IT’S another busy weekend with local athletes set to compete at three different venues in Birmingham, Belfast and Tullamore over the next two days.
Teenage sprint hurdler Mark McGarvey will travel to the Birmingham Arena for the English AAA’s U20 Indoor championships and will go in the 60m Hurdles event on Sunday afternoon.
Boosted by an excellent 8.18 seconds clocking a few weeks ago in Athlone, the young Spartan is in sprightly early season form and will look to qualify from his heat into the event final.
He has already met the stringent entry standard of sub 8.90 seconds with his recent Athlone performance and is hoping that the strong competition in Birmingham will draw the best out of him as he prepares for the incoming outdoor season.
The Stormont grounds host the final ANI Winter XC League race of the 2012/13 season tomorrow and both local clubs are expected to be in the thick of the action.
The Spartans have a serious interest in both the men’s and women’s League titles, their men lead the table from North Belfast Harriers and the women will chase North Down for the top spot.
The Foyle Valley men still have a shot at grabbing third place and this might just persuade them to make the trip with a strong squad.
The local red vests will also have a small squad in Tullamore on Sunday for the National senior club championship. Declan Reed, Emmet McGinty, Colin and Greg Roberts being the men in question.
Obviously that will dilute the quality of Saturday’s challenge in Stormont but with the likes of Nick Cassidy, James Brown, Gary Slevin, Chris McPeake, Kieron Hurley and Paul McCafferty all available, City of Derry are expected to have enough to retain their advantage over North Belfast, the only club with any chance of stopping them lifting the League title.
The female Spartans have an outside chance of pipping leaders North Down but realistically runners-up is the League target as the North Down squad have been consistently strong all season long.
Marina Campbell, Miriam Bridge and Sarah Mahon return to competitive action tomorrow and will add to Catherine Whoriskey and Jackie McGinley up front for the Londonderry squad.
Interestingly the Stormont course has been re-classified as a mixed terrain race given the sodden ground conditions on the estate for much of the winter.
The more recent dry spell may have come too late for the original grass course to be reinstated so, in all probability, it will be a mix of road, gravel path and trails tomorrow. The combined men’s and women’s race will start at 12.20pm.
Declan Reed will lead the City of Derry quartet at Tullamore on Sunday when hopefully the better weather conditions will improve what a week or so ago, was described by race organiser John Cronin, as “a completely sodden course”.
A firmer sod will be appreciated by all involved and while the locals may not jockey for individual or team medals, it is good to see a Derry senior squad compete.
Reed will look to build on his good form this season, he ran well in the corresponding race last year in Santry and will be confident of being close to the leading bunch on Sunday. Greg Roberts makes his season’s debut in the red vest and will want to impress. Emmet McGinty also had a good outing last year and with his coach, Colin Roberts making up the team, he will be keen to show his paces.
Finally mention of an upcoming Walled City Marathon information event on Tuesday, March 12th.
The WCM organisers are putting on a Question and Answer session for all budding Marathon runners with three relevant speakers on March 12th at 7.30pm in the Cultúrlann, Great James Street. Admission is free and everyone is welcome.