IT’S LOCAL road races and National Championship track & field action this weekend as the summer season draws to a close.
There are two Donegal Athletics Board road races, the Brockagh Festival 4 miler tonight (Friday) and the Moville Festival 10 kms. tomorrow afternoon (Sat.), with Tullamore hosting the National Masters Championships tomorrow and the National League finals on Sunday.
The City of Derry Spartans women’s squad will fly the local flag in Sunday’s National League Division One Final and they are expected to challenge for a promotion place after topping the list of eight qualifiers following the two preliminary rounds in Antrim and Dublin.
The ‘red vests’ and closest rivals, St. Abban’s, have been installed as favourites for the two promotion spots but nothing can be taken for granted in a one-off, winner takes all decider.
The squad travels tomorrow for Sunday’s big test, minus three key personnel, Claire Dougherty, Jenni O’Brien and Maggie Donnelly but hope to still have enough firepower to deliver a result.
Claire and Jenni are both away in Bedford for the UK Juvenile Championships and Maggie misses out due to a previously arranged holiday.
Their points scoring potential will be missed but the squad will just have to step up and cover their absence.
Jumper and sprinter, Mary Devlin, middle distance specialists Amy Jackson and Marina Campbell plus sprinters Gemma Thompson, Ciara Armstrong and Anna Barr and thrower Caitlin Ketelar all have the talent to produce significant performances and the squad will travel in upbeat mood. Hopefully they will deliver and return with that coveted promotion place secured.
Several locals will see action in tomorrow’s National Masters Championships among them Danea Herron who will be fancied for W50 medals. Eoghan Furey, Philip Donaghy, Robert Bigger and, possibly, James Brown and Cathal McLaughlin are other local hopefuls expected to try their luck at the Tullamore venue.
On the local road race front the Brockagh race is at 7.30pm tonight and tomorrow the Moville 10 Kms. starts at 3.00 p.m. and is preceded at 2.45 p.m. by a juvenile one mile event.
Dessie’s Run, Waterside
‘Half’ on the way
Two major jewels in the local road running crown, Dessie’s Run and the Waterside Half Marathon, are set to draw big numbers in the next few weeks to the Gransha Grounds.
The Dessie’s Run 10 Kms. is first up on Tuesday week, August 28th with a 7.15 pm start and serves as a class race in its own right and as an excellent appetiser for the 13.1 mile Waterside event which is set for Sunday, September 9th at 10.30 a.m.
Entries for Dessie’s Run will be taken from .00 p.m. on race night at the U3A Foyle premises in the Gransha Grounds. The entry fee is £8 or E10.
There are printed T-Shirts for the first 200 entries and a generous prize fund for the leading finishers in all the usual categories. Local runners of all abilities will be out in force for this annual commeration of the late former Sparta AC captain, Dessie McNulty and the potentially fast three lap Gransha course has also apparently attracted the attention of top Belfast athletes Paul Pollock and former Dessie’s winner Joe McAlister.
The in form Declan Reed has also indicated his intention to take on the visitors and the local opposition, so the up front action should be well worth observing.
Details of the new Waterside Half Marathon course have just been revealed with the trek up to Strathfoyle and the meandering through the Invista-Du Pont site both gone. A section through both the Maydown Industrial site and Invista is retained but the major change takes the course out to the White Horse Hotel and beyond that along the old Clooney Road, looping back around the Campsie Indusrtial Estate to retrace most of the outward route back to the Gransha Grounds finish area.
This is a significant improvement to the Waterside course of recent years and should prove a real incentive for personal bests for many runners.
The Three Person Team Relay offers the chance to tackle the distance in bite size chunks of around 4.4 miles each and there is also the 10 Mile Challenge Walk for the many non runners who want to sample the big race atmosphere. The Walk has a 10 a.m. start time and the Half Marathon and Relay starts at 10.30 a.m.
Entries can be made on line at www.derrycity.gov.uk/halfmarathon or in person at St. Columb’s Park Leisure Centre, Limavady Road BT47 6JY, telephone 02871-343941.