There is a sense of the lull before the storm about this weekend with much local attention understandably focussed on the following weekend’s sold-out Waterside Half Marathon on Sunday, September 14th.
However, one young track athlete will be cross channel for the prestigious UK Schools Games.
Sprinter, Stephen McGahey looks to have shaken off a niggling hamstring injury which hampered his end of season activity and will hope to sign off with a flourish this weekend. He is in Manchester for the Athletics element of the Multi Sports tournament and will run in the NI sprint relay squad and the 100m.
On the road the big event is the Laganside 10K in Belfast on Sunday, hosting the NI 10K road championships but most of the leading locals will give it a miss in favour of lining out a week later in the 34th staging of the prestigious Waterside race.
Indeed with the Belfast Half clashing with the long established Waterside there is a decidedly local look to the upfront entry for the Waterside with North West based runners expected to dominate both the men and women’s races.
Defending men’s champion Keith Shiels is battling injury and is unlikely to line up but with 2013 runner-up Declan Reed confirmed alongside Scott Rankin and Gary Murray some classy action is expected. Add in Chris McGuinness, Pius McIntyre and Gary Slevin and we have a healthy mix of local distance talent all ready to rumble.
Anne Marie McGlynn will face recent former winner Fiona Stack of Raheny Shamrock AC and could have a tough test to defend her title. The injured Marina Campbell will be a loss but Claire McGuigan, Anne Paul, Catherine Whoriskey, Sarah Marie Doherty, Miriam Bridge and Jackie McGinley all bring quality to the table so the tussles for the major prizes should be well worth watching.
The entries for the race closed in the middle of last week, the entry limit having been breached and a record just over 1,900 runners have been accepted, for what will be the last Waterside on the current course. The 2015 edition will move back to St Columb’s Park where it all began back in 1981 and a brand new, both sides of the Foyle course will be unveiled for the Sunday, September 13th date.
Race Pack collections for all the lucky 2014 participants will commence next Thursday, September 11th at Lisnagelvin Leisure Centre, Richill Park between 12noon and 8pm and again at the same time on Friday, September 12th.
It will move to the U3A Foyle building in Gransha on Saturday 13th and operate between 12 noon and 6pm with the final pick up time in the same venue between 8.30am and 10am on race day itself, Sunday 14th- - that of course is aimed at visiting runners with locals expected to have the job done between Thursday and Saturday!
It’s not all about the long distance runners in Gransha of course as the popular 2K Family Fun Run offers a very doable alternative. Staged while the Half Marathon men and women are off and running the Fun Run uses the same start and finish locations but is much, much shorter and attracts all ages.
Entry forms are available at all Council Leisure Centres and entries will be accepted in Gransha on the day, between 9am and 10am. It has a 10.45am start to ensure everyone is finished in good time to cheer home the Half Marathon runners.
For more information contact Lisnagelvin Leisure Centre on 02871 347695.