East Antrim runners take on one of NI’s most gruelling long distance races

Co Antrim Harriers members after Bobby Rea Memorial XC races.  INT 44-688-CON
Co Antrim Harriers members after Bobby Rea Memorial XC races. INT 44-688-CON

Six Larne AC members travelled to the Mourne Mountains in Newcastle on Saturday to compete in the Garmin Mourne Skyline Mountain Race which is billed as one of Northern Ireland’s toughest and most scenic long distance races.

The course measured 35k, incorporating 11,056ft of ascent and 11,024ft of descent. The race commenced at 8am on Newcastle promenade with strong winds, cold temperatures and light rain setting up a tough day for the runners in the mountains.

Overnight rain added to the challenge of this race with some areas of the course being very slippy.

After completing over 10 mountains, both mentally and physically drained, the runners made their way to the finish line in Donard Park.

First home for the club finishing very strong was Thomas Craig in a time of 05:26:09 (42nd position). Next home for the club was Wayne Morrow in a time of 05:32:02 (51st position). Wayne was closely followed by Malcolm Robinson in a time of 05:33:23 (53rd position). These were two very strong performances from these guys as Wayne ran the Amsterdam marathon and Malcolm ran the Amsterdam half marathon the previous weekend.

Next to cross the finish line was Amy Beggs producing the performance of the day for the club. Amy crossed the line in a time of 07:17:22 (132nd position), which was a massive PB for her by taking over an hour off last years’ time - super achievement and performance.

Completing a great day by Larne AC runners was Alan Molloy crossing the finish line in a time of 07:57:52 (140th position).

Unfortunately the 6th Larne AC runner, Stuart Maxwell did not finish and had to retire at the halfway point.

north belfast Harriers

Three local juniors representing North Belfast Harriers took part in the NI and Ulster even age group cross country race on Saturday.

Having his first ever cross country race, Josh Montgomery, who was wearing the NBH colours for the first time, had a fantastic run in the under 12’s 1500m race in a time of 6.21.

Next up was the ever improving Callum McIlroy, who was running in the under 14’s 2500m race, preformed to his usual high standard in a time of 10.38.

Last but not least was Matthew McIlroy who was running in the under 16’s 3500m race. Matthew had another excellent run, completing the course in a time of 15.11.

east coast ac

On Saturday, 12 of East Coast AC’s junior athletes travelled to UUJ for the first Age Group Cross Country Championships of the season.

This was the first time in over 20 years that a club from Larne has been represented in a junior Northern Ireland and Ulster cross country championships; this is a credit not only to the junior athletes at the club but especially to the coaching system that East Coast AC has set up; East Coast AC is the only club in the area which offers UKA qualified coaching to junior athletes (under 16).

Club captain Rhys McManus was awarded a bronze medal in his Under 10 1000m (4:21), with Ewan Davis following in 25th (5:17), and Theo McToal in 27th (5:22). Also in the Under 10 girls, Zoe Whiteford was the 3rd Co.Antrim finisher in 5:10 (23rd).

In the Under 12 1500m girls race, Bradie Hogg impressed with a 22nd place finish in 6:29. Hannah Clements (6:49 - 41st), Lucy O’Toole (7:05 - 54th) and Charlotte Dean (7:17 - 65th) all ran well.

Harry Plumb and Charlie Patterson impressed in the Under 12 1500m boys race with both running 6:14 (54th place) and Jake Dempsey following in 7:13 (85th).

In the Under 14 girls 2500m, Kelly Patterson secured 66th place in 12:09.

Meanwhile, Corey Urwin and Murray Deller both ran in Northern Ireland’s toughest race on Saturday, the Garmin Mourne Skyline MTR, a 35k race incorporating 3370m of ascent.Corey Urwin won his category with a finish time of 5:15:33 taking 37th place.

Murray finished in 5:38:27 to take 59th place.

As part of the Skyrunning UK weekend in Newcastle, four East Coast AC members completed the Garmin Mourne Skyline GTR, a 2 mile uphill only race with 1000ft of ascent.

Lee Stirling finished in 25:42 (22nd place), with Peter McManus and Phil Smyth following in 26:03 (23rd) and 26:31 (25th) respectively. Kelly Deller took 10th place in the ladies category with a 32:19 finish.

Elsewhere, Allyson O’Toole has been selected to represent Northern Ireland at the upcoming British & Irish Masters International next month after her performance at the NIMAA Cross Country race last weekend.

co antrim harriers

F ollowing last weekend’s NIMAA Cross County Trial at QUB, County Antrim Harriers Ladies Captain, Eileen Stewart has been selected to represent Northern Ireland in the British and Irish Masters Cross Country Championships in Dublin on 19 November.

This is Eileen’s second consecutive year to be selected to represent Northern Ireland; at the recent NIMAA Cross County League 2014/15 awards she won first Female Vet 60 and at the recent Club AGM was awarded International Athlete of the Year. All Harriers wish her every success.

Meanwhile, six Harriers took part in the Bobby Rea Memorial Cross County Races, on Saturday, at the University of Ulster, Jordanstown.

Despite the soft ground, all performed very well. In the Women’s 5k race, Christine Murray was delighted to be first home for the Club (21:35), followed quickly by Natasha Henderson (22:41).

Not far behind were Helen Baird and Gillian Orr (24:40 and 24:42 respectively). Eileen Stewart ran strongly to claim second FV60 (30.16). In the Men’s 8k race, Graeme O’Hara had a great cross country debut, completing the course in 36:23.