Northern Ireland Running

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Weekend Preview:  NI & Ulster Road Relay Championships take centre stage!

Weekend Preview:  NI & Ulster (Road) Relay Championships take centre stage!

A new month and another weekend is upon us, and both (the month and the weekend) bring excitement!  We (NiRunning) have our Garmin Mourne Skyline Mountain-Trail Race later in the month!  


However, this coming weekend brings one of our favourite annual events, the Northern Ireland & Ulster Road Relay Championships, which will once again be hosted by Orangegrove AC in the impressive Victoria Park, Belfast.


Given its stature, support and prominence within the local calendar, our preview will very much focus on the NI & Ulster Road Relay Championships.  


Although, it’s not the only event taking place over the next few days, with the Slieve Gallion Mountain Race, Marty Gallagher Memorial 5k and the Runher Titanic 10k both providing excellent options.  Local athletes will also be in action outside the province, with familiar faces set to toe the line at major events in Ireland and Scotland.


NI & Ulster (Road) Relay Championships 2015:

On Saturday 3rd October 2015, athletes from the length and breadth of the province will descend on Victoria Park in Belfast as they represent their clubs in one of Northern Ireland's premier running events, the NI & Ulster Road Relay Championships.  The event, which is hosted by Orangegrove AC, will attract a plethora of talented with a total of 152 teams entered into the Senior and Masters competition.


The unique nature of the Relay Championships creates an excellent atmosphere; the event provides runners who would normally represent their club over various terrains (and distances) the opportunity to come together for one day, with all aiming to earn the bragging rights associated to being Northern Ireland’s ‘fastest club’.  


The exciting day of racing will begin at 11.10am, with children’s races taking place before the adult Championship races kick off at 12.30pm.  The first of these Championship races will see the Masters Ladies take to the start line; each team will consist of three runners (and two reserves), with each covering 3,380m.

Two years ago, Kelly Neely (City of Lisburn AC) produced a top class performance to steer City of Lisburn AC to victory at this event.  The newly crowned World Masters 800m Champion missed out in 2014, but will return this year.  Kelly will lead out a strong team, which contains Anne Terek and Diane Watson, but the talented trio will be hunted all the way by a strong Ballymena Runners contingent of Paula McAllister, Geraldine Quigley and Sharon Leetch.  


Ballydrain Harriers will also be there or there abouts, with Denise Logue, Debbie Matchett and Amanda Perry all well capable of playing a major part in proceedings.  North Belfast Harriers will look to Geraldine Branagh, Louise Smith and Roisin Hughes as they aim to continue their recent run of team wins, while recently crowned Ben Nevis Mountain Race Champion Diane Wilson join Dromore AC club mates Diane McKee and Wendy Fleming in the charge for honours.  Lagan Valley AC will also field an impressive team in the form of Wendy Davis, Julie Murphy and Ruth Perioli.


After the ladies, it will be the turn of the Masters Men to take to the start line; the men’s teams will be made up of four athletes (and two reserves), with each covering 3,380m.  This particular category is the most popular of the day, with nearly fifty teams set to participate.


North Belfast Harriers (Conor Curran, Alan O’Hara, Neil Carty and Tommy Simmons) and Willowfield Harriers (Brian Campbell, Neill Weir, Paul Rowan and Chris Moren) are likely to battle it out for top honours in what will be a close race.  This leaves a number of teams to contest the final podium spot – Neil Douglas will return to action and compete alongside his Ballymena Runners team mates Ben Morrow, Michael Bennett and Richard Agnew, while experienced veteran athletes Adrian Boyle, Cathal McLaughlin, Tim Shiels and Gary McGee will represent the always impressive Derry City Track Club.  Acorns AC (Darrell McKee, Aidan O’Hagan, Martin Loughran and Diarmuid O’Kane) and East Coast AC (Justin Maxwell, Mark McManus, Andy Guy and Murray Deller) will also be worth watching.


Like the Masters Ladies, the Senior Ladies race will consist of teams of three (and two reserves), with each athlete completing 3,380m.  The Senior Ladies event could well be the most competitive of the day, with exceptionally strong Newcastle AC and North Belfast Harriers teams set to go head to head.  Newcastle AC will be led by Commonwealth Games and IAAF World Championships star Kerry O’Flaherty, who will have the ever impressive duo of Joanne Mills and Mari Troeng for back-up, while NBH will look to Breege Connolly, Gladys Ganiel O’Neill and the in-form Martsje Hell to bring home the title.  

Although it’s hard to look past the aforementioned teams for glory, there are other quality teams to look out for. City of Lisburn AC will field a team of up and coming stars, including Zoe Carruthers, Rebecca Harvey and Heather McLarnon, while the always strong North Down AC will rely on Jessica Craig, Rachel Gibson and Jodi Smith to claim a podium place.  Lagan Valley AC (Emma Laverty, Emer Magee and Ursula Daly) cannot be ruled out when looking at podium contenders, and the same could also be said for Derry City Track Club (Helen Stockdale, Hannah McGowan and Amy McDaid), who boast a strong team.


The final race of what will be an epic day of action will be the Senior Men’s event.  Following on from the previous races, the Senior Men's teams will consist of four athletes (and two reserves) and will complete 4 x 3,380m laps of the flat and fast course.  North Down AC will field the speedy quartet of Michael Dyer, Craig McMeechan, Dennis Scott and James Budde, all of whom boast a strong backround of track and road running experience.  The County Down men will face stiff opposition in the form of North Belfast Harriers men Adam Boyd, Mark McKinstry, Andrew Annett and Conal McCambridge.  


Like the Senior Ladies event, this one could go right to the wire, with both teams capable of taking top spot. Young Springwell Running Club men Neil Johnston, Conor Christie, Luke Dinsmore and Johnny McKee will provide good value, as will the East Down AC (Brendan Teer, Neil McCartan, Ciaran Denvir and Andrew Telford) and Newcastle AC (Seamus Lynch, David O’Flaherty, Paul Carlin and Martin Melville) teams.


A full timetable for the NI & Ulster Road Relay Championships can be found HERE.


Slieve Gallion Mountain Race:

Also on Saturday 3rd October 2015, mountain running enthusiasts will take on the Slieve Gallion Mountain Race in the heart of the Sperrin Mountains.  The event is organised by keen mountain runner and orienteer Jonny McCloy, along with his family and friends.   


Slieve Gallion near Moneymore, is located on the eastern side of the Sperrin Mountain range (and shouldn’t be mixed up with Slieve Gullion, close to Newry).  Slieve Gallion has two peaks - interestingly, the southwestern peak at Glenarudda (397th highest peak in Ireland) is in the Cookstown District, and the northeastern peak at Tintagh (496th highest peak) is in Magherafelt District.  The race will kick off at 11am, with 2014 Champions Alex Brennan (Ballymena Runners) and Karen Alexander (Acorns AC) likely to return to defend their titles, on what will be a revised course.  The 2015 route will cover 4.3 miles in distance and incorporate 350 metres of ascent and descent. Access onto the open mountain sections of Slieve Gallion has been restricted for this year’s event.

The aforementioned Alex Brennan has competed well in 2015, making the podium over various terrains, including road, trail and mountain, culminating in his selection for the Northern Ireland team that went to the Inter-Counties event in Wales at the end of the summer.  Other men to look out for will be local athletes Shane Donnelly (Acorns AC) and Mark McGinn (Magherafelt Harriers).  


Shane impressed in 2014 event and went on to establish himself in the local mountain running scene, as well as competitions in Norway and America.  Meanwhile, Mark, known more so for his recent trail running exploits, has shown improvement over the mountains in recent months. Should Emmet McAlister (Unattached), Glenn Donnelly (Acorns AC), Andy Gregg (Larne AC) and Stephen Kennedy (East Coast AC) decide to compete, they will all be contenders.


In the ladies event, Karen Alexander will go into the race as clear favourite, following convincing victories at the recent Dublin Half Marathon and Wilderbeast events.  Incoming NIMRA Champion Shileen O’Kane (Lagan Valley AC) and Ben Nevis Mountain Race winner Diane Wilson (Dromore AC) will both be notable absentees as they represent their clubs at the Northern Ireland & Ulster Road Relay Championships, which will undoubtedly have a significant effect on entries.  However, should the likes of Paulette Thompson (Newcastle AC) and BARF pair Jacque Toal and Laura Smith enter on the day, they will all be capable of a podium place.


Run Galway Marathon (Ireland):

On Saturday 3rd October 2015, a number of athletes from Northern Ireland are expected to join approximately three thousand competitors at the Run Galway Bay Marathon (and associated Half Marathon and 10k) in Ireland.


The flat and fast course takes in several loops of the coastal area in and around Salthill, just outside Galway City – this will provide stunning scenery and good support, given that it’s within the hustle and bustle of the coastal hub.  David Noble (Larne AC), Deirdre Bradley (Acorns AC), Colin Thom (Acorns AC), Gillian Logan (Larne AC) and Andrew Burrows (Dub Runners) are just five of a number of familiar faces we expect to perform well.

Runher Titanic 10k:

On Sunday 4th October 2015, thousands of athletes and spectators are expected to turn out for the annual Runher Titanic 10k and 5k road races in the ever growing Titanic Quarter of Northern Ireland's capital city, Belfast.


Both the 5k and 10k routes will be run over fast and flat courses, setting things up for those chasing personal bests.  Although online entries are now closed, late entry is available from the Pure Running Shop today (Friday 2nd October 2015) or tomorrow (Saturday 3rd October 2015), and also on race day from the T13 Sports Academy until 1pm.


The action will kick off at 1.15pm with the Children’s Dash, while the 5k race will start at 2pm and the 10k at 2.05pm.  North Down AC track star Jessica Craig will go into the 5k off the back of a leg at the NI & Ulster Road Relay Championships, but should still have enough to take the top prize – although former junior star Sarah-Jane Guiney (Albertville Harriers) will continue her impressive return to competition and will play a prominent part in proceedings.  Other athletes who will perform well across the popular ladies only races will include Lyndsey Pronger (Orangegrove AC), Gillian Cordner (Seapark AC), Niamh Kellet (East Down AC), Cara Hamilton (North Down AC), Nuala Muldoon (Unattached) and Carla Prentice (Unattached) - all will finish well up the field.


Marty Gallagher Memorial 5k:

Also on Sunday 4th October, a large crowd is expected to turn out in support of the annual Marty Gallagher 5k road race in Derry/Londonderry, an event hosted by Foyle Valley AC in memory of their late club mate Marty Gallagher.  The race will start at Glengalliagh Road at 11am and finish at the popular Templemore Sports Complex, where late registration will also be available up until 10.30am on race day.


In previous years, the race has attracted a good mixture of well-known athletes as well as those who may be venturing into ‘racing’ for the first time; either way, it’s set to be an excellent event.  At the sharp end, we would expect the host club to be well represented, with the likes of Scott Rankin and Chris McGuinness likely to play a part.  Gary Slevin (City of Derry AC) and Noel Logan (City of Derry AC) may also start, while 2014 ladies Champion Gemma Turley (Springwell Running Club) could be joined by recent Waterside Half Marathon Champion Catherine Whoriskey (City of Derry AC) in a race for top honours.


Glencoe Marathon (Scotland):

On Sunday 4th October 2015, Scottish Ultra trail running Champion and Irish International athlete Eoin Lennon (Carnethy HRC) will take on the challenging Glencoe Marathon.  The route starts in the scenic loch-side village of Glencoe, taking athletes to the infamous climb known as the ‘Devils Staircase’, before descending into Kinlochleven.  


Athletes will then depart the picturesque highland village and climb sharply onto the West Highland Way and onwards, on more gentle slopes to the Glen Nevis region of Fortwilliam, in the shadows of the UK’s highest peak, Ben Nevis.  The off-road 26.2 mile route incorporates over 1,600 metres of ascent.  The Northern Ireland man will go into the event high in confidence following an impressive 2015, with top class performances at the HOKA Highland Fling in March (4th place), where he took the competitive Scottish ultra-running title and more recently, a comprehensive victory at the Helensburgh Athletic Club supported ‘From Hel’n Back’ 12k Mountain-Trail Race.


Parkrun:

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

Local athletes impress at Blackrock 4 mile and Rathfarnham 5k road races:

Local athletes impress outside Northern Ireland:

Over the course of the weekend (Saturday 26th and Sunday 27th September 2015), a number of local athletes were in action at events in Ireland, namely the Blackrock 4 mile road race and the Rathfarnham 5k road race, both just outside Dublin.


Blackrock 4 mile Road Race:

On Saturday 26th September 2015, the in-form Paddy Hamilton (Slieve Gullion Runners) once again showed his class as he followed on from his recent NI & Ulster silver medal over 10k with another podium finish at the Blackrock 4 mile road race.  


Paddy covered the four mile route in 19:27 to secure 3rd place; the race won by Project Africa’s Dan Tanui (1st place – 18:36).  In the ladies race, which was won by Mary Cullen (North Sligo AC) in 21:07 (1st place), County Tyrone based Rosina Kibionia (Project Africa) took 2nd place in a time of 22:26.  East Down AC’s Catherine O’Connor also ran well to cross the line in 24:21 (5th place).


Rathfarnham 5k Road Race:

Just 24 hours later, on Sunday 27th September 2015, several familiar faces secured highly placed finishes at the prestigious Rathfarnham 5k road race, just south of Dublin.  Letterkenny AC man Ciaran Doherty claimed a top ten place in 15:12 (10th place), while fellow Northern Ireland men Conor Curran (North Belfast Harriers), Gerard Gallagher (Finn Valley AC) and Matt Doherty (Derry City Track Club) finished within the top twenty of what was a competitive field.  Conor clocked a new personal best of 15:33 (15th place), with Gerard following in 15:39 (17th place) – Matt Doherty crossed the line just eight seconds later in 15:47 (19th place).  NI & Ulster XC Champion Teresa Doherty (Finn Valley AC) won the ladies race in 16:27 (1st place).  The men’s race was won by John Travers (Donore Harriers) in 14:21 (1st place).


Full Results:  Blackrock 4m Road Race 2015 Results and Rathfarnham 5k Road Race 2015 Results

Barry McConville and Diane Wilson win NIMRA Championship finale:

The 'Fallows' 2015 (report by Richard Bell):
On Saturday 26th September 2015, the last race of this year’s Podium4Sport NIMRA Championship took place in Rostrevor.  The event, 'The Fallows' mountain race, was being hosted for the second year running by Newry City Runners and the Mathers family.  A small, but ‘select’, group of keen competitors turned up to battle it out over the rolling hills in Kilbroney. The weather was practically balmy with bright sun and enough heat to make shorts and vest seem adequate.

The 10 mile route starts at the Kilbroney forestry hut and heads out past the turn for Fiddlers Green before turning up a fearsome climb called the Badgers Claw.  This takes you to the upper slopes of Slievemeen via a series of switchbacks which start steep before mellowing into pine needle carpeted cambers which peter out into a steep stoney section.

Once on Slievemeen runners head out on open mountain for the top of Slieve Martin and off the other side.  Initially this is a heather covered descent alongside a fence which flattens into a mossy bog which would not feel out of place in the Game Of Thrones.  This deposits participants on the side of Crenville, where they are faced with waist high tufts of grass which makes for slow progress from there over to the ‘lollipop’ or the forest paths as others might know it - from here it is a steady run of about 4 miles on forestry paths to the bottom of the zigzags.  Once up the zigzags the route goes over Slievemeen again this time heading over the open mountain to the Cloughmore Stone.  Anyone who is been on that path will know it is a mix of nice mellow open mountain with a scary steep section heading to the stone itself. The race finishes by taking the very fast paths down through Fiddlers Green.

In the men’s race Gary Bailey (Mourne Runners) led it out.  He was closely followed by Deon McNeilly (Newcastle AC), David McNeilly (Newcastle AC), and Barry McConville (Newcastle AC). Clive Bailey (Mourne Runners)and Colum Campbell (Newcastle AC) were in the second group on the road.  As the race progressed up the Badgers Claw, Gary opened a commanding lead and had a ninety second gap on the rest as they crested Slieve Martin.  By the time they had reached Crenville things started to go wrong for Gary, as he had started to develop a stitch which just would not go away. 

After reaching 'the lollipop' he was forced to walk as it was too painful to keep running.  The chasers caught him here and it was the turn of David McNeilly to lead the race towards the zigzags.  Unfortunately for David, he took a wrong turn at the zigzags and went towards the car park, rather than up the hill.  By the time the race had reached Slievemeen for the second time, David managed to get back to the front of the race, but once again he took a wrong turn approaching the Cloughmore Stone and could only watch as the boys left him behind.  This left Barry McConville to take his third win of the year - Barry completed the course in 1:22:34 (1st place), and was followed across the line by Deon McNeilly and Clive Bailey, with Deon running 1:23:39 (2nd place) and Clive 1:25:05 (3rd place).

In the ladies race Diane Wilson (Dromore AC) started out strongly and led, this year’s NIMRA Champion, Shileen O’Kane (Lagan Valley AC) and Sam McNeilly (Newcastle AC) for all of the first section.  At 'the lollipop', Shileen caught up with her sparring partner and they swapped the pain back and forward around to the zigzags. Going up the zigzags there was no sign of either lady cracking, but as they approached Slievemeen, Diane managed to open a gap which she held until the end, eventually winning in 1:30:37 (1st place).  Shileen (1:31:52) ran strongly to finish in 2nd place, with Sam McNeilly making up the podium in 1:50:36 (3rd place).

Top 3 Men:  1st Barry McConville (Newcastle AC) - 1:22:34, 2nd Deon McNeilly (Newcastle AC) - 1:23:39, 3rd Clive Bailey (Mourne Runners) - 1:25:05

Top 3 Ladies:  1st Diane Wilson (Dromore AC) - 1:30:37, 2nd Shileen O'Kane (Lagan Valley AC) - 1:31:52, 3rd Sam McNeilly (Newcastle AC) - 1:50:36

Full Results:  The Fallows Mountain Race 2015 Results (Photo above by Jayne Bell).  Photos from the Fallows Mountain Race are also available HERE (Photos by Jayne Bell).

Morven Hill Mountain Race:
In Scotland on Saturday 26th September 2015, Northern Ireland mountain running international Iain Whiteside (Carnethy HRC) continued his excellent form with a podium finish at the Morven Hill Mountain Race.  Iain completed the tough 5 mile route, which included 2,100ft of ascent in 45:31 (3rd place). The race was won by Salomon International athlete Tom Owens in 43:22 (1st place).

Kevin Seaward and Paul Pollock achieve Olympic standard in Berlin:

Berlin Marathon 2015:

On Sunday 27th September 2015, a large number of athletes from Northern Ireland took on the prestigious Berlin Marathon in Germany. 


Although the performances by local athletes impressed throughout the field, it was the Olympic qualifying standards by Kevin Seaward (St Malachy's AC) and Paul Pollock (Annadale Striders) that will justifiably catch the headlines.


The pressure was on the talented duo as they set off on the flat and fast route and they duly delivered.  After NI & Ulster 10k Champion Gary Murray (Clonliffe Harriers) had led the local contingent through 10k in 31:57, it was Kevin who came to the fore and covered 13.1 miles in 1:07:38.  Gary followed in 1:07:39 and Paul in 1:08:01.


In the latter stages, Gary began to tire, but Kevin and Paul powered on.  In the end, both Kevin and Paul recorded new personal bests, with Kevin running 2:14:52 and Paul 2:15:38; these times were well within the Olympic marathon qualifying standard of 2:17:00.  Gary Murray completed the route in 2:21:09, an impressive marathon debut.  City of Derry AC's Declan Reed also dipped under the sub 2:30:00 mark with an excellent 2:27:08 finish. 


Interestingly, Greg McClure (North Belfast Harriers) completed his 10th Berlin Marathon, which means that he becomes a member of the race's 'Jubilee Club' and receives his own race number for the event - Greg completed the 26.2 miles in 3:17:34.  Kenya celebrated a double victory at the event, with Eluid Kipchoge taking the men's title in 2:04:00 (1st place) and Gladys Cherono winning the ladies race in 2:19:25 (1st place).


Full results for the Berlin Marathon are available HERE

Thousands of athletes enjoy successful 26extreme Causeway Coast events:

26extreme Causeway Coast Events 2015:
On Saturday 26th September 2015, athletes from across Northern Ireland and as far away as America took on the 26extreme Causeway Coast events, a series of races ranging from 10k to 40 miles, along the stunning Causeway Coast.

The hardy ultra-runners were first to toe the line, as they set off from Portstewart Strand on a 40 mile jaunt that would take them to Ballintoy, where they would turn and re-trace their steps back to the atmospheric finish at Portballintrae.

As the athletes departed the sandy beach, it was Jonny Steede who was setting the pace.  The Northern Ireland and Ireland international led the way, with Anthony Whelan in pursuit.  In the early stages, the pair were being hunted by Emmett O’Hara and Jonathan Scott, but in truth, they always looked uncatchable. 

Jonny set a relentless pace and despite his impressive efforts, Anthony was unable to close what was a continually stretching gap.  In the end, it was the NIMRA Champion who deservedly sealed victory, clocking an excellent 5:01:08 (1st place). A happy Anthony followed in 5:22:29 (2nd place), while Gary Warnock was rewarded for a disciplined performance, as he came through the field well to seal 3rd place in 5:44:39.

The ladies Ultra was a close affair – Springwell Running Club’s Fran McFadden led the way for the majority of the 40 miles, but as the talented endurance athlete began to tire, Northern Ireland international mountain runner Jacqui Toal moved forward and took control.  Jacqui asserted herself at the front and went on to claim victory in 6:43:06 (1st place), with Fran taking the runners up spot in 6:46:49 (2nd place).  Frances Bain completed the ladies podium in 7:14:43 (3rd place).
In the Marathon, which took the competitors from Portballintrae to Ballintoy and back, via the world famous Giants Causeway, it was Welsh athlete Matthew Jones who stole the headlines.  Matthew took up position at the front and even the experienced Don Travers, Phelim McAllister and Geoff Smyth were unable to unseat him. 

Matthew powered through the ‘out and back’ course and secured victory in 3:16:36 (1st place).  Behind, Don and Phelim enjoyed an excellent battle, which saw Don lead at first – Phelim caught and passed the always consistent international before an unfortunate fall ended Don’s race.  Phelim covered the remainder of the course with confidence, taking 2nd place in 3:36:08, just over a minute quicker than Geoff Smyth, who clocked 3:37:29 for 3rd place.

Amy-May Garvey put in a similarly dominant performance to her male counterpart Matthew.  Amy-May cruised through Dunseverick well clear of the chasing Helen Howl and Gillian Cordner and increased her lead as she turned for home at Ballintoy.  There was no stopping the relatively unknown athlete as she negotiated the at times technical course and broke the tape in 4:02:02 (1st place).  Gillian Cordner finished strongly to catch and overtake Helen Howl in the latter stages, sealing 2nd place in 4:21:48; Helen followed closely in 4:22:23 (3rd place).

The Half Marathon, which started in Larrybane Head and finished in Portballintrae, attracted the biggest crowd of the day, with 418 athletes completing the course.  The fast of the field was Liam Dunne – Liam saw off the challenge of highly respected North Belfast Harriers international Martin Rea to claim top spot in 1:31:20 (1st place).  Martin continued his return to competition with an excellent run, taking 2nd place in 1:32:35, exactly one minute ahead of Angelo Wille, who recorded 1:33:35 for 3rd place.
Dunboyne based athlete Karen O’Hanlon produce a notable performance in the ladies 13.1 mile event.  The Irish athlete led from the off and proved her worth as she cruised into Port Ballintrae to break the tape in 1:46:17 (1st place).  Elizabeth Wheeler showed good form ahead of the upcoming Garmin Mourne Skyline MTR when she picked up the runners prize in 1:54:26 (2nd place), while Helen Weir impressed with a 1:57:39 finish for 3rd place.

The final athletes to take to the start line on what was an epic day of action, were the 10k competitors.  Andrew McLaine set off from the Portmoon start-line quickly and never let up as he quickly made his way towards the Giants Causeway before descending towards the finish at Portballintrae.  Andrew crossed the line in 39:15 to take 1st place.  AAI National Masters medallist Mark McManus showed his versatility as claimed 2nd place in 41:37.  Another Mark, Mark Smith, completed the top three on the men’s podium in 42:53 (3rd place).

Ballymena Runners Paula McAllister showed that she is not far off top form ahead of next weekend’s NI & Ulster Road Relay Championships, as she dominated proceedings in the ladies 10k.  Paula led from start to finish and sealed victory in an excellent 47:09 (1st place); interestingly, this was enough to see Paula take 5th place overall.  Olivia Baxter followed in 50:15 (2nd place), before Nuala Muldoon completed the course in 54:54 for 3rd place.

Ultra-Marathon (40 miles):
Top 3 Men:  1st Jonny Steede – 5:01:08, 2nd Anthony Whelan – 5:22:29, 3rd Gary Warnock – 5:44:39
Top 3 Ladies:  1st Jacqui Toal – 6:43:06, 2nd Fran McFadden – 6:46:49, 3rd Frances Bain – 7:14:43

Marathon:
Top 3 Men:  1st Matthew Jones – 3:16:36, 2nd Phelim McAllister – 3:36:08. 3rd Geoff Smyth – 3:37:29
Top 3 Ladies:  1st Amy-May Garvey – 4:02:02, 2nd Gillian Cordner – 4:21:48, 3rd Helen Howl – 4:22:23

Half Marathon:
Top 3 Men:  1st Liam Dunne – 1:31:20, 2nd Martin Rea – 1:32:35, 3rd Angelo Wille – 1:33:35
Top 3 Ladies:  1st Karen O’Hanlon – 1:46:17, 2nd Elizabeth Wheeler – 1:54:26, 3rd Helen Weir – 1:57:39

10k Race:
Top 3 Men:  1st Andrew McLiane – 39:15, 2nd Mark McManus 41:37, 3rd Mark Smith – 42:53
Top 3 Ladies:  1st Paula McAllister - 47:09, 2nd Olivia Baxter – 50:15, 3rd Nuala Muldoon  - 54:54

Full Results:  26extreme Causeway Coast Events 2015 Results - Photos from the 26extreme Causeway Coast Events will be added to our 'Photo Gallery' in the coming days.

Francis Marsh and Breege Connolly impress at exciting Bangor 10k:

Aurora Bangor 10k 2015:
On Saturday 26th September 2015, hundreds of athletes descended on the coastal town of Bangor, County Down, for the annual Aurora Bangor 10k road race.  As expected, the popular event attracted several well-known athletes.


The course took competitors from Castle Park, down through the atmospheric Town Centre and onto the picturesque North Down coastline, where they took in a flat but promenade section before turning and making their way back towards the town and subsequently, the well-supported finish area.


The men’s race was an exceptionally close affair, which came down to a sprint finish between five men over the last 500 metres.  As the leading group crested the final hill, Francis Marsh (North Down AC), Ben Morrow (Ballymena Runners), Lindsay Gordon (Meadowmill Project), Brendan Grew (North Belfast Harriers) and Paul Rowan (Willowfield Harriers) were all in the mix for the top three places.


In the end, local man Francis Marsh proved to be a popular winner.  Francis broke the tape in 34:11 (1st place) and was followed by Lindsay Gordon (34:14) and Ben Morrow (34:16) in 2nd place and 3rd place.  Interestingly, just fifteen seconds split the aforementioned top five men, with Paul Rowan running 34:19 (4th place) and Brendan Grew 34:26 (5th place).


The ladies race wasn’t just as closed, but did prove to be a top quality contest.  North Belfast Harriers’ Breege Connolly showed an excellent display of front running as she continued her return to fitness with an impressive victory – Breege completed the course in 35:52 (1st place).  Jessica Craig (North Down AC), Rachel Gibson (North Down AC), Gerrie Short (Beechmount Harriers) and Denise Logue (Ballydrain Harriers) all contested the remaining podium places.  However, it was the two North Down AC ladies who eventually picked up the prizes.  Jessica clocked 38:28 for 2nd place, while Boom 10k winner Rachel followed in 38:53 (3rd place).


Top 3 Men:  1st Francis Marsh (North Down AC) – 34:11, 2nd Lindsay Gordon (Meadowmill Project) – 34:14, 3rd Ben Morrow (Ballymena Runners) – 34:16


Top 3 Ladies:  1st Breege Connolly (North Belfast Harriers) – 35:52, 2nd Jessica Craig (North Down AC) – 38:28, 3rd Rachel Gibson (North Down AC) – 38:53


Full Results:  Aurora Bangor 10k 2015 Results

Garmin Mourne Skyline Mountain-Trail Race:  The countdown is on!

The countdown is on!  Just four weeks until the Garmin Mourne Skyline MTR:
In just four weeks from today, Friday 23rd October 2015, the eyes of the Skyrunning world will be on Northern Ireland as athletes from across the globe descend on the County Down town of Newcastle for the 2nd annual running of the Garmin Mourne Skyline Mountain-Trail Race and the associated ‘Granite Trail Race’. 

The action kicks off on the Friday with the ‘GTR’, before competitors take on the Garmin Mourne Skyline MTR on the Saturday!  This week, the NiRunning/Mourne Skyline MTR team caught up with 2014 winners Kim Collison and Stevie Kremer and asked them what their memories of the event were:

Kim Collison, British Ultra-Running Champion and Mourne Skyline MTR 2014 male winner, said:
“Mourne Skyline MTR was one of my highlights of 2014 and is a great race which deserves to grow.  I was excited to race in the Mournes and setting off from the coastal town of Newcastle was a real novelty. A good mix of long gradual climbs, short sharp hills and technical rocky fell descents, combined with autumnal weather, made the race a good test of mountain skills. I came back exhilarated, not only as winner, but by the thrill of a course set in an amazing mountain environment.”

Stevie Kremer, Skyrunner World Champion and Mourne Skyline MTR 2014 female winner, said:
“The Mourne race was one of the toughest races I have ever competed in - from the steep, hands-on-knees, climbs to the technical, slippery descents, not one part of this race let up.  With the added elements of rain and wind, this race presented a new level of difficulty in a fantastic setting of majestic mountains sweeping down to the sea. The support crew and the spectators were incredible. Mourne Skyline MTR tested my strength and endurance - to all adventurous runners out there, this one is definitely for you!”

What can you expect this year?
This year, we will welcome athletes from at least 14 different countries - there will also be at least 30 competitors who have represented their country, which makes for a hugely exciting event.  Are you racing? coming to watch? We hope you are as excited as we are! 

Although the Garmin Mourne Skyline MTR has reached capacity, there are still spaces left in the ‘GTR’.  Please visit www.mourneskylinemtr.com for full details.

Weekend Preview:  Causeway Coast, Bangor, the 'Fallows' and more... 

Weekend Preview:  Causeway Coast, Bangor, the ‘Fallows’ and more…
As the weekend's appear to seamlessly run into one another, it’s once again time for us to look ahead to the weekend’s action.  The imminent arrival of the Athletics NI XC League 2015/16 and the associated autumnal (and winter) weather has been very much the talk of this week, however, there’s still enough to cram in some excellent road, mountain and trail action before the muck takes over for the winter season.

The focus of this week’s ‘weekend preview’ will be very much geared towards the always popular Bangor 10k road race, 26extreme’s sell-out Causeway Coast Series and the Northern Ireland Mountain Running Association Championship finale.  Collectively, the three events will attract in excess of two thousand competitors between them.  Of course, there are other local races, with the Keith Reid Memorial 10k, Slemish Challenge 10k and the Lurgan Park 10k taking place.  A host of local talent will also be heading for Germany and the prestigious Berlin Marathon.

26extreme Causeway Coast Series:
The weekend action will kick off early on Saturday 26th September 2015, when a record number of athletes will descend on the North Coast and the area around the Giants Causeway for the 26extreme Causeway Coast Marathon Series.  The event will offer competitors a variety of races, including a 40 mile Ultra, a Marathon, Half Marathon and 10k, all of which will cover extremely scenic courses.

The action will kick off at 7.15am, when nearly one hundred hardy ultra-runners begin their 40 mile journey from Portstewart to Ballintoy and back to the finish line in Portballintrae.  The scenic route will take competitors along the Causeway Coast Way, past some of the most beautiful scenery in the world!

Northern Ireland and Ireland international Jonny Steede (Unattached) will go into the event as pre-race favourite and will prove hard to beat.  The Ballymena man and 2014 NIMRA Champion has impressed over the ultra-distance since taking the step up – infact it was on the Causeway Coast where Jonny experienced his first ultra-marathon – that day, at the Lost World’s 100k, he celebrated victory.  Jonny will face some very experienced runners, in the form of Nicki McPeake (Springwell Running Club) and Ron Peacock (Springwell Running Club).  BARF’s Donal O’Kane will also be worth watching, as will Larne AC’s Thomas Craig, who clocked over 100 miles at the Energia 24 hour race back in July (2015).  In the ladies race, 2014 runner up Fran McFadden (Springwell Running Club) will hope to go one better this time around.  However, Fran will have to see off the challenge of mountain running specialist Jackie Toal (BARF) as well as other potential front runners, including North Down AC’s Cara Hamilton and Springwell Running Club’s Ali McAllister.
The Marathon event will start at 9.30am in Portballintrae and will take the athletes along the coast to Ballintoy, where they will turn and make their way back towards the atmospheric finish in Portballintrae. 

It’s hard to look past Newry City Runners’ Don Travers for top honours over 26.2 miles.  The experienced runner and mountain biker excels over this kind of terrain and having the experience of international competition on his side, the WPFG gold medallist should top the podium.  Dublin based Olivier Privat (Sportsworld AC) will also be a contender as he sharpens up ahead of next month’s Garmin Mourne Skyline Mountain-Trail Race.  Another man looking forward to the Skyrunning event, Murray Deller (East Coast AC), will finish well up the field, as will Glenarm man Phelim McAllister (Larne AC) and trail runners Stephen Purvis (Ballymena Runners) and Geoff Smyth (Unattached). 

Gillian Cordner (Separk AC) will be amongst the leading ladies, while international mountain runner Anne Sandford (Lagan Valley AC) and County Antrim Harriers duo Louise Smart and Christine Murray will be hoping for places in the top ten.

Participants also have the choice of the 13.1 mile Half Marathon (12.30pm); which will see the athlete’s race from Ballintoy to Portballintrae.  North Belfast Harriers’ Mark McKinstry was a resounding winner over the half marathon distance twelve months ago, and should the in-form athlete take to the start line and show the same ability that saw him secure a new 10k personal best of 32:19 at the Laganside 10k, he’ll be the first home here.  Dermot Mathers (Slieve Gullion Runners), Bobby Nicholson (Seapark AC) and Darren Marshall (Orangegrove AC) will also finish well up the field. 

The ladies Half Marathon will prove to be a close race.  If Dublin Half Marathon winner Karen Alexander (Acorns AC) races, she’ll win – but it’s the remaining podium places that will be fiercely contested.  Sarah Steer (Orangegrove AC), Elizabeth Wheeler (IMRA), Helen Weir (North Belfast Harriers), Julie Murphy (Lagan Valley AC), Fiona Prue (Ballydrain Harriers), Caroline Wade (Newry City Runners) and Nichola Swann (Unattached) will all have their eyes on the prize winning places. 

The 10k race, which starts close to Dunseverick (at 2.30pm) and takes competitors along the coastal path to the finish at Portballintrae, will include the likes of Mark McManus (East Coast AC), Emmet Woods (Larne AC), Ruth Aiken (Ballymena Runners) and Paula McAllister (Ballymena Runners).
Bangor Aurora 10k Road Race:
In Bangor on Saturday 26th September 2015, close to one thousand competitors are expected to take to the town’s streets and coastal promenade for the annual Bangor Aurora 10k road race, an event which never fails to attract a large number of well-known athletes. 

The course takes competitors from Castle Park, down through the atmospheric Town Centre and onto the picturesque North Down coastline, where they will complete a flat but harsh promenade section before turning and making their way back towards the town and subsequently, the well-supported finish area.

St Malachy’s AC’s Joe McAlister could well toe the line after a recent return to action, during which he has won the Mallusk 5 mile road race and the Lurig Challenge.  Two weeks ago, Joe ran 32:12 at the Laganside 10k.  Another man who impressed at the Laganside 10k, Brendan Teer (East Down AC), will be considered as one of the pre-race favourites.

If he (Brendan) runs anything close to the 31:54 that he did in Belfast, that should be enough to at least secure a podium place.  Brian Campbell (Willowfield Harriers) will more than likely miss out with a minor injury, but his club mate Paul Rowan (Willowfield Harriers) will play a prominent part in proceedings.  Lindsay Gordon (Meadowhill Project), Francis Marsh (North Down AC), Bryan Edgar (Springwell Running Club) and Ben Morrow (Ballymena Runners) will also be there or there abouts.

Local ladies Rachel Gibson (North Down AC) and Jessica Craig (North Down AC) will prove to be popular winners should they lead what will be a competitive ladies field come.  Rachel will have to show the same kind of form hat saw her out-pace talented North Belfast Harriers star Cathy McCourt at last week’s Boom 10k road race.  Meanwhile, Jessica will return to the roads after an impressive track season and a good run at the Crawfordsburn Trail Race.  Catherine Diver (Beechmount Harriers) should also make the top ten, while Lagan Valley AC’s Ruth Perioli will secure a category prize and a high placing overall.
The Fallows Mountain Race:
Also on Saturday 26th September 2015, Northern Ireland’s mountain running fraternity will take on the final race of the 2015 Northern Ireland Mountain Running Association (NIMRA) Championship, the ‘Fallows’ mountain race. 

The venue of choice will be Kilbroney Park, Rostrevor and the ‘medium’ distance course, which measures 10 miles in distance, will incorporate approximately 800 metres of ascent and descent.  Deon McNeilly (Newcastle AC), a winner of the race in 2013 and 2014, will make a welcome return to action following some time out through injury.   The veteran athlete may not be 100% race ready, but he’ll still play a part at the front.  NIMRA Champion elect, Seamus Lynch (Newcastle AC), may turn out for the Championship finale in the hope of sealing the title with one final victory.  Sam Herron (Mourne Runners), Clive Bailey (Mourne Runners),

Billy Reed (East Antrim Harriers), William Marks (Mourne Runners) and Richard Bell (Mourne Runners) will all go well if they choose to compete.  Reigning Champion Karen Alexander (Acorns AC) may well opt for the Causeway Coast events, but if she does return to defend her title, the Dublin Half Marathon winner will prove hard to beat.  Shileen O’Kane (Lagan Valley AC) will be in the thick of the action as she finishes off what has been an exceptional season; Ben Nevis Mountain Race winner Diane Wilson (Dromore AC) may also compete as both prepare for the upcoming Garmin Mourne Skyline MTR in October.  Mourne Mountain Marathon finisher Sam McNeilly and Newcastle AC club mate Mari Troeng will also run well if they enter on the day.

Keith Reid Memorial 10k Road Race:
On Saturday 26th September 2015, the annual Keith Reid Memorial 10k road race will take place in Draperstown, County Derry/Londonderry.  The event should attract a number of well-known faces.  Two time Champion Chris McPeake (City of Derry AC) should be joined on the start line by Delfim Pimentel (Unattached), Darrell McKee (Acorns AC) and Bliadhan Glass (Acorns AC).  Reigning ladies Champion, Jacqueline Mulligan (Acorns AC) should also return.  The always impressive Pauline McGurren (Sperrin Harriers) could also be amongst those who attend, while her ever consistent club mate Cheryl Cardwell (Sperrin Harriers) should they compete. 
 
Slemish Challenge:
On Saturday 26th September 2015, hundreds of athletes and spectators are expected to turn out for the Slemish Challenge in Ballymena.  The event, which is hosted by the North West Mountain Rescue Team (NWMRT) in conjunction with Ballymena Runners, offers competitors the choice of 10k or 13.1 mile routes.

Co-hosts Ballymena Runners will be well-represented and should claim most of the top prizes, with Alex Brennan, Noel Connor, Ryan Armstrong and James Turtle all likely to lead the way.  Their former club mates, Kevin O’Boyle (Unattached) and Matt Wray (Unattached), and Larne AC’s Billy Thompson may also play a part.  Meanwhile, Paula Arthur McCarthy (Ballymena Runners), Catherine McQuillan (Ballymena Runners), Lorna Sibbett (Ballymena Runners) and Janice White (Unattached) should contest prizes in the ladies races.

Lurgan Park 10k Road Race:
On Sunday 27th September 2015, athletes from across Northern Ireland are expected to descend on Northern Ireland’s largest urban park, Lurgan Park in Lurgan, for the Lurgan Park 10k road race (and associated 5k).  The scenic park, which interestingly is the second largest urban park in Ireland behind the Phoenix Park (Dublin), is better recognised as the venue for the NI & Ulster XC Championships.  However, on this occasion, the road and paths within its confines will be the focus of attention.

Former NI & Ulster 10,000m Champion Stephen Morris (City of Lisburn AC) should start and will be joined by the fast improving St Peter’s AC athlete Gerard Heaney.  In 2014, Gerard narrowly missed a podium finish when he secured fourth place.  This time around, we would expect a much better time from the local man this time around, especially considering that he has wacked approximately two minutes off his 10k time since this time last year. James Tomaselli (St Peter’s AC) should also finish in the top ten.  In the ladies race, it could well be a race between Louise Smith (North Belfast Harriers), Sharon Williamson (Kernan Running Club) and Eileen Stevenson (St Peter’s AC), with Louise likely to edge it.
Berlin Marathon (Germany):
On Sunday 27th September 2015, over forty thousand competitors will take to the start line of one of the world’s most famous marathon events, the Berlin Marathon in Germany.  Given its flat and fast course, the race attracts the world’s most talented athletes.  This year, that will include a plethora of talent from Northern Ireland, including Northern Ireland men Paul Pollock (Annadale Striders) and Kevin Seaward (St Malachy’s AC), who will both have high hopes of achieving the qualification time required for next summer's Olympic Games in Rio. 

The Berlin event has been the venue for a number of World records the latest being a year ago when Kenya's Dennis Kimetto recorded 2:02:57.   Paul and Kevin have therefore targeted this super-fast course in order to get the Rio qualification time of 2:17:00 minutes.  Paul’s last outing over the classic 26.2 mile distance was a 2:16:42 finish at the IAAF World Championships in Moscow in 2013; this time, which is his personal best, saw Paul finish as second European athlete on the day.  Since then, the humble A&E Doctor has impressed over shorter distances, most notably the Half Marathon, where a classy 1:02:09 clocking at the IAAF World Championships, proves he has the credentials to join Ireland's Martin Fegan as a qualifier for Rio.  Like Paul, Kevin Seaward has really excelled under the guidance of highly respected coach Andrew Hobdell.  The 29 year old has a marathon personal best of 2:18:46, which he ran at the Manchester Marathon last year; he finished in third place. 

Although Kevin would need a significant personal best to achieve the standard for Rio, his improvement and form over the last number of months would suggest that it is most definitely possible.  Other major interests for the local running community include recently crowned NI & Ulster 10k Champion Gary Murray (Clonliffe Harriers).  Despite this being the former St Malachy’s man’s first time racing over the distance, he should be considered as another potential Olympic qualifier, especially considering his brilliant 1:04:40 finish at the Wokingham Half Marathon this year. 

Multi-title winning City of Derry AC man Declan Reed will also toe the line and will be hoping to improve his current personal best of 2:26:44.  Orangegrove AC’s Thomas Leitch and Ballydrain Harriers duo Richard Coey and Norman Mawhinney will all be eager to dip under the sub three hour barrier – interestingly, there are twenty nine athletes from Ballydrain Harriers making the trip to Germany for the event.  On race day, athletes can be tracked on the official race website at: www.bmw-berlin-marathon.com/en/service/bmw-berlinmarathon-app.html

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

Athletics NI announce details of 2015/16 Cross Country League:

Athletics NI announce details of 2015/16 XC League:
Today (Wednesday 23rd September 2015), Athletics Northern Ireland announced details of their upcoming Cross Country League.  As it enters its fifth year, Athletics NI are introducing a number of changes to enhance the popular series.


The points scoring system has been revised to allow more clubs to score team points. The first six club teams of 4 will now score points and the individual points score will now extend to a maximum of 16 with each runner scoring one point. Clubs do not need to specifically enter the league as the points tally will be compiled from the results of each event included in the league.


An enhanced prize fund will also be available this season with a total of over £1,500 in the pot. The first six teams, in both Men’s and Women’s sections, will receive prizes rather that only the top 3 in previous years.


The League has contributed significantly to the increase in both participation and interest in cross country running across Northern Ireland, with larger fields turning out for races each year. It is hoped that these changes will create further interest in Cross Country running


Full details of how the points awarded for performance and participation will be scored are available at www.athleticsni.org/events


Athletics Northern Ireland Cross Country League Fixtures 2015-2016:
- Comber Cup Cross Country - Castlereagh - Saturday 10th October 2015
- Bobby Rea Cross Country - Jordanstown - Saturday 24th October 2015
- McConnell Shield - Ballyclare - Saturday 7th November 2015
- Malcolm Cup - Ballyclare - Saturday 5th December 2015
- Acorns AC Cross Country - Cookstown - Saturday 12th December 2015
- North West Cross Country - L'Derry - Saturday 19th December 2015
- Antrim International Cross Country - Greenmount College - Saturday 16th January 2016
- NI & Ulster Senior Cross Country Championships - Lurgan - Saturday 20th February 2016
- Stormont Cross Country - Belfast - Saturday 27th February 2016

Hundreds enjoy 36th annual Mourne Mountain (2 Day) Marathon:

Mourne Mountain Marathon 2015:
Over the course of the weekend, Saturday 19th and Sunday 20th September 2015, well over one hundred teams took on the prestigious and exceptionally well-organised Mourne Mountain Marathon, Ireland’s only two day navigational race.  This year’s event was sponsored by local companies Consarc Design Group and Jackson Sports.

The unique race requires teams of two athletes to navigate their way around set checkpoints throughout the Mourne Mountains.  Upon starting each day, the teams are handed their race card, which points out the day’s checkpoints.  There are four races, the Elite event covering 55k, the ‘Class B’ race which covers 45k and the ‘Class C’ and ‘Class D’ races, both covering 35k; the Class C race provides a course with more ascent than Class D.  All courses started and finished at the impressive National Outdoor Centre at Tollymore Forest, just outside Newcastle, County Down.

Day 1 saw the teams leave the Bloody Bridge start area in perfect conditions and make their way immediately uphill and into the mountains.  It was Bob Johnston and Charlie Stead who took control of the Elite Class.  The pair were twenty nine minutes quicker than their nearest rivals, Paul Mahon and Adrian Hennessy, and therefore ended the day firmly in charge.  However, they didn’t have everything their own way – Bob and Charlie were only the third fastest team on Day 2, but their commanding performance and ultimately their lead from the first day of competition, saw them hold on and take 1st place having completed the 55k in 10:09:26.  Amazingly, after two days of competition, a mere four seconds split the second and third place teams.  In a nail biting finish, Paul Mahon and Adrian Hennessy just about held off Day 2’s fastest pair, Sam Herron and Gary Bailey.  Paul and Adrian clocked 10:34:22 (2nd place), while Sam and Gary crossed the line in 10:34:26 (3rd place).
In the ‘B Class’ 45k race, Cillin Corbett and Laurence Quinn dominated proceedings from the off.  The men were the fastest team on both days, eventually sealing an impressive victory in 8:47:11 (1st place).  Behind, there was an excellent battle between Clive Coffey and Martin McMullan, and Rob McEvoy and Josh O’Sullivan-Hourihan.  Clive and Martin over-turned Rob and Josh’s ten minute Day 1 lead to secure 2nd place in an overall time of 9:20:33; Rob and Josh recorded 9:35:36 (3rd place).

Previous winners of the event, Eamonn McMahon and Steve Reenan looked as if they were going to go on and secure another victory in the ‘C Class’ 35k.  Leading into Day 2, it looked an almost certainty that the talented pair would go on to win.  However, Wayne Green and Pete McClelland made some wise route choices and came through to claim an excellent win, covering the testing route in 8:06:42 (1st place). 

Eamonn and Steve had to settle for 2nd place in 8:12:43, while father and son duo Stephen Knight and Eoghan Knight finished in 9:01:44 (3rd place). The ‘D Class’ race was dominated from start to finish by Jenny Elliot-York and Lee York - they were forty four minutes quicker than their rivals on Day 1 and forty five minutes quicker on Day 2 – unchallenged, they secured top spot in an excellent 7:12:33 (1st place).  Despite not replicating their high placing from Day1 after a tough second day, Kenneth Moulds and William Moulds sealed the runners up spot in 8:32:28 (2nd place).  Gail Henderson and Sarah Gamble were consistent performers throughout the two days and took 3rd place after completing the 35k course in 9:08:48.

Elite Race (55k):
Top 3 Teams:  1st Bob Johnston and Charlie Stead – 8:06:42, 2nd Paul Mahon and Adrian Hennessey – 10:34:22, 3rd Sam Herron and Gary Bailey – 1:34:26

B Class (45k):
Top 3 Teams:  1st Cillin Corbett and Laurence Quinn – 8:47:11, 2nd Clive Coffey and Martin McMullan – 9:20:33, 3rd Rob McEvoy and Josh O’Sullivan-Hourihan – 9:35:36

C Class (35k):
Top 3 Teams:  1st Wayne Green and Pete McClelland – 8:06:42, 2nd Eamonn McMahon and Steve Reenan – 8:12:43, 3rd Stephen Knight and Eoghan Knight – 9:01:44

D Class (35k):
Top 3 Teams:  1st Jenny Elliot-York and Lee York – 7:12:33, 2nd Kenneth Moulds and William Moulds – 8:32:28, 3rd Gail Henderson and Sarah Gamble – 9:08:48

Full Results:  Mourne Mountain Marathon (2 Day) 2015 Results.  Photos from the Mourne Mountain Marathon 2015 are now available within the Photo Gallery on our website.

Gideon Kimosop and Mercy Jemutai secure Belfast City HM titles:

Belfast City Half Marathon 2015:
On Sunday 20th September 2015, nearly three thousand athletes took to the streets of Northern Ireland’s capital city, Belfast, for the 3rd annual running of the Belfast City Half Marathon.  The event also incorporated the NI & Ulster Half Marathon Championships.  In fairly decent running conditions, competitors were faced with a new course, one that was described as “super-fast” by organisers.

At the competitive end of the field, the predicted Kenyan dominance did happen, with countrymen Gideon Kimosop (Project Africa) and Dan Tanui (Project Africa) controlling things.  The pair went through half way side by side in 32:46, with Paddy Hamilton (Slieve Gullion Runners) and Brendan Teer (East Down AC) following in 34:17.  Further back, North Belfast Harriers trio Mark McKinstry, Andrew Annett and Adam Boyd were also looking strong as they passed the half mark together.  In the ladies race, Project Africa duo Marcy Jemutai and Rosina Gibionia clocked 36:00 and 36:23 respectively for the first half, with Irish Olympian Catriona Jennings (Rathfarnham WSAF) in pursuit.  Meanwhile, new kid on the block, Laura Graham (Unattached), continued to impress as she led the Northern Ireland ladies through 10k.

In the end, the men’s race came down to a sprint finish between friends Gideon Kimosop and Dan Tanui – Belfast City Marathon runner up, Gideon eventually edged it, breaking the tape in 1:04:21 (1st place).  Dan also ran 1:04:21 for 2nd place, while Paddy was rewarded for a very strong second half as he took 3rd place and the NI & Ulster title in 1:09:09.  Brendan Teer claimed NI & Ulster silver when he crossed the line in 1:10:35 (4th place), while Mark McKinstry completed the local podium in 1:11:53 (5th place).

Pre-race favourite Mercy Jemutai showed superb front running ability as she dominated from start to finish to secure top spot in 1:13:32 (1st place).  Fellow Kenyan and Project Africa competitor Rosina Gibionia clocked 1:13:53 (2nd place) for the runners up prize, while Letterkenny lady Catriona Jennings ran 1:18:58 for 3rd place and NI & Ulster Championship gold.  Laura Graham was the first Northern Ireland lady home, crossing the line in 1:21:27 for 4th place overall and 2nd place in the local Championship, while the returning Gladys O’Neill (North Belfast Harriers) completed the course in 1:21:56 for 5th place; this was enough to secure NI & Ulster bronze for the Commonwealth Games star.

Podium Places:
Top 3 Men:  1st Gideon Kimosop (Project Africa) – 1:04:21, 2nd Dan Tanui (Project Africa) – 1:04:21, 3rd Paddy Hamilton (Slieve Gullion Runners) – 1:09:09

Top 3 Ladies:  1st Mercy Jemutai (Project Africa) – 1:13:32, 2nd Rosina Gibionia (Project Africa) – 1:13:53, 3rd Catriona Jennings (Rathfarnham WSAF) – 1:18:58

NI & Ulster Championships:
Top 3 Men:  1st Paddy Hamilton (Slieve Gullion Runners) – 1:09:09, 2nd Brendan Teer (East Down AC) – 1:10:35, 3rd Mark McKinstry (North Belfast Harriers) – 1:11:53

Top 3 Ladies:  1st Catriona Jennings (Rathfarnham WSAF) – 1:18:58, 2nd Laura Graham (Unattached) – 1:21:27, 3rd Gladys O’Neill (North Belfast Harriers) – 1:21:56

Full Results:  Belfast City Half Marathon 2015 Results (Photo above by Athletics NI)

Seamus Lynch leads by example at World Mountain Running Championships:

World Mountain Running Championships 2015:
On Saturday 19th September 2015, a number of local athletes were in action at the World Mountain Running Championships.  The Senior and Junior events were the climax of an exciting week-long festival of running in the Betws-y-Coed and Snowdonia areas of Wales.

In the 13k senior men’s event, Newcastle AC’s NIMRA 2015 champion elect Seamus Lynch once again showed his talents.  Up against top quality opposition, Seamus recorded 58:24 to secure 75th place.  The race was won by Ugandan athlete Fred Musobo in 49:00 (1st place).

In the junior races, which incorporated the British & Irish Championships, several of Northern Ireland’s up and coming mountain runners produced notable performances.  In the Under 17 4.7k event, Ballydrain Harriers’ Scott McKeag impressed with a 12th place finish, after clocking 19:58. 

Aaron Harrison (Ballydrain Harriers) followed in 21:18 (24th place), while the most junior member of the group, Joel Harrison (Ballydrain Harriers) put in a strong performance to finish in 24:19 (48th place).  The Under 17 race was won by England's Alfie Thompson in 18:30 (1st place).  In the Under 20 8.9k race, 18 year James Millar battled well to complete the tough route in 50:34, securing 22nd place.  The Under 20 race was won by Daniel Lowton (England) in 37:30 (1st place).

Jonathan McKee and Rachel Gibson excel at Boom 10k:

Boom 10k 2015:
On Saturday 19th September 2015, nearly one hundred athletes took on the annual Boom 10k, a well-organised event hosted by popular North West based club Springwell Running Club in Coleraine.

At the head of the pack, it was Springwell Running Club’s own Jonathan McKee who stole the headlines.  Despite having Landon Williams (South West Road Runners) on his tail, the local athlete managed to hold on for an excellent win, crossing the line in 34:55 (1st place).  Landon, who was racing whilst in Northern Ireland visiting family, secured 2nd place in 35:04, before Kieran O’Neill (Springwell Running Club) completed the top three a minute later in 36:04 (3rd place).

The ladies competition turned out to be the exciting affair that it promised to be, with pre-race contenders Rachel Gibson (North Down AC) and Sonia Knox (Springwell Running Club) being joined at the front by late entry Cathy McCourt (North Belfast Harriers).  It was a close affair between Rachel and Cathy for top honours, with the pair going through 5k together in 18:46.  However, in the last 800m, it was track star Rachel who took edged clear to win in 38:21 (1st place).  Cathy crossed the line in 38:41 (2nd place), while Sonia recorded 40:49 for 3rd place.

Top 3 Men:  1st Jonathan McKee (Springwell Running Club) – 34:55, 2nd Landon Williams (South West Road Runners) – 35:04, 3rd Kieran O’Neill (Springwell Running Club) – 36:04

Top 3 Ladies:  1st Rachel Gibson (North Down AC) – 38:21, 2nd Cathy McCourt (North Belfast Harriers) – 38:41, 3rd Sonia Knox (Springwell Running Club) – 40:49

Full Results:  Boom 10k 2015 Results

Northern Ireland's Karen Alexander wins Dublin City Half Marathon:

Karen Alexander secure Dublin City Half Marathon title:
On Saturday 19th September 2015, local athlete Karen Alexander (Acorns AC) added yet another notable achievement to her running career CV, when she secured the ladies title at the prestigious Dublin Half Marathon in Ireland.

The event, which took place with the confines of the Phoenix Park in Ireland's capital city, attracted nearly 7,000 competitors.  Northern Ireland international Karen, broke the tape in 1:22:41 (1st place), securing victory.  The men's title went to Star of the Sea's Eoin Callaghan 1:08:21 (1st place).

Weekend Preview:  Mourne 2 Day, Belfast City Half Marathon and more...

Weekend Preview:  Mourne 2 Day, Belfast City Half Marathon and more…
Following on from a busy and successful few days for local athletes last weekend, it is now time for us to once again look forward to the upcoming action.  Locally, this will include the Belfast City Half Marathon, the notoriously difficult Mourne Mountain (2 Day) Marathon and the Boom 10k road race. 

Outside Northern Ireland, there will be plenty of familiar faces in competition at the Dublin Half Marathon.  In Wales, a number of junior and senior athletes will be racing at the World Mountain Running Championships, which also includes the British & Irish Championships.

Mourne Mountain (2 Day) Marathon:
The weekend action will start (and finish) in the Mourne Mountains, with the Mourne Mountain Marathon taking place over Saturday 19th and Sunday 20th September 2015.  Hundreds of hardy mountain runners will take on the gruelling two day event, which is sponsored by Consarc Design Group and Jackson Sports. 

Interestingly, competitors (teams of two) only receive their event maps on starting the race; they then plot their course in a way that will allow them to cover all checkpoints in the quickest time possible.  There are three distances on offer to participants, they are 55k (‘A’ Class), 45k (‘B’ Class) and 35k (‘C’ and ‘D’ Class).

Sam Herron and Gary Bailey, and their fellow Mourne Runners team mates Richard Hanna and William Marks look like the men to watch in the Elite 55k ‘A’ class, while Brian Linton and Elizabeth Wheeler will assume the pre-race favourite position in the Elite ‘mixed’ category.  Joanne Curran and Taryn McCoy will also be an excellent pairing in this race.

In the ladies race of the 45k ‘B’ class, 2014 winners Louise Anderson and Helen Flanagan will find it difficult to retain their title, with Newcastle AC ladies Sam McNeilly and Patricia McKibbin for company.  Lisa Ferrero - Claire Wilshaw, and Helen Pruzina – Fiona Peterson will also go well.  Paul Pruzina and Jack Anderson have a combined age of 36 years, but there is no doubt that the young athletes will play a major part in the men’s event.  Meanwhile, at the other end of the ‘experience’ ladder, Dawson Stelfox and Robbie Evans will put their heads together and try to out-pace the quality field.
The 35k ‘C’ class event has attracted the most entries, with no less than 64 teams set to start.  There are several well-known names on the start list, including Irish international Billy Reed, who will be accompanied by Chloe Reed.  Rathlin Run winner Martsje Hell will team up with Lesley Young, while last year’s runners up Eamonn McMahon and Steve Reenan will return in the hope of bettering their 2014 position.  Eddie Hanna and Kathryn Hanna will perform well in the 35k ‘D’ class.

Boom 10k Road Race:
On Saturday 19th September 2015, hundreds of athletes are expected to travel towards the North Coast of the province for the annual Boom 10k road race in Coleraine, an event hosted by well-respected local athletics club, Springwell Running Club. 

The men’s race could well bring the likes of Richard Johnston (Ballymena Runners) and Chris McPeake (City of Derry AC) to the start line, and given the pairs form over the summer months, this would prove to be an excellent race. 

The host club, Springwell RC, will also be well represented.  In truth though, it looks like the ladies race will bring the most excitement – Rachel Gibson (North Down AC), Sonia Knox (Springwell Running Club) and Kerrie McIlmoyle (Springwell Running Club) are all definite starters, while Gemma Turley (Springwell Running Club) could well add strength in depth to the line-up.

Dublin City Half Marathon (Ireland):
Also on Saturday 19th September 2015, a number of athletes from Northern Ireland will take to the start of the Dublin City Half Marathon in Dublin, Ireland.  The event will be the penultimate race of the well-supported Dublin Marathon Series, which is crowned off next month with the superb Dublin City Marathon on Monday 26th October 2015. 

The course is based within the extensive grounds of the Phoenix Park in the heart of the City and despite taking in several inclines, has proved fast for competitors in the past.  North Belfast Harriers’ Gerard McNamara, Ballydrain Harriers’ Drew Fowler and Newry based duo Patricia Brown (Newry City Runners) and Patrick Treanor (Gym Tech Running) are just a few of the local runners set to compete.  On race day, athletes can be tracked HERE.

World Mountain Running Association (WMRA) Championships (Wales):
Further afield on Saturday 19th September 2015, a number of runners from Northern Ireland will be in action at the World Mountain Running Association (WMRA) Senior and Junior Mountain Running Championships in Wales.  The week-long programme events held in North Wales kicked off last Saturday (12th September 2015) and proved extremely successful for local athletes, with no less than four collecting medals in the WMRA Masters World Championships.


This week, it is the turn of the senior and junior athletes to take centre stage.  In the senior men’s race, Seamus Lynch (Newcastle AC) will head the local challenge for honours, while junior stars Oisin Brennan, James Millar, Joel Harrison, Aaron Harrison and Scott McKeag will represent Northern Ireland in the British & Irish Championships, which will be held as part of the event.


Belfast City Half Marathon:
On Sunday 20th September 2015, over 3,500 athletes and associated spectators will descend on Northern Ireland’s capital city, Belfast, for the Belfast City Half Marathon, which also incorporates the NI & Ulster Half Marathon Championships. In its relatively short existence, the event has established itself as the province’s largest Half Marathon, proving popular with both competitive runners and those looking to raise worthwhile funds for local and national charities.  The new course, which encompasses East Belfast, the City Centre and the Lower Falls, is described as “super-fast” by organisers and should therefore encourage fast times.


In terms of front-runners, we would expect this year's Belfast City Marathon runner up Gideon Kimosop (Project Africa) to be among a number of Kenyan athletes who are likely to dominate the male and female podium.  The 27 year old was somewhat of a surprise package back in May when he went head-to-head with previous Belfast marathon winner Joel  Kipsang – after an excellent battle, Gideon tired in the last 2 miles but held on to secure second place in 2:20:29.  Taking this and his 1:05:15 victory at the Omagh Half Marathon into consideration, Gideon will therefore be considered as pre-race favourite. 


Fellow Project Africa athlete Dan Tanui (Kenya) will also be keen to impress.  In relation to the competition for local honours, Newry based athlete Paddy Hamilton (Slieve Gullion Runners) looks likely to take charge.  Paddy has been in good form all year, especially over the 10k distance; two weeks ago, he secured the runners up spot in 30:53. 

East Down AC’s Brendan Teer and Armagh AC’s Gary Henderson should also feature prominently, while Brian Campbell (Willowfield Harriers) has been side-lined with a minor calf injury.   North Belfast Harriers will field a strong line-up as they attempt to secure the team title as well as high individual places; Andrew Annett, Mark McKinstry, Adam Boyd, Neil Carty, Andrew Considine, Brendan Grew, Jim Benson, Simon Reeve and the ever improving pair of Tommy Simmons and John Black will be the men looking to score.  Despite the absence of front man Brian Campbell, Willowfield Harriers should also make the team podium with the likes of Greg Lucy, Neill Weir and Chris Moren taking charge.


The ladies race will also see Kenyan athletes come to the fore - Mercy Jemutai Tanui and Rosina Kiboino are along with Gideon Kimosop under the wing of Omagh based Project Africa Athletics coach Ciaran Collins.  At the age of 21 years old, Mercy Jemutai Tanui has a bright future – the talented athlete has clocked some classy times - in 2012, she covered the marathon distance 2:31:30 and recorded a half marathon time of 1:11:19.  Despite being much slower than her best, Mercy’s most recent marathon time of 2:45:41 (July 2015) makes her the marginal favourite ahead of fellow Kenyan Rosina Kiboino.  Rosina has a similar marathon time when she finished as runner up at the Sofia Marathon in October 2014.


Reigning Champion of the Belfast City Half Marathon, Gladys Ganiel O’Neill (North Belfast Harriers), would normally be considered right up there with the potential favourites.  However, having only recently returned to racing, Gladys is understandably not at full fitness – despite this, the gutsy athlete still put in a top quality performance to secure a NI & Ulster silver medal over 10k at Laganside two weeks ago; based on this, Gladys should not never be ruled out! In addition to Commonwealth Games star Gladys, North Belfast Harriers will also be well represented by Louise Smith who was second over the old course here last year – Gladys and Louise will also spearhead the North Belfast Harriers challenge for the ladies team title. 


Lisburn Half Marathon winner and Irish Olympian Catriona Jennings (Rathfarnham WSAF) should also make the podium, while ever consistent athletes Gerrie Short (Beechmount Harriers), Gillian Wasson (Springwell Running Club), Hazel Smyth (Dumfries AC), Sarah-Jane Guiney (Albertville Harriers) and Kirsty Sharratt (Larne AC) will also be worth watching.  Other ladies who will be looking to finish well up the field include Diane Watson (City of Lisburn AC), Irene Clements (Enniskillen Running Club), Anne Fitzpatrick (North Belfast Harriers), Sinead Murtagh (Newcastle AC), Susan Smyth (Dromore AC), Gillian Logan (Larne AC), Natasha Henderson (County Antrim Harriers) and Niamh Kellet (East Down AC).


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

GARMIN announce title sponsorship of Mourne Skyline MTR:

NiRunning EXCLUSIVE:
Today, Wednesday 16th September 2015, NiRunning and Garmin officially announced Garmin’s title sponsorship of our (NiRunning) Mourne Skyline Mountain-Trail Race.  The race will now be known as the GARMIN MOURNE SKYLINE MOUNTAIN-TRAIL RACE.  This is an extremely exciting development for the event, which is part of the Skyrunning UK calendar. 

As our followers and friends, we are very happy to give you exclusive access to the official press release (below):

GARMIN ANNOUNCE TITLE SPONSORSHIP OF THE
MOURNE SKYLINE MOUNTAIN-TRAIL RACE 2015
23rd & 24th October
www.mourneskylinemtr.com
www.garmin.com

Garmin, the world’s leading supplier of innovative GPS technology for the sport, recreation and wellness markets, have agreed to become the first title sponsor of the Mourne Skyline Mountain-Trail Race 2015.
 
Garmin Mourne Skyline MTR takes place on Saturday, 24th October, in Newcastle, Co Down, with 200 runners from 14 countries undertaking a gruelling 35k, 3,370m ascent across 9 of the most spectacular peaks in Ireland. The field includes no less than 30 runners who have represented their country, among them Ireland's Dan Doherty (17th in IAU Ultra-Trail World Championships) and Great Britain & NI star Lizzie Wraith.  Northern Ireland's first ever winner of the Ben Nevis mountain race, Diane Wilson, will also start following her success on the UK's highest mountain two weeks ago.
 
There are still a few places left in the Granite Trail Race on the 23rd, a night time run of a 2-mile, 1,000ft ascent, which is suitable for most trail runners and starts from the promenade of the picturesque seaside town.  More information can be found on the official race website www.mourneskylinemtr.com
 
“We are delighted to be the title sponsors for the 2nd Mourne Skyline Mountain Trail Race,” said Gail Cook, UK and Ireland Marketing Director of Garmin. “This event, which showcases some of the most spectacular trails on the island, promises to become one of the most sought-after challenges in the UK’s trail racing calendar.”
Garmin Mourne Skyline MTR is organised by NiRunning, a Northern Ireland based website dedicated to promoting mountain, trail, track and road running, headed up by local running enthusiast Ryan Maxwell.

The race, which attracted two time Skyrunner world champion Stevie Kremer and British ultra-running champion Kim Collison for the inaugural event, is part of the annual UK series organised by Skyrunning UK and is governed by the International Skyrunning Federation.

Ryan said: “We are thrilled that Garmin has stepped in to support Mourne Skyline MTR which, although only in its second year, is capturing attention across the world.  It is great to see a brand that we respect so much invest in this sport, helping us to grow and develop it further.
 
“Our ambition is to put Northern Ireland on the global mountain-trail racing map and position our event so one day it could be part of the Skyrunner World Series and, further down the line, potentially host the Skyrunner World Championships.”
 
Garmin Mourne Skyline MTR is arguably the toughest and most scenic mountain-trail race in Northern Ireland, comprising forest paths, fire roads, single track grass and granite trails.  Points of interest include ‘Lindsey’s Leap’, Glen River path, the spectacular ‘Castles’, Hare’s Gap, Foffanny Dam, Iron Bridge and Slieve Donard, Commedagh, Bearnagh, Meelmore, Loughshannagh and Meelbeg.

Associate event sponsors include Manor Health Care, The Steensons, Apex Clinic, Clif Bar, Cotswold Outdoor, The Ultra-Runner Store and ProParamedics. 

More on the Garmin Mourne Skyline Mountain-Trail Race at: www.mourneskylinemtr.com
 
More on Garmin at www.garmin.com or www.garmin.ie

Gary O'Hanlon and Hannah Oldroyd impress at Mary Anderson Colour Marathon:

Mary Anderson Colour Marathon 2015:
On Sunday 13th September 2015, hundreds of athletes from across Northern Ireland (and beyond) descended on the County Tyrone town of Carrickmore for the inaugural running of the highly anticipated Mary Anderson Colour Marathon.  The event, organised by The Rainbow Gateway Club and the Mary Anderson Foundation in memory of the late Mary Anderson, proved a fitting tribute to the late Mary Anderson.

The 26.2 mile route started outside the town’s Patrician Hall and took participants through the rural townlands of Loughmacrory, Drumduff, Beragh, and Sixmilecross, before returning to Carrickmore GFC for the finish.

In what proved to be an exciting race, Gary O’Hanlon (Clonliffe Harriers), Stephen Duncan (Omagh Harriers) and Kevin English (Unattached) went through half way together. 

However, as the race progressed into the final stages, it was pre-race favourite Gary O’Hanlon who took control.  Despites Stephen’s best efforts, Gary went on to seal victory in 2:40:48 (1st place).  Stephen followed in 2:41:38 (2nd place), before Kevin English crossed the line in 2:43:21 (3rd place).

The ladies race wasn’t just as close, but brought some exceptionally talented ladies to the fore.  England based Hannah Oldroyd (Saltaire Striders) looked a class apart as she dominated the ladies race from start to finish, taking the title in 2:57:50 (1st place).  Natalie Hall continued her recent good form as she completed the classic distance in 3:12:05 (2nd place), finishing just ahead of Enniskillen Running Club’s Tara Malone, who finished in 3:16:03 (3rd place).

Top 3 Men:  1st Gary O’Hanlon (Clonliffe Harriers) – 2:40:48, 2nd Stephen Duncan (Omagh Harriers) – 2:41:38, 3rd Kevin English (Unattached) – 2:43:21

Top 3 Ladies:  1st Hannah Oldroyd (Saltaire Striders) – 2:57:50, 2nd Natalie Hall (Sperrin Harriers) – 3:12:05, 3rd Tara Malone (Enniskillen Running Club) – 3:16:03

Ann-Marie McGlynn and Cathy McCourt secure wins in Ireland:

Donegal 5k Road Race (Ireland):
On Sunday 13th September 2015, a number of runners from Northern Ireland enjoyed success at the Donegal 5k road race in Letterkenny (Ireland), an event which doubled up as the Donegal Athletics 5k Championships.

Northern Ireland Commonwealth Games star Danny Mooney (Letterkenny AC) once again impressed.  Despite the fact that Danny is better known for his performances over 1500m, the Letterkenny AC man excelled over the 5k distance, after securing 3rd place in 15:36.  The men’s race was won by Finn Valley AC’s in-form Barry Harron in 15:20 (1st place).

In the ladies race, the always outstanding Ann-Marie McGlynn (Letterkenny AC) showed her class.  Ann-Marie was a comprehensive winner, breaking the tape in 16:40 (1st place).  There was further success for the NI contingent, when young Derry City Track Club star Hannah McGowan claimed 3rd place in 19:28.


Lucan 5 mile Road Race (Ireland):
Just over 24 hours earlier, on Saturday 12th September 2015, local athletes also picked up prizes at the Lucan 5 mile road race in Dublin, Ireland.  North Belfast Harriers’ Cathy McCourt led the ladies field home in 31:28 (1st place).  Cathy’s North Belfast Harriers club mates, James Wallace (29:35) and Paula Wallace (36:17) also secured category victories.

Eoin Lennon and Aisling Allum continue to impress in Scotland:

Helensburgh AC - From Hel' and Back:
On Sunday 13th September 2015, in Scotland, Northern Ireland natives Eoin Lennon (Carnethy HRC) and Aisling Allum (Carnethy HRC) took part in the inaugural From Hel' and Back race hosted by Helensburgh AC. 

The Challenging 12.5k off road course takes in views over the Clyde, Arrocher Alps, Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park.  The route sounds scenic, but with 1,300ft of ascent and descent, runners would find it challenging.

Current Scottish Ultra Trail running Champion Eoin again impressed, taking 1st place in 49:07, with a gap of over two and a half minutes on his nearest rival.  Talented multi-sport athlete Aisling, having not long moved to Scotland showed that her recent training has paid off, with a fantastic 3rd place finish in the testing event. Aisling finished in 1:01:26, with winner Helen Leigh (Blackburn Harriers & AC) breaking the tape in 57:54 (1st place).

Local athletes secure medals at World Mountain Running Championships:

World Masters Mountain Running Championships 2015:
On Saturday 12th September 2015, the World Masters Mountain Running Championships kicked off a week-long festival of international running in the Betws-y-Coed and Snowdonia area of Wales.

Five Northern Ireland runners made the short, scenic journey to the place some would describe as the UK's home of mountain running, to represent both Great Britain & Northern Ireland and Ireland.  The Championship route measured 10.6k in distance with over 500 metres of ascent/descent and would be described as a 'runners' course, comprising mainly of trails, with one significant mountain section.

In the M35 Category Newcastle AC man David McNeilly was part of an Ireland silver medal winning trio.  David, finished in 16th place in the M35 race, with a time of 47:59.  Brothers Stephen and Robert Cleary (both Clonakilty AC) finished in 11th place and 13th place respectively to help secure the silver medal.  Great Britain & Northern Ireland took the team gold medal.  Ballymena man Seamus Kelly (Ballymena Runners) was also registered as Team Ireland in the M35 Category.  Seamus ran well to finish in 22nd place in a time of 54:50.

In the F35 Category, Hazel McLaughlin (Lagan Valley AC) was representing Great Britain & Northern Ireland.  Hazel who has impressed over short and long distance in 2015 showed great strength and determination to make third counter for a strong GB & NI Team.  Hazel's 5th place finish (in 1:00:28) ensured that her GB & NI team took gold in the F35 Category.

Experienced international athletes Anthony Glover (Westbury Harriers) and Alex Brennan (Ballymena Runners), represented Ireland in the M40 Category. England based Anthony, who has featured for Northern Ireland in the Masters XC Championships, took 10th place in 47:11.  Alex again showed the form that has saw him make many podiums this year, taking 18th place and third Irish counter in the M40 event (50:14), to help secure another medal for Ireland.  This time bronze, with Liam Dunne (Ballyroan AC) completing the team having claimed 17th place.  Great Britain & Northern Ireland won the M40 event.

Another Northern Ireland international, Shileen O'Kane (Lagan Valley AC) represented Great Britain & Northern Ireland in the F45 Category.  Shileen the current leader of the NIMRA ladies Championship Series and a former Masters Team medallist competed well in an impressive F45 race, finishing in 7th place (in 55:18) behind six other speedy GB & NI ladies.  The packed Great Britain & Northern Ireland F45 team ran out easy winners in this event.

Ciara Mageean further improves Northern Ireland 1500m record:

Ciara continues top form in Italy:
On Sunday 13th September 2015, Portaferry's Ciara Mageean (UCD AC) continued her spectacular end of season form with yet another Northern Ireland record over 1500 metres.  The new time of 4:06.49 shaved 0.05 seconds off her previous best set in Roverto just last week.

More importantly the new record, this time set in Rieti, Italy is a mere 0.49 seconds short of the qualification mark required for the Rio Olympics next summer.  Ciara finished in 5th place in what was a world class field.  The race was won by Ethiopia’s Gudaf Tsegay in 4.05.17 (1st place); like Ciara, Gudaf is a former World Junior Championship silver medallist.

Ciara, a 23 year old UCD student, has had an excellent season following a slight injury scare after her early year Northern Ireland indoor record over 3,000 metres in New York (USA).  She broke the mile record in July and after winning the Irish 800m title took the decision not to compete at the IAAF World Championships in Beijing.  Her explanation has been that since she was not 100% fit she wished to concentrate on Rio.  This policy certainly seems to be paying off.

Note:  Information for article taken from Athletics NI website.  Photo from BBC Sport NI website.

Darrell McKee and Helena Quinn secure Ballinderry Bridge 10k titles:

Ballinderry Bridge 10k (and Shore 10k) 2015:
On Saturday 12th September 2015, athletes from across the province turned out for the 5th annual running of the Ballinderry Bridge 10k race and associated 5k event. 

The popular race covers a mostly road based course, but with a small amount of trail involved.  Interestingly, the route straddles two counties and takes in three bridges, starting in the County Derry/Londonderry village of Ballinderry, before taking competitors back and forth into the neighbouring County Tyrone, by way of bridge crossings, before finishing back where it began.

Despite the inclusion of talented reigning Champion Chris McPeake (City of Derry AC), it was local man Darrell McKee (Acorns AC) who stole the headlines.  The pair were side by side for a time, but Darrell moved clear as the race progressed, before winning in 33:55 (1st place).  Chris recorded 34:58 (2nd place), while Jonathan McKee (Springwell Running Club) completed the top three in 35:43 (3rd place).

In the ladies race, Termoneeney Running Club’s Helena Quinn produced a commanding performance to secure the title.  Helena looked strong throughout, eventually breaking the tape in 40:34 (1st place).  The always impressive Cheryl Cardwell (Sperrin Harriers) completed the route in 42:20 for 2nd place, before Rosemary Hargan (Acorns AC) ran 45:56 for 3rd place.

In the associated 5k race, Acorns AC’s up and coming star Cathaoir Purvis sealed victory in 19:19 (1st place), while City of Lisburn AC’s Rebecca Harvey put in a classy performance to take the ladies top prize in 20:51 (1st place); this saw the junior star finish in 3rd place overall.

Top 3 Men:  1st Darrell McKee (Acorns AC) – 33:55, 2nd Chris McPeake (City of Derry AC) – 34:58, 3rd Jonathan McKee (Springwell Running Club) – 35:43

Top 3 Ladies:  Helena Quinn (Termoneeney Running Club) – 40:34, 2nd Cheryl Cardwell (Sperrin Harriers) – 42:20, 3rd Rosemary Hargan (Acorns AC) – 45:56


Shore 10k road race 2015:
Elsewhere on Saturday 12th September 2015, a disappointing turn-out of approximately forty competitors took on East Down AC's annual Shore 10k.  Despite the poor showing, those who attended the event enjoyed the usual East Down AC hospitality and also a stunning course.  Raheny Shamrock AC athlete Brian Leahy led the field home in 33:20 (1st place), while the in-form Laura Graham (Unattached) secured victory in the ladies race, after running an impressive 37:40 (1st place); this finishing time also saw Laura take 3rd place overall.

Full Results:  Shore 10k 2015 Results

Mark McKinstry and Karen Alexander tame the beast in Glenarm:

Wilderbeast 10 mile Trail Race 2015:
On Saturday 12th September 2015, just over one hundred athletes descended on the picturesque Glenarm Castle for the inaugural running of the Wilderbeast 10 mile trail race and the associated race programme, which also included a 5k trail race and junior events. 

The race, organised by Glenarm Castle and local athlete Ben Morrow (Ballymena Runners) covered a challenging but exciting course which took in parts of the extensive Castle grounds as well as the neighbouring Glenarm Forest.

There was no surprise at the front, with well-known North Belfast Harriers athlete Mark McKinstry leading the field home.  Mark, who showed his speedy edge at the Laganside 10k last week, where he help his club to the NI & Ulster 10k title, clocked an impressive 58:44 (1st place) for victory.  Willowfield Harriers’ Neil Weir followed in 59:39 (2nd place), before Glenarm based athlete Phelim McAllister (Larne AC) completed the podium places in 1:03:59 (3rd place).

The ladies race played out similar to the men’s, with pre-race favourite Karen Alexander (Acorns AC) excelled at the front.  Karen put in a classy display to lead the field home in 1:08:07 (1st place).  The in-form Geraldine Quigley (Ballymena Runners) secured a well-deserved 2nd place in 1:14:45, while Penny Lindsay (North Belfast Harriers) crossed the line just under a minute later in 1:15:28 (3rd place).

In the competitive 5k trail race, AAI National Masters track medallist Mark McManus (East Coast AC) broke the tape in 19:19 (1st place), while Larne AC’s always impressive Patricia Blair sealed the ladies title in 22:19 (1st place); interestingly, this also saw Patricia take 3rd place overall.

Top 3 Men:  1st Mark McKinstry (North Belfast Harriers) – 58:44, 2nd Neil Weir (Willowfield Harriers) – 59:39, 3rd Phelim McAlister (Larne AC) – 1:03:59

Top 3 Ladies:  1st Karen Alexander (Acorns AC) – 1:08:07, 2nd Geraldine Quigley (Ballymena Runners) – 1:14:45, 3rd Penny Lindsay (North Belfast Harriers) – 1:15:28

John Craig and Denise Logue win Ards Lions 5 mile Road Race:

Ards Lions 5 mile Road Race 2015:
On Friday 11th September 2015, well over one hundred athletes turned out for the annual Ards Lions 5 mile road race in Newtownards, an event hosted by Ards Lions Club in conjunction with highly respected local running club Ballydrain Harriers.

At the sharp end of the pack, it was Orangegrove AC’s John Craig who impressed most.  John moved well clear of the field, cruising to victory in 27:41 (1st place).  Nigel Kelly (Ballydrain Harriers) followed in 28:28 (2nd place), before Michael Cultra (East Down AC) completed the top three in 28:59 (3rd place).

In the ladies race, Denise Logue (Ballydrain Harriers) looked strong as she put in a dominant performance which matched that of her winning male counterpart.  Denise clocked 30:58 (1st place), while fellow Ballydrain Harriers athlete Amanda Perry just saw off the challenge of Lagan Valley AC’s Ruth Perioli (3rd place - 30:28) to claim 2nd place in 30:25.

Top 3 Men:  1st John Craig (Orangegrove AC) – 27:41, 2nd Nigel Kelly (Ballydrain Harriers) – 28:28, 3rd Michael Cultra (East Down AC) – 28:59

Top 3 Ladies:  1st Denise Logue (Ballydrain Harriers) – 30:58, 2nd Amanda Perry (Ballydrain Harriers) – 30:25, 3rd Ruth Perioli (Lagan Valley AC) – 30:28

Weekend Preview:  Local athletes look ahead to a variety of events...

Weekend Preview:  Local athletes look ahead to a variety of events...
Another weekend brings with it more action and another fairly busy few days for the local running community.  Despite the dismal weather forecast, the variety of events and level of competition should brighten things up for those involved. 

There is again plenty of choice over what will be another three day weekend in terms of running. 

There is also the opportunity for athletes who are undecided as to whether to race or not, to grab a late entry at all of the events taking place within Northern Ireland – they are; the Ards Lions 5 mile road race, Ballinderry Bridge 10k, Shore 10k, Wilderbeast 10 mile trail race and of course, the highly anticipated and very worthwhile Mary Anderson Colour Marathon.  Local athletes will also be in action at the prestigious Great North Run in England and the World Masters Mountain Running Championships in Wales. 

Ards Lions 5 mile Road Race:
The weekend action will kick off later tonight (Friday 11th September 2015), when athletes from across the County Down area take on the annual Ards Lions 5 mile road race, which for the first time will be co-hosted by highly respected club Ballydrain Harriers.

The aforementioned Ballydrain Harriers will be out in force, as will North Down AC.  If he toes the line, it’s hard to look past North Down AC’s Dennis Scott.  Dennis recorded 33:07 at last Sunday’s Laganside 10k.  His club mate, Craig McMeechan (North Down AC) will also be worth watch if he races.  Scott McKeag will lead the Ballydrain Harriers charge and will be backed up by the likes of Richard Coey, Aaron Harrison and Curtis McCaw.  Willowfield Harrier’s Gregory Lucy will also be in the mix if he makes use of the on the night entry.

In terms of the ladies field – North Down AC’s Jodi Smith may compete, and if she does, Jodie will be keen to replicate her recent form, which included a win at the Millisle 6 mile road race.  Denise Logue (Ballydrain Harriers), Amanda Jackson (Ballydrain Harriers) and Nicky McKeag (Ballydrain Harriers) and Nikki Gardner (North Down AC) will also be amongst those chasing the prizes.
Wilderbeast 10 mile Trail Race:
On Saturday 12th September 2015, hundreds of competitors are expected to descend on the stunning Glenarm Castle for the inaugural running of the Wilderbeast 10 mile trail race and associated junior race programme. 

The event, organised by Glenarm Castle and local athlete Ben Morrow (Ballymena Runners) will prove popular with participants given it’s challenging but exciting course which takes in parts of the Castle grounds as well as the neighbouring Glenarm Forest.

Mark McKinstry (North Belfast Harriers) will go into this event as pre-race favourite and judging by his recent form, the Ballyboley based man will prove extremely hard to knock off top spot.  Last week, Mark clocked a new personal best of 32:21 for 10k; although this is by no means a fast course, the NBH man’s off-road strength will give him a fantastic advantage.   

Larne AC men Phelim McAllister, John Neill, Bryan Magee and Billy Thompson will all play a prominent part in proceedings, while Orangegrove AC’s Thomas Leitch will also make the top ten.  Bobby Nicholson (Seapark AC), Oliver Cook (PACE Running Club) and Jonny Graham (Ballymena Runners) will also finish well up the field.

Acorns AC’s Northern Ireland international Karen Alexander is the stand-out athletes in the ladies field.  Given her experience over the terrain and her classy edge, it will take an outstanding late entrant to outpace the County Tyrone woman.  That leaves two podium spaces, which could be contested by the likes of Liz Leitch (Orangegrove AC), Sarah Steer (Orangegrove AC), Nichola Swann (Unattached) and Karen Poag (Seapark AC).

Ballinderry Bridge 10k Race:
Also on Saturday 12th September 2015, athletes can look forward to the increasingly popular Ballinderry Bridge 10k race.  This is the 5th annual running of the event, which covers mostly road, but with a small amount of trail involved. The interesting course straddles two counties and takes in three bridges, starting in the County Derry/Londonderry village of Ballinderry, before taking competitors back and forth into the neighbouring County Tyrone, by way of bridge crossings, before finishing back where it began. 

Proceedings will kick off at 12pm and on the day entry is available; record numbers are expected as the race grows in popularity.  It’s likely that top spot will go to one of three men, Darrell McKee (Acorns AC), Aidan O’Hagan (Acorns AC) and three time winner of the race, Chris McPeake (City of Derry AC).  North Belfast Harriers legend Tommy Hughes is also a previous winner and a return cannot be ruled out, the same could be said for former Sperrin Harriers athlete Michael Crawley.

Reigning Champion Heather Foley (Unattached) finished well up the field overall in 2014 and will perform just as well this time around, especially taking into consideration in recent triathlon events where she excels on a regular basis.  Heather may have Sperrin Harriers athlete Pauline McGurren for company but Karen Alexander will not compete, as she will be racing in Glenarm.  Carmen Runners’ ever consistent Ciara Coyle will also be there or there abouts.
Shore 10k Road Race:
In County Down on Saturday 12th September 2015, East Down AC (and friends) will host the annual Shore 10k road race in Killough.  The route has been described by many as one of the most scenic in the province, meaning that despite their efforts in competition, athletes will undoubtedly enjoy the course – entries are still available on the day.

Brendan Teer (East Down AC), winner of the 2014 event, will be at the event as part of the organising team, but will not compete – this leaves the top prize up for grabs.  Should he opt for this over the Ards 5 mile road race, last year’s runner up Dennis Scott may go one better.  However, Dennis will face opposition in the form of ever improving Newcastle AC man Martin Melville.  Fellow Newcastle AC athlete David O’Flaherty returned to competition last Sunday at the Laganside 10k and ran 34:05; that would be good enough for a podium spot here.  James Savage and Barrie Atkinson, both of East Down AC, should also run well.

Reigning Champion and NI & Ulster 10k bronze medallist Catherine O’Connor (East Down AC) will be the lady to beat once again.  The versatile athlete, who has also represented Northern Ireland in the mountains, has enjoyed an excellent year and looks likely to head the pack here. Club mate Cheryl Denvir (East Down AC) and Newcastle AC trio Mari Troeng, Sam McNeilly and Sinead Murtagh may also make use of the on the day entry system.

World Masters Mountain Running Championships (Wales):
Further afield on Saturday 12th September 2015, a number of runners from Northern Ireland will be in action at the World Masters Mountain Running Championships in Wales.  The week long programme of events will span over one week and include this weekend and next weekend, with the Masters taking centre stage this weekend and the Senior and Junior athletes taking to the start-line next week. 

In terms of those competing this weekend, familiar faces such as Seamus Lynch (Newcastle AC), David McNeilly (Newcastle AC), Alex Brennan (Ballymena Runners), Shileen O’Kane (Lagan Valley AC) and Hazel McLaughlin (Lagan Valley AC) could well be amongst the local contingent vying for medals in their respective categories.  The men will take on a 10.6k course, while the ladies will cover 8.7k.
Mary Anderson Colour Marathon:
On Sunday 13th September 2015, hundreds of athletes are set to take to the rural roads in and around Carrickmore for the inaugural running of the highly anticipated Mary Anderson Colour Marathon (and associated Relay).  The event, organised by The Rainbow Club and the Mary Anderson Foundation in memory of the late Mary Anderson, will raise much need funds for the Mary Anderson Foundation.

The marathon will start outside the Patrician Hall and will wind its way through Loughmacrory, Drumduff, Beragh, and Sixmilecross, before returning to Carrickmore GFC for the finish.  Clonliffe Harriers athlete and well-known Irish athlete Gary O’Hanlon will be the man to watch in the 26.2 mile event.  Considering that he has run 2:22:49 for the distance, it’s hard to look past Gary for a potential winner – that is unless Raheny Shamrock AC’s regular racer and Belfast Marathon winner Freddy Sittuk has his eyes on the prize after having had to settle for second place behind clubmate Mick Clohisey at last weekend’s Waterside Half Marathon.  Omagh Harriers’ Stephen Duncan should also secure a podium place, while Brendan Grew (North Belfast Harriers) and Steve Darby (Barnsley AC) will also play a part.  Chris Denton (Springwell Running Club) and Delfim Pimentel (Unattached) will also run well.  Philip Anderson (Unattached), Mary's husband, will proudly wear number one as he completes the tough but rewarding route.

Just like the men’s event, the ladies race also has a stand out performer; well, it has a number of them actually, but the likely to take charge is England based athlete and regular racer in Northern Ireland Hannah Oldroyd (Saltaire Striders).Hannah has a personal best of 2:50:05 which puts her well ahead in terms of speed over the distance, but it’s whether Hannah has focused on this event or not that will make a difference.  Especially when she has the likes of Tara Malone (Enniskillen Running Club) and Natalie Hall (Sperrin Harriers) chasing.  Both Tara and Natalie will definitely contest podium places, while Natalie Bowbanks (Unattached), Gillian Logan (Larne AC) and Helena Dornan (Ballycastle Runners) should take top ten places.

Late entry for the Mary Anderson Colour Marathon will be available from the Patrician Hall in Carrickmore, County Tyrone on Saturday 12th September between 1pm – 6pm and Sunday 13th September between 7am – 8am.

Great North Run (England):
In England on Sunday 13th September 2015, hundreds of runners from Northern Ireland will join tens of thousands of fellow competitors on the start line of one of arguably the world’s most famous half marathon, the Great North Run.  The event takes the seemingly endless field of runners from Newcastle City Centre, across the famous Tyne Bridge and onwards towards the epic finish area in South Shields.  We would expect pretty much every club from Northern Ireland to have a representative amongst the 50,000+ field, which includes newly crowned World Champion Mo Farah (Great Britain & NI) and well-known Olympian Ryan Hall (USA).

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

Ciara Mageean sets new record whilst narrowly missing Olympic standard:

Ciara close to Olympic qualification in Italy:
On Tuesday 8th September 2015, Northern Ireland track star Ciara Mageean (UCD AC) was in action at the ‘Palio Citta della Quercia’ track and field meeting in Rovereto, Italy.

After entering the event with the intention of attempting to secure the Rio 2016 Olympic 1500m standard of 4:06.00, Ciara very nearly did just that.  However, in the end the Northern Ireland record holder narrowly missed the aforementioned standard after crossing the line in 4:06.54 (2nd place). 

Despite the disappointment of such a near miss, Ciara will be happy in the knowledge that the qualification standard is well within reach – this time also saw the former World Junior medallist smash her own Northern Ireland 1,500m record.  The race was won by Canada’s Fiona Benson in 4:05.62 (1st place).  Photograph of Ciara Mageean (on left) taken from BBC NI Sport website.

Commonwealth Youth Games 2015:
On Wednesday 9th September 2015, City of Lisburn AC hurdler Ben Fisher secured bronze in the 100m hurdles final at the Commonwealth Youth Games in Samoa.  Ben recorded a new personal best of 14.32secs to take 3rd place.  The race was won by South African athlete Mpho Katlego Tladi in 13.50secs (1st place).

Diane Wilson produces top class performance to win Ben Nevis Race:

Ben Nevis Mountain Race 2015:
On Saturday (5th September 2015) thirty three Northern Ireland mountain runners travelled to Fortwilliam, Scotland to take on the Classic Ben Nevis mountain race.  Ben Nevis is the highest mountain in the UK, standing at 1,344 metres (4,409ft) above sea level. 

Prior to entries being accepted, race organisers require each athlete to show previous experience over similar terrain, distance and elevation.

At 1pm, in sunny and calm conditions, the six hundred strong field were set on their way by Kathleen MacPherson, the first ever lady to compete in the race (1955 – aged just 16). 

As expected a speedy Jonny Steede (Unattached) led the Northern Ireland contingent from the Lochaber Football Ground, along the undulating road section and onto the famous Ben Nevis walking route.  At this stage, Salomon International runner Ricky Lightfoot (Ellenborough AC) and local hero Finlay Wild (Lochaber AC) had taken control at the head of the field.  Alex Brennan (Ballymena Runners), Sam Herron (Mourne Runners), Glasgow based Ballymena man Owen O'Neill (Westerlands CCC) and Connor Reid (Ballymena Runners) were all amongst the chasing pack.  A short distance behind, Northern Irelands leading lady Diane Wilson (Dromore AC), along with Emmet McAlister (Unattached), Justin Maxwell (East Coast AC) and Stephen Purvis (Ballymena Runners) made their way onto the initially gentle slopes.

As the race progressed, Sam Herron was the first Northern Ireland runner to reach the scenic, clear summit, closely followed by Jonny Steede in 1:12.  Owen O'Neill, Clive Bailey, Alex Brennan, Conor Reid, Ricky Hanna (Mourne Runners), Pete Grant (Newcastle AC), Willy Marks (Mourne Runners), Eugene McCann (Mourne Runners), Barry Wells (Newcastle AC) and Stephen Purvis all climbed extremely well.  Diane Wilson progressed through the competitive field, reaching the top as third placed lady, turning close to 4 minutes behind the leader Caitlin Rice (Glossopdale Harriers).  Ciara Largey, a Northern Ireland athlete, living in Scotland and running for local club Lochaber AC also ascended well, but on the initial descent, slipped causing a knee injury which would see the end of her race (and a trip to A&E).
As the leading competitors made their way downhill, back to Claggan Park, home of Lochaber Football Club, it was Finlay Wild who had taken control at the front, descending fluently over the rocky ground.  On the descent Jonny Steede passed Sam Herron and led the Northern Ireland participants home, crossing the sunny and atmospheric finish line in 1:50:29, for 21st place.  A fast finishing Owen O'Neill took 22nd in 1:50:35, with Sam Herron less than a minute behind in 26th place (1:51:07).  Clive Bailey showed some speed, in addition to his climbing ability, to finish in 35th place in a time of 1:54:00.  International veteran Alex Brennan was next home in 1:58:12, for 56th place.

The always impressive Diane Wilson produced the performance of her life to lead the ladies into the finish area - having taken the lead almost 2 miles from the finish, following a fantastic descent, Diane gradually increased the gap as she negotiated the technical trail and onward towards the road, to take top honours in 2:00:41 (1st place).  A delighted Diane now has the honour of being the first ever Northern Ireland winner of the iconic Ben Nevis Race.

Ricky Hanna continued his good form, finishing in 75th place, in an impressive 2:03:29, before club mate Garth McGimpsey took 99th place, in 2:06:23 and narrowly missing out on a prize for 100th place, having overtaken a local runner in the latter stages of the race.  Emmet McAlister descended well to take 103rd place (2:06:37) before Ballymena Runners’ Connor Reid, who impressed on his first attempt at the race, taking 113th place in 2:09:46, despite falling shortly after the summit turn and fracturing his right arm and damaging his right knee. 

Newcastle AC debutant Pete Grant took 116th place in 2:10:15 before a strong Willy Marks reached the finish line in 156th (2:15:19).  Armagh AC runner Paul Hollywood took 172nd place in 2:16:42, before the experienced Eugene McCann and Barry Wells crossed the line in 177th place (2:17:27) and 178th place (2:17:37) respectively.  Broughshane man Stephen Purvis again impressed, finishing 180th place in 2:17:42.  Springwell Running Club's David Holden took 206th place (2:21:51), ahead of Justin Maxwell (212th place - 2:22:19).  Brian McBurney (Newcastle AC) completed the race for an incredible seventeenth time, finishing in 222nd place (2:23:35), with Mike Barton (Mourne Runners) and Brian Wilson (Newcastle AC) finishing less than thirty seconds behind in 225th place (2:23:52) and 228th place (2:24:06) respectively.  David Bell (Mourne Runners) was the next familiar face to cross the finish line, taking 245th place in 2:27:19, before Hazel and Eamonn McLaughlin (both Lagan Valley AC) completed the race for the first time.  Hazel was second Northern Ireland lady across the line, 27th place in the ladies race and 285th place overall (2:34:14), with husband Eamonn descending impressively to take 286th place in 2:34:15.

Newcastle AC man Stephen Rice took 331st place in 2:39:41, before club-mate and Northern Ireland's third lady Paulette Thomson (Newcastle AC) completed her journey in 2:40:46 for 36th place lady (336th place overall).  Northern Ireland Mountain Running Association Chairman and experienced mountain runner Ricky Cowan (Mourne Runners) was next home, in 2:48:16 (370th place).  Anne Sandford (Lagan Valley AC), another athlete completing the race for the first time, ran well, taking 55th place in the ladies category (392nd place overall) in 2:53:26, two places ahead of Martin Brogan (Newcastle AC), who recorded a time of 2:53:48 (394th place).  Rita Devlin (Newcastle AC) continued her progression in the mountain running scene, finishing as 68th place lady in 3:09:14 (445th place overall).  Mourne Runners’ Darren Herron completed the challenging route in 3:13:17, before Debbie Kendall (Newcastle AC) completed the Northern Ireland involvement, taking 73rd place in the ladies race (463rd place overall) in 3:18:14.  Lochaber AC man Finlay Wild won the Ben Nevis Race for the fifth consecutive time, with a time of 1:30:56 (1st place).

Results:
Overall:  Top 3 Men – 1st Finlay Wild (Lochaber AC) - 1:30:56, 2nd Rob Jebb (Bigley Harriers) - 1:36:01, 3rd Samuel Tosh (Rossendale Harriers) - 1:37:20

Overall:   Top 3 Ladies – 1st Diane Wilson (Dromore AC) - 2:00:41, 2nd Caitlin Rice (Glossopdale Harriers) - 2:02:14, 3rd Hiedi Dent (Howgill Harriers) - 2:03:26

Northern Ireland finishers:  Top 3 Men – 1st Jonny Steede (Unattached) - 1:50:29, 2nd Owen O'Neill (Westerlands CCC) - 1:50:35, 3rd Sam Herron (Mourne Runners) - 1:51:07

Northern Ireland finishers:  Top 3 Ladies – 1st Diane Wilson (Dromore AC) - 2:00:41, 2nd Hazel McLaughlin (Lagan Valley AC) - 2:34:14, 3rd Paulette Thomson (Newcastle AC) - 2:40:46.

Gary Murray and Danielle Fegan crowned NI & Ulster 10k Champions:

Laganside 10k (inc NI & Ulster 10k Road Championships):
On Sunday 6th September 2015, a sell-out field of one thousand runners descended on Northern Ireland’s capital city, Belfast for the annual Pure Running Laganside 10k.  This year, for the first time, the event incorporated the Northern Ireland & Ulster 10k (Road) Championships.

In pleasant running conditions, albeit a little breezy, the competitors set off on the two lap (one long lap followed by one shorter lap) course which would take them towards the City Centre before veering towards the Lagan Towpath and onto the Ormeau Embankment.

The gathered spectators were treated to an excellent race, with both the men’s and ladies races living up to the pre-race hype.  In the men’s race, St Malachy’s AC man Gary Murray looked strong and assured at the head of the pack – initially Gary had Stephen Scullion (Unattached) chasing, but at approximately 5k, Paddy Hamilton (Slieve Gullion Runners), moved in and took up the controlling position of the chasing pack.  Behind, Brendan Teer (East Down AC) led a plethora of the provinces’ top athletes as they worked towards a podium place, personal bests and of course, important places which would count in the team competition.  In the ladies race, there was nothing splitting the top ladies as they went through 6k, with Danielle Fegan (Armagh AC), Catherine O’Connor (East Down AC) and the returning Gladys O’Neill (North Belfast Harriers).
In the end, despite the valiant efforts of those behind, it was the men who led the way through 6k who held on for the NI & Ulster Championship medals.  Gary Murray was unstoppable and sped into the finishing straight to break the tape in an excellent 30:34 (1st place).  Paddy Hamilton followed in a season’s best of 30:53, before Stephen Scullion marked his return to competition with a 31:06 finish for 3rd place.

The always impressive Danielle Fegan excelled in the final stages of the ladies race.  The Irish XC Champion produced yet another memorable performance as she raced clear to win in 37:04 (1st place).  Commonwealth Games star Gladys O’Neill took a well-deserved 2nd place in 37:32, while the in-form Catherine O’Connor completed the course in 37:42 (3rd place).  In the team competition, Northern Belfast Harriers claimed both the male and female titles.

Top 3 Men:  1st Gary Murray (St Malachy’s AC) – 30:34, 2nd Paddy Hamilton (Slieve Gullion Runners) – 30:53, 3rd Stephen Scullion (Unattached) – 31:06

Top 3 Ladies:  1st Danielle Fegan (Armagh AC) – 37:04, 2nd Gladys O’Neill (North Belfast Harriers) – 37:32, 3rd Catherine O’Connor (East Down AC) – 37:42

Mick Clohisey and Catherine Whoriskey win Waterside Half Marathon:

Waterside Half Marathon 2015:
On Sunday 6th September 2015, nearly one thousand six hundred athletes took on the 34th annual Waterside Half Marathon in Northern Ireland’s maiden city, Derry/Londonderry.  This year, athletes were treated to a new course, which took them on a 13.1 mile jaunt from the Ebrington start-line back to the St Columbs Park running track finish line via the Foyle and Peace Bridges. 

As expected, pre-race favourites Mick Clohisey (Raheny Shamrock AC) and Freddy Sittuk (Raheny Shamrock AC) played a major part in proceedings, leading the field out from the off.  Mick was in control throughout and cruised through half way ahead of his club mate.  There was no stopping Irish star Mick as he powered along the banks of the River Foyle and onward towards the finish, crossing the line in 1:05:08 (1st place).  Previous Belfast City Marathon winner Freddy followed in 1:07:54 (2nd place), before local hero Declan Reed (City of Derry AC) completed the top three in 1:09:28 (3rd place).

In the ladies event, the City’s own Catherine Whoriskey (City of Derry AC) provided the gathered spectators with exactly what they have wanted since the race’s inception, a local winner!  Catherine continued to show the form that has secured several recent race wins and personal bests as she sealed an impressive win in 1:23:08 (1st place).  Fellow City of Derry AC Spartan Jackie McMonagle crossed the line in 1:32:09 for 2nd place, while Helen Bateson (Unattached) covered the route in 1:33:01 (3rd place).

Top 3 Men:  1st Mick Clohisey (Raheny Shamrock AC) – 1:05:08, 2nd Freddy Sittuk (Raheny Shamrock AC) – 1:07:54, 3rd Declan Reed (City of Derry AC) – 1:09:28

Top 3 Ladies:  1st Catherine Whoriskey (City of Derry AC) – 1:23:08, 2nd Jackie McMonagle (City of Derry AC) – 1:32:09, 3rd Helen Bateson (Unattached) – 1:33:01

Provisional Results:  Waterside Half Marathon 2015 Provisional Results (Photo by Gillian Logan)

Weekend Preview:  It's all about the Laganside (10k) & Waterside (HM)...

Weekend: It's all about the Laganside (10k) and Waterside (Half Marathon)...

It's been a dull summer weather wise, but as we break out of it and move towards autumn, this weekend's fixtures will most definitely brighten things up.  


A quick look at the official Athletics NI calendar shows that there are only two competitive events, much less than recent weekends.  However, these two races, the Laganside 10k and the Waterside Half Marathon, will attract approximately 3,200 competitors in total!


Elsewhere, a large contingent of runners from Northern Ireland will travel to Scotland for the annual Ben Nevis Mountain Race, while several familiar faces are expected to compete at the Kerry Way Ultra in Ireland.  Although the weekend action will kick off outside NI, we'll take a look at the major local events first.

Laganside 10k road race (inc NI & Ulster 10k road Championships):

On Sunday 6th September 2015, the eyes of the province (and beyond) will be on Northern Ireland's capital city, Belfast, for the sell-out Pure Running Laganside 10k road race, which incorporates the Northern Ireland & Ulster 10k (Road) Championships.


The one thousand plus athletes taking to the start line will have their own ambitions, but at the front end of the field, it looks like being a close contest between several of Northern Ireland's top athletes, with Stephen Scullion (Unattached), Paddy Hamilton (Slieve Gullion Runners), Joe McAllister (St Malachy’s AC) and Gary Murray (St Malachy's AC) all due to go head-to-head.


This will be England based Stephen's first race in over a year and reports suggest that he's running well within his training group, which includes Team GB's Andy Vernon and the Teddington Australian crew headed by Collis Birmingham.  The always impressive Paddy is in good shape going by his recent outings, with arguably the most notable being a 31:13 at last week's Dessies 10k.  


Meanwhile, Joe has returned to competition over the summer with excellent wins a Mallusk Harriers 5 mile road race and also at the Lurig Challenge. His (Joe's) team mate Gary has had a quiet few months but showed great form at the start of the year with a 14:19 5k and a 1:04:40 half marathon. Looking beyond this quartet, it’s quite an open affair, with a plethora of talent set to start.  Conan McCaughey (Enniskillen Running Club), Brendan Teer (East Down AC), Brian Campbell (Willowfield Harriers), Adam Boyd (North Belfast Harriers), Andrew Annett (North Belfast Harriers), Andrew Agnew (Annadale Striders) and Paul Rowan (Willowfield Harriers) are all well capable of topping the podium on their given day, but will certainly settle for a personal best (or seasons best) and a top ten finish as part of such a competitive field. 


The well-known names continue, with the likes of Chris Madden (City of Lisburn AC), Conor Curran (North Belfast Harriers), Seamus Lynch (Newcastle AC), Mark McKinstry (North Belfast Harriers), Craig McMeechan (North Down AC), Dennis Scott (North Down AC), Neill Weir (Willowfield Harriers) and Chris Moren (Willowfield Harriers) set to compete.


The men's team race for the NI & Ulster Championships (which is now four to score rather than the traditional six) is going to be a close battle.  Hosts North Belfast Harriers, who have approximately one hundred athletes taking part, will be going out to defend their title but Willowfield Harriers (Brian Campbell, Paul Rowan, Neil Weir and Chris Moren) will prove hard to beat.  The always consistent Newcastle AC and Acorns AC will also be worth watching.  

In the ladies race, Irish international Ann-Marie McGlynn (Letterkenny AC) will start as favourite. The Strabane based star has been in exceptional form this year and despite moving towards the jumps of the Steeplechase, Ann-Marie will still have it here.  After running 34:39 at the Titanic 10k back in April 2015, the current NI & Ulster 5k and 10k Champion will be keen to improve her personal best even further.  Danielle Fegan (Armagh AC) is a lady who targets races well and never fails to perform whenever she takes to the start line.  The multiple XC medallist ran 36:30 for 10,000m earlier this year and should clock a personal best here – she will be on the podium.  


Cathy McCourt (North Belfast Harriers), Rachel Gibson (North Down AC) and recently crowned NI & Ulster 10,000m Champion Jenny Black (Orangegrove) will also have eyes on a prize-winning place.  However, Catherine O'Connor (East Down AC), Mari Troeng (Newcastle AC), Gerrie Short (Beechmount Harriers), Katie Moore (North Down AC) and Maeve Lavery (Dub Runners) will not be easy pickings given their form this term.  Gladys Ganiel O’Neill (North Belfast Harriers) will make a welcome return to action after starting a family and should get an excellent reception – with no pressure to be up at the front!  Kerry O’Flaherty (Newcastle AC) is an unlikely starter considering her focus being on the 3,000m Steeplechase, but should the Mill Hill Mile record holder decide to run, she'll have enough stamina to get herself amongst the medals.


In the team competition, North Belfast Harriers will be keen to use their strength in depth to retain their title and complete the male/female double. However, Ballymena Runners' Kerry Bamber, Catherine McQuillan, Geraldine Quigley and Lorna Sibbett make a strong team.  North Down AC should also be there or there abouts with Rachel Gibson and Katie Moore leading the charge.


As part of the race programme, there will also be a Kids 1 mile run.  Over one hundred junior athletes have already signed up to the event, and with all guaranteed a finishers medal, there will be excitement in the air.  There are still entries available for the Kids 1 mile run.  Final race day information, including details of number collection, parking and prizes is now available on the Laganside 10k facebook page.

Waterside Half Marathon:

Also on Sunday 6th September 2015, close to two thousand runners will take to the streets of the Maiden City, Derry/Londonderry for the 34th staging of the Waterside Half Marathon, which this year boasts a brand new course taking in both sides of the River Foyle.


The weather forecast suggests a dry, cloudy morning with light winds and that would be ideal for the 13.1 mile jaunt from the Ebrington start-line back to the St Columbs Park running track finish line via the Foyle and Peace Bridges.  


The race programme will kick off at 9.55am when the City's Mayor sets Wheelchair competitor Karol Doherty on his way.  The remainder of the field will get the green light at 10am and in the front line will be pre-race favourites Freddy Sittuk and Mick Clohisey, from top Dublin based club Raheny Shamrock AC, Mick will be hoping to emulate his coach Dick Hooper, who won the Waterside Half Marathon back in 1987, posting an impressive 1:04:33 for the win.  Reports suggest that Mick is just back from altitude training in France and has a 1:04:42 half marathon personal best.  Prolific racer and a favourite with the supporters, Freddy Sittuk will be keen to retain his high profile competitive CV around the local scene – based on his winning performance at the recent Longford Marathon, were he seemed to 'hold back', Freddy should be in good shape going into this event.


Declan Reed (City of Derry AC) and Scott Rankin (Foyle Valley AC) are likely to front the local challenge with Pauric McKinney (Inishowen AC), Chris McGuinness (Foyle Valley AC) and Gary Slevin (City of Derry AC) not far away.  Declan and Pauric are deep in training for the Berlin Marathon later this month (Mick Clohisey is also said to be heading there), and will therefore have the necessary endurance to mount a good challenge alongside the in-form Scott Rankin for at least the final podium place.


The ladies race looks the most open in recent years and holds out the possibility of the first ever female winner from the former City of Culture. County Derry/L'Derry athlete Theresa Kidd and Anne Paul both won the title twice, Donegal 's Bernadette Alcorn, Noreen Martin and Helena Crossan (three times), plus Omagh Harriers' Julie Butler are past winners.  The final entry list suggests that one of Catherine Whoriskey (City of Derry AC), Martina McMullan (Foyle Valley AC) and Gemma McGinty (Foyle Valley AC) could make history by leading the field home.  Catherine in particular is in great form and her 36:37 personal best at Dessies 10k Run last week hints at a decent half marathon.  Martina has very good endurance credentials and picked up a category prize at the tough Rathlin Run last weekend, while Gemma McGinty is a fast improving podium regular. They, with Jackie McMonagle, look like the potential front runners.


Of course there will be many other runners with highly personal targets ranging from simply finishing, through setting personal bests, to contending for the various age group category awards.  All these will ensure a vivid spectacle of effort and endeavour over the 13.1 miles, the challenge of the Foyle Bridge, the drop down the Boomhall pathway, the runs along the riverbank and that final stretch across the Peace Bridge to the finish on the St Columbs Park running track.


The action gets off at 9.55am in Ebrington with the first finishers expected at the running track at approximately 11.04am.  The bulk of finishers are expected between 11.30am and 12.30pm, with the final finishers expected 1pm and 1.30pm.


Outside Northern Ireland this weekend:


Kerry Way Ultra (Ireland):

The weekend action for local athletes will kick off outside the province, at the Kerry Way Ultra in Ireland today (Friday 4th September 2015) at 6am. Local athletes will join competitors from across the emerald isle and further afield as they take on the enormous 200k race, along the famous Wild Atlantic Way.  Athletes will start in Killarney and travel along ancient trails, old roads and coastal cliff before returning to the finish in Killarney.  At this time, we are not aware of any Northern Ireland participants, but it is likely that some will take part.  Their progress and results will be monitored throughout the weekend and reported early next week.

Ben Nevis Mountain Race (Scotland):

On Saturday 5th September 2015, in Scotland, Northern Ireland's top mountain running talent will take on the annual Ben Nevis mountain race. 


Ben Nevis is the highest mountain in the UK.  Standing at 1,344 metres (4,409 ft) above sea level, it is located at the western end of the Grampian Mountains in the Lochaber area of the Scottish Highlands, close to the town of Fort William. The mountain is a popular destination, attracting an estimated 100,000 ascents a year, the first of which was back in 1771, by James Robertson.  Now in 2015, almost 40 Northern Ireland runners hope to make the gruelling ascent to the famous Summit.


It is expected that Newcastle AC pair Seamus Lynch and Ian Bailey, along with Jonny Steede (Unattached), Sam Herron (Mourne Runners) and Alex Brennan (Ballymena Runners) will lead the local contingent up and down the mountain.  All but Ian, who won the Slieve Donard race in May (2015), have experience on 'The Ben' and, like most, will be looking to improve on their personal best times.


Both of Northern Ireland's most established mountain running clubs, the aforementioned Mourne Runners and Newcastle AC will again be well represented.  As well as Sam Herron, Mourne Runners have an array of talent on display, including Clive Bailey, Ricky Hanna, William Marks, Eugene McCann, Mike Barton, David Bell, Darren Herron, Garth McGimpsey and the experienced Ricky Cowan.  Wearing the famous red and yellow singlets of Newcastle AC, alongside Seamus Lynch and Ian Bailey, will be Martin Brogan, Eamon Campbell, Pete Grant, Brian McBurney, PJ McCrickard, Stephen Rice, Barry Wells, Brian Wilson and the female trio of Paulette Thomson, Debbie Kendall and Rita Devlin.  

Not too far behind the main contenders, Ballymena Runners Conor Reid and Stephen Purvis, will be joined by Larne men Justin Maxwell (East Coast AC) and Eamonn McLaughlin (Lagan Valley AC).  Others to look out for are Liam Smyth of Murlough AC, Springwell Running Club's David Holden and Armagh man Paul Hollywood (Armagh AC). In addition to the aforementioned Newcastle AC ladies, the always impressive Dianne Wilson (Dromore AC) and Lagan Valley AC ladies Hazel McLaughlin and Anne Sandford will ensure Northern Ireland Mountain Running ladies are to the fore.  


Multiple winner of the Ben Nevis race, local Lochaber AC member Finlay Wild will go into the race as favourite, but will have to look out for former British Fell Running Champion Rob Jebb (Bingley Harriers).  In the ladies event, Caitlin Rice (Glossopdale Harriers) is the stand out name on the entry list.  Interestingly, both the male and female course records for this race have stood since 1984 and by members of the same club, Keswick AC. The legendary Kenny Stuart set a male record with a time of 1:25:34, whilst club-mate Pauline Haworth ran the course in a time of 1:43:25.


Parkrun:

Northern Ireland's parkrun enthusiasts will welcome the second running of the all new Stormont parkrun, which takes place on Saturday 5th September 2015 alongside the country's twenty other parkrun events.  For more information on these, or to locate your nearest event, please visit our dedicated ‘parkrun’ section within our fixtures page.

Michael Crawley and Gemma Turley win record breaking Run 'N Bann 5k:

Run 'N the Bann 5k 2015:

On Thursday 3rd September 2015, a record number of well over three hundred athletes turned out for the annual Run 'N the Bann 5k road race in Portglenone, close to Ballymena in County Antrim.


The event, which never fails to attract a quality field, once again produced, and at the head of the pack it was Lancaster & Morecombe AC athlete Michael Crawley who stole the headlines.  In favourable conditions, Michael ran out as clear winner in 16:36 (1st place) and was followed across the line by Ballymena Runners duo Michael Bennett and Richard Agnew, after they clocked 17:04 (2nd place) and 17:10 (3rd place) respectively.


In the ladies race, it was Rathlin Run 5k winner Gemma Turley (Springwell Running Club) who impressed most.  After showing no signs of fatigue following her impressive effort over the tough Rathlin course, Gemma broke the tape in 18:55 (1st place) to seal victory.  A mere four seconds split Geraldine Quigley (Ballymena Runners) and Lorna Sibbett (Ballymena Runners), with Geraldine taking 2nd place in 19:31 and Lorna 3rd place in 19:35.


Top 3 Men:  1st Michael Crawley (Lancaster & Morecombe AC) – 16:36, 2nd Michael Bennett (Ballymena Runners) – 17:04, 3rd Richard Agnew (Ballymena Runners) – 17:10


Top 3 Ladies:  1st Gemma Turley (Springwell Running Club) – 18:55, 2nd Geraldine Quigley (Ballymena Runners) – 19:31, 3rd Lorna Sibbett (Ballymena Runners) – 19:35


Full Results:  Run N' the Bann 5k 2015 Results

Michael McKillop and Kerry O'Flaherty secure Mill Hill Mile titles:

Newcastle AC host annual Mill Hill Mile:

On Tuesday 1st September 2015, just over one hundred athletes turned out for the annual Mill Hill Mile road race in Castlewellan, County Down.  The Newcastle AC organised event, which see’s competitors start in Annsborough and run one mile uphill to the Market House in Castlewellan, has enjoyed somewhat of a resurgence in recent years, with number again rising from 2014.


In a close race at the front, it was Paralympic Champion Michael McKillop (Brooks Running UK) who stole the headlines.  Michael continued his return from injury in impressive fashion when he followed up his podium place at last week's Acorns 5k with an excellent run, leading the field home in 5:27 (1st place).  Northern Ireland and Ireland international mountain runner Andrew Annett (North Belfast Harriers) took 2nd place in 5:39, before the host club's Seamus Lynch (Newcastle AC) recorded 5:44 for 3rd place.


Kerry O'Flaherty (Newcastle AC) swapped the IAAF World Championships 'Birds Nest' track for the roads and showed her class once again.  Kerry bettered her own course record when she dipped under the six minute mark to secure victory in 5:58 (1st place).  Joanne Mills (Newcastle AC) replicated her 2nd place finish from 2014 when she crossed the line in 6:44, finishing ten seconds ahead of club mate Sinead Murtagh (Newcastle AC), who recorded 6:54 (3rd place).


Top 3 Men:  1st Michael McKillop (Brooks Running UK) – 5:27, 3rd Andrew Annett (North Belfast Harriers) – 5:39, 3rd Seamus Lynch (Newcastle AC) – 5:44


Top 3 Ladies:  1st Kerry O'Flaherty (Newcastle AC) – 5:58, 2nd Joanne Mills (Newcastle AC) – 6:44, 3rd Sinead Murtagh (Newcastle AC) – 6:54


Full Results:  Mill Hill Mile 2015 Results (Photo above by Mal McCann)

Remember - If you would like to catch up on our 'News' from August 2015, including summaries from the Rathlin Run 2015 and other events from last weekend, you can use the navigation banner at the top of the screen (and scroll to August 2015) or click HERE.