Athletics: Exciting climax to Sperrin Harriers’ Winter League

There was a wintry scene in Drum Manor before the start of the Winter League run

There was a wintry scene in Drum Manor before the start of the Winter League run

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The fifth and final race of the popular Sperrin Harriers’ Winter League takes place this Saturday, 28th February, with the Lough Fea 10 Miler.

The league now in its sixth year has seen record entries and a raft of high profile runners take part this winter, with over 300 individuals taking part in one or more xof the races on offer to date.

Once again there is strong competition not only in overall male and female categories but also in the various age categories for both genders.

Although Omagh Harrier Paul Barbour has taken Male Overall title via perfect scores at Lough Fea, Drum Manor and An Creagan, with host club’s Gavin Corey a close second, real interest will be for third. Ballymena clubmates Alex Brennan and Connor Reid battle, having got the better of each other in two each.

Female Overall will see a tightly fought battle between Sperrin’s Natalie Hall and Collette McCourt (Dub Runners) for top spot, neck and neck when they toe the start line.

With prizes in over twenty categories up for grabs, there are some interesting battles in the remaining categories. Even if Connor Reid misses out to club mate Alex Brennan for third place overall, he looks good to take the Male Open Category, but he will be mindful of the threat to victory posed by Lifford AC’s James Crossan and Ciaran Collins (Project Africa Athletics) if either or both show up. Paul Conway (Sperrin Harriers) is also in contention for a place.

Assuming Natalie Hall and Collette McCourt are both on the podium for Overall Female, Hannah Su (Sperrin Harriers), who is getting married on day of the race to fellow Sperrin Harrier Paul O’Callaghan, will be hoping to hold out in her absence against clubmate Laura Mitchell to take Female Open.

A tight battle will ensue between Pierce McCullagh (Sperrin Harriers) and neighbour Michael Kerr (Carmen Runners) in the M35 Category,

If Alex Brennan secures third Male Overall, clubmate Mark Alexander will be favourite to take M40 Category,

Sperrin Harrier Damien Kerr is top of the M50 Category, closely followed by fellow Sperrin Harrier Patsy Hughes,

M55 contender Ian Bates (Dromore AC) may not have it all his own way if locals Alvin Taylor (Magherafelt Harriers), James Little (Acorns AC) and Paul Martin (Magherafelt Harriers) run o, given that all three have achieved good scores in the series this year.

In M60 , Jim Breen (Springwell), who has yet to miss a Winter League race since its inception six years ago, has secured first over Tommy Harraghy (Sperrin Harriers) with wins in the last three races.

In Male Juniors, Frazer Howe (Ballymena) could knock Michael Cross off top spot if he wins on Saturday.

A feast competition lies ahead to close the most successful Winter League to date.