The University of Ulster Coleraine sports grounds will this weekend host the opening Provincial Cross Country championships of the year.
And local runners and clubs poised to mount serious challenges for honours at the much awaited Junior/Intermediate and Masters deciders on Saturday afternoon.
Indeed a trawl through the pre-entry lists suggests that both top local clubs Foyle Valley and City of Derry have strong individual and team medal expectations across all four championships on offer.
Derry City Track Club will target an individual age group medal or two and fellow North West clubs, Springwell and Finn Valley will also have big expectations.
Declan Reed will be favoured to take the male masters individual title, the Spartan intent on successfully defending his national crown in early February and the Coleraine 8K is crucial to achieving that later target.
Both the female Spartans’ Intermediate and Masters squads look good for medals of some hue and in the Men’s Intermediate, Foyle Valley, with Keith Shiels back racing and a strong squad which medalled at this level in both of the last two years, may well start as gold medal favourites this time.
The Spartans took the Novice championship team silver back in November and have developed since then with more men eligible at this higher grade and will look to their compact packing potential for a shot at medals the six to score 10K contest.
On home turf Springwell’s squads will definitely fancy their chances in both Intermediate races and the Female Masters and, as always, Finn Valley will be competitive in all the races on the programme.
A big day in store then for all the clubs and athletes involved, let’s hope they can bring home the bacon.
A few results from last weekend’s race action, not easy conditions anywhere incidentally.
However, Allan Bogle finished runner-up at Saturday’s inaugural Acorns AC race in Cookstown.
The race winner was Omagh Harrier, Paul Barbour, nine seconds clear of the Spartan on the five miler and Foyle Valley’s Pius McIntyre was placed fourth as he warmed-up for this weekend’s action in Coleraine.
Over in Edinburgh, Danny Mooney and Maria McCambridge represented Ireland at the Great Edinburgh Cross Country meeting, in a unique 2 by 1K relay and finished in eighth place behind the English winners.
In the Women’s 6K Fionnuala Britton was second by seven seconds to English winner, Emelia Gorecka. Danea Herron and Michael Surman opened their indoor season with action at Jordanstown on Saturday, getting some welcome competition over 60m, 60m Hurdles and Shot Putt in the first of the planned ANI Open Indoor meets.