ATHLETICS: Huge field expected at Glenariff Forest Park

Mark McKinstry

Mark McKinstry

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A huge field is expected for the New Year Race Over The Glens at Glenariff Forest Park which starts at 12 noon on Monday.

The event promoted by Ballymena Runners has been dominated by Jarlath Falls who has claimed the coveted ‘King of the Glens’ title on no fewer than nine occasions.

Defending champion Mark McKinstry from North Belfast and Seamus Lynch of Newcastle, third three years ago, will be favourite if they have recovered from their victory in the Castlewellan Cracker five days ago.

Andrew Annett and Ben Morrow, third and sixth last time and Jonny Steede the winner in 2013 can take high places along with Neil Weir, Kent Swann, Chris Moren, Thomas Leitch, Nat Glenn and Alex Brennan.

Team wise the promoting Ballymena Runners will dispute with Larne, Ballymena and Antrim, East Coast, North Belfast and Newcastle in the Six To Score competition.

Shileen O’Kane of Lagan Valley the winner in both 2014 and 2016 can defend her ‘Queen of the Glens’ title ahead of last year’s runner-up Sharon Leetch and Paula Arthur-McCarthy both from Ballymena Runners.

Another former champion Anne Sandford, Janice White and Karen McLaughlin can feature while North Belfast star Martsje Hell can make the podium.

There could be a home team victory for Ballymena Runners with Lagan Valley, North Belfast and Newcastle also fancied.

Meanwhile Russian officials have for the first time admitted the existence of a far-reaching doping operation which took place over several years and has tainted some of the world’s most prestigious competitions.

In interviews with the New York Times, officials did not dispute accounts of the programme which has rocked the Olympic movement, although they denied the scheme was state-sponsored.

But Russian officials have claimed Anna Antseliovich was misquoted and have issued a statement claiming her words were taken out of context while she was discussing the McLaren report into Russian doping published earlier this month.