The local Gransha Park grounds will host its third major cross country meeting of the year tomorrow when the annual North West Cross Country event will bring a few hundred competitors to the Clooney Road venue for a comprehensive four race programme of Juvenile, Masters and Seniors action.
The North West Cross Country has developed into a significant event on the annual NI/Ulster race calendar over the years and now attracts club runners and joggers from all arts and parts.
That’s partly due to the unique end of year billing, the quality of the organisation and competition, and more recently as it doubles as a NI Masters and Athletics NI League scoring event.
The action kicks off at 11.45 a.m. with the U12 (Boys and Girls) 1K, continues at 11.55 a.m. with the U14s 2K and on to the U16s 3K at 12.10 p.m.
All three races cater for both Boys and Girls and all finishers will get a Ribboned medal for their efforts.
Local schools and clubs should be out in force and will face opposition from other areas in the North West and beyond.
The entry fee is £1.50 or E2 and entries will be accepted from 10.30 a.m. at race HQ in the U3A Foyle building.
The Open 6k at 12.30 p.m. will host both men and women with the U18s and U20s lining up alongside the Masters and Seniors for the three laps of the familiar Gransha circuit.
Hopefully the weather and underfoot conditions will improve but the course has held up well in recent weeks and should encourage some top class action.
Entries at £6 or E7 will be taken in race HQ from 10.30 a.m.
The usual attractive prize list will be up for grabs with awards right across the board including all the age categories and Open male/female team races.
Well known race commentator, David McKibbin will be on hand to keep the spectators well informed and the much coveted post-race refreshments will warm up everyone after the last race.
Top local Connor Bradley is unlikely to defend his individual title as he has decided to concentrate on an early 2014 indoor season and will be heading to Portugal shortly for some warm weather training.
Unfortunate that as many would have been keen to see the latest local sub 30 minute 10K man in close up action.
Most of the other top locals should line up, however, with Declan Reed possibly returning after a difficult month or so and the Foyle Valley contingent post their long trip to Waterford last weekend should also add to the upfront field.
USA based student JP Williamson is home for the holiday season and could be an attraction alongside Gary Murray who has returned to competition after a long lay-off. Murray of course is a former NW winner and has been building his race form in recent weeks.
The Spartans Marina Campbell and Amy Jackson will run as hopefully will the Foyle Valley pair Sarah Lindsay and Martina McMullan. Springwell and Omagh Harriers will have strong female squads as will North Down and all these clubs chasing vital NI League points will add to the mix.
Festive Road Races
Two traditional road races to mention, both on Thursday, December 26th, St Stephen’s Day.
The Greencastle 5 miler has a 1 p.m. start in the County Tyrone hilltop village and in Stranorlar at 2 p.m. it’s the Finn Valley 5K race.
Both are huge events attracting runners from far and near and this year should be no exception.