Just over a week after ploughing through the muddy Santry Demesne in the Masters International cross country last Saturday, several local runners will be lining up there again this Sunday for the National Senior inter clubs championships and they will be joined by a large group of young athletes who have qualified for the National Even Age group deciders.
Hopefully the Santry course will be re jigged somewhat after last weekend’s battering, a messy mud bath may well be the traditional image of cross country but the talent on show this Sunday deserves a decent running surface to showcase their ability as they battle for European championships Irish team places and of course National individual and team bragging rights.
The Santry grounds are expansive enough to allow for some invention from the course set up crew so fingers crossed for decent underfoot and weather conditions!
Runaway Masters Internationals winner last weekend Anne Marie McGlynn, will be one of the women’s race favourites and backed up by Natasha Adams and Finnoula Diver, the Letterkenny AC squad will go close to claiming team medals.
Belfast doctor Paul Pollock will defend his men’s title but could be vunerable this time.
Waterside Half Marathon winner Mick Cholisey of Raheny Shamrock will be one of his serious challangers as high class fields will face the starter in both races.
Connor Bradley will lead the local and North West challenge, the Spartan taking on his third race in a week after the Milton Keynes Cross County and last weekend’s Leeds Abbey 10k road race.
He’s aiming for a spot on the Irish squad for next month’s European Cross Country championships and has the quality hopefully to live with the top men on Sunday and push on for a top six or so finish.
He will be ably supported by clubmates Declan Reed, returning to Santry after his Masters success last Saturday, Aaron Doherty and the rejuvenated Gary Slevin with the red vests looking for a top six team finish, a tough call given the likely quality in the line up.
Scott Rankin will front a Foyle Valley squad in their National senior debut and another duo who starred on the course last Saturday, Donegal athletes Pauric McKinney and Ciaran Doherty, will also be running in their club colours this weekend.
Ulster Girls U14 champion Cara Laverty of City of Derry Spartans will attempt to step up to the red hot National stage, she is also the Ulster U13 champion this season and will be an integral part of the Ulster squad in Sunday’s race.
Her clubmate Aela Stewart and Derry City Track Club’s Lily Toorish are also on the Ulster squad.
The red vests Oisin Colhoun goes in the U12 race, leading his young Spartans squad and is named in the Ulster team as well.
Mary Cait Byrne is on the Ulster Girls U16 squad and in the Boys U18 race Fintan Stewart, Ulster U18 bronze medallist and U17 runner up, is another one to look out for in what should be a cracking day of cross country race action.