Mark McKinstry runs his opponents into the ground
North Belfast 35-year-old Mark McKinstry ran the race of his life at the weekend to decimate the opposition when taking the British and Irish Masters Cross Country title in Swansea.
McKinstry was in a class of his own in the premier 35-49 age group event where the opposition simply could not live with his devastating pace.
While this was Mark's first British Masters event, the ever-consistent cross country racer had shown that he was in superb form for the challenges in Swansea. Commanding victories in the Comber Cup and McConnell Shield showed that his gruelling training over grass had prepared him well for the difficult but firm Welsh course.
He set the pace from the gun and at end of the first lap had opened up a commanding lead. He then held the opposition at bay for the remaining three laps of the 8k event and crossed the line for a comfortable victory ahead of runner-up Phil Matthews of Wales who took the Over 40 title. Third place went to England's Alistair Watson.
This is something of a dream come true for McKinstry who, despite his 15 wins this year, has suffered the frustration of finishing second in the NI Senior Cross Country on four occasions. Having now just entered the 35 age group category he can look forward to further titles in these championships in future years.
In another Northern success, Steven Cairns took silver in the Over 50 category behind England's Tim Hartley. As expected England took all the team titles bar one, although there were individual Irish victories for Teresa Doherty (Over 40), Mick Byrne (Over 55) and Pauline Moran (Over 60).