Martin Grimley reports: “On Sunday 24 September 2023 the GP Brian Kinning memorial cyclo-cross race took place at Orangefield Park in East Belfast. This was the 9th year of this event. The course takes in the outdoor velodrome as well as the beautiful parkland surrounding it. There was a good turnout of riders with almost 200 registered to take part. Provided for the event was a climbing wall, pizza wagon and ice cream van to keep the young (and not so young) entertained. The weather had been fine on the previous day for course setup and on the morning of the race with warm temperatures and only a slight breeze. There was heavy rain forecast for the afternoon and the weather gurus did get their predictions correct!”
The first race of the day was for the Under 6s who had 3 laps of a short course. The 12 young riders seemed to enjoy their race and the snacks afterwards.
The Under 8s lined up next. They had a longer course than the Under 6s and 5 laps to complete. Leading from start to finish in the boys’ race was Daithi Hughes (Square Wheels). James Kavanagh (Lakeland) finished second with Jack Corey (Apollo Cycling Team) third. In the girls’ race Ríonach Campbell (Square Wheels) finished well ahead of Orlagh-Marie Cuss (Un-Attached Ulster).
The Under 10s used the same course as the Under 8s. This course wasn’t the usual length for this age group with the top riders ending up doing 11 laps. A busy race for the timekeepers! Taking the win in the boys’ race was Benjamin Cunningham (Orwell Wheelers Cycling Club). Lewis Bell (Lisburn BMX Club) finished second with Leo Gallagher (Shelbourne/Orchard CC) third and Logan McAreavey (Cuchulainn CC) fourth. In the girls’ race it was Ruby Millar (Square Wheels) who crossed the line first ahead of Sophia Campbell (Phoenix CC). Fiadh Craig (VC Glendale) was third with Ciara McCool (Square Wheels) fourth.
The Under 12s were meant to use the velodrome each lap but the first steep bank was very slippy with a few fallers during practice. It was decided to only start the Under 12s in the velodrome and have them bypass this during the race. The leading pack of the Under 12s boys’ managed to take a wrong turn on the first lap and ended up on the Under 10s course. A quick fix got them back underway. This didn’t affect the girls’ race as Aoife Campbell (Square Wheels) was very clued in on her course and managed to lead the race ahead of all other riders. Amelia Finnegan (Square Wheels) finshed as second girl with Emily McClintock (Lisburn BMX Club) and Erin Corey (Apollo Cycling Team) taking third and fourth respectively. In the boys’ race it was Ewan Ewart (Belfast City BMX Club) who took the chequered flag when he finished ahead of Jake McKee (VC Glendale). William Sunderland (Lisburn BMX Club) was third with Daniel McKeegan (Team Madigan CC) getting fourth.
After a break for podium presentations and course practice it was the turn of the Under 14s, Under 16s and Women to race. The riders started in the velodrome but avoided it for the rest of the race.
Josh McClune (Team Madigan C.C.) put in a strong performance in the 4 lap Under 14 boys’ race to take the win. Darragh Murphy (Rostrevor Mountain Bike Club) was second with James Cunningham (Orwell Wheelers Cycling Club) third and Eunan Campbell (Square Wheels) fourth. Aoife Craig (VC Glendale) won the Under 14 girls’ race. Skye Spence (Shimna Wheelers Cycling Club) and Sophie Baxter (Lisburn BMX Club) finished second and third respectively.
Caleb McGreevy (VC Glendale) lead the 4 lap Under 16 boys’ race from start to finish. Fionn Killeen (Kilcullen Cycling Club Murphy Geospacial) was second with Oliver Hylén O’Shaughnessy (Cuchulainn CC) taking third. Holly McCaffrey (Cuchulainn CC) took over the lead in the Under 16 girls’ race after lap one when Aisha Gannon (Breffni Wheelers) dropped out. Holly took the cheqered flag with Maeve McCool (Square Wheels) second, Grace O’Rourke (Cuchulainn CC) third and Elisa Sunderland (Lisburn BMX Club) fourth.
In the Women’s race Darcey Harkness (VC Glendale) was back to winning form at the end of 5 laps. Doireann Killeen (Kilcullen Cycling Club Murphy Geospacial) finished second with Elena Wallace (Harps CC) third. First unplaced Master was Caroline Martinez (Chain Reaction Cycles).
Just before the next races the rain started. Lining up on velodrome were the cyclo-cross B racers and mountain bike support racers. The velodrome was used for all laps thereafter. The cyclo-cross riders had 5 laps to complete and the mountain bikers had 4 laps. Setting some very impressive lap times was Marc Allen (AHC Racing) who would have done well in the cyclo-cross A race. Matthew Wilson (Team Madigan C.C.) finished second with David McKee (VC Glendale) third. Christopher McCann (Inspired Cycling) finished fourth ahead of Robert Smyth (Apollo Cycling Team) who finished fifth, with Jon Hilditch (Ballymena Road Club) taking sixth. In the mountain bike support race it was Sean McCourt (VC Glendale) who took the win. Gerard Curran (Tir Chonaill Gap CC) finished second with Gavin Thompson (Un-Attached Ulster) taking the final step on the podium.
With more rain the course was turning more challenging. Just in the time for the cyclo-cross A race to start. Putting on a powerful performance over the 6 laps was Travis Harkness (Scott Bright Motor Group). Event Director Glenn Kinning (Kinning Cycles) managed second place. An impressive feat giving the demands of setting up a course over the two days. Tadhg Killeen (Kilcullen Cycling Club Murphy Geospacial) finished third with Graham Boyd (McConvey Cycles) fourth. Raymond O’Shaughnessy (Cuchulainn CC) finished fifth and took the first unplaced M40 prize as he finished just ahead of another M40, Drew McKinley (Newry Wheelers CC). Des Woods (Inspired Cycling) finished 7th and took the first unplaced M50 prize.
Many thanks to Glenn Kinning, his club and extended crew of helpers for putting on a great show. Thanks to Belfast City Council for the use of the park and to the sponsors for their support. The Ulster series starts on Sunday 1 October with Foyle CC hosting their race at St. Columb’s Park, L’Derry. Details on www.ulstercyclocross.com. Commissaires: Jim Adams and Martin Grimley
More photos can be found on www.facebook.com/danyblondeel and Full results link: https://ulstercyclocross.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2023/09/GP_Brian_Kinnings_CX_Race_2023_Results.htm