KILBRONEY Park in Rostrevor, County Down, was the major weekend venue for local athletes in the N. Ireland and Ulster Even Age Group Cross Country Championships, plus the Seniors and Masters’ Bobby Rea races.
Wet and blustery conditions overall contrasted sharply with the previous years conditions but the underfoot was reasonable enough and an exciting days racing ensued with local athletes doing particulary well.
Letterkenny’s Ciaran Doherty was an emphatic winner of the featured Bobby Rea Men’s 5 miler, the City of Derry Spartans men’s squad won the team race, their women, led by fifth placed Marina Campbell were runners-up in their 5K race and there were individual Provincial Juvenile podium places for Amy Jackson and Shane McGowan as local runners impressed on a busy day in County Down.
Ciaran Doherty won an exciting men’s race getting away from long time rivals Joe McAlister and Benny Teer on the last of the 2K laps to win by 20 seconds from serial Waterside Half Marathon winner McAlister with the previous weekend’s Coleraine race winner, Benny Teer of East Down AC, just a further two seconds in arrears.
Behind the leading trio Foyle Valley’s Adrian McGowan had a terrific run for 10th overall as the Spartans’ quartet of Paul McCafferty 16th, Gary Slevin 19th, Kieron Hurley 21st and Michael Finnegan 26th wrapped up the four to score team victory from Notth Down, North Belfast Harriers and Foyle Valley who were completed by Stephen Connor 28th, Darren Wallace 34th and Declan Doherty 41st.
The race was the second round of the N. Ireland Winter Cross Country League and the local male Spartans have increased their lead with their second team success in a row and now head Foyle Valley by seven points with the North West duo chased by North Down, Springwell and North Belfast.
There are a further eight scoring races left in the 2013/14 League.
Next up is the McConnell Shield Races in Ballyclare on Saturday, November 9th and even at this early stage the local ‘red vests’ look good to retain the league title they claimed last year.
Paul McCafferty (left) was the second M45 individual finisher, just behind winner, Francis Marsh of North Down and teenager Peter Melarkey, took the Provincial U20 silver medal with a doughty run over the testing five miles course.