UPWARDS of 250 competitors are expected in Glenariff Forest Park today for the opening athletics event of the year.
The Race Over The Glens promoted by the Ballymena Runners Club is sponsored by Causeway Dental and Style N Sport over a 5.5 miles course which must rank as the most spectacular in Europe.
Defending champion James McIlroy and seven times winner Jarlath Falls look set to dispute the victory in what should be an absorbing contest.
McIlroy came in first last time ahead of David Simpson and the Commonwealth finalist and Olympic semi-finalist over 800 metres has the blend of speed and stamina to succeed again.
Falls has a fantastic record at this event and the Northern Ireland Junior Cross Country champion will be right at the front of the action. He was a good sixth at Greencastle on Boxing Day.
Gregory Walsh, Jack Neeson, Dale Mathers and David O’Flaherty all finished in the top half dozen last time and can feature again along with Jonny Steede. Matt Wray can be top veteran.
The six to score team contest will as always be tightly contested with Larne, Ballymena Runners, Ballymena and Antrim, Springwelll and Sperrin all likely to go well.
Sharon Trimble of North Belfast was a runaway winner of the ladies race 12 months ago finishing seventh overall and a repeat can be on the cards with multi winner Anne Paul from City of Derry also fancied.
There is a good prize list in all categories plus medals and T-shirts for the first 250. Registration is at the Visitors Centre in Glenariff Forest Park with the action starting at 12 noon.