Double European cross-country champion Fionnuala Britton will defend her title at the Antrim International at Greenmount, Co Antrim on Saturday January 12. That will come after her run in Saturday’s Great Edinburgh Cross, where she takes on a strong international field.
Britton’s successful defence of her European title in Budapest capped a breakthrough year for the 28-year old Kilcoole athlete.
After switching from the steeplechase to the 5000m and 10,000m, she improved her personal best times not only over these distances but also over 3000m last summer. She finished fourth over 5000m at the European Championships in Helsinki and ran both 5000m and 10,000m at the London Olympics, recording a personal best time in the 10,000m.
Following her European cross-country success, Britton showed that she’s on target for a strong result in the World Championships next March by finishing second at an international cross-country in Brussels.
While the international field for Antrim has yet to be finalised, one confirmed starter is London 2012 marathon runner Linda Byrne of Dundrum South Dublin. Byrne, who won the Irish cross-country title at Santry last February, finished eighth in Budapest and helped the Irish to an historic team gold.
Over the Christmas, Byrne beat all the men at a charity race in Longford, completing the 5km distance in 16 mins 44 secs. She also runs in Edinburgh on Sunday.
Previous competitors in the 35 year old history of the Antrim International have included Steve Ovett, Steve Cram, Brendan Foster, John Treacy, Paul Tergat, Paula Radcliffe, Catherina McKiernan, Charlotte Purdue and Hayley Yelling.
* Online entry for the men and women’s senior and junior races, as well as U13,15,17, and 19 juveniles races is available at the Athletics Northern Ireland website until 9am on Monday January 7. Entry fees are £6 senior, £4 juvenile.
Tymon Park, Tallaght is the venue for Saturday’s South Dublin County-Council Cross-Country – the opening race in this year’s Business Houses Athletics Association calendar. Men and women are welcome to run the 4-mile race (12.30pm), although there is also a 2-mile women’s only race on offer (12 noon). Registration is at St Jude’s GAA Club, Wellington Lane. With the New Year just beginning, annual membership fees are now due – pay at the races or via the new-look BHAA website, where race entry is also available for guests. See www.bhaa.ie.
Maria McCambridge set a new women’s record of 28 mins 18 secs at the annual Greencastle 5-Mile road race in Co Tyrone. Overall winner of the race in 24 mins 57 secs was Stephen Scullion of North Belfast Harriers/Clonliffe. In second place was Gary O’Hanlon of Clonliffe. O’Hanlon with partner Brian McCluskey of North East Runners was also second in the well-supported Castlewellan Christmas Cracker two-person relay last weekend behind East Down’s Liam Venney and Brendan Teer.
Raheny raiders managed two doubles over the holiday period. At the Fields of Athenry 10km, Mick Clohisey showed a welcome return to from when he won the men’s race in 30 mins 57 seconds, while Elish Kelly was first woman in 35 mins 45 secs. At the Cavan 5km, Simon Ryan was first man in 15 mins 47 secs and Fiona Roche fourth overall and first woman in 16.40.
* Entries are pouring in for the AXA Raheny 5-Mile on Sunday January 27 – one of the first big races of the New Year. Register now at the Raheny Shamrock website.
Eoin Flynn of Rathfarnham WSAF, based in the Canaries these days, headed for the beach on his return to Dublin for the holidays and won the annual Bull Run 5-Mile in Clontarf. First of the women was Raheny’s Orla Gormley; husband Tom Loftus was third man behind Sean Eriksen. Best juniors were Michael McAuley and Lauren Coffey with BHAA regular Mat Cooley beating Raheny’s Sean McGoldrick for the veteran prize.
Arkadiusz Mroz was the winner of the Fat Turkey 10km around Howth Hill organised by Sutton Rugby Club. Mroz finished in 34 mins 56 secs, with Declan Power second and David Kirwin thrid. Anne Marie Woods was first woman in 44 mins 58 secs.