The roads in and around Gransha Park and, hopefully, the lush green acres around Dublin’s National Sports Campus in Abbotstown, will be the main focus of action this weekend for local athletes.
The local “Paddy’s Weekend” 5 Kms and the Irish Schools Cross Country Championships grab the attention tomorrow (Saturday).
Despite races tomorrow in Bellaghy, Belfast, Carrickmore and Glenariff, Gransha should draw a big local and the North-West contingent for the popular season opening 5 Kms. Road Race and the supporting 1 Km Fun Run, organised by City of Derry Spartans as a Foyle Hospice fund raiser.
The Fun Run has a 10.30 a.m. start and is followed at 11.00 a.m. by the 5K. Entries for both will be taken at Ballycann House on the Gransha site, opposite the former football pitch, from 9.45 a.m.
All Fun Run finishers will be rewarded with a ribboned finishers’ medal and all the 5K participants will be eligible for a shot at an array of spot prizes. In addition, there will also be hot post race refreshments for everyone.
The “Paddy’s Weekend” outing is the traditional season opener for many local road runners and offers a great chance to get a handle on the race form and plan ahead for the Spring and Summer road race calendar.
Between April and September as ever, there will be lots of race action opportunities around the North-West, particularly with the Furey Insurances and Donegal Grand Prix Series once again putting on close to 30 races over the next five months.
Runners from both City of Derry and Foyle Valley will line up tomorrow with athletes from Donegal,Tyrone and further afield and, of course, lots of joggers and fun runners also keen to test their fitness levels on the Gransha course.
Big Test For
Thornhill College and St. Columb’s College will both have a brace of teams in Dublin tomorrow after qualifying through the Ulster Championshis last month and they will be spearheaded by the talented trio of Aoife Laverty, Shane McGowan and Sean Harkin.
Runner-up in the Minor Girls Ulster Championship, Aoife will target a high placing in what will be a top quality test for the promising Thornhill runner.
Shane McGowan goes in the Junior Boys with an Ulster bronze in his pocket and will be keen to step up to a higher level tomorrow.
In the Intermediate Boys race, Sean Harkin, who was just outsprinted for Ulster gold at Mallusk has the talent for high finish and if he runs with conviction tomorrow could be a big day for him.
All four local teams will find it tough to be in medal contention but the experience should be invaluable and no doubt they will all give their all tomorrow.
With places up for grabs in the Irish squads for the Schools International later this month in Antrim, the above mentioned trio and, possibly, Thornhill’s Amy Jackson could realistically contemplate mounting a serious challenge for a green vest!
Road Race News
Finally a round up of some missing road race results from last weekend. Letterkenny’s Ivan Toner ran 16m 26s to win Sunday’s second round in the Finn Valley 5K Series at Stranorlar.
Triathlete Bronagh O Gara of 24/7 Tri took the women’s honours in 19m 31s and Derry runners Peter Lilburn and Christy McMonagle won the M55 and M65 categories with !8m 05s and 19m 57s clockings as 187 finishers were recorded at the Donegal venue.
Mention also of the N. Ireland Masters’ Winter League and it has been confirmed that the Bay Road 5 Kms race one in the Furey Insurances Series on Wednesday, April 20th has been added as the final 2010/2011 scoring race. This is significant to a trio of local masters - Jacqueline McMonagle, Bridgeen Byrne and Dermot Connolly - who will get to strut their stuff on home ground and consolidate high finish laces in the League which began at the Comber Cup Cross Country last October.
Jackie and Dermot have a shot at overall victory in their age grous and Bridgeen can seal the runners-up spot in her grade.
M65 Gerry Lynch has already sealed his category win and will revert to Race Director duties at the Bay Road event. More details on this one and the Furey Series next week!