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Sports Council NI Home Page >> News >> Cross Country 2005


(incorporating the UK CROSS CHALLENGE)
in conjunction with
Sports Council NI and Belfast City Council



Sports Council NI and Belfast City Council are pleased to announce that last year’s Stormont winner DATHAN RITZTENHEIN of the USA will be returning on 7th January to defend his title in the Belfast International Cross Country. The organisers are also optimistic that Ireland’s top cross country runner GARY MURRAY will provide the American with ample opposition after his phenomenal 12th place in last Sunday’s European Cross Country in Holland.

The 22 year old Colarado based RITZTENHEIN created a major sensation at Stormont last Janauary when he showed little respect for a trio of Kenyan World Cross Country medallists. Thanks to a spectacular display of aggressive front running the American opened a commanding 30 seconds lead which World Junior bronze medallist Ernest Kimeli reduced to 8 seconds in a furious sprint finish. The Kenyans should have paid closer attention to the talented RITZTENHEIN who holds the US Collegiate 10,000metres record at 27.38. He is also a former World Junior cross country bronze medallist from Ostend – the first US medallist in 20 years. The Boulder based athlete along with Sergey Lebid (Ukraine) and Eamon Martin (England) are the only athletes in 15 years to have broken the African domination of Northern Ireland’s premier cross country event.

GARY MURRAY is currently riding on the crest of a wave after leading the Irish team home in last Sunday’s European Cross Country where he finished only half a minute behind 6 times winner Lebid and 9 places ahead of first British finisher Mohammed Farah.  MURRAY was delighted with his top dozen placing which followed 2 weeks after he completed a unique hat trick of Irish Inter County Cross Country titles with an emphatic 100 yards victory at Sligo racecourse. The St Malachy’s athlete, who is the current Irish 1500metres champion, will now be aiming for a top 3 finish at Stormont in 3 weeks time.

Previous winners at this meeting which started in 1977 have included many World and Olympic champions. Notable names have included Paula Radcliffe, Paul Tergat, Steve Cram, Steve Ovett, John Treacy, Khalid Skah, Liz McColgan, Brendan Foster and a host of world class Kenyan and Ethiopian athletes.

Councillor Wallace Browne, The Lord Mayor, Belfast City Council states;

“Belfast City Council has been a long time supporter of the Belfast International Cross Country. We are delighted to be involved with such an outstanding international event, which is bringing over 1000 athletes into the City.”

Professor Eric Saunders OBE, Chairman of Sports Council NI said

"We are delighted to be able to continue our long association with this superb event.  The hosting of national and international competitions in the lead up to the London 2012 Olympics, will provide an exciting opportunity to increase our overall levels of participation and to inspire our current and up-and-coming high performance athletes to aim to compete for their place in the London 2012 Olympics."

For further information please contact:

Brian Hill, Public Relations Officer, Northern Ireland Athletic Federation  
Tel: 028 9127 9630 (w) or 0797 7037629 (mobile)
Northern Ireland Athletic Federation                                    
Tel: 028 9060 2707 Fax: 028 9030 9939





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Last modified: Thursday December 15, 2020.