Local runners Andrew Annett and Zak Hanna spent the weekend past in Loughborough, England, representing Northern Ireland in the prestigious UK Inter-Counties Cross Country Championships at Prestwold Hall. Both athletes earned their selection through finishing in the top seven at the Northern Ireland Senior Cross Country Championships two weeks ago.
Annett, from Kilkeel and a member of Mourne Runners, and Hanna, from Dromara and running for Newcastle AC, are both training partners and the pair most recently won the Castlewellan Christmas Cracker race back in December.
The race itself saw athletes from many counties in the United Kingdom descend on Prestwold Hall to fight it out to for both individual and team honours, with runners coming from as far north as Stornoway and the Shetland Islands, an example of the journeys the Scottish counties had to make.
Andrew finished 54th overall and Zak 75th, and with the rest of the team packing tightly together it meant that as a team, Northern Ireland had secured second place overall in the UK, a result that hasn’t been achieved for almost 30 years when team gold was won back then.
A super result for all involved, given the strength of runners that competed, with over 300 individuals and almost 40 counties taking part.
Another great experience for the pair who are no stranger to international representation, both having represent Ireland and Northern Ireland on several occasions in mountain running, road and cross country.