It was a big weekend for cross country with Harriers contesting championship events across the full age spectrum. In the British and Irish Vets International cross country at the Queen’s playing fields in Belfast (the Dub) on Saturday, the Harriers’ Tommy Hughes boosted the Ireland team to gold medals in the V50 category while Conor Curran and Gladys Ganiel O’Neill helped Northern Ireland teams to bronze medals in the V35 men’s and women’s categories. At the Uneven Juvenile championships in Killybegs, Conal McCambridge continued his good form to pick up seventh in the Under-17 age group.
Roisin Hughes, fresh off her personal best of 3.06 in the Dublin Marathon, was also recognised as the overall women’s winner of the Northern Ireland Half Marathon Series, which consists of eight races throughout the year.
Veterans Cross Country
Tommy Hughes was in fine form running for Ireland, picking up seventh overall in his V50 category as his team won gold medals. He completed the 8km course in 27.50 as the third Irish team member, about 31 seconds behind race winner Graeme Saker from England.
In the women’s V35 race, run over 6 km, Gladys Ganiel O’Neill was in a tight battle throughout with the three eventual medallists: Claire Martin from England (21.21), Julie Turley from Ireland (21.34) and Barbara Cleary from Ireland (21.36). Gladys finished up fourth in 21.39 as her Northern Ireland team claimed bronze.
In the men’s V35 race, Conor Curran ran strongly to place 20th in the category as the fourth scorer for the Northern Ireland team that won bronze.
Other Harriers competing, both on Northern Ireland teams, were Jim Newberry in V60 (31.30) and Greg McClure in V55 (33.20).
Juvenile Uneven Cross Country
Thirteen harriers from the junior squad travelled 270 miles roundtrip to Killybegs to contest the Northern Ireland and Ulster Uneven Age Group Cross Country. Conal McCambridge had the highest finish, notching 7th in the Under-17 category. Other top 20 finishes on the day included Conor McQuillan (14th in Under-15) and Tony McCambridge (16th in Under-13).
Others putting in solid performances were Catherine McGinnity and Katie McCambridge in the Under-17, Niall Geehan in Under-17, Beth McArdle and Maya McCathie in Under-15, Joseph Lennon in Under-15, Damian Marquess in Under-13, and an Under-11 squad of Fionn Nagle, Brendan McCambridge and Marc McCann.
Half Marathon Series
Roisin Hughes’ efforts over the course of the year in the Northern Ireland Half Marathon series were acknowledged during the week with the announcement that she was the overall women’s winner of the eight race contest. Her fastest time during the year was 87:52 at the Waterside Half in Derry.
Andrew Considine took top honours in the men’s V35 category while Greg McClure was third in the V55 competition.
Several Harriers completed the first Park Run held in the Republic of Ireland, travelling to Malahide to support this pioneering event. Matt Shields finished third in 18.32 in a field of 159, while John Murphy (20.15) and Jim Clinton (21.59) were 6th and 21st.
Back at the Waterworks, Brendan Grew (17.16) and Roisin Hughes (20.23) were the first across the line, with Roisin running within 5 seconds of her personal best. Eoin McQuillan finished second and secured a personal best of 17.29, while Simon Reeve was fifth in 19.21.
They were followed home by Tony McCambridge (20.55), Mannix McAlister (21.13), Martin Cox in a personal best of 21.21, Kilian Woods (21.52), and Jack Carberry in a personal best of 22.08. Next across the line were Paul Williams (22.14), Ita McCambridge (22.41 for the third woman), John Robert Johnston (22.50), John O’Hare (25.28) and Tina Haggan (32.06).
At Queen’s, Paul Jenkins ran well to claim fourth in 18.42, while Philip Donnelly clocked 19.49 for 7th. Damien Gill (22.08) and Kevin Lavery (22.55) also completed the course. At the Falls, Mark Shields (20.50) and Stuart Kennedy (21.40) were 7th and 8th, while Joe Norney was 9th at Victoria in 18.47.
(Thanks to Mark Ramsay for photo of Tommy Hughes)