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Dave McKibbin

The first event of the new season was the North Belfast 10k at Roughfort. Peter Smith made a welcome appearance and finished 7th overall as he easily took the M40 class.

Matt Shields led the M50’s and was just ahead of M45 kingpin Sammy McAnaney while Joe Quinn headed the M55’s.

Ruth Magill in 5th overall won the W45’s from Fionnuala McCourt with Martina Elliot heading the W40’s

The action then moved to Derry for the Waterside half marathon which included the Northern Ireland Championships, Perter Murtagh ran very strongly to take the M40 prize ahead of David Brady, Nigel Greer and Marty McLaughlin.

Sammy McAnaney and Robert Wilson led the M45’s with Paul Murphy just beating Jim Breen at M50. Terry Eakin continued to show good from as he won the M55 with Jimmy Reid continuing his domination of the M65.

Louise McLean in 4th had a good F35 success.

Mark Kirk led the masters in the Bangor classis 10k. The former Commonwealth athlete was able to use his speed over the fast finish. Alan McCullough was 5th overall but as in Derry opted for the open race.

Mario Donnelly was just two seconds ahead of the returning Nelson Cahoon in the M50’s. Terry Eakin made the back-to-back M55 victories with Derek Jeffers running well to win the M60. Michael Spottswood was top M65.

Anne Paul was top lady vet as she took the F40’s Rona harkens was top F35 with former Belfast marathon winner Roma McConville taking the F45.

Matthew Wray and Mario Donnelly were top masters in the Felix McCullough 10k race in Dungannon. Jimmy Gillespie came third.

Anne Paul was over five minutes clear of the rest in the open race.

It was the turn of Declan McCarty to win the M40 at the Pegasus forest race which he won from Billy Orr and Matt Wray. Davy Allen and Roy Ferguson at M45 and Jim Breen and Gerry O’Doherty atM50 led their groups with Irwin Spiers and Norman Lellyett taking M55 and M60.

Mairaid Gribben F35 and Kay hack were the top lady masters.

It was Mark Kirk again at Crawfordsburn as he took the M40 from Karl Dines. Robert Wilson had ten seconds in hand over Davy Allen in the M45 with Jim Newberry and Ray Curran heading the M50

Jim Hayes made a welcome return to take the M55 with Davy Seaton celebrating his elevation to M60 with a stunning victory. Debbie Matchett was first F35.

The action moved to the Larne relays which were very disappointingly attended. The City of Derry quartet of Declan McCarthy, Michael Kealey, Dermott Connolly and Noel McMonagle took gold ahead of a strong challenge from Larne.

Rona Harkins in third and Ruth Magill 4th were top veterans in the ladies 2 miles event.

Alan McCullough in third and Dermott Kerr 6th led the M40 and M45 in the prestigious Armagh 10 miler the day after Larne. Mario Donnelly ran well to lead the M50 with Terry Eakin taking the M55. Anne Paul took a good second overall.

At the Lisburn relays the veteran’s race was held at the same time as the open. Frank Sharkey led for lagan Valley on the first stage then Peter Murtagh put Willowfield into the lead which was consolidated by Merwyn Chambers and Karl Dines. City of Derry came second with Lagan Valley third.

Rona Harkins ran the final stage for Lagan Valley B who took the Silver medals in the ladies race behind their own A team.

Next came the eagerly awaited Comber cup meeting which included the trails for the Vets International. All the top contenders were assembled with the exception of Peter Smith and Michael Kealey. It looked to be a thrilling contest but one man had other ideas as Alan McCullough blasted into the lead, increased it all the way and ran tout the winner by over a minute.

Mark Kirk settled for a safe second ahead of Peter Murtagh, Frank Sharkey, Richard Rodgers and Declan McCarthy. It looked to be a great team for the International but unfortunately Murtagh and Sharkey were apparently not registered in time.

Matt Shields in 7th was top M50 with Sammy McAnaney M45 and Terry Eakin M55 winning their groups. Davy Seaton just lost out on the M60 to English based Tony Gray in a sprint finish.

Jimmy Reid took the M65’s which were held separately. The multi-medallist won from Hugh Young, Billy Brannigan, Drew Crawford and Michael Spottswood.

Karen Marshall o her way to greater things easily won the ladies with Sheelagh Bodkin, Alwynne Shannon and Ruth Magill taking the W35, W40 and W45.

Alwynne Shannon and Richard Rodgers were leading Vets at Castlewellen with Frank Sharkey and Sheelagh Bodkin winning at Ballyclare while with most otherwise occupied at Santry it was Matthew Wray and Carol Annesley at Jordanstown. Jim Brown M45, Brendan Montague M50, Francis Boal M55 and Roy Gray M60 won their section.