Local Masters set for British and Irish XC International
Gransha Park grounds will play host to the 30th annual running of the British & Irish Masters Cross Country International (Saturday 18th November 2017), a now traditional competition, which first took place in Wrexham in 1988.
Close to 500 of the best masters runners, from Vet35's to Vet75's, will represent Northern Ireland, Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales in the three International age group races and the supporting Open Masters race.
The action starts at 11:30am with the women lining up alongside the Vet65, Vet70 and Vet75 Men for their 6k race. It will then be the turn of the Vet50, Vet55 and Vet60 athletes, who will race over 8k at 12:25pm. They final International race is the Vet35, Vet40 and Vet45's at 1:15pm, they will also compete over 8k.
The Open Masters race will cap off what should be an excellent day of competition as they set off at 2pm. Open race entries taken from 11am to 1pm at the U3A Foyle Building beside the start-finish area.
As always, places on each of the five competing teams were hotly contested, with a mix of trial races and a stringent selection policy meaning that a plethora of talent will be donning their international attire for the showcase of masters running.
There will be individual and team battles across all the age groups and the participation of at least fourteen local athletes in the Northern Ireland and Ireland squads will no doubt add some extra spice to the occasion.
Paddy Hamilton (Slieve Gullion Runners), Ann-Marie McGlynn (Letterkenny AC), Declan Reed (City of Derry AC) and Jim Patterson (Newcastle AC) will head the local charge for honours.
Paddy, Ann-Marie and Declan will all be competing for a strong Ireland team, which includes record breaking eleven time British & Irish Masters age category Champion Carmell Parnell, while mountain and cross country specialist Jim, a current World Mountain Running Champion, will compete for Northern Ireland.
Paddy, who has represented Northern Ireland at the IAAF Antrim International, will compete in the Vet35 category, where he will face fellow Ireland team mate Karol Duggan (Letterkenny AC). The Northern Ireland team of Allan Bogle (City of Derry AC), Jonny Steede (Glens Runners), Steven McAlary (Springwell Running Club), Chris McGuinness (Foyle Valley AC), Martin Cox (Unattached) and Stephen Cassidy (Enniskillen RC) will challenge for a team medal in the Vet35 category.
In the ladies Vet35 competition, it’s hard to look past Ireland’s senior cross country international and European XC (team) medallist Ann-Marie McGlynn, who won the British & Irish Masters gold back in 2015, when the event was held in Dublin. Willowfield Harriers’ Amy Bulman, a Northern Ireland senior international, will also feature at the front.
Decorated City of Derry Spartan Declan Reed, a seasoned campaigner at this level will be considered as a Vet40 podium contender by many, and rightly so given his performances over the country in recent years. North Belfast Harriers’ Andrew Considine will compete in this category, running for Northern Ireland.
Beechmount Harriers duo Catherine Diver and Gerrie Short, two very consistent and always impressive competitors, will be Northern Ireland’s best hope for a medal in the Vet40 ladies category; the pair will also contribute well in respect of gathering team points. They will face some tough opposition in the form of England’s Claire Martin, who won the Vet35 British & Irish gold four times, before moving into the Vet40 category and clocking up three wins; Claire will be going for a fourth consecutive win here. Scottish athlete and GB & NI International long distance runner Joasia Zakrzewski is also due to compete.
Vet70 World Mountain Running Champion and current Vet70 British & Irish Masters Champion Jim Patterson (Newcastle AC) will be hoping to continue what has been an outstanding year as he joins fellow Northern Ireland men Gerry Lynch (City of Derry AC) and David Seaton (North Down AC) in the hunt for both individual and team medals. In the ladies Vet70 race, England’s Angela Copson will step up from the Vet65 age group, a category she has dominated, as she aims for her tenth Masters XC International victory.
Letterkenny AC’s Ciaran Doherty (Ireland) should control the Vet45 race, but Northern Ireland will be in with a chance for a team medal, given the fact that Eamon White (North Belfast Harriers), Gary Henderson (Armagh AC) and Nigel McKibbin (Dromore AC) should score well individually. Also in the with a medal chance is Northern Ireland’s men’s Vet55 team, which includes David Clarke (North Belfast Harriers), James Wallace (North Belfast Harriers), Noel Connor (Ballymena Runners) and Lawrence Johnston (North Belfast Harriers).