The Irish Schools cross country championships in Jordanstown tomorrow plus a bunch of road races makes for yet another busy athletics weekend.
Indeed, Belfast along with Bundoran, Carrickmore and Manchester are all potential venues for the road runners over the next two days.
Declan Reed and Emmet McGinty are confirmed for the Trafford 10k in Manchester on Sunday morning. Both have been going well on both road and country and despite a long season, will travel with decent expectations of new personal bests in what usually is a high quality race.
There is another 10k on Sunday, in Belfast at 1 p.m., when the Addiction 10k is staged on the popular Ormeau road circuit.
Saturday boasts two events, the Cara Bundoran 10 miler and in Carrickmore the Carmen 10. The former has developed into an attractive race and will attract good numbers with a decent mix of club runners and others.
This year it also offers a 10K as an alternative to the 10 mile distance and it will be interesting to see how the respective numbers break down. The start time for both will be 10 a.m.
The Carrickmore race has an 11 a.m. start time from the event HQ at the local GAA grounds and again good numbers are expected to turn out as the running boom continues to pull people of all abilities out on to the roads.
Back to Jordanstown and tomorrow’s big schools cross country championship event. Minors, Juniors, Intermediates and Seniors from all four Provinces will line up in search of national glory.
Among them will be some good local talent including from Thornhill, the Laverty sisters Clodagh and Aoife, Lumen Christi’s Amy Jackson and Shane McGowan from St Columb’s.
Clodagh Laverty got an Ulster individual bronze at Mallusk last month to qualify impressively and will target a top 10 finish in her Minor girls race.
Older sister Aoife was out of the medals at Mallusk but her fourth place finish and subsequent form suggests she to can get close to the front runners in her age group.
Amy Jackson also goes in against some real quality and with a Scottish indoors championship gold medal from last weekend in Glasgow, her dislike for cross country may be diluted enough for her to mount a challenge for a top 12 placing.
Shane McGowan, runner-up in the Ulster Intermediate championship had a bad weekend in Glasgow but hopefully will be ready to lead his St Columb’s College team mates in search of big runs and possible medals.
Walled City Marathon Seminar
With marathon fever certainly very evident in and around the city for a while now the first of a series of seminars for budding Walled City Marathon runners is set for Tuesday next, March 12th, in An Cultúrlann, Great James street at 7.30 p.m.
Admission is absolutely free and there will be four specialist speakers who will contribute to a Q&A session which will tackle the physical, mental and nutritional aspects of successful distance running.
All you ever really needed to know about the challenge of the Marathon, so make sure you get there early next Tuesday evening to grab a seat.
St Patrick’s Weekend 5K
Paula McGilloway stages her very popular annual Patrick’s Weekend 5K road race in the Gransha grounds on Saturday week, March 16th and the 11 a.m. start should see the usual big entry for what has become the now traditional opener for the local road race season.
Last year’s revised course and the excellent weather conditions produced fast times all round as Scott Rankin and Aileen Morrison stormed to impressive wins.
Entries will be taken on race morning from 9.30 a.m. at the U3A Foyle building adjacent to the start and finish locations on the Horseshoe circuit in the centre of the Gransha grounds.
Runners of all abilities are expected to line up next weekend with many of those training for the city’s June marathon already expressing an interest in checking their progress at this early stage of their preparations.