At this weekend’s Antrim IAAF Cross Country International victory in the Senior Men’s race was claimed by reigning World Cross Country Champion, Japhet Korir of Kenya.
Organised by Athletics NI and supported by Antrim Borough Council and Sport NI the event showcased top local and international cross country running much to the delight of spectators.
In an enthralling 10K Men’s race there was a fascinating battle between Korir, team mate Emmanuel Bett and last year’s winner Thomas Akeyo of Uganda. In a frantic dash for the line Korir’s front running was rewarded with a 2 second victory margin over Akeyo.
The lead group set a hectic pace which ignored the tough underfoot conditions. European bronze medallist Andy Vernon stayed in contention in the early stages but eventually dropped back when Korir, Akeyo and Bett broke away.
The lead three battled over the final lap with Bett trying to claim a second win over Korir in the space of a month. However 20 year old World Champion Korir was not to be denied and Bett ultimately took the bronze one second behind Akeyo.
“The course was very tough and muddy. I am very happy with the win especially after all my injuries.”
Vernon secured sixth place ahead of Ireland’s Michael Mulhare and ninth place finisher Paul Pollock who took the NI & Ulster title. Stephen Scullion from South Belfast was second NI finisher in fourteenth.
The NI & Ulster Men’s Team title went to City of Derry Spartans AC (256) followed by North Down AC in second (344) and North Belfast Harriers (426).
In the Women’s race, victory was claimed by Bahrain’s Mimi Belete. 2013 winner, double European Cross Country champion Fionnuala Britton finished 2 seconds off a rostrum place in fourth.
Britton initially led a tactical race where the opposition included the Bahrain couple Mimi Belete and Maryam Jamal. European U23 bronze medallist Charlotte Purdue and Senior silver medallist Gemma Steel were also well to the fore.
Britton initially took the lead over the challenging and in places muddy course. However, the chasing pack made a concentrated challenge over most of the final lap. In a feverish sprint in the home straight Mimi Belete just took the honours by 1 second ahead of double World 1,500 metres champion Jamal with bronze going to Almensch Belete.
Britton was followed by Britain’s Purdue and Steel who were 5th and 6th. The gutsy Purdue said she gave the race her best shot and was pleased with her run following a long period on the sidelines with injury. She will be renewing her rivalry with Britton and Steel in the Bupa Great Edinburgh Cross Country on the 11th January.
The NI & Ulster title went to Springwell RC’s Eimear Mullan who finished fourteenth overall. Silver went to last year’s winner, Gladys Ganiel of North Belfast Harriers and bronze to Armagh’s Danielle Fegan. Team victory in the Women’s event went to North Belfast Harriers (119) followed by Springwell RC (144) and North Down AC (195).
(Photos from the event are now available here: Athletics NI Gallery)
Highlights will be broadcast on Setanta Ireland, Premier Sports UK, Setanta Africa and Zuku Sports.Highlights will also be available shortly on BritishAthleticsTV
Setanta Ireland (Sky Irl 423/UPC 105/401)
Thurs 9 Jan – 6:00pm
Fri 10 Jan – 9:00pm (Setanta 1)
Sat 11 Jan – 10:00am
Sun 12 Jan – 8:30am (Setanta 1)
Mon 13 Jan – 6:30am
Fri 17 Jan – 4:30pm
Sun 19 Jan – 6:00pm (Setanta 1)
Tue 21 Jan – 5:00am (Setanta 1)
Premier Sports UK (Sky 428/Virgin 551 freeview)
Fri 10 Jan – 9:00pm
Sun 12 Jan – 8:30am
Sun 19 Jan – 6:00pm
Tue 21 Jan – 5:00am
Zuku Sports (Local times)
Thurs 16 Jan – 13:45
Thurs 23 Jan – 14:45
Thurs 30 Jan – 08:30
Setanta Africa (Local times)
Mon 13 Jan – 16:15
Tue 14 Jan – 20:00
Thurs 16 Jan – 00:30
Sun 19 Jan – 12:30