Victory For Reed and Alexander at McConnell Shield XC
79th McConnell Shield
On Saturday 9th November 2013, East Antrim Harriers hosted the 79th McConnell Shield Cross Country in beautiful surrounds of Six Mile Water Park, Ballyclare.
The Women and Male Masters 60+ was the first senior race of the day, completing a 3 mile route through the park. Over 140 women took to the line with five runners leading the way, setting a fast pace from the outset. Karen Alexander (Sperrin Harriers), Michelle Sturm (Omagh Harriers), Marina Campbell (City of Derry Spartans AC), Suzanne Higgins (Lagan Valley AC), and Gemma Turley (Springwell RC) made up the leading pack.
Karen Alexander and Michelle Sturm split away from the lead group and began to battle for the top spot on the podium. Despite a strong run from Michelle, Karen managed to hold on to her marginal lead to claim victory in 18.05 followed by Michelle in 18.09. City of Derry’s Marina Campbell crossed the line in third (18.13) followed by Springwell’s Gemma Turley in 18.14.
In the Masters’ race North Down’s Terry Aiken (M60) was first home in 18.38 followed by City of Derry’s Peter Lilburn in 19.28. David Seaton of North Down AC was third in the overall Masters’ race and first in the M65 category, crossing the line in 19.58.
The Men’s event was yet another tight race with a strong group leading from the outset. Declan Reed (City of Derry Spartans AC), Alan O’Hara (North Belfast Harriers), Brendan Teer (East Down AC), Scott Rankin (Foyle Valley AC), Neil Johnston (Springwell RC), Allan Bogle (City of Derry Spartans AC), Jonny Steede (Ballymena Runners) and Brian Campbell (Willowfield T Harriers) made up the leading group.
At the halfway point O’Hara, Teer, Reed and Johnston had split away to take the lead and battle it out for the top three spots. Reed pushed the pace on and was the first man home in 26:01. Johnston (Springwell RC) took second place in 26.08, just ahead of North Belfast’s Alan O’Hara, who finished in 26.09.
City of Derry Spartans AC 27 points
North Belfast Harriers 47 points
Ballymena Runners 84 points
Athletics NI Cross Country League
The senior races were the third fixture in the Athletics NI Cross Country League which continues to be hugely popular with clubs throughout the Province.
As we approach the halfway mark in the overall League, City of Derry Spartans AC continue to dominate the Men’s table with an impressive 47 points after just three races. Following some strong performances at the McConnell Shield, Foyle Valley AC held onto to second spot on the table with a total of 30 points. In the middle of the table there was a change of fortune for many of the clubs with North Down AC (18) surpassed by North Belfast Harriers (26 points), Ballymena Runners (23 points) and Springwell RC (22 points).
Impressive performances by Springwell RC saw the Club top the Women’s table with 43 points; they are now 9 points clear of previous leaders, City of Derry Spartans AC (34 points). North Down AC remain in third place just two points shy of City of Derry (32 points). The middle of the table remains tight with just six points separating those placed 4th to 8th.
The next fixture in the League will be the Malcolm Cup on 7th December when runners will once again head to Ballyclare to battle it out for those all important points.