While there was a lot of competitive weekend action in London, Belfast and Dublin, the podium places went to Donegal club runners as the Finn Valley M40 and M50 squads grabbed team bronze and team silver respectively at the National road relays in Raheny on Sunday.
Marina Campbell and Catherine Lilburn finished 6th and 9th women at the Titanic 10K in Belfast and the big local contingent at the London Marathon, including the juveniles representing NI in the Mini Marathon, all enjoyed the spectacle and excitement of the biggest mass participation 26.2 miler in the world.
The London extravaganza was predictably dominated by the classy African athletes in the massive field as Kenyans Wilson Kipsang and Mary Keitany ran times of 2hrs 4m 44s and 2hrs 18m 37s to claim the honours.
Kipsang was a mere four seconds off the men’s course record while Keitany set a new Kenyan women’s record with her run. Expect to see both of them back on the streets of London later this summer for the Olympic marathon!
Moving to Belfast and the Titanic 10K which attracted an impressive 1,600 plus finishers on Sunday. Former Waterside Half Marathon supremo, Joe McAlister ran 30m 40s for the win ahead of Annadale duo, Eddie McGinley on 30m 51s and Andrew Agnew with 31m 49s.
Dromore AC’s Julie Turley posted 35m 53s to finish ahead of Tullamore Harrier, Pauline Curley on 36m 08s. The former Waterside Half female winner, Curley, had over three minutes to spare on the third placed woman, Claire Connor of North Belfast on 39m 17s.
Marina Campbell and Catherine Lilburn only decided to run the Titanic at short notice and they did well with 39m 41s and 40m 54s clockings for top 10 finish places.
Bill Duncan seems to have been the first local finisher, his 38m 25s placing him 51st overall and the evergreen Billy Orr ran through the finish line with Marina Campbell, perhaps Marina benefiting from Billy’s perfect pacing.
The only Ulster medallists at the National road relay championships in Dublin were the Finn Valley M40 and M50 squads. In an event dominated by the Dublin clubs the Donegal masters did very well to keep fly the flag for the North West and take silver medals in the M50 category and bronze at M40.
There was a surprise in the senior men’s race when Rathfarnham WSAF out-sprinted holders, Raheny Shamrock to grab team gold.
Jason Washed Out In Florida
Local star sprinter Jason Smyth has been based in Florida recently preparing for a busy summer programme which hopefully will see him double up at both the London Olympics and Paralympics.
However sunny Florida failed dismally to live up to its reputation over the weekend as the Eglinton Flyer’s much anticipated first 200m of the year fell foul of a washed out Tom Jones Memorial Meeting on Saturday night.
Coach Stephen Maguire has also learned that a targeted early May race has also now been cancelled and the Spartan
could face a wait to May 19th for a suitable alternative.
Hopefully that will be resolved and Jason’s quest for the Olympic 100m qualifying time of 10.18s will be realised before the final cut-off date. Not an ideal situation for a pre-Olympic programme and for an athlete who is reportedly going really well in training at his Florida base.
Staying with Track matters, there are two dates this week worth a mention. First up is the Finn Valley Open meeting on Wednesday evening April 25th.
This one will cater for a wide range of age groups, U10/U12/U14/U16 and for over 16s. The over-16 events are 100m, 300m, Javelin, Shot, Long and High Jump and a 1,500m Walk for U14s upwards. Programme starts at 7 p.m. with registration at the Finn Valley Centre from 6.30 p.m.
It’s Antrim then on Saturday for round one of the Young Athletes League, the annual inter-club track & field competition for U13, U15s and U17s.
Local clubs City of Derry Spartans the defending champions, Olympian and Strabane will once again line up against eight other NI juvenile clubs. There will be two rounds before the top teams go through to the League Final in July.
The programme includes some Open events and on Saturday these are: Shot; Long Jump; 100m; 800m and 3,000m. Entries for these will be taken on the day and it is expected that several local athletes with an eye on the upcoming senior and U20 competitions will make the trip on Saturday.
Meanwhile, the Queens 5K road race this Thursday night, April 26th offers the road runners another shot at arguably the most popular racing distance around.
Staged as ever out of the Queens PE Centre on the Lagan embankment, it has a 7pm start and with its tight lap course and usual big entry is an exciting and challenging race.
Connor Bradley won this one last year, defeating all comers, and although he will be back from a week’s warm weather training in Portugal, a defence is improbable as he winds up for the track action ahead.
Calling Local Primary Schools
The Tesco Great Schools Run will return to the Templemore Sports Complex grounds on Wednesday, May 9th next, after the huge success of last year, when the UK wide fun run. To date eight local Primary schools have signed up but more can be accomodated and any school interested in getting involved should immediately contact either Heather Ardiss from Athletics NI (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Gerry Lynch (email@example.com) Heather is on 02890602707 and Gerry is on 07702006667.