A brilliant 50m 04s front running effort from Kenyan, Gideon Kipsang, saw the Omagh based Project Africa Athletics runner lead home the 313 finishers at Saturday’s SSE Airtricity 10 miler.
And Letterkenny’s Masters International Natasha Adams, was equally impressive in 8th place overall to convincingly take the women’s race honours with a fluent 57m 51 clocking.
Despite the recent inclement weather and the old adage about the Ides of March, much to the relief of all involved, the race start in Ebrington Square saw a short-lived shower but dry conditions prevailed thereafter, with only the strong breeze on the Foyle Bridge, the riverbank section back towards the city centre and the Peace Bridge, issues for the runners.
Late entry Kipsang was in the small lead bunch from the gun but quickly went clear to post a very impressive victory, failing by just four seconds to smash the 50 minute barrier. He said Saturday’s race was an important preparation for the upcoming Bath Half Marathon and the absence of company for most of the race was a factor in finishing just shy of 50 minutes.
However he was delighted with his run and with a Half Marathon PB of 63m 09s he will run in Bath with high hopes of a high place finish.
Behind the runaway Kenyan it was North Belfast Harrier, Andrew Annett who made the move away from the chasing group to claim the runners-up spot in 53m 35s, as his clubmate John Black just held off the strong challenge of Foyle Valley’s 2014 winner, Chris McGuinness, the NBH man clocking 54m 45s to the local man’s 54m 47s.
McGuinness had the consolation of picking up the M35 age group prize and also of taking around a full minute off his winning time in the 2014 race. The top six were completed by NBH man Eddie Cooke on 55m 56s and Donegal man Ciaran McGonagle of Rosses AC on 56m 50s.
ADAMS ACES IT
Natasha Adams had a great run to take the female honours, her 8th place overall finish leaving her well clear. Her 57m 51s clocking took the winning race time below the hour mark for the first time and showed the Letterkenny AC athlete to be in great shape as the spring and summer road racing season looms.
Despite missing the start with her Spartans teammate Jackie McMonagle, Catherine Whoriskey ran well for the runners-up spot, her 62m 08s a good return and a top 20 spot in her first ever 10 mile road race, and she was well clear of Acorn’s Karen Alexander who posted 64m 32s to complete the female podium places.
Another NBH athlete Martsje Hell with 65m 52s and Jackie McMonagle on 68m 23s completed the top six females home with Jackie compensating somewhat by netting the F45 age group prize with a strong run.
Chris McGuinness and Jackie McMonagle were joined by other Category winners as follows: M40 Colly Doherty; M45 Bill Duncan, Lifford AC; M50 William Thompson, Larne AC; M55 David Clarke, NBH; M60 Kevin Kiely, Letterkenny AC; M U20 Ciaran Gallagher, U Turn RC; F35 Kerrie McIlmoyle, Springwell; F40 Alison O’Sullivan; F50 Carol Clarke, NBH; F55 Bernie Regan,Larne AC; F60 Anne Hutton, BOLT RC.
Saturday’s race was a warm-up event for many in the field who will be well into their preparations for the Walled City Marathon on Sunday, June 5th next and Saturday’s course took in significant sections of the Marathon route.
It also was tweaked significantly from the first two years and this was warmly welcomed by all the participants who delighted in finishing on the St Columb’s Park track and thus losing the testing climbs which in 2014 and 2015 took them back into the Ebrington site.
Online entry for the Walled City Marathon has now closed but any inquiries should go to firstname.lastname@example.org