Declan Reed of promoting club City of Derry Spartans and North Belfast Harriers Gladys Ganiel were convincing winners of the 6K Open race at a very well supported North West cross country championships last Saturday in a surprisingly sunny and mild Gransha grounds.
A determined Reed saw off strong challanges from perennial Masters rival Annadale’s David Morwood and the promising local Scott Rankin of Foyle Valley. A typical fluent, flowing run got him home eight seconds clear of the fast finishing Morwood with Rankin a further seventeen seconds in arrears at the end of the three lap contest. With close up support from fourth placer Noel Logan and a stronger lower order the Spartans claimed the six to score team prize ahead of North Belfast and Foyle Valley. Valley packed brilliantly with four finishers in the top twelve but lacked the back up to trouble the lead duo beyond that.
Valley’s Keith Shields looked good in fifth and took the M35 prize,
North’s Connor Magill, the 2011 Ulster Novice winner was sixth, his clubmate Alan O’Hara seventh, and only two seconds separated the next three, top U20 Willowfield’s Ryan Holt, Andrew Annett of Mourne Runners and the gutsy Pius McIntyre of Foyle Valley.The winning Spartans squad was completed by M40 winner Colin Roberts, Paddy Mhor Doherty, Paul McCafferty and Kieran Hurley.
In the womens race Gladys Ganiel confirmed her class with an emphatic win, finishing a minute clear of Letterkenny’s Fionnuala Diver with third placer Patricia O’Hagan of St Peters AC almost half a minute further back. The next three were in close pursuit and finished in a four second period, North Down’s Jessica Craig just edging out Omagh Harrier Michelle Sturm and the leading local Catherine Whoriskey of City of Derry.
Sturm led an impressive Omagh squad to a surprise team success, their four scorers pipping the Spartans by just three points with the previous all conquering North Down back in third. Whoriskey was supported by the top F50 Anne Paul in seventh, Jackie McGinley and Hannah Shields.
There was a record 225 recorded finishers in the Open race with 25 different clubs represented on the start line, the points at stake in both the ANI Winter League and the NI Masters League plus the established reputation of the event, clearly contributing to attracting the big entry who thoroughly entertained the massed ranks of spectators on a rare sunny winters day.
The remaining Female age group prizes went to Gillian Wasson of Springwell F35; Omagh’s Julie Butler F40; Helen Stockdale of Clones AC F 45;Roisin Lynch City of Derry F60; Brigid Quinn Ballymena Runners F65 and Sara Moore Omagh Harriers U20. The remaining male category winners were Francis Marsh North Down M45; Tommy Hughes NBH M50; Paddy Ward Letterkenny M55; Jim Newberry NBH M60; Christy McMonagle City of Derry M65 and Jim Platt Springwell M70.
There were two good local wins in the U17 4K with the Spartans Shane McGowan and Aoife Laverty taking the honours.