North West clubs were prominent at Saturday’s Northern Ireland & Ulster Masters and Intermediate Cross Country championships, staged on a muddy course at the Ulster University’s Coleraine campus.
Athletes from City of Derry Spartans, Derry City Track Club, Foyle Valley and their Donegal neighbours, Finn Valley and Inishowen, defied the testing conditions to secure several significant individual and team podium positions.
Inishowen’s teak tough M50 Pauric McKinney set the scene with an impressive win in the opening Male Masters race, hauling in the front running Spartan, Allan Bogle, midway through the 8K to go on and post a terrific victory as Bogle battled to the line to claim his first ever Masters championship medal.
The Finn Valley quartet dug in brilliantly to take the team title from the defending champions, North Belfast Harriers, the margin a mere one point and a great effort from the Inishowen squad saw them pipped by Newcastle for the team bronze medals, the margin once again a single point.
Next up was the combined Female Intermediate & Masters and Male 65 plus race, the revised course extending the original 4K somewhat and, once again, North West runners were to the fore.
The Spartans and Finn Valley Masters took the silver and bronze team medals behind winners North Belfast Harriers with Valley’s Catriona Devine edging out Omagh Harrier Julie Butler for the Masters’ individual gold and silver.
A strong collective performance from Jackie McMonagle (5th), Hannah Shields (8th and top F50 finisher), Anne Paul (11th) and, continuing her competitive return, Shelagh Murray in 31st clinched the runners up medals for the female red vests.
Another big championship run from a female Spartans masters squad consolidating the efforts at the Nationals in Dundalk the previous Sunday!
Another to build on his Dundalk national gold was M70 Gerry Lynch who added the M65+ Provincial title to his achievements this season, the Spartan working hard in the mud to comfortably see off the opposition.
Springwell claimed the Intermediate Women’s team title ahead of North Belfast and Acorns Athletic Club with the Martina McMullan led Foyle Valley squad in fifth place.
The top class Master runner competed in the Intermediate grade and showed well for sixth with good support from Gemma Mahon (13th), Denise Ward (25th) and, in 36th, Jacqueline McCann.
Away from Saturday’s clinging Coleraine mud, Sunday’s Raheny 5 Mile road race saw another great run from Scott Rankin, the Foyle Valley man clocking an impressive 24 mins and 23 seconds for the runners up spot behind Mick Clohisey who posted a winning 24 mins and 5 seconds.