Foyle Valley’s Keith Shiels and City of Derry’s Allan Bogle both posted significant weekend wins at the Cara Bundoran 10 mile road race and the final Sperrin Harriers Winter League 10 miler at Lough Fea to grab the local athletics headlines.
The prolific Shiels led home a very big field in Bundoran on Saturday with a new distance person best of 51m 31s, an excellent clocking and an indication that he will be the man to beat on the road again this year. With an impressive range of swift times from 3,00m to Half Marathon Shiels is an extremely useful operator.
Behind him the battle for the minor placings was a tense affair with only 40 odd seconds between runner-up Eoghan McGinley, a Donegal man running for Dublin club Rathfarnham WSAF who ran 52m 06s and fifth placed Dublin based Tudor Moldovan on 52m 49s.
Annadale Strider Glenn Phair was third on 52m 26s and Finn Valley’s Gerard Gallagher fourth with 52m 39s.
Into the age group awards and in 14th overall was the Spartans’ James Crampsey, third M40 on 58m 42s; clubmate Gerry Duddy ran 61m 59s for 28th place and the M50 title and another Spartan Christy McMonagle was clocked at 75m 22s for the M60 runners-up spot. Not bad for turning 70 just a few weeks ago!
The women’s race also was a tight affair as winner Fiona Stack of Raheny Shamrock just got home ahead of North Belfast Harrier Breege Connolly, 59m 34s to 59m 46s. Stack retained her 2013 title albeit with a close to three minute improvement, and Donegal native Caitriona Jennings in the RWSAF colours claimed third on 60m 38s just ahead of the 60m 44s of Lifford’s Natasha Adams.
The sixth and final race in the Sperrin Harriers Winter League went to Allan Bogle, whose 56m 23s clocking for the 10 mile mixed terrain race at Lough Fea on Saturday was too good for the opposition.
The Spartan has had a good winter with a NI & Ulster Senior Cross Country team gold for Antrim in January and he also won race one in the Sperrin League, the Davogh Forest 10K back in November plus the North West Cross Country in Gransha in December.
North Belfast’s Mark McKinstry was his closest challenger on Saturday, finishing runner-up with 57m 44s.
The upcoming action is highlighted by the World Indoor Championships which begin in Sopot, Poland this Friday, March 7th and continue over the weekend.
Letterkenny star Mark English goes in the 800m and David McCarthy of Dungarvan, but with strong Derry connections goes in the 1,500m.
Saturday is the All-Ireland Schools Cross Country championships in Cork with four locals qualified from the Ulster championships and Sunday brings the new SSE Airtricity 10K road race, out of Ebrington Square, the first of two warm-up races for the June Walled City Marathon.
Beyond that it’s the annual St Patrick’s Weekend 5K in Gransha on Saturday, March 15th at 11 a.m. Another big local race and entries will be taken on the day from 9.30 a.m. at the U3A Foyle facility close to the race start/finish.
The first of the qualifying races for the June Kids Mini Marathon will be staged alongside the March 15th event and participants between 9-17 years are invited to take on the 1K run.