Keith Shiels won a hotly contested Bay Road 5K on Wednesday night getting clear of doughty challengers Martin Cox and Connor Doherty to break the tape in 15m 23s, five seconds clear of Omagh man Cox with Doherty less than two seconds behind in third.
In an equally tight women’s race battle Springwell’s Gillian Wasson ran 18m 27s to hold off the local Spartan Marina Murphy on 18m 32s with Lifford AC star Claire McGuigan taking third on 18m 45s.
Over 130 finishers gave the enthusiastic spectators much to shout about in the benign weather conditions and the popular lap course afforded them a real up-close and personal view of the action right down the field.
There was an excellent mix of local and visiting runners with Springwell, North Belfast Harriers, Beechmount Harriers, Ballymena Runners, Orangegrove, East Down, North Down and Acorns AC all represented and going head-to-head with athletes from the North West clubs and running groups.
The top three men were clear of their pursuers shortly after the first kilometre and while Connor Doherty made most of the running for the next couple of kilometres, it was the experienced Shiels, competing as a St Columb’s AC member incidentally, who led going into the final lap. He held his form well to take the honours at the line with Doherty closing on Cox in the run to the tape.
McGuigan was the front runner for a long period in the female battle but the strength of Wasson got her the win despite a strong run from Marina Murphy who chased hard on the final lap for a comfortable second ahead of the Lifford woman.
The age groupers also showed well with Foyle Valley’s Roy McGilloway posting a top 10 finish in 16m 34s to take the Male U20 win; East Down duo Barrie Atkinson, fourth overall and Francis Tumelty, were the top M35 and M40 finishers; the M45, 50 and 55 prizes went to Michael Magee of Beechmount Harriers, Ballymena Runners Noel Connor and Laurence Johnston of North Belfast Harriers.
City of Derry’s Peter Lilburn salvaged some local pride winning the M60 category with a 19m 07s while North Down’s Terry Eakin set a new Irish M65 record of 18m 58s. Springwell’s Jim Platt was the top M70 on 23m 38s.
Locals fared better in the female age groups with City of Derry trio Caoimhe Walsh, Jackie McGinley and Hannah Shields taking the Female U20, F45 and F50 wins. Caoimhe ran 20m 23s, Jackie 18m 59s and Hannah clocked 19m 07s.
Bolt’s Annalisa Mullan was the top F35 on 20m 53s and NI cross country international Geraldine Quigley of Ballymena Runners headed the F40 rankings on 19m 27s.
The awards were presented by race sponsor Declan McCarthy of Atlanfish in the UU Magee Sports Centre which served as the race HQ.
Buncrana 5K Next month
The next City of Derry Spartans 5K promotion will be on Wednesday, May 27th when the extremely popular Buncrana 5K should once again draw a massive entry to the Inishowen venue, noted for its reputation to produce fast times for all levels of runners. More details shortly.