Endurance Potential 2026 Programme

The main purpose of this project stems from the need for a succession plan for the marathon event and to also improve standards throughout the spectrum of endurance events. The current crop of athletes, that have already achieved endurance success, were well-supported by the previous Sport NI funding programmes but this funding did not extend to those that show potential but have yet to register performances for the marathon or other endurance events. This programme provides relevant and appropriate training and competition opportunities for those with the potential to transition to international level and to improve overall standards in all endurance disciplines. We believe Northern Ireland can develop a pipeline of endurance athletes who will represent Northern Ireland at the Commonwealth Games and Great Britain & NI or Ireland at major championships, achieve future ANI and AAI targets and inspire the wider endurance community.

2026 Target

Two or more Northern Ireland endurance athletes making the Northern Ireland Commonwealth Games team for Victoria 2026.

This project has been set up to;

  • Identify talented endurance runners capable of making the team for Victoria 2026 or medal at world mountain running or ultra-running championships.
  • Provide a development programme that includes education, training, and competition opportunities for developing athlete-coach pairs to
    • Accelerate learning for athlete-coach pairings.
    • Help athletes to cope with the ebb and flow of their development pathway and the key transitions (e.g., from national to international level).

We would like to congratulate the following athletes, and their coaches:

Grace Carson (Bill Foster)

Conor Bradley (Teresa McDaid)

Hannah Irwin (James Thie)

Neil Johnston (Mark Kirk)

Jessica Craig

Conor Duffy (Emmett Dunleavy)

Sarah Kinnear (Catherine Diver)

Finn McNally

Claire McGuigan (Ann-Marie McGlynn)

Conan McCaughey (Mark Kirk)

Caitlyn Harvey (Noel McNally)

Eskander Turki (Michael McKnight)


Athletics NI Endurance Coordinator, Mark Kirk commented: “I am very excited to be involved with the Endurance Potential 2026 Programme which has been made possible with the very generous support of the Belfast City Marathon. I feel we have selected a very strong panel of athletes and I am looking forward to working with them and their coaches.”

There was a fantastic response to the project with almost 30 applicants in total and competition for places was very tough. The selected athletes will be provided with competition opportunities, training camps, athlete and coach education days and sports psychology. Our aim is to achieve the goal of 2 or more endurance athletes on the 2026 Commonwealth Games team.

Tom Reynolds, Athletics NI Performance Lead, stated: “It gives me great pleasure to be able to publicise a strong selection of athletes for the Endurance Potential 2026 Programme. With the greatly appreciated support from Belfast City Marathon, we believe that this group of athletes will continue to develop and go on to achieve the aims of the programme and contribute to our Sport NI Medals and More targets.”

We are very grateful to the Belfast City Marathon Ltd for their support of this initiative and look forward to a long and successful relationship with them.

Belfast City Marathon Executive Manager, Claire O’Neill, said: “As an organisation we are delighted to work in partnership with Athletics NI to help grow the talent of these gifted young sportsmen and women. We look forward to the success they will bring home to Belfast and hope they continue to inspire others to remain focused in the sport of athletics.”