Athletics

Jamaican Yohan Blake heads star-studded Morton line-up

Jamaica's (left-right) Yohan Blake Silver Usain Bolt Gold and Bronze medalist Warren Weir celebrate at the Olympic Stadium London.
Malcolm McCausland

JAMAICA'S former World 100m champion Yohan Blake (below) heads a star-studded cast of international athletes in action this evening’s Morton Games in Dublin.

In 2011, the 25-year-old also won a gold medal in the 4x100m, a feat he repeated at the London Olympics where he also took individual silver medals in both the 100m and 200m behind compatriot Usain Bolt.

The meeting is hosted by Clonliffe Harriers who have a long tradition of promoting athletic meetings right back to the 1940s when the club, led by the legendary Billy Morton, began promoting an annual international gathering.

Probably the most remarkable year was 1958 when, over the course of two international meetings, four world records were set at Santry including Australian Herb Elliot’s new mile mark of 3:54.5.

The men’s mile is, as ever, the feature event and although last year’s winner American Will Leer returns, it will only be as a spectator having finished his season prematurely through injury.

In his absence on the track, Australia’s Jeff Riseley, with a personal best of 3:51.25, will wear the favourite’s mantle.

Oregon Track Club’s Jordan McNamara, who won in 2011, is also back but may not have the speed to match younger runners such as compatriot and last year’s runner-up Patrick Casey (3:52.62) and another Wallaby Ryan Gregson (3:52.26).

The appreciative crowd will also welcome back Portaferry woman Ciara Mageean who has suffered persistent injuries since her World Junior 1500m silver medal in 2010.

Mageean made an impressive return to competition last weekend when she ran a time of 4:08.32 for 1500m, her second best ever for the distance, at the KBC Nacht Meeting in Heusden, Belgium. Newcastle athlete Kerry O’Flaherty is also in the field.

New Zealander Angela Petty, fresh from her victory at the World University Games in Korea, is the top ranked competitor in the women’s 800m. Ciara Everard and Laura Crowe carry home hopes in a field that also includes two top American athletes in Lauren Wallace, the US indoor 2015 1000m champion, and McKayla Fricker.

Britain’s Andy Vernon returns to the Morton Games after a one-year hiatus and will go once again in the Albie Thomas Memorial 3000.

Will Geoghegan is also entered after winning the mile at the Cork City Sports and lowering his 5000m personal best by 32 seconds last weekend to 13.17.85.

Other events include high jump, pole vault, 400m, 400m hurdles as well as women’s 200m. The meeting starts at 5:30pm and spectators are advised to get there early.

Neely seeking Masters glory

City of Lisburn’s Kelly Neely (left) is an interesting entry for the National Masters’ Track and Field Championships in Tullamore on Sunday.

There are over 500 master athletes contesting the championships and challenging for national medals in all categories from 35+ right through to the 90+ age group.

The action gets underway with the 100m on the track and the javelin begins proceedings in the field events at 11am.

The former international will start as the overwhelming favourite in the 800m event on Sunday.

Neely has a seasons best of 2:10.25 from the IMC meet in Leixlip in June.

Neely is likely to be the quickest competitor from all the age categories in Tullamore.

In the men’s events, Derry City’s European M45 silver medallist Cathal McLaughlin is entered in his specialist 1500m.

Remarkably Donegal man Hugh Gallagher contests the javelin and high jump events in the over 90 age group.

Derry City Track Club defends its men’s 4 x 400m title at the end of the programme.

Laganside 10k is a 'celebration of running'

This week saw the official launch of the 2015 Pure Running Laganside 10km which takes place on Sunday, September 6 at Ormeau Park, Belfast. Finishers of the popular North Belfast Harriers promotion will receive a bespoke medal featuring the Ring of Thanksgiving statue on the Laganside, known colloquially as ‘Nuala with the Hula’.

As in 2014, this year the race doubles as the Northern Ireland & Ulster 10K Championships, with individual and team titles up for grabs. It is also an ideal tune-up race for those considering running in the Belfast City Half Marathon on September 20. Its flat course always produces a host of personal best times.

“There’s something for everyone at the Laganside 10k,” said race director Matt Shields. “Whether they are trying out the distance for the first time or an experienced runner looking for a personal best. Every year the race is great day out and a real celebration of running in the city of Belfast.”

As usual, the Harriers and local sports shop Pure Running are providing generous goody bags and category prizes in the Open and Masters’ categories (35+). There also will be chip timing.

Youngsters can take part in the One Mile Children’s Fun Run for boys and girls 6-15 years old. This event will start at 1.15pm and is contested on a safe, marshalled and flat route within Ormeau Park.

Runners for both the 10km and one-mile events can now enter online at www.laganside10k.com.

Entries are capped at 1000 and those who enter before July 31 will have their name printed on their number. Online entries close on August 31.

Further information is available at the Laganside 10km Facebook page or to the North Belfast Harriers Twitter account (@nbharriers).

The official race website is www.laganside10k.com

Causeway Coast Marathon

The Causeway Coast Marathon is a new event that takes place on August 1 with an accurate 26.2 mile route and prizes in all categories.

The winner of the race will also receive a £100 voucher to be used against their insurance with Oakland Insurance Services. In addition every finisher will receive a medal.

“This marathon can be walked, relayed or run,” said race organiser Lynette Coomber.

“You can choose to do a half or full marathon and each section is timed and classed as an accomplishment so no pressure to finish the whole thing if your level of fitness does not cater to this.”

All proceeds from the event goes to Headway Ballymena.

Local station Q radio will be at the finish line presenting a live programme and playing music. All participants will receive a massage from a qualified physiotherapist, burgers and beverages free of charge.

There will also be a bouncy castle and face painting to entertain any family members who come along to cheer their favourites through the finish line. There is an entry form on-line at www.oaklandinsurance.co.uk/Competition.aspx#Start

Harriers host Stanley Reid Classic

Sperrin Harriers host the Stanley Reid 5 Mile Classic on August 7, sponsored by Henry Brothers Construction, Magherafelt.

The race is regarded as their premier event by the progressive mid Ulster club and is named after their late founder.

Now in its 14th year, the Stanley Reid is suitable for all abilities and is an ideal opportunity to record a time over one of the classic road distances.

Anyone who has run it in the past will testify that this is a race not to be missed.

Although part of the course is undulating, fast times are almost guaranteed for all those who take part.

Last year’s race attracted a record field of over 300 runners with Paul Hannon (wheelchair), Neil Johnston and Heather Foley lifting the top prizes.

The race sets off at 7.30pm from Loughry Campus, just off the main Dungannon Road, Cookstown, takes in the quiet open country roads around the area and finishes back within the grounds of the campus.

The first 250 entries will receive a technical running T-shirt. Register online at www.sperrinharriers.co.uk/stanley-reid-5m-classic or on the day between 5.30pm and 7.15pm.

Once again this year there will be a ‘Family Mile’ fun run/walk commencing at 6.45pm.

This is suitable for all the family both young and old, making the event a perfect family evening outing.

Changing facilities are available and following both races there will be the renowned post-race buffet and the presentation of prizes.

Athletics

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