Dempsey leads Harriers home at Antrim XC

FOLLOWING the success of the North West XC races in Derry last week, another bus load of eager Sperrin Harriers decided to give it a second try on Saturday. This time, it was the 36th Antrim IAAF International Cross Country Races which took place in the beautiful grounds of Greenmount College in Antrim. The weather was kind to all with clear blue skies, but there was a chilly January nip in the air.

After a morning of Junior races, the first of the Sperrin Harriers teams were up at 12.30 for the vets O/40 category. The vets were grateful for the early start as the course was still fresh and not too muddy on the 4mile, 3 lap course. Spectators were graced with many great viewing points throughout the route.

As predicted, Jonathan Dempsey led the Harriers home with a time of 21.49, Irwin Speirs was next with 22.24 and Alan Shaw was right behind with 22.26. Tommy Harraghy had 23.45, Trevor Dallas 24.33, Oliver Murphy 25.49, Jason O’Neill 25.25 and Michael McCrory TBC. Jason O’Neill is said to be still out there looking for his shoe in the mud.

In the next race at 2.10pm, Andrew Shaw did a great job of representing Donaghey Primary School. Andrew is no stranger to competing in cross country as this was his second race of the 2013 season. Of the 43 runners in the Primary School Boys category, Andrew finished in a fantastic 29th overall position with a time of 5.40. Well done Andrew!

After Andrew’s race, as 2.30pm approached, the Sperrin Harriers Ladies were settling into their start positions after their brief warmup. The ladies were bound for the same 3 lap distance as the vets had just completed over the softening course. Joanne Bell led our girls over the first lap, followed by Rosemary Harrigan, Hannah Su and Shauna Young. On the second lap Rosemary and Hannah had taken Jo. Hannah suddenly had a fall. She quickly got back on here feet and kept on running. She was just out of reach for Jo who was trying to claim back a place. Things changed again in the last lap as Shauna also gained a place.

The Sperrin Harriers ladies finish was very tight as only 49 seconds divided them all.

Our First Lady Harrier was Rosemary Harrigan with 28.11, followed by Hannah Su with 28.42, Shauna Young was next with 28.55, and Joanne Bell with 29.00. Well done girls, great to have a ladies team again in the XC field.

Last, but certainly not least, was the Senior Men’s category. Seven Sperrin Harriers joined the 150 talented athletes at the start. Many of whom were feared Kenyans.

As the crowds gathered and the temperatures dropped, the race got underway at 3.30pm. Conditions were bitterly cold and tough for the lads who had to endure 7 laps on what was now a well cut up, very soft and muddy course.

Aaron Meharg led the harriers over the first lap followed closely by Aidan Mo’Hagan, Diarmuid O’Kane, Fred Devlin, Jarlath O’Neill, Sean O’Gara and Dean Corey. On lap 4 Aidan had taken front position and Diarmuid just behind followed by Aaron.

On the final lap, the lads facial expressions told it all as they gave it all they had. The race was won by Thomas Ayeko from Uganda with an impressive 33.08.

Aidan Moe’Hagan was first Harrier home with a hard earned 43.33, second was Diarmuid O’Kane with 43.56, third was Aaron Meharg 44.18. Rest of the harriers are as follows Fred Devlin 45.20, Jarlath O’Neill 46.55, Sean O’Gara 47.38, Dean Corey 49.30. great running lads!

Citypark Parkrun

Over at Citypark Parkrun, Craigavon on Saturday morning was another story of success for newest Sperrin Harrier, Paul O’Callaghan. Paul took first place with a new PB of 17.13. Donal Gallagher claimed a close second with 17.18

Winter league

It’s back to the An Creggan Centre this Saturday for the 4th race of the Sperrin Harriers Winter League. Registration opens at 11am and will close at 11.45. Entry is just £3.00 affiliated and £4.00 nonaffiliated. Any Harriers who are not planning on racing on the day and would like to help out, please put your name forward to Francis or Glenn. There will be no track training this Saturday morning.

Raheny 5 Miler

The next club day trip will be to the AXA Raheny 5 miler, Co Dublin on Saturday 26th January. Since there has been a great response to this trip, please put your name forward to Francis Purvis ASAP at avoid disappointment.

Membership renewal

The last remaining members who have not renewed their memberships yet, will need to do so before the end of January. The renewal fee in still just £20.00 For new members the fee is £40.00 for the 1st year and £20.00 thereafter.

Training sessions

Training continues at Meadow Bank Sports Arena on Monday at 6.45pm and Wednesday at 7.30pm and also in Cookstown at Loughry College Campus at 6.30pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Beginners and new members are always welcome as we cater for all abilities.