On Saturday, hundreds of athletes and spectators descended on the impressive Ulster University Sports Complex in Jordanstown for the Bobby Rea Cross Country, an event that also included the Northern Ireland & Ulster Even Age Group Championships.
The Senior Ladies and Veteran Men 60+ lined up together for their 5K race. On the sound of the starters horn, North Belfast Harriers’ Paul Elliot, a regular M60 age category winner, assumed a position at the head of the pack and went on to lead the field home in 19:41.
As the ladies race progressed, internationally recognised triathlete Aileen Reid (City of Derry) and student Joanne Mills (University of Birmingham AC) began to stamp their authority on the race, moving clear at the front, followed by North Down’s Jessica Craig and Rachel Gibson.
After exchanging top spot once or twice, it was Aileen who made forged a gap late on, eventually taking the win in 19:51, just two seconds ahead of Joanne (19:53) and Jessica Craig followed in 20:03 (third place).
Springwell Times - Sonia Knox 20:42, Alison Rankin 21:07, Karen McLaughlin, Deborah Gilliland 23:02, Katherine Woods 23:03, Linda Gillen 23:43, Kerrie McIlmoyle 23:55, Sarah Chestnutt 25:39, Catherine Butcher 25:39, Debbie Tutty 27:26, Donna Brolly 28:02, Amanda Simpson 28:07, Julie Clarke 28:10.
The Men’s 8K was the final race of the day and proved to be just as exciting as the ladies event.
Joe McAlister (St Malachy’s AC) sealed an excellent win in 24:31, Cian O’Reilly recorded 24:35 for second place, while Omagh Harriers’ Stephen Duncan completed the top three in 24:37.
Springwell Times - Neill Johnston 25:40, Philip Tweedie 26:22, Bryan Edgar 28:55, Ryan Murray 29:34, Gerry O’Doherty 29:46, Richard Baker 33:25. Paul Thompson, Colin Loughery and Bob Purcell also ran but their results were unavailable going to press.