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Athletic NI Announces New Cross Country League
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CROSS country running in Northern Ireland is set to get a boost with the establishment of a new cross country league, supported by Athletics Northern Ireland (ANI).

The league has been established after an open consultation process with the athletics community and will incorporate the following races:

The Bobby Rea Cross Country, Belfast (5 November 2011)

The McConnell Shield, Ballyclare (12 November 2011)

The Malcolm Cup, Ballyclare (3 December 2011)

Northwest Cross Country Championships (17 December 2011)

Northern Ireland Senior Championships incorporated in the IAAF International Cross Country at Greenmount(21 January 2012)

Civil Service Cross Country, Stormont (25 February 2012).

The league will feature combined Senior/Veterans races (this option was favoured by 79.5% of respondents). Prizes will be awarded to the top three teams in the league (both male and female) as well as to the top individual male and female performers. Team placings will be determined     by the finishing positions of the first four runners (men) and first three runners (women). The teams will be combined seniors/veterans squads and all competitors must be 16 years or older.

Scoring will be calculated in each race using the following formula.

First place team – 10 points

Second place team – 8 points

Third place team – 6 points

Fourth place team – 4 points

Having four finishers in the race (three for women) – 2 points

Having six finishers in the race (five for women) – 3 points

Having eight finishers in the race (seven for women) – 4 points

Having ten finishers in the race (eight for women) – 5 points

Having 12 or more finishers (ten for women) – 6 points

Teams that finish in the top four will still receive bonus points for participation. So, for example, a winning men’s team of four finishers would receive 12 points on the day; or a second place men’s team with six finishers would receive 11 points on the day, and so on.

The idea behind the introduction of the league and the award of bonus points for numbers participating is not only to boost the numbers but to give clubs an incentive to get their members out for the six rounds by keeping them in contention even when they finish outside the top 4 teams in any given round. For example an unplaced team with 10 finishers would receive 5 points while a fourth place team would get 6 if they had the minimum 4 finishers.  It is stressed too that the award of points is for finishers, not entries so to count runners must cross the finish line.

An added bonus as I see it is that even if clubs are not in serious contention at the very top of the league it will enable clubs like East Down, Murlough AC, Newcastle AC, Mourne Runners and newly formed clubs like Castlewellan, Derryboye etc to compete with each other for Co. Down supremacy i.e. a league within a league.

So here’s the challenge to all the clubs – get your members out for the 6 rounds or as many of them as possible, though if you miss out on any you’ll affect your overall points total, and give it a real go.  Cross country is great fun and with the added spice of the team competition it should make for an interesting Winter programme. Though I haven’t cleared it with the Treasurer yet, East Down will provide a trophy for the winning teams in this sub-league – mainly because we think we can win it!