World cross-country champion and British youngster take senior victories at Northern Ireland International event

Hellen Obiri, the world cross-country and 5000m champion, was a class apart at the Northern Ireland International Cross Country as she won the women’s race on the outskirts of Belfast in 26:44.

The 32-year-old finished 20 seconds ahead of Hannah Irwin of Northern Ireland as Scottish athlete Mhairi Maclennan was third followed by Eleanor Bolton, European under-20 champion Megan Keith, Kate Avery and Jess Gibbon.

“It’s my first time running cross-country here,” said Obiri. “The course was challenging but I am used to doing cross country and it’s all part of my preparation ahead of the summer season.”

On her goals for the rest of the year, she said: “God willing I will be at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham as I am (defending) champion there.”

Irwin, who runs for Cambridge & Coleridge but whose father is from Cookstown, added: “My aim was to finish in the top 10 but I knew it was going to be hilly and hills play to my advantage. I didn’t expect to finish second!”

The event at the Billy Neill Country Park was a World Athletics Silver Cross Country Tour and incorporated the Celtic Games, Home Countries International and British Athletics Cross Challenge.

Zak Mahamed (Mark Shearman)

Mahamed, 21, took men’s victory in 29:49 after a battle with runner-up Ilias Ouani of Italy with Stuart McCallum of Scotland third, Hugo Milner of England fourth and Jack Millar of Bristol & West fifth.

In the age group races Hannah Ryding of Giffnock North won the under-20 women’s race ahead of Louisa Brown of Garscube. The under-17 women’s race – which was held along with the under-20 event – saw Northern Ireland’s Lucy Foster take the win ahead of Beca Brown of Wales.

Hannah Ryding (Mark Shearman)

Sam Mills of Exeter outsprinted Ireland’s Dean Casey and Scott Fagan in the under-20 men’s race. Behind, the top three under-17 men were Jacob Deacon of Chorley AC, Connor Bell of Scotland and Seamus Robinson of City of Derry Spartans AC.

Sam Mills (Mark Shearman)

The under-15 girls race was won by Freya Woodhead of Bideford while Jamie Wallace of Mullingar Harriers took the under-15 boys race.

Under-13 victories meanwhile went to Emer McKee of Willowfield Harriers and Calum Dick of Giffnock North.

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