Cross Country running returned to the University of Ulster’s Coleraine Campus last Saturday with the first races in the 2013/14 Athletics NI Cross Country League.
Autumn sunshine greeted some of the best cross country runners in the country but the heavy rain on Friday made for heavy going under foot and spectators were treated to some excellent racing.
The extensive race programme kicked off with Primary Schools half mile and fittingly the first toe across the line was a Springwell’s, Jack Culbertson who won the Boys race in 2:21, Tolu Jide-Ojo from Portstewart Primary School was first girl in 2:48 with Springwell’s Cara McLaughlin second in 2:55. Other Springwell Juniors were Dylan Daniels 2:51, Eva Gordon 3:04, Ellie McIlmoyle 3:05, Lucas King 3:22, Marcie Brown 3:26, Lauren O’Doherty 3:27, Emma Cochrane 3:33, Jordan Thomas 3:38, Cliodha McIlhinney 3:42, Emma Service 3:46, Sky Hallam 3:51 and Jack McCormack 4:45.
Next up was the Under 13 - one mile race with another Springwell victory in the boys race, as Andrew Gordon kept up his winning ways, storming home in 5:48, he was chased all the way team mate Eoghan Gormley in 6:12. In the Girls race Springwell’s Ellie McBroom led from the start only to be pipped on the line by Jessica Scott in 6:22, with Ellie in 6:23. Springwell’s Hermoine Skuce finished third in 6:26. Other Springwell Runners were, Niamh Carr 6:33, Ben Kelly 7:07, Amy Fountain 7:21, Adam Campbell 7:24, Thomas Nolan 7:25, Jodie Patterson 7:26, Natasha Simmons 8:08 and Ben Nolan 9:15.
The Under 15 - 2 mile race saw a battle from start to finish between Willowfields Desire Bamsilie and Mid Ulster’s PJ O’Neil with Desire out sprinting PJ to win by one second in 12:11.
Springwell’s Oisin Brennan completed the top three with a solid run coming home in 12:34. Springwell’s Abigail McBroom went out hard at the start in the girls race only to be caught with 100 metres to go by Emma Hutchinson BAAC winning in 13:02 with Abigail 13:04, Springwell’s Aiofe Carr took third in 13:44. Other Springwell Runners were Molly Brennan 13:59, Aine McKinney 14:09, Rebekah Hunter 14:16, Holly Woodhead 14:49, Rhiannan Curran 14:52, Jamie Nolan 14:55 and Ellen Kirk 16:55.
The final junior race of the day was the Under 17 - 3 miles. North Belfast’s Connor McQuillan went hard from the start and finished comfortably in 17:52 with Springwell’s Luke Dinsmore second in 18.25.
The girl’s race saw a battle between Aife McSheffrey, Springwell and Catriona McGloin Balmoral Harriers, with Catriona making the decisive move in the last lap to win in 20:56 with Aife second in 21:05. Well done all juniors in their first of many cross country races this season.
Next up was the A-Spec Tyre Services Ladies three mile, which had one of the best ladies fields seen here in many years. North Belfast’s recent Commonwealth Games qualifier Gladys Ganiel O’Neil took the lead right from the gun and although Omagh Harriers Michelle Sturm chased hard the gap grew with each lap and Gladys eventually crossed the line in 18:20, Michelle in 18:30 with Denise Toner Clones AC finishing third in 18:52, Springwell’s top lady runner Gemma Turley managed a very creditable fifth in 18:59.
Other Springwell finishers were Alison Rankin 20:13, Sonia Knox 20:20, Suzanne Arbuthnot 20:32, Deborah Gilliland 20:47 (1st U20), Karen McLaughlin 20:53, Katherine Woods 22:28, Rosalind Overend 23:16, Catherine Bell-Allen 23:21, Ali McAllister 25:01, Lynn Montgomery 25:04, Sarah Chestnutt 25:41, Julie Clark 25:58, Rozzy Skuce 26:52 and Margaret Edgar 27:26. Even though the Ladies were slightly under strength due to injuries Gemma, Alison and Sonia won the Team prize and get the honour of being the first name on the perpetual shield, well done the ladies.
The last race of the day was the YESSS Electrical Men’s 5 miles and once again there was a top field of 113 runners, which was a majestic sight as the field rounded the first bend before going over the hill for the first time.
On the first two laps a group of five broke away, but the third time over the hill the eventual winner East Down’s Brendan Tier pushed clear and appeared to get faster with every lap, building up a large gap over the rest to finish clear in 27:17, with Foyle Valley’s Scott Rankin second in 27:42 and City of Derry’s Alan Bogle third in 28:01.
Springwell’s in form Neil Johnston took a brilliant top ten finish ninth in 28.22 (1st U20), he was followed by Philip Tweedie 28:59 (1st M45), Paul Thompson 30:38, David Jackson 31:30, Bryan Edgar 31:48 (1st M50), Ryan Murray 32:12, John Gordon 32:31, Andrew Dowey 33:18, David Irwin 34:01, Gerry O’Doherty 34:20 (1st M55), Jim Breen 34:46, James McMullan 34:58, Nigel Armstrong 36:20, Robert Workman 36:59, Jean-Claude Bourgeois 37:35, Johnny Goldie 38:07 and David Patterson 41:54. The men’s team of Neil, Philip, Paul and David took fifth in the team competition.
The Club wish to thank the University of Ulster for the use of their superb facilities, The Red Cross for the First Aid cover, all club members who helped marshall and provided much needed Tea/Coffee/Biscuits after the races. But most of all YESSS Electricals Rodney Lockhart and David Woodend from A-Spec Tyre Services who not only sponsored the event but took in all the races and present the prizes at the end.
This race will now be an annual event, hopefully staying as the first race each cross country season in the very successful eight race league.