Report by Siobhan Grant
On Friday, Newcastle Ac Junior runners Emily Kerr, Harry Mc Veigh and Saorlaith McAleenan made the long trip to Mallusk to take part in the Flahavans Primary XC NI Final.
Welcoming over 300 of the province’s best runners who had qualified after 3 gruelling rounds of distances ranging from 1000m to 1400m during the winter months.
The runners with the lowest scores over 2 of the 3 rounds qualified for the finals. With the competition returning to the pre covid structure resulted in qualifying becoming more difficult. As news filtered through, Saorlaith qualified with 3 points, Harry with 5 and Emily with 15 securing the last place for the individual girls qualifaction after a 7th and 8th place in Round 1 and 2.
The final measured 1400m, building on the previous races, the longer distances had proven to suit all three runners better. As avid parkrunners, their endurance and race strategies would play to their advantage in this race over other competitors.
Saorlaith and Emily toed the line side by side, a testament to the friendship these 2 club mates have developed over the series. Both within each others reach at all times throughout the race. Saorlaith crossed the line in 6.29 in 37th place and Emily in 47th in 6.37. Emily will also have the opportunity to return again next year to the competition when she goes into Primary 7.
Harry, not to be intimidated by those older boys surrounding him, took advantage of a quick start and found himself comfortably in the lead group. More than likely the youngest competitor of the day, he ran the race of his life to secure 5th place. Harry has already set his sights on that podium next year and also the year after as he aims to make history within the competition.
A huge congratulations to all three runners on Friday. They are fantastic role models for all our junior runners both big and small. Also the club would like to thank Bunscoil Bheanna Boirche, Newcastle Primary School and all local Primary Schools for affording this opportunity to our young people to take part in this competition and raising the profile of athletics at grassroots level.