A trio of local athletes Declan Reed, Catherine Whoriskey and Fintan Stewart contributed significantly to the NI and Ireland squads showings at Saturday’s Antrim International Cross Country meeting.
Despite a heavy course and chilly conditions the IAAF sanctioned event produced a real feast of running.
Catherine Whoriskey in her international debut was an excellent 16th overall in the Womens 5.6K race, the second scorer in the NI team, behind Rio bound steeplechaser Kerry O’Flaherty 11th and with Sharlene McMurray 17th, the NI women claimed the winning team prize.
Not a bad introduction to international competition for the talented Spartan and her performance should boost her confidence in advance of this weekend’s National Intermediate and the NI & Ulster Senior championships in late February.
Kenyan Alice Aprot Nawowuna won a tight up front race from Mimi Belete of Bahrain with Irish star Fionnuala McCormack a close up third.
Decaln Reed led the NI squad from the front, his impressive 17th place finish making him the second Irish finisher just behind Cillian Murray of DSD, with his NI team mates Mark McKinstry 17th, Seamus Lynch 21st and Paddy Hamilton 22nd.
Up front as expected was dominated by African or former African runners, the winner Awake Ayala now based in Bahrain!
Reed will be in Dundalk this Sunday primed to defend his National Masters Cross Country individual crown and Saturday’s strong run ahead of his major NI rivals will certainly be a terrific fillip for the talented 42-year-old who will also attempt to retain his NI & Ulster senior Cross Country title in Lurgan on 20th February next.
Finally to Fintan Stewart, a genuine local emerging talent grabbed an excellent podium place in the U17 race, finishing third behind the Scots winner and fellow Irish Development squad member Craig McMeechan of North Down.
The former Broadbridge PS pupil was in Glasgow recently running for Ulster in the Celtic Challenge Cross Country and did very well but the Antrim run was even better, a podium spot the icing on the cake for the teenager.