High class field promised for Belfast Irish Milers' meeting
MEETING director Eamonn Christie promises that this year’s Belfast Irish Milers’ International Meeting is going to be one to remember.
Plans are already well advanced for the event to be held at the Mary Peters Track on Saturday, June 24.
“We have top quality fields for all the middle distance events which we will be announcing over the coming weeks and months,” said Christie.
“All middle distance events will be catered for men and women with 800m, 1500m and 3000m races all on the programme.”
A persistent drizzle did not take the gloss off last year’s event held in early May.
One of the highlights of the meeting was the return to competition after an absence of several years by Irish record holder David Gillick in the 400m.
The Dundrum South Dublin athlete was disappointed to end up in the runner-up spot and has already indicated he wants to return and do better this year.
Portaferry’s Ciara Mageean thrilled her many local fans with an impressive run in the 3000m while Donore Harrier John Travers made a game attempt to break eight minutes in the 3000m despite the less ideal conditions.
Both are likely to return this year to add further lustre to what promises to be an exciting evening’s athletics.
Christie reckons he has an ace up his sleeve this year with the Commonwealth Games in Australia’s Gold Coast just around the corner. Qualifying marks have to be obtained prior to 30 September this year and his meeting will be one of the few competitive opportunities for home-based athletes.
“This year’s event will have a 5000m for women and this will be a ideal race for NI-based athletes not only to achieve a personal best but to obtain a qualification mark for the Commonwealth Games and the race will be paced with that standard in mind,” he said.
“There will also be a international 400m Hurdles for women and men with Christine McMahon already committed. The event will also have races over 200m, 400m for both men and women of all standards.”
Emily Kelly’s eye on the Big Apple
Donegal schoolgirl Emily Kelly can look forward to a trip to the world famous Millrose Games in New York on February 11 after winning the Firefly Fastest Feet in Ireland competition at the Athlone Arena.
This was only the second year of the competition which was coordinated by Sligo coach Dermot McDermott and was open to children aged eight and under. The kids were tested on their fastest speed over 20 metres using speed gates.
St. Mary’s National School pupil came out tops of all the entrants and will soon be packing her bags for what undoubtedly be the trip of her young life to date. She is a member of the Finn Valley club and will be accompanied to New York by her parents.
Emily will take part in the NYRR Fastest Kid on the Block. The annual race pits New York City's finest eight-and-under sprinters against each other in a 55-meter dash but this year two of that number will be Irish.
However, highlight of the meeting will be the Wanamaker Mile which sees a rematch between defending champion Matt Centrowitz and 2015 runner-up Nick Willis.
The director of the meeting is Longford native Ray Flynn and the Wanaker Mile also has a strong Irish history with Eamonn Coghlan winning seven times, Marcus O'Sullivan and Ronnie Delaney won four times each while Niall Bruton and Mark Carroll each picked up a title.
Harriers fly the flag for Northern clubs
North Belfast Harriers are the only northern club entered for Sunday’s National Intermediate Cross Country Championships at Palace Grounds in Tuam. Surprisingly neither Finn Valley nor Derry Track Club who would both be considered as contenders in the men’s race have decided to make the trip.
Mark McKinstry took the individual bronze medals in these championships last year meaning the Glenwherry man will not be available on Sunday. In his absence North will be looking to 20-year-old Conal McCambridge to lead them to a place on the team podium.
The Pure Running employee had a busy holiday period running three parkruns in the space of two days as well as performing well with colleague John Black in the Castlewellan Christmas Cracker.
The pair were also members of the North quartet that took team bronze medals in the National Novice at Dundalk last month.
The Stag mentors will be looking for big efforts from them, Philip Goss, Andrew Considine, Tony Simmons and Kent Swann, among others.
The increasingly popular Run Forest Run Series arrives at its sixth race tomorrow (11:00am) in Gosford Forest Park near Markethill. Online entry has already closed but it may be possible to register prior to the race.
The course is a mixture of road and forest track through dense woodland and past Gosford Castle which has featured in Game of Thrones. Markethill is approximately 15 minutes from Newry on the road to Armagh.
It is also the third race in the Sperrin Harriers Winter League (12:00 noon) with a five-miler at An Creagan Centre in Tyrone. There are two events in the northwest with the St Patricks College 5k/10k tomorrow (2:30pm) in Dungiven and the Ballykelly Trail Run on Sunday (11.30am).