Road and cross country will dominate this week’s competitive action with local interest expected at both Thursday’s annual Armagh International road races and Saturday’s Stormont Cross Country.
And on Sunday at the National Masters Cross Country championships in Dunboyne, County Meath there promises to be some North West athletes in the thick of the action.
As ever, the close proximity of the Armagh and Dunboyne events may well disrupt the plans of several masters runners who would ideally be keen on having a real go at both venues.
Indeed, of the local contingent known to be heading to Dunboyne on Sunday, the City of Derry Spartans masters athletes will not race in Armagh. Top local senior Connor Bradley had to sit out last weekend’s National Indoors 3,000metres championship with something of a bug, and may yet take the line over 3K in Armagh but the final decision on that will be left pending an appraisal between athlete and coach, Teresa McDaid.
Christy McMonagle hasn’t raced since damaging an Achilles at the Jog in the Bog last August but expects to try for his first M70 National title in Dunboyne and clubmate Roisin Lynch, a serial podium finisher at National level, is in excellent form and should yet again make the top three in her F60 age category.
Declan Reed, James Brown, Paul McCafferty and Colin Roberts make a strong Spartans M35-49 age group squad and should also challenge for the club team honours with Reed, hopefully back to his best shape a potential M40 individual medallist.
There is also the final race in the NI Cross Country League at Stormont on Saturday and the big news from that is the necessity for a radical change to the course due to the recent incessant spells of rain.
The organisers have already stated that it will now move to a mix of trails and road and the distances will also be adjusted.
Local interest here will focus on the female Spartans and their sealing of the runners-up spot behind County rivals Springwell.
Both have already sown up the top two places and Saturday should really be somewhat of a lap-or two-of honour for both Derry clubs who have travelled to all seven League races so far and done enough to grab the top two podium places in the 2013/13 season.
Foyle Valley’s Scott Rankin is in the running for the top male individual athlete with a series of consistent performances and Stormont could see him sign off with overall honours.
There is also a 5K/10K Walk/Run in Omagh on Saturday morning, start time is 11 a.m. from the Omagh CBS grounds.