Weekend Review NI & Ulster Intermediate and Masters XC 2019
28 January 2019
Ciara Toner (Springwell Running Club), Mark McKinstry (North Belfast Harriers), Gemma McDonald (Ballycastle Runners AC) and Zak Hanna (Newcastle AC) all struck gold at Saturday’s NI & Ulster Intermediate and Masters Cross Country Championships.
The Athletics NI hosted event took place at Barnett’s Demesne on Saturday 26th January 2019. The course, which comprised of 1500m laps proved tough, with the wet conditions making the surface increasingly slippy as the race programme progressed, but this took nothing away from an excellent day of racing.
The first race was the Intermediate Women’s 4k event, which went to Springwell Running Club’s Ciara Toner who strode to victory in a time of 13:43. Rosses AC athlete Helen McCready came in 2nd place in a time of 13:57, with Inishowen AC’s Sarah Kelly in 3rd place in a time of 13:59. The East Down AC ladies took first place in the Team Competition with a total of 56 points.
Next to race were the Master’s Men in their 8k event. North Belfast Harrier's Mark McKinstry made light work of the opposition in a time of 19:41. The British Masters champion rapidly opened a large gap from the gun and at finish he had a huge 53 secs advantage over Foyle Valley AC’s Chris McGuiness (20:34) with Omagh Harriers’ Eoin Mullan taking bronze a further 31 secs back in a time of 21:05.
A relaxed Mark was the first NI finisher in an impressive 13th place in the previous week's IAAF International Cross Country at the Billy Neill Centre of Excellence. The Ballymena man said:
"That was a tough course but I decided to give myself a good work out from the gun. It took me a few days to recover from Dundonald but I am feeling fine. I will now be going for the Irish Masters this weekend in Dundalk."
In the Woman's Masters 4k race, victory went to Ballycastle Runners’ Gemma McDonald in a time of 15:14, which some 4 secs ahead of 2017 Champion Amy Bulman (Willowfield Harriers) who was making a successful return to running following illness in a time of 15:18. She was 2 secs ahead of Lagan Valley AC’s Julie Murphy, who finished in a time of 15:20. Ballydrain Harriers took the team prize with 54 points ahead of Lagan Valley AC (56) and Willowfield Harriers (83).
In the Intermediate Men's 8k race Newcastle AC pair Zak Hanna and Patrick McNiff dictated the pace from the start and battled it out the entire race for individual honours. Zak finally broke away with 600 metres left and at the finish he had an 11 secs gap over McNiff in 21:21 and 21:32 respectively. East Down AC's Aaron McGrady was another 11 secs back in 3rd, in a time of 21:43. Newcastle AC took yet another Intermediate team title with 57 points ahead of Acorns AC (75) and Springwell RC (190).
Zak commented: "I was delighted with that and an earlier decision to work with my teammate Patrick turned out well. The heavy course really suited me as I come from a mountain running background".
Find the full results here.
Elsewhere this weekend...
The AXA Raheny 5 Mile saw Ann-Marie McGlynn (Letterkenny AC) take to the podium as the 1st Female athlete in a time of 26:00, for the second year. She was joined by Emma Mitchell (QUB AC) in 2nd place in a time of 26:39 and in 3rd place was Breege Connolly (City of Derry Spartans AC) in a time of 26:56. In 4th place was Letterkenny AC’s Nakita Burke in a time of 27:24.
The Men’s race was won by Raheny Shamrock AC’s Mick Clohisey in a time of 23:36.