Local Athletes Ready for AAI Autumn XC Festival
20 October 2017
A host of local talent will travel to Abbotstown for this weekend’s Autumn Open International Cross Country Festival taking place on Sunday 22nd October 2017.
The event will take place over a purpose built cross country course at the National Sports Campus and will showcase Ireland’s talent from junior level right up to the masters along with a selection of international runners.
The combined Ladies race of juniors, seniors and masters (including Vet65+ Men) kicks off at 2pm with respective distances of 4,500m (junior and masters 65+) and 6,000m (seniors and masters 35-64). Then the junior, senior and Vet35-64 Men follow at 2.45pm, with the junior men covering 6,000m and the senior and masters 7,500m.
Derry Track Club’s Adam Kirk-Smith will hope to continue the form that saw him claim victory at last weekend’s Metropolitan XC League as heads the local challenge for honours.
Newcastle AC’s Zak Hanna and Glaslough Harriers’ Conor Duffy should also feature prominently in the senior men’s race. Derry/Londonderry based Kenyan star Gideon Kipsang will head the international field, while AAI National 10,000m and Half Marathon Champion Kevin Dooney (Raheny Shamrock AC) will be keen to impress as top Irish finisher.
Former NI & Ulster Senior XC Champion Teresa Doherty (Finn Valley AC) and North Down AC’s Jessica Craig, who finished as runner up to Breege Connolly (City of Derry AC) at last week’s Comber Cup XC, will toe the line in the competitive senior ladies race. The opposition will include Rio 2016 Olympian Michelle Finn (Leevale AC) along with fellow cross country internationals Ciara Durkan (Skerries AC), Siobhan O’Doherty (Borrisokane AC), Laura Crowe (An Riocht AC) and Shona Heaslip (An Riocht AC). International athletes include Jenny Nesbitt (Wales), Mhairi MacLennan (Scotland), Becky Straw and Georgia Malir (both England).
Established XC star and 2015 NI & Ulster Senior XC Champion Declan Reed (City of Derry AC) will race in the masters competition, where he will be joined by fellow NI men Paddy Hamilton (Slieve Gullion Runners) and Francis Marsh (North Down AC). The local duo will face Raheny Shamrock AC’s Ian Conroy.
In the Under 20 junior races, Patrick McNiff (Newcastle AC), Craig McMeechan (North Down AC), Fintan Stewart (City of Derry AC) and Rio Catney (North Down AC) should all place well.
Closer to home this weekend, masters athletes will be battling it out for places on the Northern Ireland team at the upcoming British & Irish International XC as they take on the Northern Ireland Masters Athletic Association (NIMAA) XC at Dub Road Playing Fields in Belfast.
Chris McGuinness (Foyle Valley AC), Allan Bogle (City of Derry AC) and Jonny Steede (Glens Runners) will feature in the men’s event, while Amy Bulman (Willowfield Harriers), Cathy McCourt (Unattached) and Karen Alexander (Acorns AC) will challenge for the ladies top prize.