McMurray and Doherty are NI and Ulster XC Champions
22 February 2016
Newcastle's Shaleene McMurray and Aaron Doherty of City of Derry were convincing winners in the NI and Ulster Senior Cross Country Championships in Lurgan where record fields defied the heavy testing conditions.
McMurray's two young daughters were on hand to witness a masterclass of front running by their 37 year old mother who decimated the opposition from the start of the 6K event. The mountain racer made light of the conditions and crossed the finish line in 23 mins 7 secs which was almost a minute ahead of runner up Gerri Short of Beechmount. Short won a private battle for second in a time of 24.01 ahead of Rebecca Henderson (24.10) and Acorns Karen Alexander (24.16).
The top 6 were completed by North Down's Jodi Smith (24.28) and Pauline Thom of Ballymena (24.34). A rejuvenated Beechmount Harriers took their first team victory in 20 years with 46 points ahead of Dromore AC (51) and Lagan Valley (58).
Afterwards a slightly bemused McMurray who only took up cross country this year said;
"I am a bit shocked by this as my specialism is mountain running. I was very nervous so I thought I would run as hard as possible from the start and see how long I could last. This is a result of my training which is going really well".
There was a surprise winner in the Men's 12 K event where Aaron Doherty of City of Derry Spartans took advantage of the absence of defending champion Declan Reed to make a decisive break in the closing stages. The Madrid based teacher eased up towards the finish to take the victory in 40 mins 24 secs. This was 4 secs ahead of a frustrated Mark McKinstry of North Belfast who repeated his last year's runner up spot.
Newcastle's Seamus Lynch was 3rd in 40.42 ahead of teammate Eoghan Totton (40.49). Adam Kirk Smith of London Heathside was 5th in 41.12 followed by Ian Whiteside of Newcastle (41.13). Winner Doherty said;
"It is just a great feeling to win the race. I knew I was in great shape following a good half marathon performance recently in Madrid".
Newcastle and District AC won their first ever Senior Cross Country Team Championship with 56 points ahead of North Belfast Harriers with 71 points and City of Derry on 137 points.