IRELAND TO THE FOUR IN PORTUGAL

Well done, Ireland; a country that welcomes immigrants and a nation that has waved good-bye to countless emigrants for centuries while others have stuck out at home through thick and thin. The arrivals, the departures and remainers came together in perfect synchronicity yesterday to help Ireland to its best ever day at the European Cross Country Championships in Lisbon.  Two individual and two team medals surpassed anything achieved before at a European Cross Country and bridged a four year gap since an Irish athlete trod the presentation podium.

Efrem Gidey ….from holding camp to European podium

And that welcoming attitude paid dividends when a refugee from Eritrea won a bronze medal for the country in the Junior Men’s team race. Two years ago, Efrem Gidey was languishing in the holding camp at Calais in France but yesterday he declared himself a proud Irish man standing alongside the all-conquering Norwegian Jakob Ingebrigtsen on the medal podium of a continental championships.

Gidey was in the leading group from the opening lap and when the reigning European Senior 1500m/5000m champion Ingebrigtsen applied the pressure halfway through the 6225m event, the 19-year-old was only one of two men to respond. The Norwegian pulled away to away to seal his fourth consecutive by over half a minute while Gidey fought out the minor places with Turkey’s Ayetullah Aslanhan.

In the end the Turk won that battle by three seconds with Gidey seemingly would have been happier with a team medal than his own achievement but Ireland lost third place on countback after finishing on the same points as Portugal.

“I’m so happy,” he said. “Ireland is my country and means so much. I am doing it for Ireland because it is doing it for me. A good opportunity – I am learning English and I’m going to school.”

Gidey lives in Tyrellstown, a northern suburb of Dublin and is a member of Clonliffe Harriers. He is current Irish Schools cross country champion and recently won the Leinster Senior Men’s cross country title.  Some thought he was ill-advised in running the recent National Senior at Abbotstown but finished ninth, helping Clonliffe regain the team title.  He was sick last week and only got the all-clear to compete on Friday past when Athletics Ireland managed to secure a visa for him to enter Portugal.

Three young Irish woman who, like so many before them, went to the United States to further their education and running careers, supplied medals two and three. Cork’s Stephanie Cotter ran a well-timed race to take the individual bronze in the U23 race while further down the field the Tyrone twins, Eilish and Roisin Flanagan, battled hard to claim 9th and 17th respectively to put Ireland in the silver medal spot behind a strong Netherlands trio.

All three women attend Adams State University and agreed that they would not be where they are today were it not for the coaching and facilities made available to them in Alamosa, Colorado.

“I came off the NCAA season and I was very happy with it and I knew I was fit coming in here,” said Cotter. “I went out to win it but I knew Moller was strong, so I said I would go out in the top five and if there were any moves, I’d cover them. I think about the third lap, she put in a big surge and I wasn’t able to go with it. This season, I think Adams State has transformed me completely as a runner.”

For Eilish Flanagan, from the Tyrone hamlet of Gortin, it was her second European silver medal of the year after finishing runner-up in the U23 3000m steeplechase in the summer.

“It’s really hard to believe (two medals), it’s been a really amazing year for myself,” said Eilish Flanagan. “It’s something to bring home to Gortin, to the country and our small community. We are able to work well with our coach at Adams State and he has improved us every single year.”

There was almost a fairy-tale ending to the meeting with Fionnuala McCormack, an athlete who has plied her entire running trade at home, was narrowly beaten for the bronze medal in the Senior Women’s race. Making a woman’s record 16th appearance at these championships, the Wicklow woman was denied third spot by the fast finishing Swede Samrawit Mengsteab by a miserable two seconds.

Another stay at home advocate Ciara Mageean, in 20th, had a cracking run on a tough and hilly course to cement a surprise silver team medal for the Irish colleens. The trio was completed by another leaver Aoibhe Richardson (17th), a Kilkenny woman studying in the US. All roads now lead to Dublin for the 2020 championships when the challenge will be to equal or better the Lisbon medal total. It will need all the arrivals, departed and remainers to do that.

RESULTS

JUNIOR MEN (6225m): 1 J Ingebrigtsen 18:20, 2 A Aslanhan TUR 18:58, 3 E Gidey IRL 19:01; Team: 1 GBR 25, 2 NOR 38, 3 IRL (3 Efrem Gidey, 12 Darragh McElhinney, 24 Thomas McStay) 39

JUNIOR WOMEN (4225m): N Bacolcatti ITA 13:58, 2 K Lukan 14:01, 3 M Machado POR 14:10; 1 ITA 29, 2 GBR 29, 3 FRA 38, 11 IRL (46 Jodie McCann, 62 A O’Cuill, 77 Sarah Kelly) 185

 U23 MEN (8225m): J Gressier FRA 24:17, 2 E Bibic 24:25, 3 A Oukhelfen ESP 24:34; Team: 1 FRA 17, 2 ITA 29, 3 GER 45, 7 IRL (22 Brian Fay, 25 Jack O’Leary, 26 Peter Lynch) 73

U23 WOMEN (6225m): A E Moller DEN 20:30, 2 J Lau NED 21:09, 3 Stephanie Cotter IRL 21:15; Team: 1 NED 17, 2 IRL (3 Cotter, 9 Eilish Flanagan, 17 Roisin Flanagan) 29, 3 GBR 47.

MIXED RELAY: 1 GBR 17:55, 2 BELARUS 18;01, 3 FRA 18:05, 7 IRL 18:40

SENIOR MEN (10,225m): 1. R Fsiha SWE 29:59, 2 A Kaya TUR 30:10, 3 Y Crippa ITA 30:21; Team: 1 GBR 36, 2 BEL 38, 3 ESP 45, 13 IRL (18 Sean Tobin, 52 32:28, 61 Eoin Everard) 131

SENIOR WOMEN (8225m): 1 Y Can TUR 26:52, 2 K B Grovdal NOR 27:07, 3 S Mengsteab SWE 27:43; Teams: 1 GBR 26, 2 IRL (4 Fionnuala McCormack, 17 Aoibhe Richardson, 20 Ciara Mageean) 41, 3 POR 43               

NW Indoors – DECEMBER 28

FIFTH NORTH WEST INDOOR GAMES

                       ATHLONE INDOOR ARENA

                                                  DECEMBER 28th 2019

UNDER 12 Boys and Girls 60m, 60m Hurdles, 600m, 600m walk, shot, Long Jump, High Jump, 4 x 200m Relay

UNDER 14 Boys and Girls 60m, 60m Hurdles, 800m 1,000m walk shot, Long Jump, High Jump, 4 x 200m Relay

UNDER 16 boys and Girls 60m, 60m Hurdles, 400, 800m, 1,500m, 1,000m Walk, Long Jump, High Jump, 4x 200m Relay  

UNDER 18 Men and Women 60m, 60m Hurdles, 400m, 800m, 1,000m Walk, 1,500m, Shot, Long Jump, High jump, Triple Jump, 4 x 200m Relay

JUNIOR Men and Women 60m, 60m hurdles, 400, 800m, 1,000m Walk, 1,500m, shot, long jump, triple jump, 4 x 200m Relay

Senior Men and Women 60m, 60m hurdles, 400, 800m, 1,000m Walk, 1,500m, shot, long jump, triple jump, 4 x 200m Relay

Masters Men and Women 60m, 60m hurdles, 400, 800m, 1,000m Walk, 1,500m, shot, long jump, triple jump, 4 x 200m Relay

Entry Fees Juveniles €5 per event. Senior/Masters €8 per event. Relays €20 per team

Three athletes per club per event

ENTRIES ON AAI ON-LINE SYSTEM CLOSING AT MIDNIGHT ON DECEMBER 14Th 2019. Athletes may step up one age and compete in a maximum of three events plus a relay. Entry to the U/12 Sprint Events 60m and 60m Hurdles are confined to athletes from North West (Donegal Derry, Tyrone, Fermanagh, Sligo, Leitrim)

All track events are time trials, only three attempts allowed in Long and Triple Jumps and Shot.

All athletes must wear club singlets.

U/12 athletes MAY use starting blocks, all other athletes MUST use blocks. IAAF false start rules will apply

Electronic timing will be in operation for all track events.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT Bernie o’ Callaghan, 20 the Waterfront, Killybegs, Co Donegal.

MOBILE 087 2375899 OR At bernieocallaghan@gmail.com

Jason smyth delivers again

Jason Smyth

Cometh the hour, cometh the man and sprinter Jason Smyth delivered once again, winning the T13 100m at the World Para Athletics Championships in Dubai. It was Ireland’s only gold medal of the meeting and Smyth’s eighth world title since he came on the scene in 2006. His time of 10.54 (+0.6 wind reading) seconds was the best time ever run in the category at a World Para Championships.

The Derry Track Club athlete had stretched his legs in the morning with a comfortable win in his heats but looked nervous as he assumed his starting position for the eight-man final. Salah Khelaifia was first out of the blocks, but Smyth was level by 30 metres before the Algerian clutched his thigh and pulled up before the halfway distance. After that it was all Smyth as he pulled away to break the tape, well clear of Australia’s Chad Perris, whom many had thought would give the Irishman a run for his money.  

Earlier in the Championships, Smyth had watched Petrucio Ferreira erase his name from the record books when the Brazilian posted the two fastest times in a 100m race of a major Para athletics championships. The Brazilian made his intentions clear in the 100m T47 morning heats blazing to a world record time of 10.42, shading Smyth’s record of 10.46 seconds set at the London Paralympics in 2012.  Ten hours later, Ferreira was just two-hundredths of second outside that mark, but it was enough to seal the gold with ease and set up a remarkable cleansweep of all three medals by his countrymen.

It is always sad to witness end of an era as was the case yesterday as the previously undefeated Michael McKillop finished out of the medals in the T38 1500m at the World Para Athletics Championships in Dubai. Defending champion McKillop fought hard down the final straight but could not get into a podium place as newcomer Canadian Nate Riech turned in an impressive display of tactics and power to race away with the title in 4:02.04.

McKillop found a season’s best of 4:09.07 only good enough on this occasion for fourth. Up until yesterday McKillop had been the dominant athlete in the event but new classifications and merging of T37 and T38 categories contributed to the end of his reign for the 29-year-old Randalstown resident.

Michael McKillop

Anders Lagergren sprinted into the lead from the gun and led the field through the opening lap in a swift 64 seconds. McKillop looked smooth back in the chasing pack while Ireland’s other representative David Leavy struggled to maintain contact. The Dane then faded rapidly, ending up 11th, as the favourite Riech moved to the front with two laps to go and started to open up a gap on the field.

The Canadian had ten metres to the good as the bell sounded with only Algeria’s Abdelkrim Krai looking as though he posed any danger to Riech. McKillop, in fifth, was visibly struggling with the pace. The man from British Columbia continued his relentless pace at the front to come home the most impressive of winners some 30 metres ahead of Krai as McKillop mounted a late surge to snatch fourth from another Canadian Liam Stanley.

The first three finishers were all T38, a lesser form of disability to McKillop who is a T37, meaning the former North Belfast Harrier was the leading competitor in the latter category, setting a T37 championship record. David Leavy stuck manfully to his own pace throughout to register a personal best 4:23.86 in ninth. Ireland’s other competitor yesterday, Mary Fitzgerald, finished out of the medals in the F40 shot put.

Unfortunately, there was no medal for Kerry man Jordan Lee who went into the T47 high jump second-ranked but was beaten for the bronze medal on countback after clearing 1.87m at his third attempt. India’s Nishad Kumar was the winner of the event with a 1.94m clearance on his first effort to keep a clean sheet without a failure throughout the competition.

Conor McIlveen

DTC’s Conor McIlveen acquitted himself well in the heats of the T38 400m. With only four days to acclimatise and a severe classification to endure just 48 hours before his heat, McIlveen finished seventh in 58.86 seconds.

MINING FOR MEDALS RESUMES IN THE SPERRINS ON BOXING DAY

Hundreds are expected to arrive in the Sperrins on St. Stephen’s day seeking precious metals but there will not be a single protest from the local residents. And the mass influx of visitors will have nothing to do with the controversial local mining operation but eager runners in pursuit of gold, silver and bronze awards at the 34th Greencastle 5 Miles road race. Details were announced this week of the emblematic Tyrone race that has grown to be the biggest of its kind over the festive season in the entire country.

A group of people posing for a photo

Description automatically generated
Adults L-R Colm Devlin (Greencastle RR C’tee), Oliver McCullagh (GRRC), Patricia McElduff (GRRC), Caolán Donnelly (O’Kane’s), Brian McCullagh (O’Kane’s) with the McElduff Children.

 “The organising committee of the Annual Greencastle 5 Mile Road Run extends a warm welcome to all participants, their families and their supporters, to our many volunteers and to our sponsors,” said race director Oliver McCullagh. “It is a long time since our first race back in 1986. Back then, we had approximately 80 entrants for our first ever outing, that number has now grown to 2000 including walkers.”

Many thought that a Boxing Day would not have been popular with the running community but the exact opposite has proven to be the case with many regarding it as a penance for their excesses to the weeks leading up to Christmas. Others swear to suffering more during the ascent of Heartbreak Hill in the fourth mile of the race than a weekend spent in Lough Derg!

“Last year many travelled long distances to be part of the record field of almost 1300 running entries. As in previous years the course hosted about 700 walkers who turned out to raise sponsorship for a host of local charities,” continued McCullagh. “This year we’re pleased to welcome a new sponsor O’Kane Plumbing & Electrics and hope it will be the start of a long and mutually fruitful relationship.”

This Greencastle road race is probably unique in that it is a community day with almost everyone in the immediate area playing some part in organising and running the event. There is a very obvious collective desire to do something for the greater good of all and over the years tens of thousands of pounds have been donated to various charities. Further information is available on the website www,greencastle5.com where registrations for the race are now being accepted.

JASON MINES FOR GOLD (BUT NOT IN THE SPERRINS)

Figure 2: Jason Smyth is looking to extend his unbeaten record.

Four Ulster athletes are included in the 11-strong team representing Ireland at the World Para Athletics Championships that started yesterday in Dubai and conclude on November 15. Standout sprinter Jason Smyth is again Ireland’s main hope to strike gold as the 32-year-old looks to continue his incredible winning streak and claim an 8th World Championship medal, his 18th major title in Paralympic sport. The Derry Track Club ace, who remains unbeaten in Paralympic competition since he entered the category some dozen years ago, runs in the T13 100m next Wednesday (Nov 13).

For Michael McKillop, it is an even longer wait until next Thursday when makes his much anticipated return to a major championships action. The Randalstown resident has battled a serious injury since his World Para Athletics Championships gold medal in London over two years ago. There are world championship debuts for both City of Lisburn’s David Leavy (T38/1500m) and Derry Track Club’s Conor McIlveen (T38 400m).  Both are latecomers to Paralympic competition but have made rapid progress in the past two years.  A place in their respective finals would represent success for both men.

Elsewhere Galway native, Alex Lee, will make history as he becomes Ireland’s first ever ‘blade runner’ when he competes for Ireland in the 100m and 200m T64 heats. World ranked number two high jumper, Jordan Lee, will also compete at his first world championships, as will shot putter, Mary Fitzgerald.  Cork’s trio of seasoned discus throwers will also compete for world championship glory as Orla Barry, Noelle Lenihan and Niamh McCarthy will all look to repeat their podium success from London 2017. European Champion T13 1500m runner, Greta Streimikyte, will hope to continue her winning streak and target the gold medal in Dubai.  The added incentive for all is the fact is that a top four finishers in each discipline will automatically secure a slot for the Paralympic Games in Tokyo 2020.

Around 1400 athletes from 122 are expected to take part thanks to the 1100 officials and 800 volunteers who will give of their time to make the championships a success. The championships will be shown live at www.olympicchannel.com.

STORY 3 (335)

If you wanted to run a marathon but felt you did not know where to start, do not despair because the organisers at the Deep RiverRock Belfast City Marathon are opening applications for a new Experiment 26.2 Group. This will help, support and watch up to 15 runners cross the finish line of their first marathon next year on Sunday, May 3.

A group of people standing in front of a crowd

Description automatically generated

Figure 3: Start of this year’s Belfast City Marathon

You could be joining around 5,000 people at the iconic Stormont Estate on Sunday 3rd May 2020 as the largest single participatory sporting event in Northern Ireland takes place for the 39th year. If you are selected for the 2020 Experiment 26.2 Group, you can expect a very comprehensive marathon training package from the event’s official sponsors and partners. As a group member, you will receive full training gear from sponsor Decathlon, a free marathon training plan and mentoring from the event’s official coach Stuart Kennedy and a full schedule of training activities inclusive of some free races such as the SPAR Craic 10K, Titanic 10K, SPAR Omagh Half Marathon and more.  Framar Health, the events official nutrition sponsor, will be providing free advice on diet, reflexology and sports massage.  Athletics NI will be offering a 12-month membership for race discounts and a 6-month membership for the Mary Peters Track.  On top of all this, the group will receive a 3-month city-wide membership with Better, the Official Gym Sponsor in 2020.  Better will also provide bespoke core and strength classes to support the group’s training. 

Experiment 26.2 will meet monthly December 2019 – April 2020 and this will include group long runs/training sessions on evenings and weekends across each month.  These should provide motivation and support for members in achieving their goal in finishing the marathon.

If you have never run a marathon before and feel you could commit your time, you can find out more about the Experiment 26.2 Group and the essential criteria required at www.belfastcitymarathon.com/get-training/Experiment-26.2-Group or email elaine.riddell@belfastcitymarathon.org. All applications must be received by the deadline 4:00pm on Friday, November 15.

RUN FOREST RUN IN DRUM MANOR

The second race in the award-winning Run Forest Run takes place on Saturday, November 16 on the excellent course at Drum Manor Forest Park near Cookstown.  Over 500 runners are expected from all over Ireland to the 5K and 10K races organised by the Born2Run Event Company whose motto is Great Races in Great Places.

The Run Forest Run Series consists of eight races all set in the beautiful forests of Northern Ireland. The Born2Run Event Company picked up the Gold accolade at this year’s Running Awards in London for the Best Race Series in the UK and Ireland. The series has proved extremely popular with runners in recent years as it gives them the opportunity to get off the roads over the winter months and sample trail running in some (literally) breath-taking locations.

All finishers receive a beautiful commemorative medal as well as hard-earned post race refreshments. There is also a special medal for first-timers while runners who complete six of the eight races in the series get a special edition technical t-shirt.  Online entry remains open until 11:00pm on Wednesday, November 13. For more information or to enter go to www.born2runevents.com

ULster athletes brilliant in dublin

hoto: Ann-Marie McGlynn is congratulated by her husband Trevor after her runner-up position in the Irish marathon championship.

Belfast man Stephen Scullion rightly grabbed the headlines following his runner-up spot and Irish championship victory at last weekend’s KBC Dublin Marathon. Despite running in the world championships just three weeks earlier, the Clonliffe Harrier showed no sign of any after affects as he cruised to a new NI record of 2:12:01, putting himself within touching distance of a place at next year’s Olympics in Japan.

However, further down the field there were spectacular performances by two other Ulster athletes.  Newcastle’s Eoin Totten took more than ten minutes off his best with a 2:16:08 timing as City of Derry Spartan Kyle Doherty followed up his recent NI & Ulster half marathon championship title with a superb 2:22:22, that was a five minute improvement of his time in the same race 12 months earlier.

If the Ulster men sparkled, the province’s women positively dazzled taking five of the top six places in the Irish championship. It looked for a long time that Ann-Marie McGlynn was going to make it an Ulster double, only for the Strabane woman to lose out to Cork’s Aoife Cooke late in the race.

Gladys Ganiel O’Neill finished with characteristic determination to take third place in the Irish championship in a new lifetime best of 2:36:42. Catriona Jennings (2:37:57), Breege Connolly (2:38:28) and Catherine Whoriskey (2:42:39) completed the leading half dozen. (no category or team results were available from Athletics Ireland at time of writing)

Earlier on Sunday morning, Banbridge athlete Emma Mitchell helped make it a red letter day for the province’s female athletes when she finished 11th in the Trinidad Alfonso Half Marathon in Valencia. Mitchell clocked a personal best 72:28 in a race won by Ethiopia’s Senbere Teferi Sora in 65:32.

Elsewhere at the Leeds Abbey Dash 10K Red Hands were also making their mark with the first three all recording personal bests. Ben Branagh crossed the finish line in 21st place with a time of 29:38, Scott Rankin (30:36) followed in 45th, John Black (30:42) in 51st while finished Chris Madden (31:07) finished 69th.

Fionnuala Ross (34:16) was the leading Ulster athlete in women’s race, claiming 17th place in a time of 34:16. She was followed home by Jessica Craig (34:40) in 23rd, Nakita Burke (35:07) in 27th and Sarah Lavery (36:12) in 41st.

DROMORE THE A-TEAM IN NOVICE CHAMPS

Individual title winners Robyn McKee and Russell White

I love it when a plan comes together,” was the message from Dromore AC stalwart and driving force Nigel McKibbin after his club dominated the NI & Ulster Novice Cross Country Championships at Greenmount last weekend. The Down club took three of the four titles on offer, easily surpassing anything it had achieved at the meeting in the past.

Robyn McKee kicked off the day for Dromore in the best possible fashion when she paced herself perfectly, biding her time until the final lap of the 4K contest before moving away to win by 14 seconds.  Leoni Mullen and Natasha Kelly claimed the minor individual medals as well as contributing to a Finn Valley team victory.

Next up was the men’s race and Dromore runners Russell White and Daniel Dawson were quick to establish their superiority over the opposition on a fast 6K course, distancing themselves from the main field to make it an emphatic one-two finish for the black and yellow vests. Lifford-Strabane’s Alan McGinley repeated his third place of 2018 as Andrew Hicks (6th) and Mark Cornett (13th) sealed a comfortable team win to complete a memorable day for the County Down club not to mention their coach of more than 30 years, Michael McGreevy.

BRADLEY AND MONAGHAN BEST IN SPOOK

Conor Bradley and Edel Monaghan were the winners of the major prizes at the ninth running of the Spooktacular 5K in Enniskillen. Record numbers, over 1200 runners, took part making the Fermanagh 5K Run/Walk the largest night time event of its kind in Ireland. The numbers were swelled by the increasing number of Couch to 5K groups taking part in the event.

No Scares for Conor Bradley as he wins comfortably in Enniskillen.

Bradley rounded off the track season with impressive performances over 3000m and 5000m, breaking eight and 14 minutes for the distances. That form has continued into the winter season with him winning Marty’s Run 5K in Derry before leading home a top class field at the Autumn Classic cross country in Dublin. The City of Derry Spartan was a class apart in Enniskillen, hitting the front at halfway and cruising to victory in 15 minutes and eight seconds. Bradley’s clubmates JP Williamson and Declan Reed filled the minor podium places eleven and twelfth seconds back respectively.

Home Sweet Home for women’s winner Edel Monaghan.

A five hour bus journey home from Dublin did not deter Edel Monaghan from scoring a home victory in the women’s race with a personal best 18:24 timing. Armagh’s Natalie Foley was runner-up in 18:41 while 2018 winner Heather Foley had to settle for third on this occasion with a 19:04 timing.

Lucky 7 for Cathal McLaughlin as he finishes runner-up in M50 category.

“We have had a great response from the Couch to 5K groups and we at the club run one and it has been very popular,” said Stephen Clawson of organising club, Enniskillen Running Club. “It is about promoting running in the county for all ages and all abilities which is the club’s ethos.”

TOMMY AND SON BREAK MARATHON RECORD

Tommy and Eoin Hughes were in record-breaking form at the weekend with the pair setting a new Guinness world mark for the combined father and son marathon time. Tommy, who represented Ireland in the 1992 Olympic marathon in Barcelona, crossed the finish line in the Frankfurt Marathon registering a time of 2:27:52 while Eoin followed shortly in 2:32:55. That gave them a combined time of 4:59:22, representing an improvement of two minutes and 50 seconds better on the previous mark of Graham and Ben Green.   Tommy’s time was also close to the M55 world best of Piet van Alphen of the Netherlands who recorded 2:25:56 in the 1986 Rotterdam Marathon.

The pair made an attempt at the Guinness world record for the fastest half-marathon by a father and son at the Belfast Half-Marathon in September 22, but came up 20 seconds short of the combined 2:20:33 goal, despite Eoin finishing second overall in 1:08:30. It was then they decided to have a go at the marathon record in Frankfurt. Now they have another target, the World Masters’ Championships in Toronto next year. Eoin enters the Masters’ grade in January when he turns 35 while his father will be 60.

POINTS MAKE PRIZES IN BELFAST NEXT YEAR

Runners in next year’s Deep RiverRock Belfast City Marathon will be able to gain points in Abbott World Marathon Majors age group world rankings for the first time. The listings started on September 30 and run until October 11, 2020 and the Belfast event has now been included for the first time among the 175 qualifying events around the globe.

The 39th Belfast marathon will take place on Sunday, May 3 with a full line up of events to suit all levels of fitness including the marathon, team relay, 8 mile walk and fun run.  The main event will start at the Stormont Estate and take in most parts of the city before finishing in Ormeau Park.

The 175 eligible events include 30 across Asia, four in Africa, 20 in Central and South America, more than 60 in Europe, 8 in Oceania and more than 50 in North America. All races carry equal status.

There have been recent changes to the board of the Belfast City Marathon with long-time race director David Seaton standing down shortly after this year’s event while Kerry Woods and Nicola McCarthy have been appointed as directors.  

BELFAST MEET TO BE BIGGER, AND BETTER IN 2020

Bold Prediction from Race Director Eamonn Christie

“Last year’s event was a resounding success but 2020 will be even better,” that is the bold prediction of Eamonn Christie, director of Belfast IMC Meeting. “All my default sponsors are back and a lot more too.  Next year’s meeting will be June 20, 2020 and I’ve already had big interest from across the water and beyond. A large squad of top athletes are coming over from Leeds and Steve Macklin will send a squad again from the Aspire Academy in Doha.”

The overdue arrival of summer meant perfect running conditions at this year’s meeting as records tumbled throughout an action-packed afternoon at the Mary Peters Track. Numerous personal bests and one world best were testimony to a programme expertly put together by meeting director Eamon Christie and his cohorts at Beechmount Harriers, West Coast Coolers and the Irish Milers’ Club.

English visitor Matt Wigelsworth was the impressive winner of the feature event and returned to his Preston home £500 richer as he picked up the £200 bonus, in addition to the winner’s prize of £300, for breaking three minutes and 43 seconds in the men’s 1500m. The ice-cool 22-year-old was well off the pace in third place at the bell but stormed to the front on the final straight before stopping the clock at a personal best 3:42.67.

Gortin Girl Eilish Flanagan went on to take a silver medal at the European U23s after winning in Belfast last year.

Gortin girl Eilish Flanagan, who went on to take a silver medal in the steeplechase at the European U23 championships, was in a class of her own in the women’s 1500m. Further down the field Cavan native Anne Gilshinan took four seconds off her own world F50 best; another European medallist Nadia Power won the women’s 800m races while Cillian Kirwan lifted the prize for the men’s two lap event and Liam Brady was a runaway winner of the men’s 5000m.

It was thought that the men’s 1500m, sponsored by Cathal McLaughlin of E & I Engineering Ltd, might revert to a mile but Christie has decided he will retain the current format.

“I’ve sought the opinions of the athletes and there is a marked consensus that we retain the 1500m distance as many will be looking for qualifying times for that distance next year with the World U20 Championships and Olympics coming up later in the year.”

Other returning sponsors included Andrea Anderson and Greg Campbell while Pure Running, HBM Sportswear, Jason Harvey (GoFyt) and Kinetica have all indicated they will assist next year’s meeting.

HEHIR WINS IN ARMAGH

Marathon man Sean Hehir dominated the Armagh 10 Mile Road Race coming tantalising close to the course record set by Andrew Ledwith and finishing just ten seconds off the 2011 mark with a 50 minutes and ten seconds timing.

Hehir came to the race with impressive credentials having won the Dublin City Marathon on two occasions; the Clare native also represented Ireland at the 2014 European Championships in Zurich in 2014 and the IAAF World Championships in London two years ago as well as picking up national titles at cross country and half marathon.

First three in Armagh L-R: Hughes, Hehir and McElvanna

Hehir lived up to his name by racing away from the opposition straight from the gun before going on to win by almost four minutes from Acorns AC ace Eoin Hughes (53:59) as Armagh AC’s Brian McElvanna closed in on third spot another 18 seconds back.

While Marie McCambridge’s 2008 record of 56:53 was never challenged, the women’s race was notable both for the number of competitors and the overall standard. All the women’s categories were contested for the first time and no less than seven clubs contested the team prize. Nicola Flanagan of Blayney Rockets AC was a worthy winner in 62:57, after a battle almost to the line with North Belfast Harrier Louise Smith (63:15) with Pauline McGurren taking the bronze award in 65:51. The hosts Armagh AC claimed both team titles.

IT’S SPOOKTACULAR TIME IN ENNISKILLEN AGAIN

Stephen Cassidy is favoured to score a hometown victory in next weekend’s Spooktacular 5K

Well over 1,000 runners are set to take to the streets of Enniskillen next Friday night (October 25) for a night of frighteningly good fun as well as some top class race action.  The ninth annual Enniskillen Spooktacular 5k Run will take place on Friday, October 25 at 8pm, and entries have been flying in according to the organisers, Enniskillen Running Club.

 “From fairly humble beginnings, we can’t believe how much the event has grown since it first took to the town’s streets back in 2011,” said ERC’s Michael Walsh. “We had just under 300 that first year but we have averaged well over 1,000 the last few years and online entries this year are ahead of anything we have seen so far.”

The event boasts a carnival family atmosphere, with lots of children out to beat their friends and parents across the line and also a large number of people donning fancy dress. But there also has been plenty of fireworks when it comes to the racing itself with many of the province’s top 5k runners turning out to tackle the fast one lap course which starts and finishes in the town centre.

Last year in the men’s field Gideon Kimosop of Derry Track Club took the honours with a 15.05 timing, ahead of Foyle Valley’s Scott Rankin and Paddy Hamilton. But with the top two missing this year, it looks like the 2019 race is wide open with Enniskillen’s Stephen Cassidy, who came fourth last year, in with a shout of taking the home honours and the   £200 top prize.

The women’s race last year saw a titanic tussle between Sligo AC’s Heather Foley, Derry Track Club’s Marina Murphy and Clones masters track star Denise Toner, with only 10 seconds separating them. With both Heather and Denise confirmed to run again this year, another close showdown is in store.

 “It’s a special year for us as a club as we have just celebrated our tenth anniversary,” Michael added. “We’ve also   just had three members selected  for the Northern Ireland masters team for the first time, our junior section is thriving and another great Spook will just be the icing on the cake.”

Online entry is now available through the Athletics NI website or through Enniskillen Running Club’s Facebook page. There will also be limited on-the-night entries available.

DTC Members included in irelAND TEAM FOR WORLD PARA CHAMPS

Four Ulster athletes are included in the 11-strong team to represent Ireland at the World Para Athletics Championships in Dubai from November 7 – 15. Jason Smyth again is the main hope for success with the Derry Track Club sprinter aiming to continue his incredible winning streak and claim an 8th World Championship medal and his 18th major title. The 32-year-old remains unbeaten in Paralympic competition since he entered the category some dozen years ago.

Jason Smyth will be targeting an eighth world title in the T13 100m

Michael McKillop will make his much anticipated return to a major championships action for the first time since his World Para Athletics Championships gold medal win in London over two years ago. The Paralympic legend suffered a career-threatening groin injury which required an operation as recently as 12 months ago. He will be hoping to recapture the form that made him one of the greatest Paralympians of all time although changes to the classification system mean that the former St. Malachy’s athlete faces tougher competition than ever this time.

“The new classifications might be against me but if you believe in yourself, you can always achieve,” was McKillop’s upbeat assessment of his chances in Dubai.

:L:R – Michael McKillop, Conor McIlveen and David Leavy

There are world championship debuts for both City of Lisburn’s David Leavy (T38/1500m) and Derry Track Club’s Conor McIlveen (T38 400m).  Both are latecomers to Paralympic competition but have made rapid progress in the past two years.  A place in their respective finals would represent success for both men. Elsewhere Galway native, Alex Lee, will make history as he becomes Ireland’s first ever ‘blade runner’ when he competes for Ireland in the 100m and 200m T64 heats. World ranked number two high jumper, Jordan Lee, will also compete at his first world championships, as will shot putter, Mary Fitzgerald.

Cork’s trio of seasoned discus throwers will also compete for world championship glory as Orla Barry, Noelle Lenihan and Niamh McCarthy will all look to repeat their podium success from London 2017. European Champion T13 1500m runner, Greta Streimikyte, will hope to continue her winning streak and target medal success in Dubai.  The added incentive for all is the fact is that a top four finish will automatically secure a slot for Irish athletes at the Paralympic Games in Tokyo 2020.

“We have a great mix of experienced and rookie athletes in the team,” said James Nolan, Head of Para Athletics with Paralympics Ireland. “For five athletes this will be their first world championships and there are also six very experienced athletes that have won medals at major championships. World Para athletics is developing rapidly and standards at world level are tremendously high, but this team is exceptionally talented and will make an impact in Dubai.”

DTC MASTERS LIFT NATIONAL TITLES

18 August 2019 – The three DTC representatives put in a hard day’s graft to come away with three gold and one silver medal from the National Masters’ Track & Field Championships in Tullamore, County Offaly.

Robert Bigger gets ready to apply the coup-de-grace.

Robert Bigger capped an excellent season where he has consistently recorded the fastest times by an M60 for the middle-distance events in the UK and Ireland by winning both the 800m and 1500m.

Cathal takes gold in the 800m amid a monsoon.

Cathal McLaughlin added a third title for the DTC contingent with a masterful display of racing tactics in the M50 age group. Final success of the day came from a newcomer David Stewart who was anything but a newcomer. David was a sub-2 minute 800m runner a number of years ago but also a 1.80m high jumper, achieved on natural ability and without any professional coaching. And it was at that latter event, he took his silver medal that promises to be the first of many. Full results on the website www.athleticsireland.ie

16 August 2019 – BIG DAWG MAKES DEBUT IN NI & ULSTER VEST

Conor McIlveen made his first appearance in NI & Ulster colours when he represented the province at the Manchester International. Dropping down in distance, McIlveen lined up in the Ambulant 100m that included athletes from all disability classes. In blustery conditions, the Derry Track Club ace put in a credible performance to 7th in a strong field with a 13.06 seconds timing to gain 2 points for the team.

2019-manchesterinternationalteam.jpg
Conor is third from the left in the back row.

After such a tremendous effort from the whole team, in somewhat unfavourable conditions, the team placed 7th overall with 96 points in total. Congratulations not only to the athletes, but also to their personal coaches, whose hard work shone through the clouds.

Full results can be found here: https://www.thepowerof10.info/resultsfiles/2019/287413_6002_15082019124951.pdf

27/28 July 2019NATIONAL SENIOR T & F CHAMPS

Ciara Mageean showed that she is progressing nicely toward the world championships in Doha this autumn by picking up her third consecutive 800m title at the Irish Life National Senior Track & Field Championships in Morton Stadium, Dublin. The meeting also decided selections for Ireland’s team at the European League in Norway in two weeks time.

Mageean waited until the final furlong before imposing her authority on the field in what had been a slow race up to that point. The City of Lisburn athlete picked up the pace again on the homestraight to come home clear in a modest 2:07.30 with 2014 champion Katie Kirk continuing an impressive comeback season by taking the runner up spot in 2:07.56.

Letterkenny’s Mark English made it a two-lap double for the northern province with a controlled victory in the men’s race despite coming under pressure from Kildare’s John Fitzsimons on the final straight. English stopped the clock at 1:48.15, looking comfortable, and will now give his full attention to preparations for Doha after completing his medical studies at UCD.

Leon Reid’s decision to concentrate on the 200m, the distance at which he took a bronze medal at the Commonwealth Games last year, was rewarded when he claimed the gold medal, narrowly beating arch rival Marcus Lawler from Carlow in 20.62 seconds.

There was a silver lining to the clouds hanging over Santry yesterday for quite a number of Ulster athletes. Jason Harvey was disappointed after losing out by centimetres to Paul Byrne in the 400m hurdles when the destination of the gold medal was not decided until the very finish line. Just five-hundredths separated the pair with the St. Abban’s athlete getting the decision in 51.73 seconds despite Harvey putting in his best performance for some time.

Jason Smyth narrowly missed out on the gold medal in the 100m

It took the camera to separate Paralympic champion Jason Smyth from Travane Morrison in the 100m but the Tralee-based American given the decision by two-hundredths in 10.61 seconds. Tirchonnaill’s Kelly McGrory chased home Nessa Millet in the 400m hurdles and City of Derry’s Conor Bradley was unlucky to lose out to DSD’s Hiko Tonosa in a competitive 5000m where any one of four men could have taken the title in the final sprint for the line.

In the field, Finn Valley’s John Kelly struck silver in the shot with a mighty heave of 17.60m while his club colleague Sommer Lecky suffered a surprise defeat in the high jump to Pippa Rogan who cleared 1.85m to the Castlederg woman’s 1.80m.

On Saturday, Stephen Scullion retained his 10,000m title as he moved away after two-thirds of the distance before going away to win by almost eight seconds from runner-up Mick Clohisey in 29:36.33.  The Belfast man, who is US-based, indicated after the race that he would take up his selection for the marathon at this year’s World Championship marathon in November. City of Lisburn’s Ellen McCartney successfully defended her pole vault title after a quiet season with a best clearance of 3.85m.  Unfortunately, one of the expected stars of the meeting, last season’s European medallist Thomas Barr, pulled out of the 400m hurdles where he was seeking his ninth consecutive title on account of a calf niggle.

FINDING A RACE AT HOME OR ABROAD WILL BE EASIER IN FUTURE

Do you have trouble finding out what events are on at any given time? You have to look at several fixtures lists and social media postings? The solution may be at hand. Let’s Do This is an online marketplace for challenge events, with more than 350,000 people using our innovative digital platform to find events around the globe every month. From 5K fun runs to ultramarathons, as well as cycling sportives and iron mans, Let’s Do This provides all the information and entry details in one place.

Co-founders, Sam Browne and Alex Rose, started the company out of a growing frustration with the endurance events industry.

“Our issue was that there were over 1.5 million endurance events every year, but they existed in a massively disorganized and fragmented mess,” said Sam Browne now CEO of the company. “Our goal has been to create the one-stop shop for participants to find events around the world, with a totally personalised experience designed to match each user’s specific needs.”

Let’s Do This has been in operation since 2016. Admittedly it had a slow start, but was fortunate enough to get early funding, including a massive £1 million funding boost in 2017 from several sports and technology investors. Since then, the company has continued to grow rapidly with offices now in London, San Francisco and Sydney and have been dubbed the “the Netflix of fitness”.

“Our target market is everyone. There is the obvious market, being serious competitors who are well versed in racing, but who want an easier way to find their next big race. Then, there is the whole range of people who are running, riding or swimming in their very first race. Beyond this, it’s the people who haven’t even considered participating in an endurance event – people crave new experiences,” continued Browne.

Let’s Do This currently have over 100,000 races hosted on our website across Ireland, the UK and beyond.  The company hopes within ten years to have every race in every country across the globe.  It already has more events listed than any comparable organisation. Would-be participants quickly learn which are the best events and race organisers are given real feedback on how to improve their events. Training plans and all types of fitness, health and racing related advice will also be available on the company’s blog. Further information is available on-line at www.letsdothis.com

More than an Athletics Club