Cross Country Action This Weekend in Co. Down

Kilbroney Park in Rostrevor hosts the first Championship Cross Country of the season tomorrow when the N. Ireland/Ulster Juvenile Even Age Group deciders will be staged alongside the opening round races in the Athletics N. I. Cross Country League.

Local runners will travel to contest both the Juvenile and Open races in a packed programme, with Provincal honours realistic targets for several of the top young local athletes.

The extensive 12 race programme includes races from Under-12’s, U14’s, U16’s, U18’s and separate male and female races, with runners from City of Derry Spartans, Olympian and Foyle Valley expected to make the long trek to the County Down venue. Indeed, an early 8.00 a.m. departure time is required to contest the first U10 Championship race and this one should see some of the local pupils who contested and impressed at last week’s Primary Schools League races at the Sports Complex, compete at provincal level for the first time. Hopefully they will do their schools and clubs proud.

Tomorrow’s programme concludes with the first scoring races in the 2012/13 ANI Cross Country League, a 5K for Women and Men Over-60 and an 8 Kms. open race for Under-20’s, Seniors and Masters 35 to 59 years.

This league was successfully re-introduced last season and looks set to once again encourage clubs to travel to a series of selected races over the winter months. Round two follows a week later at the Ballyclare, McConnell Shield meeting on Saturday 3rd November and the local North-West Cross Country Championships in Gransha on Saturday, December 15th, will be round four of the series.

The local Spartans will field both men’s and women’s squads in Rostrevor as they seek to lay down an early points marker in the League. Not all the ‘big guns’ will travel for this opening race, but both the male and female teams are expected to field around a dozen runners each, a good early season turnout.

Olympian have some decent juvenile runners and should be represented on the underage start-lines while Foyle Valley, who had a recent run out in Gransha for their prospective Ulster Novice Team Championship defence in two weeks time in Killybegs, may also send some of their seniors and masters tomorrow.

Gransha then grabs centre stage on Sunday morning with the Beacon 5 Kms. Road Run run at 11.30 a.m., from the U3A Foyle facility. Entries at £8 or E10 will be taken from 9.30 am in the U3A Foyle Building.

The fast Paddy’s Weekend 5 Kms. course will be used and this may well attract some of the North-West club runners to give it a go. Information on the event may be obtained from Maria on 07517041707.

Big wins for Kayla

and Cahir

Last Friday’s opening races in the local Primary Schools Flavahan’s Cross Country League attracted big numbers of runners and spectators to the somewhat damp and waterlogged Templemore Sports Complex, where a real feast of whole hearted running endeavour was served up by close to 300 young P5, 6 and 7 pupils from 13 local schools.

Long Tower’s Kayla McLaughlin and Cahir McMonagle of Hollybush P.S. were impressive winners of their 1 Km races and on the six to score team race it was early advantage to the Broadbridge P.S. girls and the boys of St. Patrick’s, Pennyburn.

Aela Stewart of Broadbridge and St. Therese’s Mollie McMonagle filled the other two girls podium places and in the boys’ race it was Oran O’Doherty of Steelstown and St. Patrick’s Sean Mullan.

The top girls team placings behind leaders Broadbridge were, St Therese, Long Tower, Hollybush, St Eithne’s and St Patrick’s.

In the boys’ race St. Patrick’s are being chased by Broadbridge, Hollybush, St Therese, Oakgrove and Long Tower.

The Open Race top three were the St. Patrick’s duo Sean Young and Jake Doherty with Oisin McCafferty of St. Eithne’s in third spot.

Full results of all three races can be found on the Athletics N.I. website: www.athleticsni.org

Round two of the three race series is scheduled for Friday, December 7th next with St. Columb’s Park the venue. The distance moves up to 1.2K for this one and last year’s course has been altered somewhat, although the start and finish remain in the running track area.