ONE of the biggest cross country championship events of the season the National Juvenile Development, Masters and Intermediates, is set to bring in excess of 1000 athletes to the Gransha Grounds this Sunday, when the twelve race programme featuring participants from all over the country, will run between 11.30am and 4pm.
Organised by Athletics Ireland in conjunction with the local City of Derry Spartans club, this is a major coup for the city and region and has appropriately enough been included in the UK City of Culture 2013 sports programme.
The twelve races include U11’s, U13’s, U15’s, U17’s, Masters Men, Masters Women, Male Intermediates and Female Intermediates.
Local and North West clubs will be in the thick of the action and will relish the chance to challange for national honours on their home turf.
The Gransha circuit previously hosted the National Inter Counties championships on a never to be forgotten snowy weekend back in November 2010 but this time it looks like a dfferent kind of test as heavy underfoot conditions are expected.
Nevertheless the competition will be of the highest quality and many top performers will line up.
The most likely local front runners on the team front should be the City of Derry Male Masters squad, led by the inform Declan Reed and the combined City of Derry and Foyle Valley, Intermediate Mens county Derry selection. The latter should feature Valley’s Scott Rankin and Pius McIntyre and the Spartans John Lenehan, Cathal Logue and Kieron Hurley among others and could just be good enough to get into medal contention in their 8K championship race which concludes the day’s extensive programme.
Catherine Lilburn missed last weekend’s Provincial Intermediate due to illness but hopes to lead the local challange on Sunday but team honours look a big ask for the local women in what should be a cracking 5k race. In the female Masters 4K Roisin Lynch chases F60 honours with serious intent, Anne Paul if she lines up will be among the leading F50 runners and Jackie McGinley should go well in the competitive F40 age group. An interesting inclusion on the entry list will be former NI international Shelagh Murray having a run out in the F40 grade.
Runners from the Donegal, Tyrone and county Derry clubs and the better know runners from the northern clubs should make for a very interesting day’s action in Gransha. Spectators are asked to get there early and co operate with the race Marshalls who will advise on the specific parking arrangements.
The programme kicks off at 11.30am with the Girls U11 1,000metres. The Boys U11 race follows, then its the U13’s, the U15’s at 12 20pm and the Juvenile programme concludes with the U17 Boys 3,000 metres at 1.25pm.
At 2pm the Female Masters 4k, the Male masters 7k at 2.30pm and the Female Intermediates go at 3pm. The Male Intermediates are scheduled to bring proceedings to what should be a very competitive finale at 3.40pm but there is a possibility that the time could be brought forward so if you want to catch all the action best get there early.