Dundalk IT hosted the National Masters & Intermediate Cross Country Championships on Sunday and it proved to be a very rewarding venue for athletes from North West clubs, City of Derry Spartans, Foyle Valley, Springwell and Inishowen AC.
And the red vests bagged an impressive grand total of 14 medals from a total 17 brought home to the North West from the competitive four race programme.
Staged on a very sticky if flattish course, the in-form Declan Reed comprehensively made it three male Masters 35-49 individual titles on the trot, running away from the large field to post yet another impressive overall win and the M40 gold.
Behind the flying Spartan in a marvellous fourth overall was the equally impressive M50 winner, Inishowen AC’s Pauric McKinney and for good measure Foyle Valley’s Chris McGuinness grabbed the M35 silver with a big run for sixth overall.
In the M60 age group Springwell’s Gerry O’Doherty took individual silver and City of Derry’s Peter Lilburn clinched a richly deserved individual bronze as the eye-catching performances continued.
Earlier in the combined female Masters and M65+ runners, M70 Gerry Lynch strode to an easy age group win while F50’s Hannah Shields and Anne Paul claimed silver and bronze in their age group.
It got even better when brilliant support from Claire Connor and Paula McGilloway pushed the Spartans quartet to F50 Inter County gold and Inter Club silver. Three medals each for Hannah and Anne and a brace each for Claire and Paula - what’s not to like about that!
Catherine Whoriskey rounded off the medal bonanza in the Women’s Intermediate race with a gutsy run for the individual bronze, after blasting away on the opening lap and then battling tenaciously to claim her first ever championship medal at National level.
Whoriskey rocketed into the lead from the gun setting a blistering pace and looked like she was going to leave the field in her wake but the fast early pace caught up with her and Marie Hyland (Crusaders) closed the distance before pushing on to an impressive victory over 5km in 18:56.
Catherina Mullen (Shercock) paced her race perfectly to come through and usurp Whoriskey for the silver in 19:11 with the daring Derry runner having to settle for third in 19:15.
Another big run following her great effort at the Antrim International Cross Country the previous Saturday and she has certainly established herself as one to watch.
Two other athletes came close to medals, M45 Colin Roberts finished fourth in his age group, missing a podium spot by just four seconds and F45 Jackie McMonagle had her best ever run at this level, her sixth place finish an excellent effort in a very competitive age group.