Championship Indoor athletics take centre stage this weeekend when the top performers from all over Ireland and beyond converge on Belfast’s Odyssey Arena.
And it promises to be a very competitive two day National Senior and Underage Championships.
The rarely used, but excellent athletics facility at the Odyssey, guarantees quality performances and with the European Indoors looming, all the leading Irish men and women are expected to tread the Belfast boards tomorrow and Sunday.
The supporting Juvenile Championships will also attract a massive entry so a weekend of high quality, concentrated indoor action is on the cards.
Local club, City of Derry Spartans, will have a coach load of juvenile athletes travelling on both days wih many of them serious medal contenders.
Claire Dougherty, Anna Barr, Aoife Laverty, Ryan McParland, Andrew Bolster and Mark McGarvey will be the better known of the large Spartans contingent with the club’s coaching staff pretty confident that the young “red vests” will not be overawed by neither the opposition nor the occasion.
Connor Bradley will go in the senior 3,000 metres and buoyed up by his recent magnificient victory in the Armagh 3 kms. road race, the Jordanstown student, while not a medal prospect will, nevertheless, target a quick time in what promises to be a hotly contested race.
Aileen Morrison had signalled her intention to go in the women’s 3,000 metres but after her run last weekend on a very bumpy and uneven Stranorlar surface which threatened her dodgy ankle, her intentions for this weekend are unclear.
The cross country season draws to a close over the next few weeks with the Ulster Schools/N. Ireland Primary Schools’ Championships set for Mallusk next Wednesday afternoon and there will be a significant local interest in both.
The Irish Schools’ Championships follow on Saturday, March 12th in Dublin where, hopefully, there will also be serious local involvement.
Seniors and Masters meantime have the annual Civil Service Cross Country meeting in Stormont on Saturday, February 26th and this one has significance, particularly for the Masters as it will be the last scoring race in the 2010/2011 N. Ireland Masters’ Winter League.
Finally mention of the upcoming road race scene which kicks-off in Gransha on Saturday, March 12th with the Paula McGilloway organised “Paddy’s Weekend 5 kms.” Start time will be 11.00 a.m. with a £5 entry fee and there will also be a ‘Kids Fun Run’ at 10.30 a.m. Entries will be taken on siite on the day with all proceeds going as ever to the Foyle Hospice.
Beyond that the popular Furey Insurances 5 Kms Series gets underway on Wednesday, April 20th when the Bay Road Circuit hosts the first of the annual six race series.
Yet again the Bay Road race has been given the honour of incorporating the N. Ireland 5 kms. Road Championships so well done to City of Derry Spartans for securing this prestigious acolade for the city once again.
More details on this and the full series fixture list will be published soon.