As April draws to a close and summer beckons, track and field athletics sets its stall out this weekend with round one of the N.I. Young Athletes League in Antrim tomorrow sure to get the 2012 outdoor season proper, off to a great start.
Local clubs City of Derry and Olympian will line up alongside nine other clubs including North West neighbours, Strabane TC and Omagh Harriers as the race to the League final on Saturday, July 7th, back at the traditional Antrim venue.
Defending champions, City of Derry are coming off five League titles on the trot but with a significant number of their talented and high points scoring Under-17 squad no longer eligible, they face a tougher challenge this year.
Last year’s runners up City of Lisburn have beefed up their numbers considerably by all accounts and are said to have their eyes firmly set on the 2012 crown.
Regent House, former kingpins Lagan Valley, North Down and local rivals Olympian will also have serious intent so a cracking two round league and Final is anticipated.
With the full range of events to be covered by both an A and B string male and female athletes, at U13, U15 and U17 level, there is a premium on both numbers and quality.
Points scored are aggregated over the two qualifying rounds with the top eight teams going through to the early July final. It will be a long day at Antrim tomorrow for the youngsters.
The programme will include a few Open events which will attract some local juniors, seniors and masters. Events on the agenda are 100m, 800m, 3,000m, Shot and Long Jump. Entry for these will be taken at trackside on the day.
Finally on the upcoming track action the Secondary Schools District qualifiers begin with District C tests on Wednesday, May 2nd with the others following as the month unfolds. Qualification for the Ulsters is essential for any chance to progress through to the much coveted All-Irelands.
Road Race Options
Beyond this weekend it’s more road race action starting with the annual NW 10K at Letterkenny on Sunday, May 6th. Monday, May 7th brings the Belfast Marathon and two days later it’s the second in the local Furey Insurances 5K series, at Lisnagelvin with a 7.30 p.m start.
The annual Wilkies five mile Classic run out of the Long Tower Centre has been scheduled for Thursday, May 24th at 7.30 p.m. and before that on Friday, May 11th Ballyshannon once again hosts its annual 5K.
A quick word on the Lisnagelvin 5K on May 9th. The course will be subject to a slight change in the parkland section, due to ongoing pipe laying work and this will mean an adjusted start location on Ashburn Avenue but the finish will remain unchanged.
Work in progress has already affected the Bay Road course so lets hope the next race in Buncrana remains its usual pristine and ultra quick self.
National Duathlon Championships
Meanwhile, the National Duathlon Championships 2012, hosted by the Northwest Triathlon club in Burnfoot last weekend, proved once again to be a huge success.
A total of 96 competitors lined up to take on the 10km run, 40km bike, 5km run course and the men’s race was full of surprises as Paul Carroll finished the course in a time of 1hr 48mins 48secs with Mark Moran closely behind in 1hr 49mins 29secs. Third to cross the line was Eamon McAndrew in 1hr 51mins 10secs.
In the women’s race Judith Lowry finished first in 2hrs 5mins 39secs with Aoife Lynch second position in a time of 2hrs 6mins 52secs while Anne Paul took third in 2hrs 11mins 47secs.
Six Northwest Triathlon members completed the tough standard course. Daniel Quigley put in a good performance and was first of the club members home, finishing in a time of 2hrs 6mins 20secs.
Joanne Doran also had a very strong race winning her age group 20-24 in which she will receive a Triathlon Ireland National Duathlon Championship medal. Brendan Connor, Kevin Watson, Gabriel McGuinness and Clive Bell also completed the gruelling course wearing Northwest Triathlon jerseys.