Autumn Open to spark winter season
Cross Country begins in earnest
The Autumn Open International Cross Country Festival will spark the winter season into full stride with athletes of all ages and abilities taking to the natural terrain at the National Sports Campus this Sunday (October 22nd).
The event which is supported by Fingal County Council will showcase Ireland’s talent from junior level right up to the masters along with a selection of international runners.
The combined women’s race of juniors, seniors and masters (and men 65+) gets underway in Abbotstown at 2pm with respective distances of 4,500m (junior and masters 65+) and 6,000m (seniors and masters 35-64).
Among the women’s senior field are Rio 2016 Olympian Michelle Finn (Leevale) along with fellow cross country internationals Ciara Durkan (Skerries), Siobhan O’Doherty (Borrisokane), Laura Crowe (An Riocht), Shona Heaslip (An Riocht). Heaslip’s coach, Niamh O’Sullivan (An Riocht), will be one of the leading women’s masters as will Sara Doohan (Corran) and Carmel Parnell (Leevale) in their respective age groups.
Athletes from abroad include Jenny Nesbitt (Wales), Mhairi MacLennan (Scotland), Becky Straw and Georgia Malir (both England).
The junior women’s race sees Jodie McCann (DSD) take on a strong Munster contingent that includes Alannah Neff (Leevale), Laura Nicholson (Bandon), Rhona Pierce (Leevale), Stephanie Cotter (West Muskerry) and Avril Deegan (Ballyroan, Abbeyleix and District).
Kevin Dooney (Raheny Shamrock) has been in fine form in 2017 winning national titles on the track over 10,000m and on the road in the half marathon. He is listed for the senior men’s race 7,500m which starts at 2:45pm and this will start his bid for the Irish Life Health National Cross Country Championships on November 26th and selection for the European Cross Country Championships in December.
An interesting entry is Derry Track Club’s Adam Kirk Smith who should be a strong domestic contender against international runners Gideon Kipsang Kimosop (Kenya) and Luke Caldwell (England). Conor Duffy (Glaslough Harriers) is among the leading domestic entrants.
Also covering the 7,500m distance in the race will be the men’s masters 35-64 and includes athletes such as Ian Conroy (Raheny Shamrock), Declan Reed (City of Derry), Paddy Hamilton (Slieve Gullion Runners) and John Todd (Tullamore Harriers) in respective age categories. The master men 65 and above also compete in the women’s race.
There will be big battles in the masters’ races as they bid for selection for the Home Countries International.
Junior men’s 6,000m entrants as part of the last race of the day include Charlie O’Donovan (Leevale), Micheal Power (West Waterford), Patrick McNiff (Newcastle & District), Fintan Stewart (City of Derry) and Luke McCann (DSD).
The Autumn Open provides the perfect opportunity for athletes of all abilities to run on the purpose built cross country course in Abbotstown while for the elite it will mark their intentions for the season ahead. Let the battle for mud and glory begin.
For entries to date (there is also entry on the day) click HERE (Updated 19/10/2017 9am)