Letterkenny athlete, Catriona Jennings, ran into contention for a place in the Irish women’s marathon squad for the upcoming London Olympics after Sunday’s 2 hrs. 36 mins. 13 secs. clocking in Rotherdam.
And as Kenenisa Bekele posted the fastest 10 kms. road time of 2012 in Dublin the same day, local runners were also in competitive action and the stage is now set for tomorrow night’s much anticipated Bay Road 5 kms.
Meanwhile, Anne Paul’s victory at the Magherafelt 5 miles road race last Saturday and Catherine Lilburn’s runners-up spot at Sunday’s Runher Donegal 5K in Glenveagh emerged the best local performances of a low key road racing weekend with the focus firmly on tomorrow’s Bay Road 5 kms.
The not insignifican addition of N. Ireland Championship medals and vital N. I. Masters league points, will add to the mix with the top locals expecting strong individual and team challenges from beyond the North-West area.
Anyway, more of that later but let’s applaud Anne Paul’s narrow Magherafelt 5 mile victory on Saturday as the doughty Spartan saw off a tenacious challange from North Down’s Julie Balmer.
Anne clocked 29 mins. 55 secs. for the win with Julie hot on her heels in 30 mins. 02 secs., the pair finishing 22nd and 24th respectively in the 150 plus field.
Newcomer Adam Boyd, apparantly a Limavady native now Belfast based, won the men’s race in 26 m. 31 s., ahead of Chris McPeake of the promoting club Sperrin Harriers on 26 m. 37 s. with Maghera native, Tommy Hughes, taking third place on 26 m. 51 s.
Meanwhile, a big turnout in Glenveagh saw Letterkenny A.C.’s Fionnuala Diver post an impressive 18 m. 11 s. to win the Donegal Runher 5 Kms. on Sunday. This was good enough to bring her home comfortably ahead of Catherine Lilburn on 19 m. 09 s. with Clare Devennay third on 20 m. 22 s.
There was another 5 kms. event in Ballyshannon on Sunday hosted by Tirconail AC and Declan McCarthy ran 17 m. 52 s. here for a fourth place finish.
The Antrim track hosted a special Powerade 100 m. challange on Saturday and teenage Spartans track star Ciara Armstrong ran a quick 12.83 secs. for the runners-up spot in her race.
Back to the Bay Road race tomorrow night and all indications point to a big field as the 2012 Furey Insurances Series gets underway. There is the usual 7.30 p.m. start time with participants being advised that the actual start line moves this year to just outside the Sainsbury’s Restaurant on the Riverside Walkway. This is to facilitate the lengthy work being carried out in advance of installing a new Pontoon on the river.
The finish also has been adjusted and will move from the usual location at the rear of Da Vinci’s to the Walkway at the Fort George site.
Race headquarters remains the Sports Centre at U.U. Magee on the Rock Road campus where entries will be accepted from 6.00 p.m. Remember to get there in good time to process your entry and get down to Sainsburys for the 7.30pm start. It will take at least five minutes to jog from Magee to the new start point!
Race Packs for pre-entries can also be collected from 6.00 p.m. and online pre-entries will be accepted up to 2.00 p.m. tomorrow afternoon. Just send name, date of birth, age on race day and club, if any. to firstname.lastname@example.org
The enrty fee of £7 or E8 can be paid when collecting the race pack.
Electronic chip timing will be used this year so don’t forget to attach the chip securely to a running shoe otherwise you may not be recorded as a finisher.
Pre and post race sports Mmssage will be available free of charge at Magee between 6.30 p.m. and 8.30 p.m. and the post race refreshments and prize presentations will follow in the Sports Centre from around 8.30 p.m.
Local clubs City of Derry, who are hosting the event, and Foyle Valley are expected to field strong squads and will expect to jockey up front.
The Spartans will, of course, be without the talents of Connor Bradley, J. P. Williamson and Pajo Hamilton who will be away for warm weather training in Portugal, but they have strength in depth and expect to field a number of competitive squads in the three to score championship team race.
Valley’s Scott Rankin will, no doubt, welcome the absence of Bradley and Hamilton who beat him in Letterkenny over 3 Kms. just over a week ago but will still have to be wary of the Spartans Declan Reed, Emmet McGinty and the improving Noel Logan.
While runners from clubs outside the North-West are expected there are, to date, no big name early entries recieved but last year’s impressive men’s winner, Paddy Hamilton of Annadale Striders, may line up and if so his 14 m. 39 s. course record from last year could be in danger, weather conditions permitting of course.
Finn Valley’s Teresa McGloin ran a women’s course record of 17 m. 06 s. last year and although quiet of late, may well want to revisit the scene of last year’s brilliant run.
North Belfast Harrier and former winner, Cathy McCourt, is said to be interested in returning to Bay Road and the local female athletics such as Anne Paul, Marina Campbell, Catherine Lilburn and Jackie McGinley should ensure the quality of the women’s race.
The City of Derry club wish to thank the overall Series sponsors, Furey Insurances and the Bay Road sponsor, Noel Duddy (accountant) .for their generous support which enables the provision of the £400 plus prize fund at each of the six racesplus the £800 overal seriesl category winners prizes.
Catriona Runs Into
Finally, mention of Letterkenny runner Catriona Jennings’ brilliant 2 hrs. 36 mins. 14 secs. run on Sunday in the Rotherdam Marathon. This puts the Rathfarnham AC athlete right in the mix for London Olympics Marathon selection as she jumps into the second fastest slot of the four Irish women who have gone below the 2 hrs. 37 mins. qualifying time.
Only three can be selected and Jennings is now quicker than DSD’s Linda Byrne on 2 hrs 36 m 23 s and Letterkenny AC’s Maria McCambridge who has posted 2 hrs 36 m 37 s. Ava Hutchinson, also of DSD, is the fastest with 2 hrs 35 m 33 s.
The big 10K in the Phoenix Park on Sunday last was won as expected by the class act in the huge field, the legendary, Kenenisa Bekele of Eithiopia who ran 27 mins. 49 seconds, the fastest ever in Ireland and the fastest road 10K in the world this year. First Irish finisher in 7th was Clonliffe Harrier, Mark Kenneally, on 29 m. 23 secs.