Cross Country commands much of the attention this weekend with Primary Schools action today in St. Columb’s Park and Ballyclare hosts the annual Malcolm Cup meeting tomorrow with a significant local interest set to travel.
However, City of Derry Spartans teenager, Mark McGarvey (right), will be off to Glasgow’s Kelvin Hall as a member of the Irish Schools squad for the Schools International Multi Events championship, thus ensuring that at least one of the weekend’s competitors will not have to battle the outside elements!
St Columb’s Park hosts the second round race in the popular local Primary Schools cross country League and around 300 P5, P6 and P7 pupils are expected to participate over the 1.3K course.
Three separate races will be staged; first off at 12.15 p.m. will be the Girls, the Boys go at 12.30 p.m. and then at 12.45 p.m. the third race will accommodate all those girls and boys not catered for in the earlier races.
The third race has been added to reduce the numbers in the first two runs, as the massive numbers who ran last month at the Sports Complex raised some safety issues, and each participating school this time will be limited to nominating a maximum of 10 runners in each of the first two races.
Many local Primary schools have really embraced the League since its inception a few years ago as a joint initiative between Athletics N.I. and the City of Derry club and the high levels of participation and competition have been excellent.
Registration will take place in the Main Hall of St. Columb’s Park Leisure Centre from 11.30 a.m. and teachers are reminded to have their runners on site and registered by 12 noon to facilitate the start times.
The course is about five minutes walk from the Centre with the Start/Finish area down at the track close to the river.
The distance this time is 1.3K and in contrast to the flat Sports Complex course this one, despite starting off round the track, has a few short but testing inclines!
Ballyclare tomorrow hosts its second race meeting of the season with the Malcolm Cup catering for Juvenile, Seniors and Masters in a packed programme.
The local interest will focus mainly on the three miler for Women and Male Masters at 2.30 p.m. and then the featured Malcolm Cup four miler for Senior men at 3 p.m.
Both City of Derry and Foyle Valley have indicated their intention to travel and are expected to contribute significantly to the action in both races.
Connor Bradley will front the local challenge in the four miler and, like many of the local athletes, will use it as a sighter in advance of the following week’s National Novice championships in Kildare.
The Spartans have entered both men’s and women’s squads in the Kildare race and will be keen to see how they go tomorrow as they look ahead to potential national honours.
At Inter County level Foyle Valley have combined with the Red Vests to produce strong looking Derry men’s and women’s squads for the Kildare trip and, while national medals are never a given, the Derry women’s team, fronted by Marina Campbell, Jackie McGinley, Catherine Lilburn and Dolores Quinn will travel with justifiable confidence for success in the “B” grade championship.
More on the National Novice prospects next week but Ballyclare tomorrow offers local runners a chance to show their early season paces and for many of them there is the added target of grabbing some Winter League points in both the NI Masters and the inaugural Athletics NI Winter Leagues.
Track & Field
A reminder of Track and Field is the selection of Mark McGarvey on the Irish Schools squad for tomorrow’s Schools International Multi events championships in Glasgow and the recent naming of several City of Derry Spartans in the Athletics NI Youth Academy.
Mark McGarvey is joined there by Jack McCloskey, Anna Barr, Ciara Armstrong, Ryan McParland, Claire Dougherty and Naomi Morgan. Well done and good luck to all of them.