Noel Logan, went close to claiming his first significant senior cross country individual win in the Malcolm Cup meeting at Ballyclare on Saturday.
However, after an intense four man up-front duel, the Spartan had to settle for the runners-up spot behind the teak tough East Down AC man, Brendan Teer with Ballymena & Antrim’s Gareth Hill third.
The Waterside runner, however, announced himself as a medal prospect for January’s NI/Ulster Junior championship in Lurgan and led his City of Derry squad to the team runners-up awards and valuable points in the NI Cross Country League.
North Belfast won the men’s team race from the Spartans and moved closer to the red vests at the top of the men’s table after three rounds.
Women’s League leaders North Down scored their third successive team win from the Spartans led by Jackie McGinley, to keep them in second spot overall.
The next League points will be on offer in Gransha on Saturday, December 15th next so home advantage will need to be maximised by the local clubs.
Back to the featured Malcolm Cup four mile race and on a crisp, dry day with decent underfoot conditions Logan, Teer, Hill and North Belfast’s Alan O’Hara moved clear early and were still locked together at the front as they started the fourth and final lap.
O’Hara was dropped about a third of the way round as the pace intensified and inside the last 400 metres Logan made a move which dropped Hill.
Teer hung on and accelerated away just before the first of two short climbs before the long sprint to the line.
The Spartan had to give best and then surge again to hold off the re-vitalised Hill as the line approached.
Foyle Valley’s Keith Shields was the next local to finish, a steady run gave him a gritty sixth place.
An impressive outing for the Spartan after missing the previous Sunday’s National Inter Counties in Meath due to a tooth infection. And he was justifiably elated by his run and is now looking forward immensely to the NW race in Gransha and beyond that the championship cross country races in January and February next year.
Behind him there were strong runs from Paddy Mhor Doherty 11th, after a real battle with North Belfast’s Tommy Hughes, and Chris McPeake in 14th, after almost missing the starters gun.
Gavin Stevenson continued his return to race action to complete the scoring quartet in 26th as the better packing of North Belfast got them home, 46 points to 53.
Willowfield and Springwell finished third and fourth teams with Foyle Valley’s Adrian McGowan, Steven Connor and Declan Doherty combining with Shields to post a fifth place finish for the Valley squad.
St Peter’s AC’s Patricia O’Hagan won a close Women’s three miler from Jessica Craig of North Down and Clare Connor of North Belfast was third.
Top local was Jackie McGinley in 9th, just behind 2011 Waterside Half Marathon winner Julie Balmer of North Down.
Top Juvenile Amy Jackson wasn’t far behind in 12th, just ahead of Foyle Valley’s Martina McMullan and the Spartans’ podium team was completed by Angeline McShane in 26th place as the women turned out in big numbers, over 70 finishers were recorded.
M35 Tim Shields of Foyle Valley in 11th overall was the lead local male in the combined Male Masters/Women’s race and Oran McBride led the Spartans in 30th place.
Zac Bound For Turkey
Meanwhile Zac McGowan was among the runners who sorted their Christmas dinners at Sunday’s Turkey Trot in Letterkenny.
The teenage Spartan was one of six runners who correctly identified his 5K finish time at the weekend and brought home a plump turkey for his 18 minutes even, effort. Home club runners Danny Mooney 15m 55s and Fionnuala Diver 17m 55s were the overall leading finishers as 207 in total participated in the action.