Top class athletes from all over the country will be in action at the Athletics Ireland Masters in the Intermediate Cross Country Championship in Derry~Londonderry on Sunday 3 February as part of the UK City of Culture celebrations.
A first-rate 12-race programme has been organised for Gransha with more than 1,200 runners taking part, from the under-11 juvenile category to the over-35 Masters category.
Athletes will competing for both club and county honours and a big local entry from clubs in Derry~Londonderry, Donegal and Tyrone is expected as they target medals on familiar ground.
Culture Company Cultural Programmer Gareth Stewart said: “Sport plays a hugely important role in the City of Culture celebrations and it’s wonderful to be able welcome so many of the country’s top athletes to the city for these Championships.”
The course at Gransha is hugely popular with local athletes and serves as the venue for The St Patrick’s week 5k, Dessie’s Run, the Waterside Half Marathon and the North West Cross Country Championships.
Local Race Director Gerry Lynch said: “It is very significant and very appropriate that the championships are being staged here in the City of Culture year. We are very grateful for the support of Culture Company. We are going to see top athletes from all over the country from under-11 up to Masters in action.
“I am particularly looking forward to local athletes getting the chance to compete for Championship honours on home turf.”
Neil Martin, chairperson of the Ulster Athletic Council added: “We were delighted when the City of Derry Spartans applied to host the Championships because it gives the Ulster clubs the opportunity to compete without having to travel long distances which is usually the case.
“County Derry and County Donegal are two of the most successful counties in the northern half of the country and it will be great to see them competing strongly over a course that they know so well.
“Athletics Ireland are only too willing return to Derry in the City of Culture year. There was absolutely no doubt as to the choice of venue for this year once Derry had applied for it.”
There are races for both men and women at Intermediate level and at Masters’ level. The Gransha Grounds will have courses of 1,000 metres for the under-11 ranging up to 8,000 metres for the Intermediate men’s race.The first race gets underway at 11.30am with the final race due to start by 3.40pm.
About the UK City of Culture
Derry~Londonderry 2013 promises a year-long cultural feast of music, dance, theatre, art and much more on the banks of the River Foyle.
The UK City of Culture initiative was announced by the UK Government in 2009, building on Liverpool’s success as European Capital of Culture in 2008, inviting cities to compete for the first UK City of Culture title in 2013. Derry~Londonderry is the winner of the title for 2013. The other shortlisted cities were Birmingham, Norwich and Sheffield.
Derry~Londonderry UK City of Culture 2013 is funded by the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure of the Northern Ireland Executive, with core funding from Derry City Council, and capital infrastructure delivered by Ilex, Urban Regeneration Company. The cultural programme is also funded by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Arts Council of England, the British Council and others.
For more info see http://www.cityofculture2013.com