Belfast Milers Meet: June event still being planned despite coronavirus outbreak

Matt Wigelsworth came home first ahead of Andrew Coscoran in the men's 1500m at last year's Belfast Milers Meet
Matt Wigelsworth edged out Andrew Coscoran to win the 1500m at last year's meeting

Belfast Milers Meet event director Eamonn Christie is continuing his planning for the 20 June event even though he knows full well that it may be postponed because of coronavirus.

The event at the Mary Peters Track has become one of Ireland's premier athletics meetings in recent years.

As of now, it remains on but that could well change.

"Come June, I'd love to be able to put a smile on the athletes' faces by hosting the track meet," said Christie.

The event director is a nurse by profession so is more aware than most of the dangers posed by the global pandemic.

"Athletics is not the be all and end all. People's lives are under threat and people are losing their jobs so it's a very, very concerning time for us all.

"If my meet is postponed, I will aim to reschedule it whether that's in July, August or September.

"Even come October time there may be people looking for good track races."

Belfast International postponed

Like all sporting governing bodies, Athletics Northern Ireland has ordered a shutdown of the sport which in the case of local track and field will extend to least 31 May.

The suspension means the Belfast International meeting scheduled for the Mary Peters Track on 27 May has already been postponed.

Christie, however, is holding out hope his meeting some three weeks later could still take place.

"I will take my lead from the governing body. If the think and feel that the track meet should not go ahead in June, I'll of course abide to by the rules.

"But I will continue to work at it over the next number of weeks with the intention of putting on the meeting.

"I will keep everybody up to date on our social media channels and in the next month make a call on it, one way or the other.

"I have already got a number of entries and can assure anybody that's entered they will get the full refund if it is postponed."

Emma Mitchell in action for Ireland at the 2018 European Championships
Belfast Milers Meet event director Eamonn Christie coaches leading Northern Ireland distance runner Emma Mitchell

This year' event - if it does happen - will have the backing of a new major sponsor in leading Irish sports nutrition company Kinetica Sports.

"As an Irish brand we are always keen to support home grown events and talent. We are very much looking forward to the summer and the chance to see some of the stars in action," said Kinetica Sports Sales Executive Kate McKay.

Christie, Ciara Mageean's first athletics coach, helps guide the career of a number of talented local athletes including Northern Ireland women's 5,000m and 10,000m record holder Emma Mitchell.

The Commonwealth Games athlete, now focusing on the marathon, is attempting to continue her training on the roads but has a treadmill, cross-trainer and gym facilities at her home as well.

"If push comes to shove and she can't get out of her house, she still has all her training facilities there," added Christie.

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