LONG NIGHT AT THE RACES
The opening meeting of the 2017 FIRMUS Super 6 proved to be the longest in the almost thirty years history of the event due mainly to the large entry of over 300 competitors most of whom went home late but happy with their performances with a string of personal bests across the age groups. As well as the usual spread of athletes from across the Province the meeting had an International flavour with the appearance of Italy’s Roberto James Pauluzzi and twenty two year old Heptathlete MArika Marlicka from AWF Warzawa in Poland. Both went back to their respective countries with Gold Firmus medals.
Full Results are available on the ANI Website http://www.athleticsni.org/results
TITANIC EFFORTS HIGH AND LOW
The Sky Blue and Navy were spread far and wide this weekend and none were closer to the sky than the fells runners who took on the Donard Challenge and the accompanying Junior Trails. Callum McCabe took plunge into the strange world that involves running up and down mountains and emerged keen to give it another go. He will be able to gain excellent advice from the likes of Shileen, Hazel, Anne and Trevor who took on the full Challenge to the top of NI’s highest peak at 850 metres. Shileen continued her success in these events by finishing as 2nd NI lady.
In the first major track meet of the season Laura Frey concluded her Irish Universities career with a great Silver medal in the triple jump.
Down at sea level the Titanic 10k and 1 Mile saw the club well represented in both events with the top performance coming from Eimear McBrien who was the first girl in 5:56 just ahead of Khara Edgar in 6:02. The older generation took on the 10K with Paul Carlisle our first finisher in 39:12 with Julie Murphy winning the W40 category in 40:12
April sees the start of the Lagan Valley Super 6 Series with the hugely popular meetings again being supported by Firmus Energy. The launch of the 2017 Series also saw the presentation of the Athletes of the Series for 2016 and again we were honoured by the appearance of Dame Mary Peters, Ch, DBE who this year will celebrate the 45th Anniversary of her winning the Olympic Pentathlon title in Munich. The Super 6 will follow the same format as last year providing competition across all the Track and Field disciplines for athletes from 8 years old to Masters.
THE BLUES GO BRONZE IN LURGAN
The Lagan Valley Senior women’s team defied the pundits by taking the bronze medals in the Northern Ireland & Ulster Senior Cross Country Championships in Lurgan Park on Saturday. Unheralded before the race the Sky Blue and Navy produced their secret weapon in the form of schoolgirl Leila Ponziani who unphased by her first appearance in a Senior team let alone a Senior Championship produced a stunning run to finish in 11th place overall and lead her more experienced colleagues Shileen O’Kane, Julie Murphy and Suzanne Higgins onto the podium. It was great team effort with just 30 seconds covering the quartet. Thanks to Raymond for taking the photograph.
It was busy weekend for club members with performances being posted all over the Province in a variety of events. Phil Cairnduff went under the 20 minutes barriers at the Stormont parkrun while Kate Montgomery also parkran only further afield in Derry where Eric contested the local 10 mile event with a supereb 68 minute run winning his age category.
Content in the fact that there was strong team in Lurgan, Hazel McLaughlin took to the mountains in the first fell race of the season.
LONDON (and LURGAN) CALLING
There were a host of excellent individual and team performances at the Ulster Schools Cross Country Championships at Mallusk last week which means that we will see many of our club members lining up once again at the same venue for the All Ireland Schools on March 11. As a result of their fine performances two Lagan Valley athletes have been selected to represent Northern Ireland in the London Mini Marathon. Congratulations to both Cormac and Leila.
This weekend sees the Senior Women contest the Northern Ireland Senior Cross Country Championships at the excellent Lurgan Park course with the race taking place at 1.30 pm.
COLD INDOORS and WET OUTDOORS MEDALS GALORE
The temperature that greeted the early arrivals to the Meadowbank Indoor Arena in Magherafelt at the weekend was sub zero but this did not deter the small contingent from Lagan Valley from producing some heart warming performances and helping themselves to a load of medals. Thanks to Coach McCorkell for documenting the successes.
Athlete Age Event Distance PB ? Medal
Tony Craig U15 60m 7.72 PB Gold
Tia Cashman-Hooke U17 60mH 10.21 PB Gold
Cormac O’Rourke U17 800m 2.06.32 Gold
Olivia Bowes U18 Long jump 4.90m Gold
Emily Forte U18 Triple Jump 10.24m Gold
Harriet Dougan U17 Pole Vault 3.00m PB Gold
Kara McDonald U19 Long jump 4.96m Gold
Tia, Amy, Paola, Bree U17 4x200m Relay 1.59.6 PB Gold
Amy Stewart U16 60m 8.38 PB Silver
Olivia Bowes U18 60mH 10.4 PB Silver
Libby Maloney U16 800m 2.26.5 Silver
Ethan Bryce U16 High Jump 1.60m Silver
Kara McDonald U19 Triple Jump 9.62m Silver
Emily forte U18 Long Jump 4.64m Silver
Sarah McGlynn U18 Shot Putt 9.45m Silver
Sarah, Olivia, Tia, Harriet U18 4x200m Relay 2.03.00 Silver
Tia Cashman-Hooke U17 60m 8.81 Bronze
STRONG EMBRACE FROM ANNUAL CHARITY RACE
The Annual Charity Handicap Race continues to go from strength and the generosity of Lagan Valley members and friends is amazing. Patricia Carty representing Embrace NI was delighted to receive a cheque for £650 raised as a result of the event, a sum which will to put to good use in alleviating the plight of some of the recent refugees joining our community in Northern Ireland. Not only did Embrace NI profit from the 5k race but the excess gifts were donated to a Cancer Research shop. Well done everyone and special thanks to Glenn Grant from Championchip Ireland for his invaluable support.
Higher Height for Harriet
Harriet Dougan became Lagan Valley’s first Champion of 2017 when she soared to a new personal best performance of 3 metres at the Jordanstown indoor arena. This was 10 cms in excess of her best last season and 35 cms better than her performance in the same Championships in 2016. Onwards and upwards!
Northern Ireland and Ulsters Cross Country
There was an excellent turn out of Lagan Valley runners at Gransha on the banks of the River Foyle for the Masters, Intermediate and Junior Cross Country Championships. Conditions were very unseasonable and the underfoot conditions much better than anticipated and this coupled with lack of any hills made for fast running. The women’s Masters and elderly gentlemen were first in the fray and the latter produced two medal winning performances from Fred Hamond and Francis Boal. The ladies were lacking a few potential high ranking runners due to illness but the quartet of Shileen O’Kane, Julie Murphy, Hazel McLaughlin and Iryana Kennedy ensured that we completed a team.The Masters Men over 8 kilometres saw ten Sky Blue and Navy fighting it out with Frank Sharkey our top finisher leading home the team of Jason Ratcliffe Johnny Irvine and Philip Brines. Sadly we had no teams in the Intermediate Women and Junior Men race but Phil Cairnduff, Olivia Baxter and Suzie Cave ensured that the club was represented.
JUNIORS at JORDANSTOWN
The Open Hurdles and Sprints meeting at Jordanstown attracted a good entry with a number of Lagan Valley junior athletes getting in some sharp competition before the Championships in Magherafelt next month. The half dozen Sky Blue runners all took advantage of the occasion with a number of excellent personal best performances from Bryan McCorkell’s Sprint Squad. Andrew Proctor with his first outing over 60m indoors showed that he is progressing well under new coach Philip Snoddy with two impressive wins and a best of 7.22. Tia Cashman-Hooke, Olivia Bowes and Ethan Williamson all doubled up in Hurdles and Flat while Amy Stewart and Aidan Dickey ran 8.41 and 7.55 personal bests respectively. http://athleticsni.org/Results
ANNUAL CHARITY HANDICAP 5K
Lagan Valley AC got 2017 off to a great start with the Annual Charity Handicap run over a testing 5K course, starting and finishing at the Mary Peters Track. Thankfully the weather was much kinder than last year and over 100 members and friends of all ages completed the course. With runners / walkers setting off at separate times depending on ability the answer to the question “who was fastest” was very quickly answered by ChampionChip Ireland guru Glenn Grant who kindly supported the event. Like 2016 the honour went to a Carty but on this occasion it was Peter who took the bragging rights ahead of dad Neil. The fastest lady also went to the younger generation with Leila Ponziani holding off the somewhat more experienced Shileen O’Kane. Following the exertions there was the prize giving or exchange of unwanted Christmas Gifts as it is traditionally known and Coach McKeown was the clear winner of this exchange. The most important announcement of the morning was the amount of money raised for the chosen charity Enhance NI. Following the deduction of expenses, which amounted to the usual zero, the generosity of club members and friends meant that a cheque of almost £600 will be handed over, far in excess of what was expected.