoughlin (Lagan Valley AC)


Men's Vet 40:

1st Alex Brennan (Ballymena Runners)

2nd Clive Bailey (Mourne Runners)

3rd Mark Alexander (Ballymena Runners)


Men's Vet 45:

1st Neil Carty (North Belfast Harriers)

2nd Pete Grant (Team Purple)


Ladies Vet 45:

1st Diane Wilson (Dromore AC)

2nd Shileen O’Kane (Lagan Valley AC)


Men's Vet 50:

1st Deon McNeilly (Newcastle AC)

2nd Dale Mathers (Newry City Runners)

3rd David Bell (Mourne Runners)


Men's Vet 60:

1st Stewart Cunningham (Mourne Runners)

2nd Harry Teggarty (Mourne Runners)


Men's Vet 65:

1st Jim Patterson (Newcastle AC)

2nd Ricky Cowan (Mourne Runners)


Men Overall:  1st Jonny Steede (Ballymena Runners) - 5pts, 2nd Seamus Lynch (Newcastle AC) - 8pts, 3rd Sam Heron (Mourne Runners) - 14pts, 4th David Steele (Newcastle AC) - 19pts, 5th Deon McNeilly (Newcastle AC) - 20pts, 6th Alex Brennan (Ballymena Runners) - 22pts, Joint 7th - Neil Carty (North Belfast Harriers) - 26pts, Joint 7th Clive Bailey (Mourne Runners) - 26pts, 9th Emmet McAlister (Ballymena Runners) - 36pts, 10th Pete Grant (Team Purple) - 39pts, 11th Dale Mathers (Newry City Runners) - 42pts, 12th Justin Maxwell (East Coast AC) - 45pts, 13th Simon Reeve (North Belfast Harriers) - 60pts, 14th Conor Reid (Ballymena Runners) - 66pts, 15th Ricky Hanna (Mourne Runners) - 73pts, 16th David Bell (Mourne Runners) - 81pts, 17th Mark Alexander (Ballymena Runners) - 85pts, 18th Andy Gregg (Larne AC) - 86pts, 19th Stewart Cunningham (Mourne Runners) - 87pts, 20th Jim Patterson (Newcastle AC) - 88pts, 21st Derek Callan (Blayney Rockets) - 89pts, 22nd Harry Teggarty (Mourne Runners) - 97pts, 23rd Ricky Cowan (Mourne Runners) - 103pts


Ladies Overall:  1st Diane Wilson (Dromore AC) - 5pts, 2nd Shileen O'Kane (Lagan Valley AC) - 10pts, 3rd Hazel McLaughlin (Lagan Valley AC) - 15pts


All athletes, friends and family are reminded that the annual NIMRA Prize-giving function will take place in O’Hare’s Bar, Newcastle on Saturday night  (22nd November 2014) at 7.30pm.  Everyone is welcome, with a buffet available free of charge for NIMRA members and a small charge of £10 for non-members.  Please visit the NIMRA website (HERE) for further details.

Richard Coey and Catherine O'Connor claim top prizes at Griddle 10k:

The Griddle 10k 2014:

On Sunday 16th November 2014, nearly one hundred runners turned out for the annual Griddle 10k in County Down, an event which is co-hosted by East Down AC and renowned for it's tough but scenic course.


The ever consistent Richard Coey (Ballydrain Harriers) showed that he is back to the  same kind of form that saw him make a mark on the local scene last year, when he led the field home in 36:54 (1st place).  Newcastle AC's Aidan Brown ran well to secure 2nd place in 37:11, while Alan Johnston (Murlough AC) followed on from his podium finish at the Run in the Dark with another prize-winning performance, taking 3rd place in 37:24.


In the ladies race, local athlete Catherine O'Connor (East Down AC) continue to build her reputation as one of the provinces most versatile female athletes when she broke the tape in 41:21 (1st place); this not only secured top spot in the ladies race for Catherine, but a very respectable 11th place overall.  Virginia Irvine (Mourne Runners) recorded 46:28 (2nd place) before Lisa Milligan (East Down AC) completed the ladies podium in 52:08 (3rd place).


Top 3 Men:  1st Richard Coey (Ballydrain Harriers) – 36:54, 2nd Aidan Brown (Newcastle AC) – 37:11, 3rd Alan Johnston (Murlough AC) – 37:24


Top 3 Ladies:  1st Catherine O'Connor (East Down AC) – 41:21, 2nd Virginia Ervine (Mourne Runners) – 46:28, 3rd Lisa Milligan (East Down AC) – 52:08


Full Results:  The Griddle 10k 2014 Results

Athletes from Northern Ireland help UCD to IUAA Road Relay title:

Northern Ireland athletes impressive in Road and XC events:

Over the weekend, a number of athletes from Northern Ireland have been in action outside the province, most noteably at road and cross country events in Ireland and Spain.


On Saturday 15th November 2014, two of Northern Ireland's top female athletes, Ciara Mageean and Aislinn were in action at the Irish Universities Athletics Association Road Relay Championships in Maynooth, Ireland. Alongside talented team mates Ciara Everard and Ellie Hartnett, both ladies produced top class performances to lead their University, University College Dublin (UCD) to victory in a course record time.


The ladies covered 1-2-2-1 mile legs and it was Ciara Everard who set things up well; Ciara Megeean followed with a 10:16 2 mile leg.  Ellie Hartnett then covered her 2 miles in 10:53 before Aislinn Crossey completed the anchor leg in 5:10, meaning that the UCD ladies covered the 5 miles in 31:08; this was over a minute faster than their nearest rivals Dublin City University.  


The Queens University team of Christine McMahon, Lorna Fitzpatrick, Lucy Backus and Deborah Gilliland took 10th place in a time of 36:09. Queens University were also represented in the men's event, which saw each team cover 1-2-3-2-1 mile legs.  The five strong team of Max Travers, Stephen Prentice, Neil Johnson, Mark McGrady and Peter Malarkey recorded a combined time of 46:21 for 12th place.  The men's race was won by Dublin City University in 41:26 (1st place).


Full Results:  IUAA Road Relay Championships 2014 Results (Photo above courtesy of Loughlin Campion of JumpingTheGun.ie)


Elsewhere:

In Spain, Newcastle AC athlete Kerry O'Flaherty lined up in a top quality field at the IAAF Atapuerca on Sunday 16th November 2014.  The Commonwealth Games competitor, who was racing for the first time in ten weeks, completed the 7.9k route in 27:45 (24th place).  The race was won by Ethiopia's Belaynesh Oljira in 25:26 (1st place).  Kerry will now look forward to the AAI Inter-Country XC Championships in Dundalk next week (Sunday 23rd November 2014).


Full Results:  IAAF Atapuerca XC 2014 Results (including official IAAF report)

Flood, sweat and tears as hundreds enjoy 26extreme inaugural TTM 2014:

26extreme Tollymore Trail Marathon (and associated events) 2014:

On Saturday 15th November 2014, 26extreme welcomed hundreds of athletes and spectators to the scenic Tollymore Forest Park in County Down for the inaugural running of their Tollymore Trail Marathon and associated Ultra Marathon (40 miles), Half Marathon and 10k.


Shortly after sunrise, a field of approximately forty hardy ultra-runners set off on a tough 40 mile journey, which would take them around the stunning forest park three times, with each lap measuring 13.1 miles.  Immediately, Ian McAuley (Unattached) took up a position at the head of the pack; however, by the 13.1 mile mark, Peter Cromie (Springwell Running Club), Nicki McPeake (Springwell Running Club) and Darren Church (Magherafelt Harriers) were in charge at the front, with Col Conway (Unattached), Jolene Mellon (North East Runners) and Emma-Louise Kirk (Unattached) controlling the ladies race.


As the athletes moved into the final lap, the men's field had split, with Peter Cromie, having opened up a gap between himself and Nicki McPeake and Darren Church.  The ladies remained the same, but leader Col Conway, was beginning to feel the effects of a suspected hamstring strain.  The final lap saw numerous changes at the head of the men's field, with the exception of Peter Cromie at the front – Peter, who became the father of twins 24 hours earlier, celebrated a memorable victory in 5:08:38 (1st place).  


The runners up spot went to early leader Ian McAuley, who fought back in the latter stages to cross the line in 5:30:33 (2nd place).  The always impressive Nicki McPeake claimed 3rd place in 5:35:00.  A brave Col Conway battled well to secure a notable victory, leading the ladies home in 6:25:34 (1st place).  Jolene Mellon crossed the line in 6:42:10 (2nd place), while Emma-Louise Kirk continued her impressive run of podium finishes in 26extreme events when she recorded 7:05:25 for 3rd place.


On paper, the marathon looked like the most competitive race of the day,a nd in pouring rain, the athletes commenced their two lap route.  Pre-race favourite Mark McKinstry (North Belfast Harriers) lived up to his status; the fast improving athlete, who was this week selected for the County Antrim XC team led the men through the 13.1 mile marker, with Stuart Paulin (Unattached), Pat O'Hare (Unattached), Phelim McAllister (Larne AC), Michael Cultra (East Down AC) and Simon Reeve (North Belfast Harriers) all in pursuit.  Isobel Oakes (Ballinamore AC) was dominating the ladies race, with Irish athlete Eilis Connery (Unattached) and Tara Malone (Enniskillen Running Club) looking like strong contenders for the remaining podium places.


On the second of two laps, neither Mark McKinstry or Isobel Oakes could be caught; Mark excelled with as strong performance and powered into the finishing straight to win in an excellent 3:00:58 (1st place).  Despite tiring in the latter stages, Stuart Paulin held on well for 2nd place, clocking 3:09:14; Pat O'Hare, a man who regularly finishes just outside the podium places, followed just over a minute later in 3:10:57, taking a well-deserved 3rd place.  Isobel Oakes looked composed and strong as she cruised into the finish to break the tape in 3:28:31 (1st place), over twenty minutes clear of her nearest rival.  Eilis Connery was next home in 3:48:59 (2nd place), while Tara Malone completed the ladies top three in 3:55:00 (3rd place).

The biggest field of the day lined up for the Half Marathon, and like the Marathon, the start of the event was marked by a torrential rain shower. However, this did not dampen either the atmosphere, nor the spirits as the field disappeared into the depths of the forest.  


In the early stages, it was clear that the podium places would go to three of five men, namely Phil Wood (Unattached), Torben Dahl (Unattached), Bernard Brady (Larne AC), Gerard Heaney (St Peter's AC) and Peter Cole (Unattached).  It was a similar story in the ladies race, with Catherine Devitt (Unattached), Janice White (Ballymena Runners) and North Belfast Harriers ladies Helen Weir, Janice Plumb and Penny Lindsay all in contention.


As the race progressed, it was triathlete Phil Wood, who was making his mark at the front; having forged a gap, Phil then worked to increase it and this paid off as he reached the finish first in 1:25:44 (1st place).  


Bernard Brady ran well to take 2nd place in 1:27:40, with Torben Dahl following forty one seconds later in 1:28:40 (3rd place).  The North Belfast Harriers trio of Helen Weir, Penny Lindsay and Janice Plumb worked hard and were rewarded for their efforts.  In a close finish, Penny edged out Helen (2nd place – 1:40:45) for top spot after crossing the line in 1:40:38 (1st place).  Janice, in what was her first outing for the club, recorded 1:41:27 for 3rd place.


The 10k event was the final race to kick off and saw athletes complete a different loop to the competitors before them; however, this still proved challenging, especially in the heavy underfoot conditions.  Ballymena Runners men Conor Reid and Mark Alexander excelled; from the off, the pair always looked like possible podium finishers and they lived up to that billing, with Conor leading the field home in 38:15 (1st place) and Mark following in 40:26 (2nd place).  Vernon Shiels (Unattached) secured 3rd place in 41:52.

The 10k event was the final race to kick off and saw athletes complete a different loop to the competitors before them; however, this still proved challenging, especially in the heavy underfoot conditions.  


Ballymena Runners men Conor Reid and Mark Alexander excelled; from the off, the pair always looked like possible podium finishers and they lived up to that billing, with Conor leading the field home in 38:15 (1st place) and Mark following in 40:26 (2nd place).  Vernon Shiels (Unattached) secured 3rd place in 41:52.


In the ladies race, Sam McNeilly (Newcastle AC) followed up impressive outings at the Mourne Skyline GTR and the McConnell Shield XC with an excellent performance.  The local athlete covered the 6.2 mile route in 48:32 (1st place).  The ever consistent Andrea Heslip (Dromore AC) took the runners up spot in 49:33 (2nd place), before Roisin O'Donnell (Enniskillen Running Club) crossed the line in 50:33 for 3rd place.


Ultra-Marathon (40 miles) Podium Places:

Top 3 Men:  1st Peter Cromie (Springwell Running Club) – 5:08:38, 2nd Ian McAuley (Unattached) – 5:30:33, 3rd 6:42:10, 3rd Nicki McPeake (Springwell Running Club) – 5:35:00


Top 3 Ladies:  1st Col Conway (Unattached) – 6:25:34, 2nd Jolene Mellon (North East Runners) – 6:42:10, 3rd Emma-Louise Kirk (Unattached) – 7:05:25


Marathon Podium Places:

Top 3 Men:  1st Mark McKinstry (North Belfast Harriers) – 3:00:58, 2nd Stuart Paulin (Unattached) – 3:09:14, 3rd Pat O'Hare (Unattached) – 3:10:57


Top 3 Ladies:  1st Isobel Oakes (Ballinamore AC) – 3:28:21, 2nd Eilis Connery (Unattached) – 3:48:59, 3rd Tara Malone (Enniskillen Running Club) – 3:55:00


Half Marathon Podium Places:

Top 3 Men:  1st Phil Wood (Unattached) – 1:25:44, 2nd Bernard Brady (Larne AC) – 1:27:40, 3rd Torben Dahl (Unattached) – 1:28:21


Top 3 Ladies:  1st Penny Lindsay (North Belfast Harriers) – 1:40:38, 2nd Helen Weir (North Belfast Harriers) – 1:40:45, 3rd Janice Plumb (East Coast AC) – 1:41:27


10k Podium Places:

Top 3 Men:  1st Conor Reid (Ballymena Runners) – 38:15, 2nd Mark Alexander (Ballymena Runners) – 40:26, 3rd Vernon Shiels (Unattached) – 41:52


Top 3 Ladies:  1st Sam McNeilly (Newcastle AC) – 48:32, 2nd Andrea Heslip (Dromore AC) – 49:33, 3rd Roisin O'Donnell (Enniskillen Running Club) – 50:33


Full Results:  26extreme Tollymore Trail Marathon (and associated events) 2014 Provisional Results

County Antrim XC team announced for upcoming Inter-County Cross Country:

County Antrim XC team announced:

This week, selectors for the County Antrim Cross Country team have announced their Junior and Senior Men's teams for the upcoming Inter-County Cross Country Championships, which are set to take place in Dundalk, Ireland on Sunday 23rd November 2014.


The teams, which were selected on recent form and availability, are as follows:


Junior Mens Team:  Andrew Wright (Willowfield Harriers), Ryan Sharkey (Lagan Valley AC), Conal McCambridge  (North Belfast Harriers), Odhran Copeland (Beechmount Harriers), Paddy Robb (St. Malachy's AC), James Smyth (St. Malachy's AC), Chris Connolly (St. Malachy's AC), Darryl McNicholl (St. Malachy's AC)

 

Senior Mens Team:  Joe McAlister  (St. Malachy's AC), Kevin Seaward (St. Malachy's AC), Paul Pollock (Annadale Striders), Ryan McDermott (Annadale Striders) *U23*, Stephen Prentice (Annadale Striders) *U23*, John Frazer (Crusaders AC), Chris Madden (City of Lisburn AC), Mark McKinstry (North Belfast Harriers), Alan O'Hara (North Belfast Harriers), Andrew Considine (North Belfast Harriers), Adam Boyd  (North Belfast Harriers)


As yet, no information is available in relation to the other Northern Ireland based County teams, but these will be published if/when we receive the information.  

Weekend Preview:  All roads lead to Tollymore for the 26extreme TTM 2014...

Weekend Preview:  Athletes aim for TTM 2014 and The Griddle 10k...

As the Athletics NI Cross Country League takes a back seat for a week or two, the local running community will turn to other events to get their weekly competition fix; namely the 26extreme Tollymore Trail Marathon and associated events (including the Ultra Marathon, Half Marathon and 10k) and the Griddle 10k.  Athletes from Northern Ireland will also be in action at the university road relays in Dublin, Ireland.


The action will commence early (8am) on Saturday 15th November 2014, when the hardy long distance enthusiasts set off on their 40 mile journey at the 26extreme Tollymore Ultra Marathon, in the scenic Tollymore Forest Park in County Down.


Amongst those taking to the start line will be experienced and talented ultra-runner Nicki McPeake (Springwell Running Club).  Nicki is a regular on the podium and will be aiming to replicate the form that saw him claim victory at the 26extreme Titanic 101k; however, having suffered from severe cramp at the Causeway Coast Ultra in September (2014), which ultimately led to him withdrawing from the event, Nicki will have an extra mental barrier to overcome if he is to claim top honours.  Newry City Runners’ Sean Goodman and Unattached athlete Sean Nickell are both consistent performers and will also play a part in proceedings.  Declan McElroy (City of Lisburn AC) and Phillip Vint (East Down AC) should also go well.  The ladies Ultra looks like it could be a three way battle between Col Conway (Club Unknown), Joelene Mellon (North East Runners) and Emma-Louise Kirk (Unattached).  All three ladies are regulars on the podium and possess the quality and experience required to claim a podium spot.


The marathon, which starts at 10am and covers two laps, looks to be one of the most competitive races of the day and will surely provide an interesting spectacle for onlookers.  North Belfast Harriers' Mark McKinstry is the stand out favourite, especially considering his recent form off-road; the down to earth athlete, who has improved at a considerable rate over the late twelve months; he has won the Gr8 Dundrum Run and the Run N' Bann 5k in recent months, but arguably his best performances have come in races that he hasn't won, like the Springwell XC, were he secured fourth place in a classy field.  Mark will be joined on the start line by club mate Brendan Grew (North Belfast Harriers) a podium finisher at both the Gr8 Dundrum Run and the Decathlon Half Marathon, and Justin Maxwell (East Coast AC), who'll make a return to competition and step up the miles after a planned rest period. Stuart Paulin (Unattached) will also be worth watching and will be hot on the heels of the aforementioned trio, while Mark McManus (East Coast AC), Michael Cultra (East Down AC), Simon Reeve (North Belfast Harriers) and Phelim McAllister (Larne AC) should also perform well.

The ladies race will also be an interesting affair, with a number of athletes more than capable of take the top prize; these include Enniskillen Running Clubs Tara Malone and Ballymena Runners' Janice White, both of whom have fairly speedy road marathon times of 3:16:25 and 3:20:35 respectively.  Seapark AC's Gillian Cordner (pictured right) will also play a part at the front, while Nicola Mathers (Murlough AC), Eimear McCracken (Newry City Runners) and Caroline Wade (Newry City Runners) will be waiting to pounce should any of the mentioned ladies faulter.


At 12pm, the Half Marathon competitors will set off on their one lap jaunt around the forest, and Phil Wood (Unattached), Bernard Brady (Larne AC), Geoff Smyth (Unattached) and Dan Spencer (East Coast AC) will all have their eyes on a prize-winning place.  Phil, a recognised multi-sport athlete has kept a reasonably low profile over the last year or so, but the quality athlete wouldn't go into a 13.1 mile event unless he was ready, which makes for an excellent race.  Peter Glass (North Down AC) and Neal Skelton (Unattached) will also hope to be involved at the competitive end of the pack.  


It's hard to look past Karen Alexander (Acrons AC) for the ladies title; the always impressive athlete has enjoyed wins at the Gr8 Dundrum Run and Run 4 Rescue 10 mile race in recent weeks and will be gunning for a similar outcome here.  North Belfast Harriers' Helen Weir will be a podium contender, while Eileen Stevenson (St Peter's AC), Janice Plumb (Unattached), Claire Oliphant (County Antrim Harriers) and Penny Lindsay will be aiming for highly placed finishes.


The final race to start at the 26extreme Tollymore event will be the 10k (2pm) and the female dominated line-up will include fifth and sixth place finishers in the ladies category at the recent Mourne Skyline GTR, Sam McNeilly (Newcastle AC) and Sarah Buckley (Unattached).  Sam McNeilly has also impressed at recent cross country events in Ballyclare and Jordanstown.  Christine Caulfield (Ballymena Runners), Andrea Heslip (Dromore AC) and Country Antrim Harriers' Ally Bennett and Kim Gleave should also finish well up the field. Ronan Barr (Unattached) and Tim Baxter (Unattached) are amongst the men lining up for the 10k.


Also on Saturday 15th November 2014, two well known Northern Ireland athletes will represent their college, UCD (University College Dublin) at the Irish Universities Athletics Association (IUAA) Road Relay Championships in Maynooth, Ireland.  Newry AC's Aislinn Crossey will take on Leg 1 of the 1 mile, 2 mile, 2 mile and 1 mile  event, while the in-form Ciara Mageean (UCD) will follow on in one of the 2 miles legs.


On Sunday 16th November 2014, respected Race Director Joe Quinn and his team will welcome athletes from across Northern Ireland for the annual Saul GAC 'Griddle 10k' road race in County Down.


The challenging course has not and will not put off athletes, as everyone strives to produce the best performance that they can.  It is likely that 2013 winners Brendan Teer (East Down AC) and Heather Foley (Unattached) should return to defend their titles and will prove hard to beat going by recent form.  Brendan produced a top class effort at last week's McConnell Shield XC when he finished exceptionally well to claim the runners up spot. David McNeilly (Newcastle AC), Barrie Atkinson (East Down AC), Richard Coey (Ballydrain Harriers), Nigel Grier (Dromore AC) and Thomas Leitch (Orangegrove AC) will all be there or there abouts.  Aside from the aforementioned Heather Foley, local athletes Catherine O'Connor (East Down AC) and Laura Gardiner (East Down AC) may well toe the line and they could well have Lagan Valley AC ladies Catriona Donaldson and Julie Murphy for company.


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.

Madden, McCoy, Trainor and Graham win at 'Run in the Dark' event:

Run in the Dark 2014:

On Wednesday 12th November 2014, approximately one thousand five hundred athletes descended on the stunning home of Northern Ireland's Executive, Stormont Estate in Belfast for the annual 'Run in the Dark' 5k and 10k races, which were part of a worldwide initiative in over 30 cities to raise funds to assist people with spinal injuries (full story available at www.runinthedark.org).


In perfect running conditions, a seemingly endless field of runners created an excellent spectacle as their flickering red lights negotiated the hill towards Parliament Buildings.  The 5k race consisted of one lap, while the 10k competitors took on two laps of the course, which incorporated the roads and paths within the Estate and surrounding streets, including the Newtownards Road where the thousands of runners would re-enter the well lit grounds and make their way into the finish. 


After only seventeen minutes, information from the course suggested that the lead runners were on their way to the finish and this did indeed prove to be the case, with Dub Runners' James Trainor coming into sight first; Springwell Running Club's Chris Denton followed.  In the end, it was James who claimed victory in 17:37 (1st place), while Chris took 2nd place in 17:46.  Gavin Campbell (Unattached) secured 3rd place in 18:04.


Judi Graham (North Belfast Harriers) returned to competition in style with a classy performance.  Judi led the ladies home, breaking the infamous twenty minute barrier after crossing the line in 19:45 (1st place).  Ruth Robinson (Unattached) recorded 20:10 (2nd place), while Jodi Smith (North Down AC) completed the ladies top three in 22:14 (3rd place).

As the 10k athletes entered their final 5k, City of Lisburn AC man Chris Madden had a commanding lead, with Paul Woodman (Orangegrove AC), Alan Johnston (Murlough AC) and Alastair Duffield (Unattached) in tow.  Established mountain runner Taryn McCoy (BARF) looked strong, leading the ladies through half-way; Claire Quigley (Unattached), Stephanie Campbell (City of Lisburn AC) and Anna Blake (Willowfield Harriers) followed.


The in-form Chris Madden, who had an excellent outing at the McConnell Shield XC on Saturday (8th November 2014), further increased the gap between himself and the chasing men before breaking the tape in 34:59 (1st place).  


It was a different story behind though, with Alan Johnston catching Paul Woodman to take 2nd place in 37:14; Paul, who also ran well, claimed the final podium place in 37:27 (3rd place).


In the ladies event, there were no major changes at the head of the pack, meaning that off-road expert Taryn McCoy celebrated a rare tarmac outing with a well-deserved victory in 44:19 (1st place).  A tired but happy Stephanie Campbell finished in 44:48 (2nd place), while Claire Quigley secured 3rd place in 45:09.


5k Race Podium Places:

Top 3 Men:  1st James Trainor (Dub Runners) – 17:37, 2nd Chris Denton (Springwell Running Club) – 17:46, 3rd Gavin Campbell (Unattached) – 18:04


Top 3 Ladies:  1st Judi Graham (North Belfast Harriers) – 19:45, 2nd Ruth Robinson (Unattached) – 20:10, 3rd Jodi Smith (North Down AC) – 22:14


10k Race Podium Places:

Top 3 Men:  1st Chris Madden (City of Lisburn AC) – 34:59, 2nd Alan Johnston (Murlough AC) – 37:14, 3rd Paul Woodman (Orangegrove AC) – 37:27


Top 3 Ladies:  1st Taryn McCoy (BARF) – 44:19, 2nd Stephanie Campbell (Unattached) – 44:48, 3rd Claire Quigley (Unattached) – 45:09


Full Results:  Run in the Dark 5k and 10k 2014 Results

McKee, Alexander, Hannigan and Sandford excel at Run 4 Rescue event:

Athletes turn out in support of the Mourne Mountain Rescue Team:

On Saturday 8th November 2014, the Annalong Community Association and Mourne Runners hosted the Run 4 Rescue 10 mile race in Annalong (County Down).  The event was organised to raise funds for the very worthwhile Mourne Mountain Rescue Team and attracted athletes from across the province.


After a morning of bad weather, things cleared up as the participants set off along the Annalong coastal path, climbing steadily towards Annalong Wood, where they would negotiate a small section of trail before making their way to the finish in Annalong Village.  At the front, a group containing Mourne Runners men William McKee and Sam Herron, alongside Dale Mathers (Newry City Runners), Mark Kendall (Newcastle AC) and Alan Johnston (Murlough AC) always looked like the main contenders; the men’s recent form also suggested that it would be an excellent battle.  Track star Lee Magennis (Newry AC) and Newcastle AC’s Alan Strachan also looked good, while in the ladies race, Karen Alexander (Acorns AC) started strongly, with Hazel McLaughlin (Lagan Valley AC) and Virginia Ervine (Mourne Runners) in pursuit.


As the athletes covered the challenging but enjoyable route, the field began to split, with William McKee moving clear.  Behind, Alan Johnston was using his road speed to hold off Dale Mathers and recent Dublin Marathon finisher Mark Kendall.  In the end, William’s lead and his pace on the final section into the Village proved to much for the chasing men, and the Mourne Runners star claimed a well-deserved victory in 1:02:26 (1st place). Alan Johnston followed just under a minute later in 1:03:16 (2nd place), while the ever consistent Dale Mathers completed the top three in 1:03:57 (3rd place).


Karen Alexander was the outstanding performer in the ladies race; the Northern Ireland international increased her lead at the front in an impressive fashion before finishing over ten minutes clear of her nearest rival.  Karen clocked 1:07:52 (1st place) and was joined in the finish area by fellow international, Hazel McLaughlin, who clocked 1:17:09 (2nd place).  Viriginia Ervine covered the distance in 1:18:04, which secured 3rd place.


In the associated 4 mile race, Murlough AC’s Michael Hannigan claimed victory in 29:27 (1st place), but the most impressive performance came from established mountain runner Anne Sandford (Lagan Valley AC), who not only won the ladies race in 29:53 (1st place), but on doing so, claimed second place overall.  Mourne Runners’ Curtis Bailey (30:42) and Unattached athlete Andy Spence (32:16) took 2nd place and 3rd place in the men’s race respectively, with Murlough AC’s Anne McCormick (2nd place - 31:58) and Unattached athlete Glenda Graham (3rd place - 33:59) taking the other podium places in the ladies category.


Podium Places (10 mile Race):

Top 3 Men:  1st William McKee (Mourne Runners) – 1:02:26, 2nd Alan Johnston (Murlough AC) – 1:03:16, 3rd Dale Mathers (Newry City Runners) – 1:03:57


Top 3 Ladies:  1st Karen Alexander (Acorns AC) - 1:07:52, 2nd Hazel McLaughlin (Lagan Valley AC) - 1:17:09, 3rd Virginia Ervine (Mourne Runners) - 1:18:04


Podium Places (4 mile Race):

Top 3 Men:  1st Michael Hannigan (Murlough AC) – 29:27, 2nd Curtis Bailey (Mourne Runners) – 30:42, 3rd Andy Spence (Unattached) – 32:16


Top 3 Ladies:  1st Anne Sandford (Lagan Valley AC) – 29:53, 2nd Anne McCormick (Murlough AC) – 31:58, 3rd Glenda Graham (Unattached) – 33:59


Full Results:  Run 4 Rescue 10m Race 2014 Results and Run 4 Rescue 4m Race 2014 Results

Local athletes claim titles at NI & Ulster Age Group XC Championships:

NI & Ulster Uneven Age Group and Novice XC Championships 2014:

On Sunday 9th November 2014, a large number of athletes from Northern Ireland travelled south to County Cavan (Ireland) for the Northern Ireland & Ulster 'Uneven Age Group Championships', which also included the NI & Ulster Novice Championships.


Prior to the senior races kicking off, there were significant performances by Northern Ireland based athletes in the junior events.  In truth, local athletes dominated the podium in the Under 15, Under 17 and Under 19 categories.  


However, it was a medal in the Under 11 category that got the day off to a good start when 3 Ways AC (Newry) athlete Olivia Hall claimed a bronze.  Although there were no individual medals for NI athletes in the Under 13 category, City of Lisburn AC and Lagan Valley AC picked up gold and silver medals (in the team competition) respectively.


In the Under 15 races, Omagh Harriers' Sean Corry and City of Lisburn AC's Olivia Nelson claimed gold medals in their respective races, with Calum Morris (City of Lisburn AC) and Enya Haigney (Omagh Harriers) taking silver medals; Billy Campbell (Burren AC) and Abigail McBroom (Springwell Running Club) completed the Northern Ireland medal haul in the Under 15 category when they collected bronze medals.  


In the team competition, County Down based club Burren AC won the gold in the boy's race, with Omagh Harriers taking silver.  Omagh Harriers' girl's claimed the club bragging rights when they bettered the boy's achievements, taking gold in their category.  Springwell Running Club girls also took to the podium, collecting silver medals.  


There was similar success for local athletes in the Under 17 races, with the ever impressive Christy Conlon (Beechmount Harriers) once again showing his class to take gold; Omagh Harriers' Edel Monaghan achieved the same in the girls race, and therefore topped the podium.  Eoin McCann (St Malachy's AC) and Toni Moore (Omagh Harriers) claimed silver medals, while Banbridge AC's Patrick McNiff was awarded a bronze medal.  In the ladies team standings, Willowfield Harriers were rewarded for their close packing when they topped the podium and were awarded gold medals; fellow NI based club Omagh Harriers followed in the silver medal position.

In his final race in the 'Age Group Championships', St Malachy's AC star Paddy Robb produced an excellent performance to take top spot in the Under 19 race; he collected the associated gold medal.  Finn Valley AC's Oisin Gallen and City of Lisburn AC's Jonny Whan took silver and bronze medals respectively.  In the ladies Under 19 race, were eight of the top ten finishers were Northern Ireland based athletes, Aife McSheffrey (Springwell Running Club) picked up silver, while Eilish Flanagan (Omagh Harriers) took the bronze medal.  Lagan Valley AC topped the ladies team podium and were awarded gold medals.


Next up were the senior athletes for the NI & Ulster Novice XC Championships;  the ladies took on a 4k course, while the men were faced with a 6k route.  In the ladies race, which was won by Letterkenny AC's Shauna McGeehan in 17:43 (1st place), young Derry City Track Club athlete Hannah McGowan was the first recognisable NI finisher in 18:18 (6th place).  Foyle Valley AC's Gemma McGinty claimed a top ten finish in 18:37 (9th place) and on doing so, assisted her team in claiming 4th place in the overall team competition, which was won by Finn Valley AC.


There was local representation on the men's individual podium, when Lochlainn Connolly (City of Derry AC) claimed 2nd place in 21:46, behind race winner Connor Duffy (Glaslough Harriers), who won in 20:48 (1st place). Another City of Derry AC man, Ronan McLaughlin, took 5th place in 22:10, while Dromore AC's Nigel McKibbin (22:31) and Acorns AC's Aaron Meharg (22:37) also secured top ten places, achieving 7th place and 10th place respectively.  The impressive performances by the local men saw City of Derry AC take 2nd place in the team standings, with Acorns AC achieving 3rd place.  Clones AC topped the men's team competition.


Full Results:  NI & Ulster Uneven Agae Group Championships and NI & Ulster Novice Cross Country Championships 2014 Results

Ryan McDermott & Aileen Reid take individual honours at McConnell Shield XC:

East Antrim Harriers host McConnell Shield XC:

On Saturday 8th November 2014, well-respected Ballyclare based club East Antrim Harriers hosted the 80th annual running of their McConnell Shield Cross Country at Sixmilewater Park in Ballyclare.


Despite the cold and wet conditions, hundreds of athletes and spectators turned out for what proved to be an excellent day of racing, with the junior and senior races attracting notable numbers, especially considering that the NI & Ulster Uneven Age Group and Novice Championships will take place in Ireland tomorrow (Sunday 9th November 2014).


After the impressive Under 14 and Under 16 events had caught the attention of the gathered crowds, it was time for the Ladies and Vet60+ Men to take to the start line for their 3 mile race.


As the starters horn sounded, established triathlete and winner of the recent Jordanstown XC, Aileen Reid (City of Derry AC) and the fast starting pairing of Cathy McCourt (North Belfast Harriers) and Jessica Craig (North Down AC) immediately moved to the head of the pack.  A chasing pack of Catherine O'Connor (East Down AC), Jennifer Black (Orangegrove AC), Marina Campbell (City of Derry AC), Gemma Turley (Springwell Running Club) and Jackie McGinley (City of Derry AC) all looked in good form.


As the athletes emerged to enter their second of three laps, Aileen and Cathy had broken clear of Jessica, who in-turn, held a small gap between herself and Jennifer Black and Marina Campbell.  As the race progressed into the latter stages, Aileen appeared to further up the pace and began to move clear of Cathy at the front.  Amid cheers from the spectators, Aileen negotiated the final downhill section and came onto the home straight to break the tape in 18:12 (1st place).  Cathy McCourt was rewarded for an excellent run when she secured 2nd place in 18:15 (2nd place), while Jessica Craig continued her impressive start to the cross country season with another podium spot, taking 3rd place in 18:33.  City of Derry AC's Peter Lilburn ran well to lead the Vet60+ men home in 18:51.

The Men's 5 mile race attracted 168 competitors, which included a plethora of the provinces most talented athletes; from the off, a four man group of Ryan McDermott (Annadale Striders), Joe McAlister (St Malachy's AC), Andrew Wright (Willowfield Harriers) and Brendan Teer (East Down AC) took up a position at the front and this is where the battle for top spot would take place.  Behind, Scott Rankin (Foyle Valley AC) and Allan Bogle (City of Derry AC) ran well, but just couldn't catch hold of the men ahead of them.  Meanwhile, a little further back, Stephen Prentice (Annadale Striders), Seamus Lynch (Newcastle AC), Chris Madden (City of Lisburn AC), Mark McKinstry (North Belfast Harriers) and the returning North Belfast Harriers duo of Connor Magill and Alan O'Hara were also enjoying personal battles.


Current NI & Ulster Junior XC Champion Ryan McDermott looked a dominant figure at the front; lap after lap, the towering Annadale Striders man would counteract any move by Joe, Andrew or Brendan.  That was until the fourth lap, when he (Ryan) made a surge himself; Joe McAlister followed and the remaining men split, with Brendan following and the impressive Willowfield Harriers youngster Andrew Wright just adrift of him.


Despite their efforts, none of the chasing trio were able to match Ryan's move and as the men went into the final lap, this lead had grown to approximately 10-12 metres, with Joe, Brendan and Andrew following in that order.  After negotiating his way through the athletes he had lapped, Ryan McDermott sped into the finishing straight, covering the final yards quickly to take a well deserved victory in 25:48 (1st place).  A final gutsy surge from Brendan Teer saw the East Down AC man take the runners up spot in 25:52 (2nd place), with Joe McAlister completing the top three in 25:59 (3rd place).


Current NI & Ulster Junior XC team Champions Newcastle AC, who currently top the Athletics NI Cross Country League 2014/15, continued to add silverware to their fast filling cabinet when they secured the prestigious McConnell Shield XC team shield.


Top 3 Men (5 miles):  1st Ryan McDermott (Annadale Striders) – 25:48, 2nd Brendan Teer (East Down AC) – 25:52, 3rd Joe McAlister (St Malachy's AC) – 25:59


Top 3 Ladies (3 miles):  1st Aileen Reid (City of Derry AC) – 18:12, 2nd Cathy McCourt (North Belfast Harriers) – 18:15, 3rd Jessica Craig (North Down AC) – 18:33


Full Results:  McConnell Shield XC 2014 Results - Photos from the McConnell Shield XC are available within our Photo Gallery.

Athletics NI Cross Country League 2014/15 round-up:

Athletics NI XC League 2014/15 round-up (courtesy of Athletics NI):

The 2014/15 Athletics Northern Ireland Cross Country League is now approaching Round 4 and things are becoming increasingly competitive amongst the participating clubs.


The third event of the League saw runners travel to Coleraine for the Springwell Cross Country on Saturday 1st November 2014.  The ever popular event enjoyed a strong turnout in both the Senior Men’s and Women’s races with Springwell Running Club athletes Ritchie Nicholls and Eimear Mullan topping the podium in their respective races.


Once again an impressive number of runners took to the line with 83 finishing in the Women’s race and 142 in the Men’s.  Springwell Running Club's (42 points) strong performance on the day saw them move to the top of the Women’s table followed by City of Derry Spartans AC in second (39 points).  North Down AC did not field a team for the race and subsequently dropped two places and now sit in third with 29 points. 


In the Men’s event, Newcastle AC scored 12 to hold their place as top scoring club with 41 points overall. City of Derry Spartans AC are Newcastle AC's closest rivals sitting in second place with 35 points.  North Belfast Harriers are now joined by Springwell RC in third, both teams go into Round 4 with 25 points.  


Round 4 of the League will take place at tomorrow’s (Saturday 8th November 2014) 80th McConnell Shield in Ballyclare.  There will then be a brief break with Round 5, the Malcolm Cup, taking place on Saturday 6th December 2014.


Full details of the cross country league can be found on the Athletics NI website HERE.

Virgin Money London Marathon places available to NI clubs:

VLM places available for Northern Ireland based clubs:

The Virgin Money London Marathon will once again be supporting affiliated clubs in the UK by allocating places to them for the 2015 race.


To qualify for club entries, your athletics club must be affiliated to Athletics Northern Ireland. The number of places allocated are based on the number of athletes aged 18 or over that a club has registered with Athletics Northern Ireland. They are as follows:


Allocated places:

- If you club membership is between 1-50, you will be allocated 1 place.

- If your club membership is between 51-100, you will be allocated 2 places.


- If your club membership is between 101-200, you will be allocated 3 places.

- If your club membership is between 201-300, you will be allocated 4 places.

- If your club membership is over 301, you will be allocated 5 places.


To find out more about club affiliation and athlete registration with Athletics Northern Ireland please visit www.athleticsni.org/clubs. The total number of registered athletes may be found using online database login provided to each club. Note: these numbers refer to registered athletes, not total club members, and only over 18s are included in the figures for purposes of calculating London Marathon places.


For the 2015 event the entry system for club entries for the Virgin London Marathon is now available online at www.virginmoneylondonmarathon.com/en-gb/how-to-enter/british-athletics-club-entry/


Clubs must register, to do so Club Secretaries need to submit their application via the above link by Friday 5th December 2014 at 17:00; if successful they will be sent a username and password to register their club runners into the event.


It is the Club Secretary’s responsibility to ensure runners are entered and completed by the closing date of Friday 23rd January 2015 at 17:00; failure to register will result in the runner not gaining an entry into the event.

Conor Bradley crowned Donegal Cross Country Champion:

Donegal Cross Country Championships 2014:

On Sunday 2nd November 2014, a number of Northern Ireland based athletes made the short border crossing to Stranolar, County Donegal (Ireland) for the County Donegal Senior Cross Country Championships.


Current Athletics NI 10k (Road) Champion, Conor Bradley (City of Derry AC) added another notable achievement to his CV when he led the field home in what was an exciting 10k race.  The Spartan athlete broke the tape in 34:31 (1st place); this not only secured top spot, but also the associated gold medal.  Northern Ireland based Letterkenny AC man Ciaran Doherty took 3rd place in 35:11.  


There was further success for the Northern Ireland based runners in the ladies 5k race, with Lifford AC's Claire McGuigan picking up a bronze medal after crossing the line in 20:37 (3rd place).  The race was won by Teresa Doherty (Finn Valley AC) in 18:48 (1st place).


Full Results:  Donegal Senior Cross Country Championships 2014 Results

Purdy, Fitzpatrick, Rowan and Black celebrate at Decathlon event:

Decathlon Half Marathon and 10k 2014:

On Sunday 2nd November 2014, well over three hundred athletes braved blustery conditions to take part in the annual Decathlon 10k and Half Marathon events, held within Belfast harbour Estate.  The course, being flat and fast boasts personal bests potential, however, the aforementioned weather conditions made this difficult.


In saying that, it did not stop several athletes producing top quality performances; in the Half Marathon, Annadale Striders' Keith Purdy was in exceptional form, leading from start to finish to claim victory by over four minutes.  The Belfast City Half Marathon podium finisher clocked 1:11:20 (1st place) for the distance and was followed across the line by Conor Curran (North Belfast Harriers).  Conor recorded 1:15:30 (2nd place), while his club mate Brendan Grew (North Belfast Harriers) completed the men's top three in 1:16:09 (3rd place).


The ladies Half Marathon winner was just as impressive; Anne Fitzpatick (Unattached) looked a class apart as she cruised home seven minutes clear of her nearest rival in 1:30:25 (1st place).  Valerie McDonough (North Down AC) sealed 2nd place in 1:37:50, before Martina Elliot (Unattached) finished well to edge out Unattached athletes Lynda McDonald (4th place – 1:39:33) and Kate McAvoy (5th place – 1:39:53) for 3rd place in a time of 1:39:28.


The men's 10k event was probably the closest race of the day, with pre-race favourites Paul Rowan (Willowfield Harriers) and Andrew Considine (North Belfast Harriers) looking like the main contenders throughout.  Eventually, veteran star Paul  secured victory in a time of 33:43 (1st place), just ahead of Andrew, who crossed the line in 33:52 (2nd place).  Willowfield Harriers' Chris Moren (35:31) ran well to finish in 3rd place.


Jenny Black (Orangegrove AC) continued what has been an excellent year with another notable outing; the Orangegrove AC athlete, who only returned to the sport last year, followed on from her top class run at the recent NI Road Relay Championships, to win the ladies 10k in 37:57 (1st place).  Maeve Lavery (Dub Runners) took 2nd place in 39:30, while Leann Gibson (Orangegrove AC) completed the prize-winners in 40:48 (3rd place).


Half Marathon Podium Places:

Top 3 Men:  1st Keith Purdy (Annadale Striders) – 1:11:20, 2nd Conor Curran (North Belfast Harriers) – 1:15:30, 3rd Brendan Grew (North Belfast Harriers) – 1:16:09


Top 3 Ladies:  1st Anne Fitzpatrick (Unattached) – 1:30:25, 2nd Valerie McDonagh (North Down AC) – 1:37:50, 3rd Martina Elliot (Unattached) – 1:39:28


10k Podium Places:

Top 3 Men:  1st Paul Rowan (Willowfield Harriers) – 33:43, 2nd Andrew Considine (North Belfast Harriers) – 33:52, 3rd Chris Moren (Willowfield Harriers) – 35:51


Top 3 Ladies:  1st Jenny Black (Orangegrove AC) – 37:57, Maeve Lavery (Dub Runners) – 39:30, 3rd Leann Gibson (Orangegrove AC) – 40:48


Full Results:  Decathlon 10k and Half Marathon 2014 Results

Gavin Corey and Collette McCourt excel at Sperrin Harriers Winter League (R1):

Sperrin Harriers host Race 1 of their Winter Trail Series 2014/15:

On Saturday 1st November 2014, over one hundred and thirty athletes from across Northern Ireland descended on the scenic Davagh Forest in the heart of the Sperrin Mountains for the first race of the 2014/15 Sperrin Harriers Winter Trail Series.  The Series offers athletes races over a variety of distances, but on this ocassion they were faced with a tough 10k course.


International duathlete Gavin Corey (Sperrin Harriers) looked good from the off and made his intentions clear as he moved clear of the chasing pack; Ballymena Runners' Alex Brennan employed a similar tactic as he chased Gavin, meanwhile, Delfim Pimentel (Unattached), James Crossan (Lifford AC), Chris McPeake (City of Derry AC) and Michael Kerr (Carmen Runners) were all vying for a prize-winning place.  There was no catching the talented Gavin Corey as he increased his lead at the front before winning in 37:35 (1st place).  Alex Brennan (Ballymena Runners) continued what has been an excellent year, securing the runners up spot in 38:11 (2nd place), before Delfim Pimentel (39:16) just edged out James Crossan (4th place – 39:19) for 3rd place.


Collette McCourt (Dub Runners) showed no signs of fatigue after her impressive outing at the Dublin Marathon when she led the ladies home in 45:56 (1st place), over one minute clear of her nearest rival, the host clubs Natalie Hall, who took 2nd place in 47:01.  The ever consistent Helen Weir (North Belfast Harriers) completed the ladies podium in 47:40 (3rd place).


Top 3 Men:  1st Gavin Corey (Sperrin Harriers) – 37:35, 2nd Alex Brennan (Ballymena Runners) – 38:11, 3rd Delfim Pimentel (Unattached) – 39:16


Top 3 Ladies:  1st Collette McCourt (Dub Runners) – 45:56, 2nd Natalie Hall (Sperrin Harriers) – 47:01, 3rd Helen Weir (North Belfast Harriers) – 47:40


Full Results:  Sperrin Harriers Winter Trail Series (Race 1) 2014 Results

Eimear Mullan and Ritchie Nicholls secure XC double for Springwell RC:

Springwell Cross Country 2014:

On Saturday 1st November 2014, Springwell Running Club hosted the third race in the Athletics Northern Ireland Cross Country League 2014/15, the Springwell Cross Country, which took place in the University of Ulster's Coleraine Campus.


The well-organised junior races attracted future stars from all corners of Northern Ireland and proved a fitting 'build up' for the adult races which followed.  


The open and veteran ladies were first up for their 3 mile race, which featured several of the front runners from the recent cross country events in Comber and Jordanstown; however, it was an athlete who hasn't featured so far who dominated proceedings.  Triathlete and current NI & Ulster Senior XC Champion Eimear Mullan (Springwell Running Club) showed her class, leading from start to finish before crossing the line in 18:00 (1st place).  


Behind, a group containing Cathy McCourt (North Belfast Harriers), Sonia Knox (Springwell Running Club) and North Down AC duo Jessica Craig and Rachel Gibson battled it out for the remaining podium places.  After an exciting race, it was Jessica Craig, a podium finisher at the Comber Cup XC and Bobby Rea XC, who claimed 2nd place in 19:22; Cathy McCourt followed just four seconds later in 19:26 (3rd place).


The open and veteran men started their race together; however, the 'open' athletes completed 5 miles, while the veteran runners veered off to finish after 3 miles.  Possibly inspired by his Springwell Running Club club mate (Eimear Mullan), Ritchie Nicholls, looked strong from the off and was joined at the front by Scott Rankin (Foyle Valley AC) and Allan Bogle (City of Derry AC); behind, a close group containing the likes of Mark McKinstry (North Belfast Harriers), Seamus Lynch (Newcastle AC), David O'Flaherty (Newcastle AC), James Budde (North Down AC) and Neil Johnston (Springwell Running Club)  were waiting to pounce.  As the race progressed, Ritchie Nicholls began to move clear of Allan Bogle and Scott Rankin – Eventually, Ritchie, a top performer for Springwell RC in last years XC League, broke the tape in 27:15 (1st place) to win.  Scott Rankin recorded 28:09 for 2nd place, finishing just ahead of the fast finishing Neil Johnston who secured 3rd place in 28:12. 


In the Vet60+ 3 mile competition, Ballymena Runners' Ray Curran crossed the line first in 20:48 (1st place), before former Athletics NI President Gerry Lynch (City of Derry AC) and Orangegrove AC's Brian Todd, who recorded 21:07 (2nd place) and 22:07 (3rd place) respectively.


Top 3 Ladies (3 miles):  1st Eimear Mullan (Springwell Running Club) – 18:00, 2nd Jessica Craig (North Down AC) – 19:22, 3rd Cathy McCourt (North Belfast Harriers) – 19:26


Top 3 Men (5 miles): 1st Ritchie Nicholls (Springwell Running Club) – 27:15, 2nd Scott Rankin (Foyle Valley AC) – 28:09, 3rd Neil Johnston (Springwell Running Club) – 28:12


Top 3 Vet60+ Men (3 miles):  1st Ray Curran (Ballymena Runners) – 20:48, 2nd Gerry Lynch (City of Derry AC) – 21:07, 3rd Brian Todd (Orangegrove AC) – 22:07


Full Results:  Springwell XC 2014 Results

Note - October 2014 'News' is available HERE or by following the navigational bar at the top of the page.  This includes our most recent Weekend Preview