Connor Bradley and Catherine Lilburn sped to superb victories at Sunday’s Easter 5K road race in Letterkenny as the local Spartans dominated the Donegal Cathedral town’s annual Easter Sunday event.
And a day earlier in Inishowen, Michael Black of Letterkenny AC and Dromore’s Judi Graham were the top finishers in a well supported Ballyliffin 10 mile Coastal Challenge.
Despite the overcast and windy conditions, some super fast times were recorded at the Letterkenny 5k as the first eight male finishers all broke the nine minute barrier.
Connor Bradley showed his class with a gun-to-tape victory in a 5K road PB of 8m 34s, well ahead of clubmate, Padjo Hamilton whose fast finish gave him an excellent runners-up spot and a spanking PB of 8m 47s with Foyle Valley’s Scott Rankin just behind in 8m 48s, in yet another PB.
Catherine Lilburn also posted a comfortable win with a 11m 05s effort to continue her excellent recent record in Donegal races and was followed home by fellow Spartan Amy McDaid whose 11m 35s run indicated a welcome return to form for the St Cecelia’s teenager.
Back to a terrific men’s race which produced a raft of PB’s. None of the top Donegal athletes, however, turned out having done a hard training session the previous day.
Their presence may have set up a few rare sub 8m 30s clockings but, on the day, the spectators were treated to some red hot racing nevertheless.
Up front, Bradley was always going away and took a whopping 11 seconds off his last year’s winning time. Hamilton the 800m specialist had arguably his best ever run, bolting clear of the second chasing group in the latter stages to overhaul Rankin and fourth placer, Declan Reed before the line.
All three posted PB’s, Reed’s 8m 53s very creditable given his long cross country season and teenager JP Williamson, fifth in yet another significant PB of 8m 54s also signalled his emerging talent.
Letterkenny’s Christopher Johnston broke the Derry monopoly with 8m 55s for sixth, given the same time as Emmet McGinty and Noel Logan in eight, sneaked under the nine minute barrier with 8m 59s. Cathal Logue and Chris McGuinness completed the top 10 with strong runs posting 9m 09 s and 9m 17s respectively.
Meanwhile a massive 400 plus finishers completed the previous day’s testing Ballyliffin 10 mile Coastal Challenge.
Run in wet and windy conditions it was won in 55m 32s by Michael Black of Letterkenny AC ahead of Paul O’Connell in 55m 48s with Foyle Valley stalwart, Pius McIntyre not far behind in 56m 01s.
Last year’s winner John Harkin ran 57m 15s for fourth and Judi Graham from Dromore AC took the women’s honours in 66m 16s. Aoife Quigley ran 70m 36s for second and in third was Pauline McGettigan on 7im 15s.
Michael Black obviously is a glutton for punishment as he also turned out in Letterkenny on Sunday, running 9m 25s for 12th place in the 5K. Some guys just cannot get enough!
Bay Road Championship 5k Countdown
Attention now turns to this weekend’s Magherafelt five mile road race on Saturday and Sunday’s National 10K road championship in Dublin.
No doubt the general local road running fraternity will consider the annual Magherafelt race while, as far as we know, only the Male Spartans will have a presence in Dublin on Sunday.
However it is understood their plans to field a M50 squad may well be under threat with only Sammy McAnaney a definite to travel.
Locally, Wednesday, April 18th is the big up-coming date with the Bay Rd 5K set to launch the 2012 Furey Insurances series and also host the NI 5k road race championships.
A big entry is anticipated as club runners from all over the North West and beyond will join with the army of joggers and fun runners who will emerge for the springtime flowering of the popular Furey series.
The record entry at the recent Paddy’s Weekend 5K in Gransha hints at a big Bay Road field and while entries will be taken on the night , online entry can be made via firstname.lastname@example.org
Simply send your name, date of birth, age on race day and club, if any to the above address and you can then pick up your race pack on the night at race HQ in the Magee Sports Centre, Rock Rd. where you can also pay the race entry fee of £7 or E8. More details and updates on the Bay Rd race as the countdown to the event gathers pace.