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Records tumble at successful NI & Ulster Road Relay Championships 2016:

NI & Ulster Road Relay Championships 2016:

On Saturday 1st October 2016, thousands of athletes and spectators descended on Victoria Park, Belfast, for the Northern Ireland & Ulster Road Relay Championships, organised by popular Belfast based club Orangegrove AC.

  

The exciting race programme kicked off with a number of junior races, which proved to be both fun and competitive; supporters were treated to some impressive performances, highlighting the up and coming talent within the province. There were notable wins for Joe Chambers (Ballydrain Harriers), Ellie Gordon (North Down AC), Dylan McBride (Willowfield Harriers), Murphy Miller (North Down AC), Conor Gorman (Ballydrain Harriers) and Ciara McRawe (North Belfast Harriers).


After the aforementioned junior events had warmed things up for the senior and master’s races, it was the Masters Ladies who took to the start line first.  The teams consisted of three athletes, with each covering 3 x 3,380m each.  Judith Lonnen provided title holders City of Lisburn AC with the perfect start, blasting through the first leg in a super quick 11:18, the fastest master’s ladies time of the day.  Despite Louise Smith pulling North Belfast Harriers back into contention, it was City of Lisburn AC who ran out victorious in a new course record of 35:55 (1st place).  North Belfast Harriers followed in 36:02 (2nd place), before Lagan Valley AC collected bronze medals after completing the three legs in 38:06 (3rd place).


Next up was the Masters Men, with their teams of four athletes completing 3,380m each.  The athletes set off at a blistering pace and it Newcastle AC’s David Simpson who completed the initial two laps first, recording an excellent 10:19 (the fastest master’s men’s time of the day).  Acorns AC handed over just three seconds later, with East Down AC, Dromore AC and reigning Champions Willowfield Harriers all handing over within ten seconds.  In the second leg, Acorns AC began to take charge and this proved to be a key point in the race, with the County Derry/Londonderry club holding on through the third leg.  Despite a strong challenge from North Belfast Harriers in the final leg, Acorns AC went on to seal the title in 42:49 (1st place).  North Belfast Harriers recorded 43:03 for 2nd place, while Ballymena Runners completed the top three in 43:49 (3rd place).

The penultimate race of the day brought the Senior Ladies to the fore, with the teams of three again completing 3,380m each.  As expected, pre-race favourites Newcastle AC dominated proceedings. Olympian Kerry O’Flaherty looked in great form as she powered the County Down club into a lead that proved to be race winning!  


Kerry (10:48) recorded the fastest ladies time of the day before handing over to Joanne Mills, who then passed the baton to Mari Troeng – the trio’s overall time of 35:24 (1st place) was outside their winning time for 2015, but enough to seal a comfortable victory.  Dromore AC followed just under a minute later in 36:22 (2nd place), before North Down AC sealed bronze in 38:09 (3rd place).


In the final race of an excellent day of competition, the Senior Men lined up for their 4 x 3,380m event.  Springwell Running Club’s Neil Johnston blasted out from the gun and impressed as he recorded the quickest men’s leg of the day in 9:40 – Dromore AC and North Down AC followed closely, but as the race progressed, all three of the aforementioned teams succumbed to the challenge of rivals who offered a little more strength in depth from a speed perspective.  Derry City Track Club began to move through the ranks as the athletes completed the second leg, and from here, it really was the DCTC show.  A consistent final three laps of 9:48, 9:40 and 9:50 on top of the first lap of 10:05 saw Derry City Track Club smash the course record with a winning time of 39:22 (1st place).  North Belfast Harriers were also rewarded for consistency – a blanket of seven seconds covered all four of the Belfast team’s legs, and their overall time of 40:09 was enough to secure 2nd place ahead of County Donegal club Letterkenny AC, who claimed 3rd place in 40:43.


Podium Places:

Top 3 Masters Ladies Teams (3 x 3,380m):  1st City of Lisburn AC – 35:55, 2nd North Belfast Harriers – 36:02, 3rd Lagan Valley AC – 38:06


Top 3 Masters Masters Men’s Teams (4 x 3,380m):  1st Acorns AC – 42:49, 2nd North Belfast Harriers – 43:03, 3rd Ballymena Runners – 43:49


Top 3 Senior Ladies Teams (3 x 3,380m):  1st Newcastle AC – 35:24, 2nd Dromore AC – 36:22, 3rd North Down AC – 38:09


Top 3 Senior Men’s teams (4 x 3,380m):  1st Derry City Track Club – 39:22, 2nd North Belfast Harriers – 40:09, 3rd Letterkenny AC – 40:43


Provisional Results:  NI & Ulster Road Relay Championships 2016 Results

Weekend Preview:  NI & Ulster Road Relay Championships 2016...

Weekend Preview:  Recording breaking NI & Ulster (Road) Relay Championships return for 2016!

A new month and another weekend are just about upon us, and both (the month and the weekend) bring excitement!  We (NiRunning) have our 3rd annual Garmin Mourne Skyline Mountain-Trail Race later in the month – unfortunately our team will miss the prestigious NI & Ulster Road Relay Championships as we have the final recce weekend for the event.


The Northern Ireland & Ulster Road Relay Championships, which will once again be hosted by Orangegrove AC in the impressive Victoria Park, Belfast, has attracted a massive 156 teams this year, the highest yet.  


On top of this, 175 athletes have signed up for the junior races.  The only races with ‘on the day’ entry available are the Primary School events.


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 Omagh 5 mile Road Race and Marty Gallagher 5k Road Race both likely to tempt a few high profile athletes.  

NI & Ulster (Road) Relay Championships 2016:

On Saturday 1st October 2016, athletes from the length and breadth of the province will descend on Victoria Park in Belfast as they represent their clubs at 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 talent with a total of 156 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 the province'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.  Speaking ahead of Saturday, Orangegrove AC’s Chair and the event’s Race Director, Thomas Leitch (who recorded 2:59:00 at last week’s Berlin Marathon) said: “I am delighted to report that 156 relay teams have registered for the 2016 NI & Ulster Road Relay Championships and that 175 runners have entered for the series of junior races.”


“In addition registration for the popular Primary School races which kick of our festival of running will take place in the registration tent on the day itself between 10am and 11am.  The event has grown year on year and with a record level of entries this year I want to thank the entire running community for their continued support.  I also want to thank our club members and volunteers plus our many sponsors and partners who help to make the day possible.”

In terms of potential winners, there will be a plethora of talent on show throughout the day.  The Masters Ladies 3 x 3,80m will be the first adult race of the day and reigning Champions City of Lisburn AC will return to defend their title.  Although Judith Lonnen is a notable absentee after performing so well at last week’s Berlin Marathon, current World and European Masters 800m Champion Kelly Neely will again lead the line.  Kelly will be joined in the starting line-up by Ann Terek and Diane Watson.  


North Belfast Harriers' Gladys Ganiel O'Neill, Roisin Hughes and Louise Smith will ensure that City of Lisburn AC do not go unchallenged, while Ballydrain Harriers trio Denise Logue, Debbie Matchett and Amanda Perry are well worth looking out for.  Lagan Valley AC (Shileen O’Kane, Suzanne Higgins and Julie Murphy), Ballymena Runners (Paula McAllister, Gillian Wasson and Geraldine Quigley) and Dromore AC (Gillian Burns, Diane Wilson and Susan Smyth) will all feature in what should be an excellent event.


The Masters Men’s 4 x 3,380m event will also be a closely contested affair, with a number of teams more than capable of taking home the silverware. Starting with 2015 winners Willowfield Harriers, Chris Moren, Jonny Oparka, Paul Rowan and Deane Fisher will be given the task of holding onto the coveted NI & Ulster title.  However, the experienced quartet will face tough opposition in the form of last year’s runners up, North Belfast Harriers.  

Conor Curran, Paul Horan, Andrew Considine and James Brown will be aiming to overturn last year’s result in the favour of the ‘Stags’ – City of Derry AC may have other ideas though, and with Declan Reed heading their team, anything is possible; Declan will be joined by Colin Roberts, Dermot McElhinney and Michael Murphy.  


Fellow Maiden City athletes Derry City Track Club cannot be ruled out either, especially after their recent successes on the relay stage – Cathal McLaughlin, Tim Shiels, Adrian Boyle and Kevin Connolly will make DCTC a force to be reckoned with.  East Down AC (Barrie Atkinson, Martin Wilcox, Paul Burns and Michael Cultra) and Ballymena Runners (Michael Bennett, Ben Morrow, James Turtle and Alex Brennan) will also go well.


Dromore AC, North Down AC and reigning Champions Newcastle AC will battle it out for the Senior Ladies 3 x 3,380m title.  If things go to form, this will be an epic battle.  Newcastle AC will field a strong trio with Olympian Kerry O’Flaherty and speedy club mates Joanne Mills and Shalene McMurray likely to have a major impact on proceedings.  

However, Dromore AC’s Rebecca Henderson, Rebekah Nixon and Laura Bickerstaff will prove exceptionally difficult to shake off going by recent form. The same could be said for the North Down AC team, which includes track stars Jessica Craig and Rachel Gibson, as well as in-form roadster Jodi Smith, a podium finisher at the recent Bangor 10k. Victoria Park & Connswater AC’s Jenny Black, Louise Lemon and Gillian Hynes are capable of causing an upset and should not be discounted.


The final race of the exciting event programme will be the Senior Men’s 4 x 3,380m race.  North Belfast Harriers will be aiming re-produce the level of performance that saw them win here in 2015 and it will down to Mark McKinstry, Conal McCambridge, Lindsay Gordon and Andrew Annett to bring home the proverbial ‘bacon’.  


Three of the men (Mark, Conal and Andrew) were in the team last year with Adam Boyd – Lindsay replaces Adam and is well capable of producing the goods going by his most recent performances.  It won’t be easy for the Champions though, as the runners up from twelve months ago, St Malachy’s AC (Joe McAlister, Eoin McCann, James Smyth and Eoin Maguire) return, and are joined by exceptionally strong teams from Newcastle AC (Eoghan Totten, Seamus Lynch, David O’Flaherty and Zak Hanna) and Derry City Track Club (Conan McCaughey, Martin Cox, JP Williamson and Matthew Doherty) – County Donegal based club Letterkenny AC (Danny Mooney, Eoghain McGinley, Anthony Doherty and Ciaran Doherty) will also field a very strong quartet.

Omagh 5 mile Road Race:

Also on Saturday 1st October 2016, hundreds of athletes are expected to turn out for the inaugural Omagh 5 mile road race in County Tyrone.  The event, which also includes a 2 mile Fun Run, will start and finish at Healy Park on the Gortin Road in Omagh.  The route has been described by organisers as ‘fast and flat’, therefore offering participants a genuine opportunity for a personal best.  An added attraction is the novel race finishing line, situated on the terracing overlooking the Healy Park pitch.


Unattached athlete Vincent McAlister, a regular front runner at the Cookstown parkrun, should feature prominently at the head of the pack.  However, he will face good competition in the form of local Omagh Harriers men Chris McGuigan, Martin McIvor, Pat McCrory and Niall Porter.  Acorns AC’s ever improving Aidan O'Hagan may also take to the start line and he could well be joined by Sperrin Harriers’ Martin McDermott; should they race, both men will finish well up the field.


In the ladies race, it’s hard to look past classy Omagh Harriers star Michelle Sturm for top spot.  The cross country specialist races sparingly but never fails to impress when she does lace up her racers.  Club mate Julie Butler (Omagh Harriers) will also be there or there about if she starts, while Pauline McGurren (Sperrin Harriers) is also worth watching.  Like the aforementioned Michelle Sturm, Pauline does not race too often, but is always a contender when she does. Michelle Sweeney (Unattached) should be in the mix if she decides to make use of the on the day entry.


Performance t-shirts is available for the first 200 entrants to the 5 mile race, and all finishers in the 2 mile fun run will be presented with a medal. Prizes will also be awarded to the leading Male and Female finishers in Open, Veteran and Junior categories.  All of this along with the refreshments available afterwards makes the 'Omagh 5' an event not to be missed!  A registration evening will take place in the Healy Park clubrooms on Friday 30th September 2016 from 7-9pm. For more information go to www.facebook.com/omagh5mile.

Marty Gallagher 5k Road Race:

On Sunday 2nd October 2016, 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 Emmet McGinty (City of Derry AC) may also start, while Gemma Turley (Springwell Running Club) and recent Waterside Half Marathon Champion Catherine Whoriskey (City of Derry AC) may contest top honours in the ladies race.


Parkrun:

As always, Northern Ireland’s twenty two 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.

Paddy Hamilton and Kerry O'Flaherty secure victory at Blackrock 4 miler:

Paddy Hamilton and Kerry O’Flaherty win at Blackrock 4 mile Road Race:

On Saturday 24th September 2016, two of Northern Ireland’s most talented runners, Paddy Hamilton (Slieve Gullion Runners) and Kerry O’Flaherty (Newcastle AC), enjoyed success at the annual Blackrock 4 mile road race in County Louth, Ireland.


Despite the wet and at times blustery conditions, both recorded impressive winning times, with Paddy leading the field home in 19:35 (1st place) and Olympian Kerry securing the ladies title in 22:33 (1st place).


Loch Ness 10k (Scotland):

On Sunday 25th September 2016, Scotland based Northern Ireland man Conan McCaughey (Derry City Track Club)  showed true grit to claim a podium place at the famous Loch Ness 10k road race in Inverness, Scotland.  


Conan started well but found himself dropping back into sixth place with two miles to go; he summoned the strength to put in a final surge.  This was enough to see the talented Fermanagh man move through the ranks to claim 2nd place in a new personal best of 30:53.  The race was won by Neil Renault (Edinburgh AC) in 30:37 (1st place).  After the race, Conan told his club representative, “when you’re hurting halfway and the situation looks hopeless, don’t panic, stay calm and never give up.”


Inish Pharmacy Mile (Ireland):

There was further success for Derry City Track Club closer to home, with a number of excellent performances at the Inish Pharmacy Mile event in Buncrana, County Donegal on Sunday 25th September 2016.  


Club mates Shane McGowan and Martin Cox battled it out in the ‘main event’, and both were rewarded with a podium place.  The ever improving Shane recorded 4:29 for 2nd place, with Martin following six seconds later in 4:35 for 3rd place.  The race was won by Ireland international John Travers (Donore Harriers) in 4:18 (1st place).


In the 4x400m Relay event, Derry City Track Club celebrated victory in 3:47 (1st place), while young Sean McIntyre (Derry City Track Club) and Lily Toorish (Derry City Track Club) led the way in the Under 17 Mile, having clocked an excellent 5:19 (1st place) and 5:52 (1st place) to win their respective Boys and Girls’ races.

Rathfarnham 5k (Ireland):

There were also a number of familiar faces on the start line of the Rathfarnham New Ireland 5k in Ireland on Sunday 25th September 2016.  


The race was won by well-known Irish athlete Mark Christie in a sprint finish – Mark just beat Freddy Sittuk (Raheny Shamrock AC) to the finish line, with both men recording 14:26.  City of Derry AC’s Declan Reed was the first Northern Ireland based finisher in 15:06 (9th place), while Mark Hoy (Finn  Valley AC) and Emmett McGinty (City of Derry AC) also ran well, with Mark running 15:23 for 14th place and Emmett 15:45 for 24th place.


Dublin City Half Marathon (Ireland):

Also on Sunday 25th September 2016, a number of athletes from Northern Ireland performed well at the Dublin City Half Marathon in Dublin, Ireland.  The event was the penultimate race of the well-supported Dublin Marathon Series, which is crowned off next month with the superb Dublin City Marathon on Sunday 30th October 2016.  


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.  Previous Dublin Marathon winner Sean Hehir (Rathfarnham WSAF) led the field home in 1:07:45 (1st place), while Barbara Sanchez (Unattached) sealed the closely contested ladies title in 1:18:26 (1st place).  North Belfast Harriers man Thomas Simmons, who placed well at the recent Larne 10km, was the first familiar face to finish, crossing the line in 1:15:44 for 21st place.  Brendan Grew (North Belfast Harriers) followed in 1:17:10 (31st place), before Sperrin Harriers’ Pierce McCullagh clocked 1:17:27 for 35th place.  Acorns AC’s Karen Alexander (1:22:15) winner of the event in 2015, ran well to secure 5th place in the ladies event.  Full results for the Dublin City Half Marathon can be found HERE.

NBH duo impress most as local athletes take on Berlin Marathon:

Berlin Marathon (Germany):

On Sunday 25th September 2016, local runners were amongst forty thousand plus competitors who took 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 was proved yet again when Ethiopian athlete Kenenisa Bekele recorded the second quickest marathon time in the world, 2:03:03, for 1st place.  The ladies race was won by speedy Aberu Kebede (Ethiopia) in 2:20:45 (1st place).

 

North Belfast Harriers’ Eddie Cooke recorded an excellent 2:37:59 for the 26.2 mile distance, while his club mate Gladys Ganiel O’Neill (North Belfast Harriers), who narrowly missed out on Ireland’s Rio Olympic squad (but was named as a reserved) produced an outstanding effort to run 2:39:10; this saw the Commonwealth Games star secure 10th place in the star-studded ladies field.  Although well with the IAAF London World Championships 2017 qualifying standard, this time was (unfortunately) not within the Athletics Ireland standard of 2:38:00.  However, Gladys should take the positives from this performance should she be aiming for the World Championship qualifying time for next Summer.


City of Lisburn AC's David Lonnen (2:54:19), Larne AC's James McIlroy (2:56:45) and Orangegrove AC's Thomas Leitch (2:59:00) all went under the infamous three hour mark, while Judith Lonnen (City of Lisburn AC) produced an excellent performance to finish in 3:07:44.  James Johnston (Enniskillen Running Club) recorded 3:08:00 for the distance and was followed across the line by club mate Tara Malone (Enniskillen Running Club), who clocked 3:15:04.  Greg McClure (North Belfast Harriers) was next familiar face to finish in 3:20:54, while Omagh Harriers' Richard Shannon completed the course in 3:19:26 - fellow Omagh Harriers man John McCann ran 4:09:47.  Full results for the Berlin Marathon can be found HERE.

Over one thousand athletes enjoy 26extreme Causeway Coast events:

26extreme Causeway Coast Events 2016:

On Saturday 24th September 2016, athletes from across Northern Ireland (and beyond) took on the 26extreme Causeway Coast events, a series of races ranging from 10k to 40 miles, along the stunning Causeway Coast.


The 40 mile Ultra was the first event to start and it was two experienced ultra-distance athletes who secured top honours. Peter Cromie, a former winner of the 26extreme Tullymore Trail Ultra, led the field home in 5:34:21 (1st place), while Fran McFadden bettered her second place finish at the event in 2015, when she claimed the ladies title in 7:19:22 (1st place).


In the well supported marathon race, Mark Long was the first to reach the Portballintrae finish line, clocking 3:26:06 for 1st place. Luci Lamb was victorious in the ladies race, crossing the line in 4:07:42 (1st place). In-form East Antrim Harriers man David Turtle won the popular half marathon in a decent 1:32:37 (1st place) – Sharon Eastwood took 1st place in the ladies race, recording 1:44:20.


In the 10k event, Andrew MacLaine retained his 2015 title. Although unable to better his finish time from twelve months ago, probably due to the wet and blustery conditions, Andrew broke the tape in 40:52 (1st place). Well-known Sonia Knox won the ladies 10k in 47:04 (1st place).


Full results for the Causeway Coast Marathon Series events can be found HERE.

Classic displays by Paul Pollock and Laura Graham at Bangor 10k:

Aurora Bangor 10k 2016:

On Saturday 24th September 2016, well over six hundred athletes descended on the coastal town of Bangor, County Down, for the annual Aurora Bangor 10k road race.  As expected, the popular event, which was part of the Novosco 10k Grand Prix, 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 went as predicted, with Paul Pollock (Annadale Striders) and Freddy Sittuk (Raheny Shamrock AC) heading the pack and Mark McKinstry (North Belfast Harriers) leading the chasing pack. The wet and blustery conditions played a part, but regardless, Olympian Paul showed his strength as he cruised through half-way in 15:09 and went on to win in 30:40 (1st place).  Belfast City Half Marathon and Waterside Half Marathon winner Freddy Sittuk followed in 31:00 (2nd place), while the always impressive Mark clocked a solid 32:53 for 3rd place.


The ladies race wasn’t just as closed, but did prove to be a top quality contest with Mourne Runners star Laura Graham again living up to expectation. Laura set the pace from the off, moving through 5k in 18:14, forty seconds ahead of second placed Cathy McCourt (18:54).  In the second half of the race, Laura increased this lead to win in 37:02 (1st place), with Cathy taking a well-deserved 2nd place in 38:37.  Jodi Smith claimed the final podium place after seeing of club mates Katie Moore (4th place - 39:41) and Rachel Gibson (5th place - 39:52) to cross the line in 39:26


Top 3 Men:  1st Paul Pollock (Annadale Striders) – 30:40, 2nd Freddy Sittuk (Raheny Shamrock AC) – 31:00, 3rd Jodi Smith (North Down AC) – 39:26


Top 3 Ladies:  1st Laura Graham (Mourne Runners) – 37:02, 2nd Cathy McCourt (North Belfast Harriers) – 38:37, 3rd Jodi Smith (North Down AC) – 39:26


Full Results:  Aurora Bangor 10k 2016 Results (Photo by John T Glover)

Two current Skyrunning World Champions set for Garmin Mourne Skyline MTR:

Garmin continue backing of Mourne Skyline MTR / Two current Skyrunning World Champions set for NI:

Garmin, the world’s leading supplier of innovative GPS technology for the sport, recreation and wellness markets, have agreed to extend their title sponsorship of the Mourne Skyline Mountain-Trail Race in Northern Ireland.


“We are delighted to continue our title sponsorship of the 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, has become one of the most sought-after challenges in the UK’s trail racing calendar.”


The Garmin Mourne Skyline MTR, which is part of the Skyrunner National Series alongside races in England, Scotland and Wales, takes place on Saturday 22nd October 2016, in Newcastle, County Down. 


A capacity field from 14 countries will undertake the gruelling 35k course which includes a staggering 3,370m of ascent across nine of the most spectacular peaks in Ireland. Reigning Champions Ian Bailey (Newcastle AC) and Diane Wilson (Dromore AC) will return to defend their titles and will face world class opposition yet again.

Current Skyrunning World Series Champions Remi Bonnet (Salomon International) and Jasmin Paris (Carnethy HRC / Inov8) will take to the start line, as will Salomon International’s up and coming German star Michelle Maier, winner of the iconic Sierre-Zinal mountain race in Switzerland (August 2016) and runner up at the Jungfrau Marathon (Switzerland) earlier this month.


21 year old Remi Bonnet (pictured above) hails from Val De Charmey in Switzerland and is a former Junior Ski Mountaineering World Champion. After winning several high profile events in 2015, the current Skyrunner World Series VK (Vertical Kilometre) Champion was described as a new Skyrunning phenomenon. His victories included Limone Xtreme Skyrace, ‘The Rut’ Skyrace and Red Bull K3. In May this year Remi also won the Trentapassi 17k Skyrace in Italy. 


Speaking of his excitement about racing at the Garmin Mourne Skyline MTR, Remi explained “when I saw the profile of this course I had to do it.” Jasmin Paris (pictured right) is a lady who needs no introduction after an incredible year – the current British Fell Running Champion smashed both the Bob Graham Round and Ramsey Round records this year before bursting onto the Skyrunning scene with a third place finish at the Skyrunning World Championships (Ultra Distance) is Spain. Jasmin then went on to win the Tromso Skyrace in Norway and backed this up with a win at the Glencoe Skyline 55k last weekend, which saw the Carnethy HRC athlete crowned the first ever Skyrunner Extreme World Series Champion; the 3 race Extreme Series was added to the Skyrunning World Series this year. Adding to this, Jasmin also took on the famous Ultra Trail du Mont-Blanc, where she claimed sixth place in what was her first time competing over the 100 mile distance.

Title sponsors Garmin will also be well-represented at the Garmin Mourne Skyline MTR, with the inclusion of two of their top French athletes, Julien Jorro and Germain Grangier (pictured left).


Julien Jorro is an experienced ultra-athlete who shines over mountain-trail terrain. Recently he claimed the runners up prize at the Grand Riad de-Camargue 100k race. In 2015, Julien achieved podium places at the prestigious Andorra Ultra-Trail 112k and the Trail du-Hautacam 60k, but arguably his most high profile performance was at the famous Festival des Templiers 100k, where he secured fifth place against world class opposition.


Meanwhile, fellow countryman Germain Grangier narrowly missed a podium place and national medal when he finished in fourth place at the recent Trails de Le Vesubie 55k. Earlier this year, Germain, who has shown a speedy edge over 40-50k, won the Trail des Balcons d’azur 47k. In 2015, he was third in the newest event at UTMB, the OCC (Orsieres-Champex-Chamonix); a 53k event which incorporates 3,500m of ascent – Looking at course statistics, this event is very similar to the Garmin Mourne Skyline MTR.


The aforementioned talent will be joined on the promenade start line by the likes of Sarah Ridgway (Mercia Fell Runners), a third place finisher at the Glencoe Skyline - Irish international Eoin Lennon (Carnethy HRC) – Team GB star Sarah Morwood (Team Mudcrew) – Welsh international Gareth Wyn-Hughes (Mercia Fell Runners) - Skyrunner National Series contenders Sarah Sheridan (Unattached), Katie Boden (North Leeds Fell Running Club), Bjorn Verdijn (Shettleston Harriers) and Ben Hukins (Cambuslang Harriers) – Lakeland 50 runner up Casper Kaars-Sijpesteijn (North Leeds Fell Running Club) and top ten finisher at the Salomon Glencoe ‘Ring of Steall’ Skyrace Jacqui Toal (BARF), amongst others.


Garmin Mourne Skyline MTR is organised by NiRunning, a Northern Ireland based website dedicated to promoting mountain, trail, track and road running. The stunning route comprises of 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.


Although the Garmin Mourne Skyline MTR has reached capacity, there are still a few places left in the Mourne Skyline Granite Trail Race (GTR) on Friday 21st October 2016, 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


Associate event sponsors include The Steensons, Clif Bar, Apex Clinic, Active Financial and Browne’s Gas Services.


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


More on Garmin at www.garmin.com or www.garmin.ie

Weekend Preview:  Bangor Aurora 10k set to live up to its 'classic' status...

Weekend Preview:  Bangor 10k set to live up to its ‘classic’ status:

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 fixtures.  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 time 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 Classic road race.  However, there are other local races, with the 26extreme Causeway Coast Marathon Series and the Keith Reid Memorial 10k taking place.  A host of local talent will also be heading Ireland and Germany, while at least one Northern Ireland based athlete will be competing in England.


Bangor Aurora 10k Road Race:

On Saturday 24th September 2016, over eight hundred competitors are expected to take to the town’s streets and coastal promenade for the annual Bangor Aurora 10k Classic road race, an event which never fails to attract a large number of well-known athletes.  This year, the well-organised event is also part of the popular Novosco 10k Grand Prix.


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.


Olympic marathon runner Paul Pollock (Annadale Striders) - pictured left (photo by Keith McClure) - will return to competitive action after his exceptional performance in Rio last month.  Despite the humid conditions, the Hollywood man recorded 2:16:24 and secured 32nd place after powering his way through the field.  It’s unclear as to what ‘shape’ Paul is in at this moment in time, but there is no doubt that he will go into the race as favourite for top spot, and rightly so given the 29:42 he ran at the Chichester 10k earlier this year.


Paul is no stranger to topping the podium here, after winning the race in 2008 (30:38), 2010 (31:23), 2012 (30:19) and 2013 (30:45).  Should Freddy Sittuk (Raheny Shamrock AC) go to battle with Paul, a winning time in the low-mid 30’s is likely to be the outcome.  Freddy himself has enjoyed some success in recent weeks, with victories at the Waterside Half Marathon and more recently the Belfast Half Marathon, which his won in 1:07:50. The former Belfast City Marathon winner also won Cookstown Half Marathon back in July (2016).


North Belfast Harriers’ Mark McKinstry will also contest a podium spot and should he get anywhere close to the 31:31 he clocked at the Dunshaughlin 10k in June (2016), he’ll be right in the mix.  The Northern Ireland international has enjoyed recent victories at the Larne 10k (32:46), Laganside 10k (31:55) and the Coleraine 5 mile road race (25:45). Lindsay Gordon (North Belfast Harriers), Craig McMeechan (North Down AC) and David O’Flaherty (Newcastle AC) are more than capable of causing an upset based on their recent form.  A mere twelve seconds split Lindsay and Craig as they both recorded new personal bests at the Laganside 10k earlier this month, with Lindsay running 32:22 and Craig 32:34 – David crossed the line in 33:46 at the same event, but his 32:06 at the Titanic 10k in April (2016) puts him firmly in the mix when looking at times.  Craig will have the added incentive of achieving family bragging rights, being one of four McMeechan’s running!


Ever consistent Conor Curran (North Belfast Harriers) and Dennis Scott (North Down AC) add further depth to the impressive line-up.  The same could be said for Paul Rowan (Willowfield Harriers), Francis Marsh (North Down AC), Martin Wilcox (East Down AC), Ethan Dunn (Dromore AC), Ben Caughers (North Down AC) and Andrew McIntyre (Orangegrove AC).

Laura Graham (Mourne Runners) has received some well-deserved media coverage following several recent high profile victories and the AAI National Marathon medallist and AAI National Half Marathon Champion will prove exceptionally hard to beat here.  Despite being deep into marathon training Laura has impressed with wins at the Laganside 10k (35:36) and last week’s Belfast City Half Marathon (1:18:23); she’ll face some tough opposition here, but should top the podium based on the aforementioned finish times.  


The host club’s Jodi Smith (North Down AC) should feature well at the front and with a recorded personal best of 38:07, she could well achieve a podium place; this would no doubt please the local spectators.  However, should Jodi want to do this, she’ll have to see off the challenge posed by Louise Smith (North Belfast Harriers) and Cathy McCourt (Unattached).  Last week, Louise finished as runner up to Laura Graham at the Belfast Half Marathon, covering the route in 1:21:42. 


Meanwhile, Cathy won the Boom 10k in 38:15 just over 24 hours earlier. North Down AC’s up and coming star Katie Moore will play a part at the head of the field, as will Northern Ireland masters internal Debbie Matchett (Ballydrain Harriers).  Ballymena Runners’ Paula McAllister showed good form to edge out club mate Kerry Bamber for victory at last week’s Wilderbeast 5k and should therefore be worth watching here.  Claire Ingram (Ballydrain Harriers), Gillian McNiff (Banbridge AC) and Catherine Roberts (North Down AC) will place well.


26extreme Causeway Coast Marathon Series:

Also on Saturday 24th September 2016, when just over one thousand 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 the 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! 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.  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. The 10k race, which starts close to Dunseverick (at 2.30pm), is the final event of the day and takes competitors along the coastal path to the finish at Portballintrae.


Although information in relation to potential participants was unavailable, we would expect the likes of Simon Reeve (North Belfast Harriers), Chris Denton (Springwell Running Club), Fran McFadden (Springwell Running Club), Gillian Abraham (Unattached) and Sarah Steer (Orangegrove AC) to feature.

Keith Reid Memorial 10k Road Race:

On Saturday 24th September 2016, the annual Keith Reid Memorial 10k road race will take place in Draperstown, County Derry/Londonderry.  In previous years, the event has attracted some well-known athletes, and this year will be no different.  Two time Champion Chris McPeake (City of Derry AC) may return and could well be joined by Delfim Pimentel (Unattached), Darrell McKee (Acorns AC), Aaron Meharg (Acorns AC) and Bliadhan Glass (Acorns AC).  


Former ladies Champion, Jacqueline Mulligan (Acorns AC) should also compete.  The always impressive Pauline McGurren (Sperrin Harriers) way return to action and will place well if she does – Acorns AC’ Karen Alexander, winner of last weekend’s Wilderbeast 10 mile Trail Race, could be a surprise late entry; Karen will take the ladies title if she races.  


Lake District 3x3 Ultra – 80k (England):

In England on Saturday 24th September 2016, at least one familiar face will take to the start line of the penultimate race of the Skyrunner UK National Series, the Lake District 3x3 Ultra – the final race of the Series is the Garmin Mourne Skyline Mountain-Trail Race in Northern Ireland on Saturday 22nd October 2016.


The course, designed by former IAU World Trail Running Champion and Salomon International Mountain Runner Ricky Lightfoot, covers 80k off road incorporating Scafell Pike, Helvellyn and Skiddaw; it starts and finishes in Keswick.  BARF’s Dave Evans will face some top quality opposition, including Ireland international and previous winner of the Lakeland 100, Paul Tierney (Ambleside AC).

Berlin Marathon (Germany):

On Sunday 25th September 2016, 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 Olympian James McIlroy (Larne AC), Thomas Leitch (Orangegrove AC), Eddie Cooke (North Belfast Harriers), Judith Lonnen (City of Lisburn AC) and Dave Lonnen (City of Lisburn AC).  On race day, athletes can be tracked on the official race website HERE.


Dublin City Half Marathon (Ireland):

Also on Sunday 25th September 2016, 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 Sunday 30th October 2016.  


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’ athletes Tommy Simmons, Brendan Grew, Gareth Grew, Jim Benson and Stephen Walker are just a few of the local runners set to compete.  On race day, athletes can be tracked HERE.


Parkrun:

As always, Northern Ireland’s twenty two 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.

Hundreds enjoy gruelling Mourne 2 Day Mountain Marathon:

Mourne Mountain (2 Day) Marathon 2016:

Over the course of last weekend (Saturday 17th and Sunday 18th September 2016, the famous Mourne Mountain Marathon (sponsored by Jackson Sports) brought hundreds of hardy mountain runners to the stunning Mourne Mountains in County Down.


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


As the event unfolded, positions changed, but in the end, it was the athletes who had negotiated their way through Day 1 most effectively, who came out on top.  


In the Elite Class, Shane Lynch & Jonny Kendall looked strong as they covered the 29.5k route, incorporating 1,860m of ascent in 6:17:40 (1st place).  Laurence Quinn & Ben Mangan followed just under five minutes later in 6:23:34, with Paul Pruzina & Megan Wilson (6:54:41) and Taryn McCoy & Sarah Galligan (9:41:45) topping the Elite ‘Mixed’ and Elite Ladies categories respectively.  Mark Stephens & Colm Moran completed 23k with 1,510m of ascent in an 4:34:57 (1st place), which was enough to lead the ‘B Class’ competitors into the overnight campsite.  In the most popular category of the weekend, the ‘C Class’, it was William Winter & Andrew Danes who crossed the line first on Day 1; the men covered 17.3k with 850m of ascent 3:19:06 (1st place).  In the ‘D Class’ (16.1k – 760m), Barry Spence and Clifford Jones led the way in 3:59:04 (1st place).

On Day 2, the weather may have dulled things down, but it did not take away from the excellent event atmosphere, nor the impressive performances.  Shane Lynch & Jonny Kendall powered through the required 22.6k with 1,260m of ascent in the ‘Elite Class’ in 4:14:27 (1st place), which was enough to secure a relatively comfortable victory (overall time – 10:32:07).  In the ‘B Class’ (19.5k – 1,020m), Mark Stephens & Colm Moran again impressed most.  The pair clocked the fasted time of the day (3:56:03) and a total time of 8:31:00 for 1st place.  


Despite an outstanding effort by ‘Mixed’ team Sam Dixon & Jo Hickman-Dunne in the ‘C Class’, it was William Winter & Andrew Danes who topped the podium.  Sam & Jo recorded the fastest time of the day, covering the 16.7k with 900m of ascent in 3:07:32, but William and Andrew’s overall time of 6:57:58 saw them secure 1st place – Sam & Jo were rewarded for their efforts with a 3rd place finish overall.  Barry Spence & Clifford Jones continued their dominance in the ‘D Class’, covering the Day 2 route (16.2k – 640m) in 3:26:49 (1st place) – their overall time of 7:25:53 (1st place) ensured a comprehensive victory.


Further information on the Mourne 2 Day Marathon, including official results/splits, reports and photos can be located HERE.

Freddy Sittuk and Laura Graham win Belfast City Half Marathon 2016:

Deep RiverRock Belfast Half Marathon 2016:

On Sunday 18th September 2016, nearly three thousand athletes took to the streets of Northern Ireland’s capital city, Belfast, for the 4th annual running of the popular Deep RiverRock Belfast City Half Marathon.


At the front, Scott Rankin (Foyle Valley AC) and Freddy Sittuk (Raheny Shamrock AC) played out a re-run of the Waterside Half Marathon, with exactly the same outcome.  Northern Ireland international Scott set the pace with Freddy sitting just behind until the final few hundred meters, when he (Freddy) moved forward with a late surge, which sealed top spot in 1:07:50 (1st place).  Scott took 2nd place in 1:07:53, before England based NI man Adam Kirk-Smith (London Heathside) completed the top three in 1:09:13 (3rd place).


In the ladies race, pre-event favourite Laura Graham (Mourne Runners) lived up to expectation with an impressive effort for victory.  The Dublin Marathon bound AAI National HM Champion looked a class apart as she took the race on from the start, eventually breaking the tape in 1:18:23 (1st place); interestingly, this was a full three minutes quicker than her 2015 finish time over the same course.  North Belfast Harriers athlete Louise Smith claimed 2nd place in 1:21:42, while Amy Bulman (Willowfield Harriers) secured a well-deserved podium place in 1:23:13 (3rd place).


Top 3 Men:  1st Freddy Sittuk (Raheny Shamrock AC) – 1:07:50, 2nd Scott Rankin (Foyle Valley AC) – 1:07:53, 3rd Adam Kirk-Smith (London Heathside) – 1:09:13


Top 3 Ladies:  1st Laura Graham (Mourne Runners) – 1:18:23, 2nd Louise Smith (North Belfast Harriers) – 1:21:42, 3rd Amy Bulman (Willowfield Harriers) – 1:23:13


Full Results:  Deep RiverRock Belfast City Half Marathon 2016 Results

Kevin O'Boyle and Karen Alexander excel at Wilderbeast Trail Race:

Wilderbeast 10 mile Trail Race 2016:

On Saturday 17th September 2016, 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 runner 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.


In-form athlete Kevin O’Boyle (Unattached) looked strong at the head of the pack and followed on from several impressive recent outings with a well-deserved victory.  The Northern Ireland Masters XC international crossed the line in 1:01:50 for 1st place.   Another man who has been running well of late, David Turtle (East Antrim Harriers), followed in 1:02:29 (2nd place), before Michael Bennett (Ballymena Runners) completed the men’s podium in 1:03:34 (3rd place).


Karen Alexander (Acorns AC) excelled at the front of the ladies pack, eventually retaining the title she won convincingly in 2015.  Karen recorded 1:07:04 for 1st place, with Larne AC’s Julieane Keane (1:24:24) and Unattached athlete Barbara McCluskey (1:26:38) securing 2nd place and 3rd place respectively.


In the competitive 5k trail race, Ballymena Runners’ Noel Connor just about saw off 2015 Champion Mark McManus (East Coast AC) for the top prize, sealing victory in 20:31 (1st place).  The ladies 5k was just as close, with Ballymena Runners club mates Paula McAllister and Kerry Bamber battling it out – Paula just edged it was a finish time of 21:15 (1st place).


Top 3 Men:  1st Kevin O’Boyle (Unattached) – 1:01:50, 2nd David Turtle (East Antrim Harriers) – 1:02:29, 3rd Michael Bennett (Ballymena Runners) – 1:03:34


Top 3 Ladies:  1st Karen Alexander (Acorns AC) – 1:07:04, 2nd Julieane Keane (Larne AC) – 1:24:24, 3rd Barbara McCluskey (Unattached) – 1:26:38


Full Results:  Wilderbeast 10 mile Trail Race (and associated 5k) 2016 Results

Lawrence O'Hara and Cathy McCourt win Boom 10k:

Boom 10k 2016:

On Saturday 17th September 2016, 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 Unattached athlete Lawrence O’Hara who impressed most.  Lawrence led the field come in 34:55 (1st place), over a minute ahead of his closest rival, Stephen Nicholson (PACE Running Club), who recorded 36:11 for 2nd place.  Acorns AC’s Eoin Hughes continued his recent good form with another podium place, clocking 36:23 for 3rd place.


In the absence of reigning Champion Rachel Gibson (North Down AC), it was last year’s runner up, Cathy McCourt (Unattached), who took top honours in the ladies race.  Cathy broke the tape in 38:15 for 1st place, with Gemma McDonald (Springwell Running Club) following in 39:53 (2nd place).  Fellow Springwell Running Club lady Karen McLaughlin completed the top three in in 40:58 (3rd place).


Top 3 Men:  1st Lawrence O’Hara (Unattached) – 34:55, 2nd Stephen Nicholson (PACE Running Club) – 36:11, 3rd Eoin Hughes (Acorns AC) – 36:23


Top 3 Ladies:  1st Cathy McCourt (Unattached) – 38:15, 2nd Gemma McDonald (Springwell Running Club) – 39:53, 3rd Karen McLaughlin (Springwell Running Club) – 40:58


Full Results:  Boom 10k 2016 Results

Weekend preview:  Mourne Mountain Marathon and Belfast City HM...

Weekend Preview:  Mourne Mountain Marathon and Belfast City HM take centre stage…

After a busy and exciting weekend last week, which saw included some excellent racing at the inaugural Larne 10k, it is once again time to look ahead to what this weekend has to offer… and it’s going to be another good one!


The infamous Mourne Mountain (2 Day) Marathon and the Belfast City Half Marathon will take centre stage.  The two events, which are different in so many ways, will both attract athletes at the top of their game, thus making for some great competition.  There are also events in Coleraine and Derry/Londonderry to tempt athletes, while a sizeable crowd should represent Northern Ireland based clubs at the Salomon Glencoe Skyline events in Scotland.


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 17th and Sunday 18th September 2016.  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).

Mourne Runners team Richard Hanna and William Marks look like the local men to watch in the Elite 55k ‘A’ class and should improve on their 2015 placing of 7th, while the youthful Paul Pruzina and Megan Wilson, as well as visitors Pernilla Berg/Tomas Albinsson and Seb Ljungdahl/Ola Njberg will assume the pre-race favourite position in the Elite ‘mixed’ category.  


2015 winner Paul Mahon will team up with Rachel Nolan in this year’s event and will also be an excellent pairing in this race. Andy Creber and Bryan Stadden along with local pairing Aaron Shimmons and Colm Kelly are excellent navigators and could also place well, particularly if conditions get tough.


In the ladies 45k ‘B’ class, Avril Challoner and Lucio Minto will go well.  Family pairings of David and Richard Gamble and Phil and Simon Hodge will take part the men’s category, along with the talented Orienteering duo of Mark Burley and Tom Watkins.  Rory Burford and Jeremy Knott will place well.  Meanwhile, mixed pair Judith Austerberry and Allan McCall will compete well.


The 35k ‘C’ class event has again attracted the most entries, with no less than 66 teams set to start.  There are several well-known names on the start list, including Northern Ireland international David Hicks, who will be accompanied by Conor McSwiggan.  Top runner Martsje Hell will again team up with Lesley Young, while last year’s Parent-Junior pairing of Stephanie and Sophie Pruzina will return in the hope of bettering their impressive 2015 position.  Mixed teams of John Yells/Bethan Nadin and Augusta Cater/Chris Glass will be looking to place highly.  Thomas Pollak and Chris Burke and female pairing, Sarah Gamble and Gail Henderson, will perform well in the 35k ‘D’ class, with the latter defending the title they won in 2015.

Belfast City Half Marathon:

On Sunday 18th September 2016, approximately 3,200 people will be taking to the streets for the 4th annual Deep RiverRock Belfast City Half Marathon. Starting and finishing in Ormeau Park, the half marathon route will take in all parts of the picturesque Belfast City, from Victoria Park to Cornmarket, the Falls Road to Botanic Avenue. Whilst the majority of the roads will remain open throughout the event, there will still be some disruptions to those accessing the city. 


The Men's race should see a repeat of the recent neck and neck struggle in the Waterside Half Marathon, between Kenya's Freddy Sittuk and Foyle Valley AC’s Scott Rankin. The pair were inseparable right up until the finishing straight, where 2014 Belfast Half Marathon winner Freddy snatched the win on the line, by a mere one second.


It was still a good day for Scott, who set a huge personal best of 1:07:38; he’ll be out to challenge Freddy again in Belfast.  The NI & Ulster 10,000 metres Champion is in the form of his life, and clearly now has the sprint ability to cover any finishing breaks by Freddy, who is a past winner of both the Belfast and Derry marathons.  Larne 10k winner and in-form North Belfast Harriers man Mark McKinstry will also play a major part at the front – based on his recent performances, Mark will smash his 13.1 mile personal best of 1:10:20 and should take the final podium place.


In saying this, there is a host of talent who will be chasing the Laganside 10k winner.  Amongst those will be his club mate and the man who finished as runner up at the Larne 10k, John Black (North Belfast Harriers).  England based athlete Adam Kirk-Smith (London Heathside) will also be worth watching – this year, he recorded a new 5,000m personal best of 14:50, which shows a real speedy edge.  Eoghan Totten (Newcastle AC) will make his half marathon debut and his 32:14 finish for second place at the Laganside 10k two weeks ago makes him a real contender to be in or around the podium places.  


Chris McGuinness (Foyle Valley AC), Gary Slevin (City of Derry AC), Danny McLaughlin (St Malachy’s AC), Matthew Hewitt (East Coast AC), Barrie Atkinson (East Down AC), Tommy Simmons (North Belfast Harriers), Andrew Considine (North Belfast Harriers), Francis Marsh (North Down AC), Gerard Heaney (St Peter’s AC) and Keith Purdy (Victoria Park & Connswater AC) add further depth to the fantastic line-up.

In the ladies race, Mourne Runners star Laura Graham has highlighted by organisers as clear favourite.  The AAI National Half Marathon Champion is currently training for next month’s Dublin Marathon and despite the heavy training schedule, she has been performing exceptionally well.  


Laura has won no less than nine half marathon’s this year. The most notable of these being the Omagh Half Marathon in March, where she recorded a personal best time of 1:18:07. The current form of the mother of four points to another quick time this weekend, particularly given the fast course which takes in East Belfast, the City Centre and the Lower Falls areas. 


North Belfast Harriers’ Mary Margaret Meade will head the chasing pack, but will face tough opposition from club mates Roisin Hughes and Louise Smith, both of whom have been in good form of late.  


Willowfield Harriers’ Amy Bulman narrowly missed a podium spot at the Larne 10k last week and will be eager to improve on that here; she will play a part at the front.  Niamh Kellett (East Down AC), Sarah-Jane Guiney (Albertville Harriers), Susan Smyth (Dromore AC) and Eileen Stevenson (St Peter’s AC) will all challenge for top ten spots, while Rita Devlin (Newcastle AC), Beverley Mitchell (Albertville Harriers), Nicola Swinson (PACE Running Club), Tracey Atkinson (Albertville Harriers) and Zara Baird (St Peter’s AC) will all finish well up the field.


Important traffic information:

As a result of the Belfast City Half Marathon, motorists can expect some disruption throughout the morning and early afternoon, although every attempt will be made to ensure that this is kept to a minimum.  Full details of the route and anticipated timings can be found on www.belfastcitymarathon.com.


While the majority of the roads will remain open throughout the event, the area around Ormeau Embankment will be closed to through traffic in both directions between approximately 7am to 12noon, although slight disruption can be expected along the Ravenhill Road until around 10am. Disruption also can be expected along the Albertbridge Road, Newtownards Road, Dee Street and Sydenham Bypass until shortly after 10.15am. 


The front runners are expected to pass over the Sam Thompson Bridge onto Airport Road at approximately 9.35am and make their way to Queens Bridge at approximately 9.45am via Sydenham Road and Station Street Flyover. These front runners are expected to pass through the city centre from Custom House Square, via High Street, Cornmarket, Arthur Street, Chichester Street, Caste Street enroute to the Falls Road at approximately 9.50am. The area around Victoria Street will be disrupted between 8.30am and 11am.


Disruption can also be expected on Grosvenor Road, Great Victoria Street, and Bruce Street heading towards Dublin Road, Shaftesbury Square and Botanic Avenue from 8.30am to 11.50pm. At approximately 10am the front runners will pass through University Street onto the Ormeau Road, and Ormeau Embankment to the final stretch of the race, finishing with the home straight insight at approximately 10.10am. The final finisher is estimated to arrive at the Ozone Centre Finish line at approximately 12noon.   


For spectators wishing to meet family and friends at the start/finish area, there are a variety of carparks close by that you can avail off. These can be found on www.belfastcitymarathon.comInformation on the expected traffic disruptions can be obtained from the Traffic Information and Control Centre on 08457 123321, or via www.trafficwatchni.com. Regular updates will also be given via the Marathon’s official Media Partner, U105. 


Details of changes to Translink Metro services can be obtained by calling 028 9066 6630 (7am – 8pm) or visiting www.translink.co.ukPlease note that we aim to assist in the continuous flow of traffic, therefore traffic will be diverted city bound at University Avenue and country bound at Ormeau Avenue. We appreciate your patience with us.

Other events taking place in Northern Ireland this weekend:


Saturday 17th September 2016:

  • Boom 10k – Ulster University, Coleraine – 12pm (Entries AVAILABLE on the day)


  • The Memorial 5k – Templemore Sports Complex – 12pm (Entries AVAILABLE on the day)


  • Wilderbeast 10 mile Trail Race / 5k Race / Kids Race – Glenarm Castle, Glenarm – 1pm onwards (Entries AVAILABLE on the day) * Please click HERE for more information on the event *


Events taking place outside Northern Ireland this weekend:


Salomon Glencoe Skyline (Scotland):

Over the course of this weekend (Friday 16th September to Sunday 18th September 2016), a number of runners from Northern Ireland are expected to be in action at the Salomon Glencoe Skyline events in the Glencoe region of Scotland.  


The events, which are all part of the Skyrunning UK Series includes a VK (Vertical Kilometre) – 5k in distance with 1,000m of ascent, Skyrace – 29k with 2,500m of ascent and SkyUltra – 55k with 4,746m of ascent.  Local athletes Eoin Lennon (Carnethy HRC) and Shane Donnelly (Acorns AC) will head the local charge for honours.


Parkrun:

As always, Northern Ireland’s twenty two 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.

Newcastle AC duo Zak Hanna and Joanne Mills win Mill Hill Mile:

Newcastle AC host annual Mill Hill Mile:

On Tuesday 13th September 2016, well 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 participant numbers again rising from 2015.


Fresh from his excellent performance at the weekend’s World Mountain Running Championships, the host club’s Zak Hanna (Newcastle AC) sealed an impressive victory.  The in-form athlete made his intentions clear from the off, racing clear of the field to win in 5:37 (1st place).  Young Ballydrain Harriers man Scott McKeag followed in 5:52 (2nd place), while Nigel McKibbin (Dromore AC) crossed the line in 5:56 (3rd place).


In the ladies race, last year’s runner up and previous winner of the event Joanne Mills (Newcastle AC) stole the headlines.  Despite the best efforts of up and coming stars Rebekah Nixon (Dromore AC) and Laura Gardiner (East Down AC), Joanne secured victory in 6:33 (1st place).  Rebekah took 2nd place in 6:52, before Laura clocked 7:10 for 3rd place.


Top 3 Men:  1st Zak Hanna (Newcastle AC) – 5:37, 2nd Scott McKeag (Ballydrain Harriers) – 5:52, 3rd Nigel McKibbin (Dromore AC) – 5:56


Top 3 Ladies:  1st Joanne Mills (Newcastle AC) – 6:33, Rebekah Nixon (Dromore AC) – 6:52, 3rd Laura Gardiner (East Down AC) – 7:10


Full Results:  Mill Hill Mile 2016 Results 

City of Derry Spartan Declan Reed crowned Donegal 5k Champion:

Donegal 5k Championships 2016:

On Sunday 11th September 2016, a number of athletes from Northern Ireland were in action at the Donegal 5k Championships in County Donegal Ireland. There were numerous notable outings, but decorated City of Derry AC athlete Declan Reed stole the headlines.


The Northern Ireland international proved that he is back to full fitness with a quality performance, sealing the title in 15:19 (1st place).  Letterkenny AC’s Ciaran Doherty took 2nd place in 15:28, before NiRunning Mile record holder Mark Hoy (Finn Valley AC) claimed 3rd place in 15:55.


In the ladies race, which was won by Letterkenny AC’s Fionnuala Diver in 18:17 (1st place), 24/7 Triathlon club member Natasha Kelly crossed the line in 19:59 for 2nd place; Stacey Dolan from Finn Valley AC completed the top three in 20:13 (3rd place).


Belfast Tandems 5k:

Elsewhere this weekend, on Sunday 11th September 2016, Ciaran McKendry (Annadale Striders) and Mary-Therese Fitzpatrick (Lagan Valley AC) led the way at the flat and fast Belfast Tandems 5k in Victoria Park, Belfast.  Ciaran led from gun to tape, winning in 17:45 (1st place).  It was a similar story in the ladies race, with Mary-Therese dominating throughout, before breaking the tape in 20:14 (1st place).  Full results are available HERE.


Born 2 Run Benone Beach Half Marathon & 10k:

On Saturday 10th September 2016, local events management company Born 2 Run hosted their annual Surf N’ Turf Half Marathon and 10k on Benone Beach close to Limavady on the North Coast.  In pleasant conditions, it was the pre-race favourites who excelled.


Brendan Grew (North Belfast Harriers) took top spot in the half marathon, clocking 1:25:05 (1st place) for the tough course.  Acorns AC athlete Karen Alexander cruised to victory in ladies race, crossing the line in 1:31:34, which not only sealed 1st place in the ladies race, but 2nd place overall.  In the 10k race, Timothy Johnston (Club Unknown) and Ramona Cupples (Club Unknown) picked up the top prizes.  Timothy won in 40:08 (1st place), with Ramona covering the distance in 51:46 (1st place).  Full results are available HERE.

Athletes from NI perform well at World Mountain Running Championships:

World Mountain Running Championships 2016:

On Sunday 11th September 2016, Northern Ireland based athletes Zak Hanna (Newcastle AC) and Andrew Annett (North Belfast Harriers) were in action for Ireland at the 32nd edition of the World Mountain Running Championships, held in Bulgaria.


Both men performed exceptionally well, finishing well inside the top one hundred in what was a classy field! Zak completed the 7.6 mile course, which incorporated 1,800m of ascent in 1:14:56 (76th place), with Andrew following in 1:16:15 (79th place).  The race was won by by USA's Joseph Gray in 1:02:12 (1st place).


Full results can be found HERE.

NI man Michael McKillop secures Paralympic gold in Rio:

NI man stars at Paralympic Games in Rio:

On Sunday 11th September 2016, local athlete Michael McKillop (North Belfast Harriers) retained his T37 1500m title at the Paralympic Games in Rio, Brazil.


Michael covered the distance in a time of 4:12.11 (1st place), holding off Canada's Liam Stanley for a famous victory.  Michael won his first Paralympic gold in the 800m at the Beijing Games before retaining the title at London 2012 and adding 1,500m glory for good measure.  This is therefore his fourth Paralympic gold medal.  He is also a multiple World Champion.


The recent North Belfast Harriers recruit becomes the third Northern Ireland athlete to take a gold medal at the Rio Paralympics, with Jason Smyth retaining his T13 100m title and Bethany Firth taking gold in swimming (S14 100m Backstroke).


Photo by Cathal Dennehy.

Mark McKinstry and Rebecca Henderson excel at inaugural Larne 10k:

East Coast AC Larne 10k:

On Saturday 10th September 2016, a capacity field of nearly two hundred athletes took on the inaugural running of the East Coast AC Larne 10k.  The two lap course covered a fast route, taking competitors through the atmospheric Town Centre whilst also incorporating stunning coastal scenery


The event kicked off with a well-supported and highly competitive Junior 800m race, which saw Ethan Glenn (North Belfast Harriers) and Jessica McClements (East Coast AC) win their respective races.


This proved to be a perfect atmosphere builder for what proved to be a hotly contested first running of the Larne 10k.  In the men’s race, pre-race favourite Mark McKinstry (North Belfast Harriers) lived up to expectation.  The Northern Ireland international put in a dominant display of front running, gradually working his way clear of the field to secure top spot in 32:46 (1st place).  Fellow North Belfast Harriers man John Black was rewarded for a strong performance when he crossed the line in 33:37 for 2nd place, before the ever improving Stephen O’Gorman (Dromore AC) completed the top three in 34:14 (3rd place).

The ladies event brought an epic battle between two of Northern Ireland’s most in-form athletes, Dublin Marathon bound AAI National Half Marathon Champion Laura Graham (Mourne Runners) and Northern Ireland cross country international Rebecca Henderson (Dromore AC).  


Absolutely nothing split the pair until Rebecca made a last gasp surge for victory – this proved to be a race winning decision and the Dromore AC athlete broke the tape in 36:28 (1st place), just two seconds ahead of Laganside 10k winner Laura Graham, who ran well to take 2nd place in 36:30.  Behind, Cathy McCourt (Unattached) and Amy Bulman (Willowfield Harriers) contested the final podium place in what also proved to be an excellent battle.  In the end, it was Cathy who came out on top, crossing the line in 38:30 (3rd place) – Amy took 4th place in 38:37.


Top 3 Men:  1st Mark McKinstry (North Belfast Harriers) – 32:46, 2nd John Black (North Belfast Harriers) – 33:37, 3rd Stephen O’Gorman (Dromore AC) – 34:14


Top 3 Ladies:  1st Rebecca Henderson (Dromore AC) – 36:28, 2nd Laura Graham (Mourne Runners) – 36:30, 3rd Cathy McCourt (Unattached) – 38:30


Full Results:  East Coast AC Larne 10k 2016 Results and Junior 800m Race 2016 Results


Photos from the Larne 10k will be added to our website in the coming days.

Jason Smyth successfully defends Paralympic 100m title in Rio:

Northern Ireland's Jason Smyth shows his class in Rio:

On Friday 9th September 2016, one of Northern Ireland's best known athletes, Jason Smyth (Derry City Track Club) collected the fifth Paralympic gold medal of his career whilst representing Ireland at the Paralympics in Rio, Brazil.  


Competing in the T13 100m event, Jason crossed the line in 10.64secs (1st place) to successfully defend his London 2012 title.  This is the third successive time the Eglinton man has collected gold in the T13 100m.  On Thursday (8th September 2016), Jason cruised through his heat in 10.76secs (1st place).


This gold medal was the second in as many days for Northern Ireland based athletes, with swimmer Bethany Firth (Great Britain & NI) taking gold yesterday (Thursday 8th September 2016).  Meanwhile, another local athlete, Michael McKillop (North Belfast Harriers) will take part in the 1500m final on Sunday 11th September 2016 at 3.33pm (GMT).


Photo by Derry City Track Club.

Weekend Preview:  Larne to Rio - Local athletes ready for action!

Weekend Preview:  Larne to Rio - Local athletes ready for action!

After the hugely popular and successful Laganside 10k and Waterside Half Marathon road races last weekend, running enthusiasts are again in for a treat, with a number of quality events taking place over the coming weekend. 


East Coast AC’s Larne 10k has created a significant buzz within the local scene and will form the basis of our weekend preview, which will also include information on Born 2 Run’s Surf N’ Turf, Sperrin Harriers’ O’Brien Challenge and NI Duathlon’s fast and flat Belfast Tandems 5k. 


These are not the only events taking place over the weekend, so we’ll also list what else is happening within Northern Ireland and highlight events which Northern Ireland based athletes will be participating in further afield – this includes the Rio Paralympics and the Great North Run.

East Coast AC Larne 10k:

On Saturday 10th September 2016, a capacity field of two hundred athletes will toe the line for the first ever running of the East Coast AC Larne 10k.  The two lap course will cover a fast route, taking competitors through the atmospheric Town Centre whilst also incorporating stunning coastal scenery.  There is also an associated Junior 800m race and Family Fun Day.  Although entries are no longer available for the 10k race, junior athletes can enter their 800m event on the day.


Northern Ireland international and winner of last week’s Laganside 10k, Mark McKinstry (North Belfast Harriers) will play a prominent part in proceedings.  Mark has enjoyed an excellent year and impressed with his 31:55 finishing time over the revised Laganside route – Mark has also clocked new personal bests over 5k (15:10), 10k (31:31), 5 miles (25:45), 10 miles (53:05) and 13.1 miles (1:10:20) in 2016.  


Mark, who lives just inside the Larne boundary with Ballymena, will be joined on the start line by fellow North Belfast Harriers club mates John Black, Conor Curran, Kent Swann and Lurig runner up Tommy Simmons.  The host club, East Coast AC, will look to front runners Matthew Hewitt and Kevin Lynch for high places; both have been running well of late.  Stephen O’Gorman (Dromore AC), Bernard Brady (Larne AC) and Martan Keane (Larne AC) will also finish well up the field.

The ladies race will be a closely contested affair – Laura Graham (Mourne Runners) should toe the line and if she does, the AAI National Half Marathon Champion and AAI National Marathon medallist will face the lady she beat to top spot at the Laganside 10k last weekend, Northern Ireland international Rebecca Henderson (Dromore AC).  The pair recorded 35:36 and 35:50 last week and it’s more than likely to be just as close this time.  NI & Ulster Novice XC Champion Natalie Hall will also be in the mix, as well Cathy McCourt (North Belfast Harriers) and Willowfield Harriers new girl Amy Bulman.


Podium regular Irene Clements (Enniskillen Running Club) will add further quality to the field, as will Beverley Mitchell (Albertville Harriers), a podium finisher at the recent Rathlin Run 10 mile Race.  Natasha Henderson (County Antrim Harriers), Patricia Blair (Larne AC) and Melissa Eccles (North Down AC) should also challenge for top ten places, while Vikki Mellon (Unattached), Mary Duffin (Glens Runners) and junior athlete Michaela Rodgers (Ballymena & Antrim AC) will be worth watching.


Born 2 Run Surf N’ Turf Half Marathon & 10k:

Also on Saturday 10th September 2016, local events management company Born 2 Run will welcome athletes to their annual Surf ‘N’ Turf Half Marathon and 10k races at the stunning Benone Beach in Limavady, County Derry/Londonderry.


Benone Beach is one of the most scenic beaches in Ireland, offering stunning views across to the Inishowen Peninsula in Donegal and also Scotland. This beautiful, blue flag, hard sand beach is perfect for running and has featured in Game of Thrones and the 90’s cult series, Cold Feet.  In terms of terrain, the course will cover beach, boardwalk, trail and country road.

North Belfast Harriers athlete Brendan Grew looks to be the main contender in the men’s half marathon field.  His 1:13:53 personal best over the distance sets him well apart from the field and although the times will be much slower here, this takes nothing away from his class.  Karen Alexander (Acorns AC) will take the ladies title and may well finish in the top three overall given her talent – the Northern Ireland international trail runner excels on courses like this and will prove hard to beat.  


Rachel Gibson (North Down AC) could compete in the 10k event, while her club mate Helen Byers (North Down AC) will be hoping for a similar performance as the one she produced at the Rathlin Run 10 mile Race, where she finished well inside the top ten over a brutal course.  Michele Mowlds (Newry City Runners) and Una Gavin (City of Derry AC) will also compete over 10k.


Entries for the event will be available on the day at the Benone Beach Complex.  Full information on the event is available HERE.


Belfast Tandems 5k:

On Sunday 11th September NI Duathlon host the first of a new 5k Run Series supporting the Belfast Tandem Cycling Group. After the Belfast Duathlon at 10am, the 5k registration opens at noon with the race starting at 2pm at the Sam Thompson Bridge, Airport Road, Belfast, BT3 9EF.


The Belfast Tandems 5k Series consists of 6 officially measured 5k road races around the flat, scenic Victoria Park in Belfast, starting and finishing at the Sam Thompson Bridge with timing mats at the start and end of each of the 3 laps.  Entry is £10 online HERE or you can pay and enter on the day itself.  The race is open to ages 11+ (Under 16's can enter with an adult on the day).  There will be prizes for the top three overall male and female finishers, prizes for first place in each age category, chip timing, bananas, water, 10% off at Athlos Triathlon store and... medals!  Check HERE for more details.  Proceeds (plus any additional donations) will go towards the newly started Belfast Tandem Cycling Group for blind & partially sighted cyclists (they are currently seeking sighted pilots).


Last time the event was run,  Dromore AC’s Stephen O’Gorman and Rebecca Henderson ran out victorious.  Both are unlikely to feature as they will be racing in Larne less than 24 hours earlier, but podium finisher Roisin Hughes (North Belfast Harriers) could well return.  New Victoria Park & Connswater member Keith Purdy and Willowfield Harriers’ Garry Morrow will also perform well if they decide to enter on the day.

O’Brien Challenge and Sperrin Harriers Davagh 10 Mile Trail Race (race preview provided by Sperrin Harriers):

All roads lead to Davagh Forest in County Tyrone on Saturday (10th September 2016) for the O’Brien Challenge and Sperrin Harriers Davagh 10 Miler. This year both races have come together to offer runners the choice of a 10 Miles or 26 Kilometres course through the scenic Davagh Forest on the same day.


Those travelling to Davagh Forest on Saturday will enjoy unique trail races which take place over sections of the mountain bike trails, tracks and road sections through the forest and offer scenic views of the surrounding Sperrin Mountains as well as views over Lough Neagh and beyond.


Although the Davagh 10 Miler is a testing course in its own right, for those wanting take on the full rigours of Davagh Forest, the O’Brien Challenge incorporates the infamous “Widow Maker” hill within the 26k course, which is something to test even the strongest runner, requiring them to climb their way to the summit of Beleevnamore Mountain, 360 metres (1200 feet) above sea level.


Runners set off together at 12 noon with the 10 Miler participants parting from the 26 Kilomarathon runners at the 7 mile mark just before the climb for the Widow Maker Hill. The 10 Miler participants then rejoin the 26 Kilomarathon course at the 13.5 mile mark so that all participants complete the final stage of both races together.  Notable attendees who will be vying for podium positions, depending on their race selection will be Tony Wright (Magherafelt Harriers), Gareth Cardwell of host club Sperrin Harriers and Seamus Kelly (Ballymena Runners), while in the ladies Sarah-Jane Guiney (Albertville Harriers), Tanya Quinn of host club Sperrin Harriers and Karen McLaughlin (Springwell Running Club) will compete for honours. More information including course map and how to get to Davagh Forest HERE.


Other events taking place in Northern Ireland this weekend:


Saturday 10th September 2016:

• Tannaghmore 10k – Tannaghmore Primary School  – 12pm (Entries AVAILABLE on the day)

• CCU Altnagelvin 10k & 5k Race – St Canice GAA Club, Garvagh, Dungiven – 11am (Entries AVAILABLE on the day)

• Kenny McGirr 10k – Omagh Youth Sport, Omagh – 12pm (Entries AVAILABLE on the day)


Sunday 11th September 2016:

• Micky Annett Memorial 10k – Mayobridge, Newry (Entries AVAILABLE on the day)

Events taking place outside Northern Ireland this weekend:


Rio Paralympics (Brazil):

Northern Ireland based runners Jason Smyth (Derry City Track Club) and Michael McKillop (North Belfast Harriers) will be in action as part of Team Ireland at the Rio Paralympic Games in Brazil over the coming days.  


Late last night Jason progressed through to the 100m final after winning his heat in 10.76secs. The final will take place today (Friday 9th September 2016) at 3.04pm (GMT).  Meanwhile, Michael will take part in the 1500m final on Sunday 11th September 2016 at 3.33pm (GMT).


Great North Run (England):

In England on Sunday 11th September 2016, hundreds of runners from Northern Ireland will join tens of thousands of fellow competitors on the start line of 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 double Olympic Champion Mo Farah (Great Britain & NI).  Just one of the many familiar faces set to compete is Gillian Logan (Orangegrove AC) – Gillian will complete her 10 half marathon’s in 10 months Charity Challenge at the Great North Run.


Parkrun:

As always, Northern Ireland’s twenty two 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 release Commonwealth Games 2018 nominations policy:

Athletics NI announcement:

Northern Irish athletes will have a 9-month period in which to achieve selection for the next Commonwealth Games. The Gold Coast Games take place in Australia from 4-15 April 2018 and the qualification window opens 1 January 2017 and expires at midnight (BST) on 30th September 2017 for all events except the Decathlon, Heptathlon and Marathons that have an additional four months starting 1 September 2016 in which to produce eligible performances.


For the first time the Gold Coast policy was created following an open consultation with coaches, athletes and interested parties that ran between May and July 2016.


Tom Crick, Director of Coaching and Athlete Development, said, “The selection process for the Commonwealth Games has several unique features dictated to us by the Northern Ireland Commonwealth Games Council. Of particular relevance is the maximum team size, which makes it necessary to compare athletes across events when selecting the team. The rationale for the open consultation process was to agree on a fair way of achieving this goal. If you compare the final policy and the notes from the consultation process, you will see that the vast majority of the recommendations from coaches, athletes and other parties were implemented.”


The overarching performance goal for the Gold Coast is for Northern Ireland to achieve as many top eight finishes as possible. The consideration standards have been set with this goal in mind and so differ from standards set for other major championships. An athlete who achieves these standards is entitled to be considered for nomination in the first round of selections. However, it is important to note that the achievement of these standards is no guarantee of nomination, because of the possibility of more athletes achieving the standards than there are places on the team. Similarly, athletes who do not achieve the standards may be nominated if spaces are still available after the first round of selections.


“Because of the limits on team size, ranking in the Commonwealth will be a key factor in decisions,” said Crick. “This was one of the key things that was agreed by everyone who attended the consultation.”


In addition to performances, there are several other conditions to nomination. First and foremost, all athletes must compete in the 2017 NI & Ulster Senior Championships. In addition, they must also sign the Athletics NI Commonwealth Games Athlete Agreement, which sets out specific requirements with respect to the use of social media, holding camp attendance and anti-doping education.


“Based on feedback from athletes and coaches who have attended previous games, people believe it is important that we set clear standards with respect to professionalism and behaviour,” said Tom Crick. “No Northern Irish athlete has finished in the top eight since 2002 and we want to change that in 2018. Excellent preparation is key to achieving this goal and the Athlete Agreement is central to fostering a professional atmosphere and strong team spirit.”


The Commonwealth Games Nomination Policy and Consideration Standards are available on the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games page HERE.


Any athlete or coach who has questions regarding the policy should contact Athlete Development Lead Tom Reynolds.


Athletics NI will be posting a series of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on the Commonwealth Games page to clarify any issues surrounding the nominations policy over the coming weeks.

Mark McKinstry and Laura Graham take top honours at Laganside 10k:

Pure Running Laganside 10k Road Race:

On Sunday 4th September 2016, a capacity field of 1,250 athletes turned out for one of Northern Ireland's most popular running events, the Laganside 10k road race, sponsored by Pure Running and hosted by North Belfast Harriers.  The race was also part of the ongoing Novosco 10k Grand Prix.


This year, athletes took on a revised course with the same personal best potential as the notoriously fast route previously used, and despite the event not incorporating the NI & Ulster 10k Championships this year, there was a plethora of athletic talent on the start line.


In the early stages, the host club’s Mark McKinstry (North Belfast Harriers) and Eoghan Totten (Newcastle AC) led the way, exchanging places. Behind, young Craig McMeechan (North Down AC) followed with a group containing Conal McCambridge (North Belfast Harriers), David O’Flaherty (Newcastle AC), Lindsay Gordon (North Belfast Harriers) and Seamus Lynch (Newcastle AC) also in contention.  In the ladies race, Laura Graham (Mourne Runners), Gladys Ganiel O’Neill (North Belfast Harriers), Rebecca Henderson (Dromore AC) and Sharon Barlow (Darlington Harriers) looked strong as they progressed towards half way in that order.

At the 5k mark, little had changed, with just one second splitting Mark McKinstry (15:39) and Eoghan Totten (15:40). Craig McMeechan (15:53) had dropped back a little but was still ahead of the Seamus Lynch, Conal McCambridge and Lindsay Gordon, all of whom pass the half way mark in 16:00. Laura Graham looked a class act in the ladies race, progressing into the second half in 17:25, eight seconds ahead of Gladys Ganiel O’Neill (17:33), who in-turn had eight seconds on Rebecca Henderson (17:41).


In the latter stages, at approximately 8k, there was no stopping Mark McKinstry as he opened up a slight lead on Eoghan Totten as the pair took to the Ormeau Embankment for the final time. Behind, there was an epic battle for the final podium place, with Conal McCambridge, Seamus Lynch and Lindsay Gordon having taken over Craig McMeechan and began to chase down the leading pair. Meanwhile, Laura Graham was dominant in the ladies race and looked to have sealed the title – but behind, there was an excellent battle for the runners up spot, with Gladys Ganiel O’Neill and the fast finishing Rebecca Henderson both looking as if they could take it!


At the newly positioned start/finish area, close to the heart of Ormeau Park, the assembled crowd has created an excellent atmosphere for the returning athletes, and it was indeed Mark McKinstry who appeared first. To loud applause the North Belfast Harriers man covered the final yards quickly to break the tape in 31:55 (1st place). Eoghan Totten followed in 32:14 (2nd place), after just holding off the Seamus Lynch, who produced a brilliant finish to take 3rd place in 32:17.

Laura Graham added another prestigious prize to her growing CV with a well-deserved victory – the AAI National Half Marathon Champion crossed the line in 35:36 (1st place) for top honours. In a close finish, Rebecca Henderson claimed 2nd place in a new personal best of 35:50, before Gladys Ganiel O’Neill completed the ladies podium in 35:57 (3rd place).


In the associated Junior Mile event, which proved to be a perfect atmosphere builder for the Laganside 10k, North Belfast Harriers pair Luke Kelly and Lauren Cox won their respective races.  Full results for this event are available below.


North Belfast Harriers retained their men's and ladies titles in the team competition.  The men saw off Newcastle AC (2nd place) and Willowfield Harriers (3rd place), while the ladies finished above Dromore AC (2nd place) and Ballydrain Harriers (3rd place).


Top 3 Men:  1st Mark McKinstry (North Belfast Harriers) – 31:55, 2nd Eoghan Totten (Newcastle AC) – 32:14, 3rd Seamus Lynch (Newcastle AC) – 32:17


Top 3 Ladies:  1st Laura Graham (Mourne Runners) – 35:36, 2nd Rebecca Henderson (Dromore AC) – 35:50, 3rd Gladys Ganiel O’Neill (North Belfast Harriers) – 35:57


Full Results:  Pure Running Laganside 10k 2016 Results and Laganside Kids 1 mile Race 2016 Results

Freddy Sittuk and Catherine Whoriskey win Waterside Half Marathon:

Waterside Half Marathon:

On Sunday 4th September 2016, well over 1,600 athletes from all over Northern Ireland (and beyond!) took to the streets of Derry/Londonderry for the 35th annual running of the famous Waterside Half Marathon.  


After starting in Ebrington Square, the seemingly endless field negotiated a course which hugged the banks of the River Foyle, taking in Gransha Grounds, the Foyle Bridge, Fort George, Foyle Valley Railway Museum and the Peace Bridge, before crossing the river and into the St Columbs Park track and the finish.  


As expected, Kenyan athlete Freddy Sittuk (Raheny Shamrock AC) and Foyle Valley AC’s Scott Rankin played a major part at the head of the pack.  


In truth, it was Scott who took charge and dictated proceedings, with Freddy seemingly happy to follow just behind.  That was of course until the finish, when a sprint finish ensued – despite his best efforts, popular Northern Ireland international Scott was not able to hold off Freddy, who claimed victory by just one second, running 1:07:37 for 1st place.  Scott ran 1:07:38 (2nd place), while Spartan athlete Kyle Doherty (City of Derry AC) completed the top three in 1:14:24 (3rd place).


In the ladies race, the always impressive Catherine Whoriskey (City of Derry AC) retained her title in fine fashion.  The Northern Ireland international achieved her target of a sub eighty minute finish when she broke the tape in a new personal best of 1:17:52 (1st place).  Claire McGuigan (Lifford Strabane AC) ran well to take 2nd place in 1:22:53, before Enniskillen Running Club’s Tara Malone recorded 1:31:43 for 3rd place.


Top 3 Men:  1st Freddy Sittuk (Raheny Shamrock AC) – 1:07:37, 2nd Scott Rankin (Foyle Valley AC) – 1:07:38, 3rd Kyle Doherty (City of Derry AC) – 1:14:24


Top 3 Ladies:  1st Catherine Whoriskey (City of Derry AC) – 1:17:52, 2nd Claire McGuigan (Lifford – Strabane AC) – 1:22:53, 3rd Tara Malone (Enniskillen Running Club) – 1:31:43


Provisional Results:  Waterside Half Marathon 2016 Results (Photo above by Seamus McDaid)

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

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

It's been a predictably unpredictable 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 would have you think it’s a relatively quiet weekend in comparison to recent weeks.  


However, the two major events… Laganside 10k and Waterside Half Marathon will attract in excess of 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.


Pure Running Laganside 10k Road Race:

On Sunday 4th September 2016, the eyes of the province will be on Northern Ireland's capital city, Belfast, for the sell-out Pure Running Laganside 10k road race.  The revised course looks to have the same personal best potential as the notoriously fast route previously used, and despite the event not incorporating the NI & Ulster 10k Championships this year, there will be a plethora of athletic talent taking to the start line.


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.

A number of men should be considered as contenders for the top prize – Mark McKinstry (North Belfast Harriers), Seamus Lynch (Newcastle AC), David O’Flaherty (Newcastle AC) and young Craig McMeechan (North Down AC) are amongst the most likely challengers for top honours.  

The ever improving Mark McKinstry, who represented Northern Ireland at the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships in Cardiff earlier this year, has a personal best of 31:31 which would make him the pre-race favourite out of the four men mentioned above.  Mark has enjoyed several high profile wins this season, kicking off the year with victory at Race Over The Glens, Ards Half Marathon (1:10:20) and more recently the Coleraine 5 mile road race, where he ran 25:45.

NI & Ulster 10,000m silver medallist David O’Flaherty (Newcastle AC) ran a personal best of 32:06 at the Titanic 10k back in April (2016) and in the same month, he recorded 15:24 at the Queen’s 5k in Belfast.  His club mate, Seamus Lynch (Newcastle AC) is another useful athlete – the Northern Ireland and Ireland international decided to focus on the track and roads this year and that has proved worthwhile, with a number of impressive personal best.  Seamus ran 32:14 at the famous Highgate Harriers Night of 10,000m Personal Bests – his 10k road best was recorded in Ormeau Park, where he ran 32:26 at the Seeley Cup in November 2015.  

Young Craig McMeechan has enjoyed some good outings over 10k, but his best is yet to come – he has a 10k personal best of 32:57, but with a 5k personal best of 15:14, he could well drop down into the lower 32’s or late 31’s… either of these could see him claim a podium place.  He’ll certainly smash the 33:10 he ran over the old course here in 2015.  Eoghan Totten (Newcastle AC) and Chris McGuinness (Foyle Valley AC) cannot be ruled out either – Eoghan is capable of 31:09 over this distance, a time that should secure victory here, but he ran that back in 2013; his recent form would suggest that a finishing time around the 32:00 mark would be within his reach, which could well be enough for a prize.  Meanwhile, Chris is a consistent performer and turned heads with an excellent 32:18 at the Titanic 10k in April (2016) - his 1:13:38 for second place at the Larne Half Marathon was also a notable outing.

Other athletes to look out for include John Black (North Belfast Harriers), Conal McCambridge (North Belfast Harriers), Gary Slevin (City of Derry AC), Danny McLaughlin (St Malachy’s AC), Lindsay Gordon (North Belfast Harriers), and Gerard Heaney (St Peter’s AC).  The improving Stephen O’Gorman (Dromore AC), and the returning David McNeilly (Newcastle AC) will run well, as will Andrew Considine (North Belfast Harriers), Dennis Scott (North Down AC), Eddie Cooke (North Belfast Harriers), Kevin O’Boyle (Unattached) and Mark Cornett (St Peter’s AC).
The ladies race will prove to be an equally exciting encounter, with a seriously impressive line-up set to take to the start line.  The host club’s Northern Ireland and Ireland international Gladys Ganiel O’Neill (North Belfast Harriers), current AAI National Half Marathon Champion Laura Graham (Mourne Runners), England based Northern Ireland master’s international Sharon Barlow (Darlington AC) and Northern Ireland senior cross country international are likely to head the pack.

Commonwealth Games marathoner Gladys has had an excellent year, winning some prestigious events.  The Leiden Half Marathon (1:18:27), Irish Runner 5 mile road race (28:36) and the Frank Duffy 10 mile road race (59:04) are most certainly the highlights in terms of victories, but it was Gladys’ selection for the IAAF European Athletics Half Marathon Championships, where she represented Ireland, which she will look back on in years to come.  The North Belfast Harriers athlete clocked 36:11 for fourth place at the Titanic 10k and should be well into the 35’s here (conditions dependent). 

Mourne Runners’ Laura Graham is another outstanding athlete, a runner who has produced impressive performance after impressive performance over the last year.  A runners-up spot at the Belfast City Marathon in May (2016) with a new personal best of 2:48:03 put Laura amongst the country’s top endurance athletes - this was a staggering eight minutes quicker than her 2:56:21 at Dublin Marathon in 2015, which saw her collect an AAI National Marathon bronze medal.  A win at the AAI National Half Marathon Championships in Dublin and the associated gold medal further backed up Laura’s progression, as did a 35:24 for third place at the Titanic 10k and a 16:41 clocking for her first ever 5k; a win at the Ford 5k.

Sharon Barlow (Darlington AC) is based in England but has not only raced in Northern Ireland, she has represented Northern Ireland at the British & Irish Masters XC Championships.  However, Sharon’s speedy edge has led to some excellent outings on firmer ground.  This year she has recorded 35:59 for 10k, 16:59 for 5k and 1:18:33 for 13.1 miles; Sharon has previously finished fourth at the Belfast City Marathon, having run 2:56:57 (2015).  Northern Ireland senior cross country international Rebecca Henderson (Dromore AC) has a 10k personal best of 36:50 and if she gets close to that here, a podium place is well within reach.  This year, Rebecca has also impressed with a bronze medal winning performance at the NI & Ulster Senior XC Championships, a win at the Glaslough 5k (17:40) and a 10:21 for 3k at the Armagh International.

The aforementioned ladies are not the only competitors worth looking out for – should any of them falter, the likes of Jodi Smith (North Down AC), Amy Bulman (Unattached), Judi McAulay (North Belfast Harriers), Roisin Hughes (North Belfast Harriers) and Judith Lonnen (City of Lisburn AC) will seize any opportunity to take a top three place.  Sarah-Jane Guiney (Albertville Harriers), Beverley Mitchell (Albertville Harriers), Sinead Murtagh (Newcastle AC), Debbie Matchett (Ballydrain Harriers) and Mari Troeng (Newcastle AC) have shown good form recently and will also be in the mix, while Denise Logue (Ballydrain Harriers), Louise Smith (North Belfast Harriers), Paula McAllister (Ballymena Runners), Martsje Hell (North Belfast Harriers) and Susan Smyth (Dromore AC) should place well.
Waterside Half Marathon:
Also on Sunday 4th September 2016, athletes from all over Northern Ireland (and beyond!) will take to the streets of Derry/Londonderry for the 35th annual running of the famous Waterside Half Marathon.  

As always, the race will attract some top runners from Northern Ireland and Ireland, but there will also be a huge local interest, with many of the North West’s clubs likely to be well represented in the 2,000 strong field.

Race organisers provided us with the following race preview…

This weekend is a red letter day for hundreds of local road runners with the 35th staging of the annual Waterside Half Marathon set for Sunday 4th September 2016.  Over 2,000 pairs of feet will line up in the Ebrington Square site for the challenging 13.1 miles in and around the banks of the River Foyle.  Kenyan Freddy Sittuk and Foyle Valley AC's in-form star Scott Rankin head the male rankings and Catherine Whoriskey (City of Derry AC), the 2015 female winner, is favourite to retain her title with a sub 80 minute run her stated target.

Behind them runners of all abilities will toe the line, all determined to shine on what has become a genuine festival of running on the local and indeed national scene.  Organised by Derry City and Strabane District Council in conjunction with local running clubs, the Waterside is an institution in athletics circles and since its first outing in 1981 has forged an enviable reputation as a must do race for serious runners and joggers alike.

The race organisers have regretfully had to turn away late entries from last Wednesday, the 2000 limit having been reached and have reminded potential runners that missing the published entry deadline is avoidable, just enter early and you will get in! The new course introduced to much acclaim last year hugs the banks of the Foyle and is very spectator friendly, a feature appreciated by the runners. It starts in Ebrington Square and has a finish in the St Columbs Park running track, crosses the Foyle Bridge and Peace Bridge and showcases the environs of the majestic Foyle.  Race HQ is the relatively new Foyle Arena and the action gets under way at 9:55am on Sunday when the Wheelchair athletes start.

It’s a 10am start for the runners and after a circuit in Ebrington it’s away up the Limavady Road to drop into the Waterside Greenway en-route to the Gransha Grounds before crossing the Foyle Bridge to the West Bank and down past Boomhall into the Bay Road Park.  Exit the Park and on to Fort George and the Riverside Walkway to the Council Car Park and then out on to the Expressway right through to Coshowen. Swing left on to the Cycle Path, back past the Foyle Valley Railway Museum to the Peace Bridge. Cross the river and on into the St Columbs Park track and the finish.  That's the full 13.1 miles - leaders expected by 11:06am - and if last year is any guide the spectators will be there in huge crowds to welcome all the finishers home.  Make sure you join them or at least pick up the runners somewhere along the route!

Other events taking place in Northern Ireland this weekend:

Saturday 3rd September 2016:
•           Garrison 5 mile Road Race – Devenish Mary’s GAA Grounds, Garrison – 12pm (Entries AVAILABLE on the day)

Sunday 4th September 2016:
•           Tiny Life 10 mile Multi-Terrain Race (in conjunction with 26extreme) – Pleasure Gardens, Portadown – 9am (For entry information please click HERE)
Ben Nevis Mountain Race (Scotland):
On Saturday 3rd September 2016, in Scotland, Northern Ireland's top mountain running talent will take on the annual Ben Nevis mountain race.  After some excellent results in the last few years, much is expected of the familiar faces as they take on this famous race.

Ben Nevis is the highest mountain in the UK.  Standing at 1,344 metres (4,409ft) 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 2016, almost 20 Northern Ireland runners hope to make the gruelling ascent to the famous Summit.

Both of Northern Ireland's most established mountain running clubs, Mourne Runners and Newcastle AC will be well represented.  Mourne Runners will have Sam Herron, Ricky Cowan, David Bell, Ricky Hanna, Darren Herron, William Marks and Garth McGimpsey taking to the start line, while Brian Wilson, Rita Devlin, Paulette Thomson, Brian McBurney, Stephen Rice and Sean Rice are expected to don their Newcastle AC vests.  

However, the most notable Northern Ireland based athlete on show will be reigning Ben Nevis Champion, and current Garmin Mourne Skyline MTR Champion, Diane Wilson (Dromore AC).  In 2015, Diane produced the performance of her life to seal a memorable victory – let’s hope the exceptionally talented Northern Ireland international can show the same kind of form an retain the coveted title.  Other well-known local competitors likely to start include Jonny Steede (Glens Runners), Alex Brennan (Ballymena Runners), Paul Hollywood (Armagh AC), Liam Smyth (Murlough AC) and Declan McCrory (Armagh AC).

Multiple winner of the Ben Nevis race, local Lochaber AC member Finlay Wild will return, but will have to look out for former British Fell Running Champion Rob Jebb (Bingley Harriers).  In the ladies event, Heidi Dent (Howgill Harriers) is a notable inclusion.  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.  A full start list for the event is available HERE.

Parkrun:
As always, Northern Ireland’s twenty two 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.

Remember - If you would like to catch up on our 'News' from August 2016, you can use the navigation banner at the top of the screen (and scroll to August 2016) or click HERE.