Local runners made their mark at three different venues on a busy weekend with Allan Bogle’s brilliant second place finish in Saturday’s Lost Worlds 100K Causeway Crossing the highlight of the performances.
And Gregory Roberts claimed a NI Half Marathon championship individual bronze medal in Omagh the same day while Keith Shields and Hannah McGowan each finished runners-up in the fourth and final Finn Valley 5K race series in Stranorlar on Friday night.
Allan Bogle was on his feet for 10 hours 58 mins as he battled to a terrific second place finish at Saturday’s Lost Worlds 100k Causeway Challenge.
The gruelling endurance race was won by Belfast runner, Geoff Smyth in 10 hours 04 mins as the participants went from Glenariff, Balintoy, along the Causeway Coast to Portrush and then back to finish in Balintoy.
This was over 60 miles in total and the Eglinton man, speaking as he nursed his tired limbs on Sunday evening, summed it all up when suggesting it could be his first and last attempt at the arduous challenge.
“That’s my first shot at a real ultra distance race and it may well also be my last,” he said. “I’m exhausted. I was feeling so bad during the first 50K I wanted to retire but thankfully I ran - and even walked a bit - through the testing times and found the second 50K easier to deal with.”
He will go back to the summer Mountain running scene, much shorter distances of course and hopes to build on his recent success at the Glenariff race with a serious shot at the UK championships in the Mournes in a few months time.
Hannah Shields unfortunately was unable to start on Saturday due to injury. The previously indestructible local dentist reluctantly ‘cried off’ on Friday as she was unable to shake off numerous, cumulative injuries and she contented herself by attending the event to offer support to her fellow Spartan and the other competitors.
Bronze for Greg in super fast Omagh Half
A record turnout of over 2,500 flooded the streets of Omagh for the 23rd staging of the annual Half Marathon and 5K run and local man, Gregory Roberts was centrally involved at the sharp end of the men’s race, eventually finishing in third place with a 68m 18s clocking to claim the NI Half Marathon championship individual bronze medal.
The Spartan battled throughout the 13.1 mile distance with a familiar opponent, Stephen Duncan of the promoting club and was pipped for the silver medal by just a single second after an absorbing battle.
The runaway winner in a blistering 64m 48s was Clonliffe Harrier, Sergiu Ciobanu, the Moldovan native blasting away from the gun to run in splendid isolation for a record breaking clocking.
The 3mins 30secs or so cushion at the finish line was an outstanding performance for Ciobanu who moves on to the Rotterdam Marathon in a few weeks time looking good to shatter his previous best over the 26.2 mile classic distance.
Gary Slevin in 10th place posted an encouraging 76m 01s and with M50 Gerry Duddy 25th in 79m 13s, the red vests placed fourth in the men’s championship team race as defending champions North Belfast Harriers just about retained their crown, with a single point margin over Omagh Harriers, as Annadale Striders finished another four points adrift in third.
An interesting scorer for the winners was former Sparta star, Tommy Hughes who also claimed the top M50 finishers award with his eight place overall finish.
Donna Evans of Monaghan Phoenix ran 83m 39s to take the women’s honours ahead of Waterside Half Marathon winner North Down’s Julie Balmer on 84m 28s and the bronze medal went to Helena Crossan of Inishowen AC with 86m dead.
Best Derry finisher was Marina Campbell who ran a smart race for fourth, her 87m 50s clocking saw her come through the field strongly in the second half of the race.
Finn Valley 5K
Gerard Gallagher of the host club won the fourth and final race in the Finn Valley 5K series in Stranorlar on Friday night. His 15m 53s effort gave him a three second advantage over race three winner Keith Shields of Foyle Valley, with another Finn Valley man, James Speight clocking 16m 01s in a close up front contest.
Shields has been going well recently in a prolific racing programme. Irene McFadden of Letterkenny ran 20m 30s for first woman home and City of Derry junior Hannah McGowan was delighted to claim the runners-up spot with a 21m 10s clocking as an excellent total of 318 finishers were recorded.