Athletes in the Marathon Potential 2024 squad will join runners from across Northern Ireland at the Championchip Ireland Running series in the socially distanced 10k run, sponsored by Forestside Shopping Centre, to be held at the Down Royal Racecourse on 18th July.

This will be the first Athletics NI licensed event since lockdown began in March.

Other events that will take place on the day will include a four-mile run and a Half Marathon. Runners will start in waves and will be socially distanced throughout each run.

There will be an elite 10k run for members of the Athletics NI Marathon Potential 2024 Squad and other guest runners including Olympic qualifier, Stephen Scullion who, like all runners, has been eagerly awaiting an opportunity to test fitness after three months of solo training.

Marathon Potential 2024

The Marathon Potential 2024 programme aims to deliver Olympic standard marathon runners for Paris 2024 Games. It includes Northern Ireland record holder, Ann Marie McGlynn, and Eoghan Totten who both ran personal bests at the Dublin Marathon last year with 2:32 and 2:16 respectively, along with others who are yet to move to the marathon.

The project began last autumn with the squad meeting regularly for training and education until lockdown began in March. The runners have continued to communicate and support each other but training has been solo until now and all are keen for a run out together on 4th July.

10k targets post lockdown

Before lockdown, many of the men’s squad were aiming to break the 30-minute barrier for 10k including Ben Branagh, Conan McCaughey and Chris Madden, who all ran close to 30 minutes for 10k during the winter. The squad are planning a group attempt to get as many men under 30 minutes as they can with Stephen Scullion setting the pace.

Top marathoner Scullion setting the pace. Photo: Lindie Naughton

Ann Marie McGlynn and Fionnuala Ross both have times below 34 minutes for 10k, but Fionnuala is based in Scotland. As a result she is not able to travel for this event. Before lockdown, Jessica Craig was in the shape of her life and knocking chunks off her personal bests in every outing.

Athletics NI will enlist male pace makers to help each of the women achieve their target times.

Time for a time trial

Mark Kirk, Lead Coach for the Marathon Potential 2024 programme said, “We are very much looking forward to the Championchip Ireland 10k at Down Royal and for the Marathon Potential 2024 squad to support each other for their target time over the 10k distance.

We have been in regular contact throughout the lockdown period to ask how we can best support the runners. Their most pressing need was a time trial of some sort and we were planning to provide this so when we heard about Championchip’s plans we got in touch to see if the squad could be accommodated.

Huge thanks to Glenn Grant at Championchip Ireland for supporting us in this.”

Working within government guidelines

Glenn Grant, event organiser said, “One of our prime aims is to provide the running community with opportunity for runners to reach their goals, whether it is for faster times, covering the distance or raising money for charity and so we are busy planning not just for this event but for a whole series.

We are very much looking forward to welcoming runners back to this first event on 4th July within government guidelines. It will certainly feel different from previous races but we are confident that the Royal Down venue will be perfect for fabulous racing under the current restrictions. “

The Championchip Ireland Running Series will span the summer period with events across a variety of distances inc 5k, 10k and half marathon at locations throughout Northern Ireland.

Race series continues

After Down Royal the action moves to Balmoral Park at the Maze on August 1st and 2nd with 5k, 10k and half marathon distances, then Glenarm Castle on August 8th for 5k and 10k trail races. Further dates and venues will be announced for August and September.

The prize list will cover the top 10 athletes on the rankings using age graded performances from any of the races. The runners overall total age graded score will be used to rank the runners so the more races they complete the higher will be the total.

The prize list is as follows:

  • 1st – £300
  • 2nd – £200
  • 3rd – £120
  • 4th – £80
  • 5th – £75
  • 6th – £60
  • 7th – £50
  • 8th – £45
  • 9th – £40
  • 10th – £30

A runner can enter and run in more than one race at any venue to boost their score.

Sign up for the Running Series today and make sure your lockdown training is rewarded for a fast time on these brand-new courses:

Want to run faster? For just £30 per month athletes are provided with a Final Surge plan for each day of the week, coaching advice from Robbie Britton and Tom Craggs, as well as access to the unique Fast Running Performance community.

If you would like more information on joining the project, click here