Awarded one of only 12 IAAF World Cross Country permits the event is the highlight of the Cross Country calendar in Northern Ireland and attracts many international athletes of note.
Organised by Athletics Northern Ireland and supported by Antrim Borough Council, the races will be held in the picturesque surrounds of CAFRE at Greenmount Campus in Antrim. $15,000 prize money is once again on offer, with $7500 for each of the men’s and women’s races.
North Belfast athlete, Breege Connelly joined Stef Foster, Marketing, Communications & Events Manager of Athletics Northern Ireland and Mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey, Cllr Thomas Hogg to launch the 2016 event. The 37 year old North Belfast athlete, Breege Connelly is enjoying a successful cross country and road running season. With a 2nd place victory in the NI & Ulster Senior Cross Country Championships in February at Lurgan Park and a PB in her marathon time of 2.37:24 in the Virgin London Marathon in March, Breege is already setting standards for the 2016 year.
Returning to the flat fast course at Greenmount after her 2012 debut appearance, Breege is hoping to again be the first Northern Ireland athlete home and within the top 10 overall finishers. Having obtained the Olympic qualifying Marathon time for the Rio 2016 games, Breege will be using every race possible to maintain a competitive edge in the selection process for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.
Athletics Northern Ireland’s President Gary Keenan, welcomed the event saying “The Antrim venue is a perfect location for both athletes and spectators alike. I very much look forward to welcoming this showcase event to the Greenmount Campus and anticipate a fantastic sporting occasion with a very competitive field at a world class venue which is a must for all sports fans.”
The Antrim IAAF International Cross Country is one of the largest and most popular events in the Northern Ireland sporting calendar, with more than 1,200 competitors taking part and race categories ranging from Under 11s to Masters. Mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey, Councillor Thomas Hogg said, “We are delighted that Athletics Northern Ireland has chosen to return to Antrim for the IAAF International Cross Country. CAFRE, Greenmount Campus is an ideal venue for this world class competition. With its central location and ease of access it is ideal for the many competitors who will travel from overseas.”
This year Athletics Northern Ireland will have this great all-round event as a key fixture in both the British Athletics Cross Challenge Series and the Athletics NI Cross Country League.
Cllr Graham continued, “Antrim Borough Council is proud to support this prestigious event, which will no doubt contribute significantly to the Borough, particularly with the inclusion this year of the Home Countries International Cross Country event. We wish Athletics Northern Ireland, CAFRE and the runners every success for January 2016.”
Gary Keenan, stated “This year’s home counties IAAF Cross Country Challenge once again puts Northern Ireland centre stage of the sporting world. The event, which has become one of the key fixtures of the Cross Country calendar, attracts top class international athletes from across the world, as well as giving our local talent the opportunity to mix it with the best.”
Online Entry is now available at www.athleticsni.org