Carson shines in home country

MID Ulster athlete Grace Carson was Northern Ireland’s top performer at the Home Country Cross Country International in Milton Keynes. The annual match was held as part of the Chiltern League, with Scotland failing to field teams in either the men’s or women’s races. Carson entered the race in spectacular form with fast parkrun results over the past few weeks and did not disappoint in what was a strong National field by any standard.

Carson finished just three seconds behind her compatriot Alexandra Millard, a student at Loughborough University, who was representing the host country with another England representative, Jessica Gibbon, four seconds clearer in bronze medal position. Hannah Gilliland (eighth) and Rebekah (Nixon) Osbourne also rode well to give NI second place in the team standings behind England.

Eskander Turki was the main local representative in the men’s competition, taking fifth place behind four Englishmen led by brothers Mahamed and Zak Mahamed. Andrew Milligan, like Grace Carson, also had some great performances on the road recently with a fine seventh place finish. Craig McMeechan rounded out the trio of NI scorers in ninth position to cement second place in the team rosters.

Meanwhile, the focus was at home at the Santry Demesne in Dublin, where the British and Irish Masters Cross Country Championships returned to the calendar for the first time since 2019. The northern masters acquitted themselves well at the exceeded expectations with three team medals and four individual medals.

There is no doubt that the highlight of the afternoon from a local perspective was the overall victory for Coleraine man Steven McAlary in the star event, the M35-49 race . McAlary had a strong final lap to win the U35 title. And with John Craig (2nd), Peter McGarry (11th) and Chris Hutchinson (11th) all excelling on the right ground conditions, the North were able to claim a rare team victory in the event.

The North M60 team of Norman Mawhinney (10th), Laurence Johnston (11th) and Declan McCarthy (13th) won team bronze while the M70 combination of Brian Stewart (sixth), Terry Eakin (8th) and Pat Rocks (11th) did better with the team silver.

The NI women in the past have always outplayed the men in this match, but not on this occasion as it was left to Carrick resident Ellie Crawford to take home the solitary medal with a runners-up spot in the group. of age W50, loser. on the narrow individual gold to the Irish Annette Kealy.

Derry man Declan Reed, racing for the Republic, finished second in the M45 race and was part of the winning team. Likewise, Omagh Harrier Stephen Duncan won a team silver medal with the South in the U50 age group. Donegal athletes are never far from the podium in this game and 2022 has been no different with Natasha Adams (W45) and Pauric McKinney (M55) both winning individual gold.

Toya J. Bell