Paddy Hamilton will start hot favourite for Sunday’s Dune Half Marathon which goes between Newry and Dundalk.
The event which is the first round of the Pure Running/ChampionChip Ireland Series is expected to attract a big field over the slightly altered course.
Hamilton from the Slieve Gullion Club has been in top form this season. He won the Armagh 10 Miles then moved to the country for victories in the Bobby Rea and McConnell races before coming first in the Trim 10 Miler last weekend in a useful 51:32.
He won the Dune last year ahead of Brian McCluskey and Don Travers who should both be in action again. His time was 69:47 but with a best of 66:29 this could be considerably revised.
The Ladies race won last year by Mary Lavery from Teresa Duffy looks to be between Laura Graham and Judith Lonnen this time.
Laura from Mourne has been in unbeaten in the Born 2 Run Forest Series as well as placing fourth in the Seeley Cup.
While triathlon star Judith from the City of Lisburn club was a useful fourth in the Greencastle Boxing Day 5 miles.
The action starts from the Quays Shopping Centre in Newry at 10 o’clock.
Meanwhile there will be a galaxy of local stars in action in Athlone for the Irish Universities Indoor Track and Field Championships.
Sprinter Amy Foster leads the way along with 400 running Christine McMahon, middle distance runners Katie Kirk, Aislinn Crossey and Rachel Gibson and distance man Neil Johnston.
on Saturday Sperrin Harriers promote the final race of their very successful winter league at Parkanaur Forest, Castlecaulfield starting at 12noon.
Michael Crawley winner of three of the events will be fancied along with Pearce McCullagh, Neil Weir and Gavin Corey while Julie Butler will be odds on favourite in the Ladies ahead of Pauline McGurren and Lorna Sibbett.
Another event on Saturday is the O’Cahans 5 Miles Trail Race promoted by Northern Velocity at Roe Valley Country Park, Limavady.
Alan Bogle, Scott Rankin, Chris McGuinness and Pius McIntyre can feature in the Mens while Anne Paul, Gemma Turley and Fran McFadden look good in the Ladies. The race starts at 12noon.