Trio of races set for Easter weekend

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The Easter weekend may well see a surge in chocolate consumption as the abstinence of Lent ends but runners will carry on regardless with a trio of races at Ballyliffin, Letterkenny and Whitehead in Antrim, scheduled for the holiday weekend.

First up is Saturday’s Ballyliffin Coastal Challenge, a testing 10 Mile all-terrain race, a fairly recent addition to the athletics calendar but one which has proved an instant hit.

It has a 2 p.m. start time on Saturday in the Inishowen seaside village and should provide a good workout for local distance runners.

Sunday’s venue remains in Donegal but moves to Letterkenny for the local club’s popular annual Easter Sunday 3K road race. This is always a quality event with early season speed set for a serious examination.

The known speedsters from both Donegal and Derry should all be in the line-up so the pace will be red hot from the off at 11.15 a.m.

Talent like the Letterkenny trio, Darren McBrearty, Dan Mooney and Ruari Finnegan are expected to take on City of Derry Spartans, Connor Bradley, Pajo Hamilton, JP Williamson and Declan Reed with recent Gransha 5K winner Foyle Valley’s Scott Rankin, another who could feature.

Easter Monday in Whitehead used to be a big day for road racing when the annual Whitehead Cup race attracted lots of quality athletes.

It had fallen out of favour somewhat but has now begun to attract interest again and Monday’s 12 noon start should see that trend continue.

The Randalstown based Spartan, Richard Johnston, could well be the sole Derry club athlete in action there as he continues his comeback to competitive action. The Bay Road 5K, however, in a few weeks time, could be a better indication of his form.

Road and track news

The run up to the aforementioned Bay Road 5K on Wednesday, April 18th, which incorporates the NI 5k road championships, features a couple of significant races.

The annual Magherafelt 5 miler has a 12 noon start on Saturday week, April 14th and the following day, Sunday 15th, Dublin’s Phoenix Park is the venue for the National 10K road championships.

The only known local challenge for championship medals is the City of Derry men’s O50 squad of Sammy McAnaney, Gerry Duddy, Dermot Connolly, Peter Lilburn and Noel McMonagle.

The Spartans super vet, Christy McMonagle has broken down with a nasty heel injury and is very unlikely to defend his 2011 individual M65 championship gold.

A mention of the upcoming outdoor Track season. Round One of the NI Young Athletes League is scheduled for Antrim on Saturday, April 28th and hopefully both the local Spartans and Olympian will once again fly the flag for the Maiden City.

Interestingly the NI/Ulster Senior track championships are scheduled for the new NI public holiday on Monday, June 4th and these should be more attractive than usual as for the first time in several years there is no back-to-back clash with the National League first round meeting. Lets hope we get favourable weather for Antrim and where ever the local clubs are drawn in the National League in early June.