LOCAL RUNNERS were prominent at road races in Omagh, Armagh and here in the City as a busy weekend of competitive athletics action attracted big numbers despite the prevailing wet, blustery conditions.
Connor Bradley and Catherine Lilburn led home the big field at Sunday’s Marty’s Run with impressive winning efforts, while Declan Reed and Gregory Roberts each finished runners-up in the Omagh Sally’s 10k and the Adidas Armagh 10 mile respectively.
Certainly a busy weekend and the miserable weather failed to dampen the enthusiasm of the hundreds of runners and walkers who turned out for the second staging of the Foyle Valley AC” Marty’s Run” on the local Glengalliagh Road, Skeoge Road, Buncrana Road circuit. Spearheaded by the athletes from the host club and City of Derry Spartans, a hotly contested 5k resulted in victories for the red vests Connor Bradley and Catherine Lilburn who posted impressive winning times of 15m 45s and 19m 07s.
Up front in the men’s race the pace was made by Foyle Valley’s Scott Rankin who exhibited his excellent summer form from the gun, but Connor Bradley was content to tuck in behind as they battled the strong winds and only made the decisive move about 300 metres from the finish line adjacent to the Sports Complex.
The sub 3m 50s 1,500m man turned on the gas for an eight second victory margin over the gallant Rankin and behind them, JP Williamson came out of a large chasing pack to stride home third in 16m 08s.
Their efforts deserved better rewards but, given the conditions, the finishing times right down the large field were impressive. Colin Roberts ran strongly for fourth and leading M40 with 16m 19s; Pajo Hamilton was next on 16m 22s followed by the leading U18 finisher, the very talented Shane McGowan on 16m 27s.
Gary Slevin and Kieron Hurley battled to the line a second apart with 16m 28s and 16m 29s and completing the top 10 were Noel Logan and Pius McIntyre on 16m 36s and 16m38s.
Catherine Coasts Home
Catherine Lilburn was an impressive women’s race winner, her 19m 07s clocking very good in the difficult conditions and certainly should have boosted her confidence ahead of the upcoming Ulster Novice cross country championships in Stranorlar.
Chasing hard in second was Foyle Valley’s improving Dolores Quinn with an eye-catching 19m 40s and in third place and clinching the top U18 female award was another promising young red vest, Aoife Laverty, on 19m 51s.
Ciara Fraser, in heavy training for the Dublin marathon had a battle with Catherine Lagan before getting home in 21m 31s just three seconds ahead.
Lorraine Carlin completed the top six and was the leading female 45 in 21m 43s, only a couple of strides ahead of Joanne Doran’s 21m 44s. Trish McCormick ran well for eighth place her 22m 34s giving her the top F35 prize and the top 10 was rounded off by the second U18 Hannah McGowan on 22m 35s and Roisin Lynch who took the F60 award with 23m 06s.
A tremendous turnout despite the weather and well done to the Foyle Valley club for all their hard work in organising the event, now a firm fixture on the local calendar.
Greg and Declan In The Frame
Meanwhile in Armagh on Sunday Gregory Roberts took on a classy field in the prestigious Adidas Armagh 10 miler and here again the conditions were far from perfect.
The Spartan put the memory of a poor Great North Run behind him with a terrific run for second spot in 50m 41s. The winner was Meath athlete, Andrew Ledwith who claimed Joe McAlister’s course record with a cracking 50m 11s effort.
This snapped some 25 seconds off the Belfast man’s course best and put the Spartans’ time in perspective and, given the conditions, he will be happy with his run.
Ledwith stuck in a quick mile around the seven mile mark to create the significant gap and a fast finishing Roberts caught Raheny’s Vinny Mulvey but ran out of road to get closer to the winner.
Also behind him were Annadale’s Eddie McGinley and Donore Harrier, John Travers, two more good scalps as the Spartan now begins to finalise his preparation for the Dublin marathon at the end of the month.
Another good omen for the red vests was the welcome return to competitive action by Diarmuid Grant who posted a top 10 finish in around 54 minutes.
Omagh was the Saturday venue and here there was another win for the home club’s Stephen Duncan in the Sally’s 10K run. Duncan is a prolific racer and won again with a 31m 17s effort.
Behind him was Declan Reed, his 31m 44s run bringing him home a clear second, well ahead of the third man, Alan McCullough of North Belfast who clocked 33m 03s. Declan is also gearing up for Dublin and indeed he incorporated Marty’s Run 5K into his Sunday long run, less than 24 hours later.
For the record Gladys Ganiel ran 35m 30s for the Sally’s women’s race victory, well ahead of Sperrin’s Karen Alexander and Omagh’s Julie Butler who in a tight finish posted 34m 34s and 34m 57s respectively.
Cross Country League
News of the 2011 edition of the local Primary Schools cross country league which starts at the Sports Complex on Friday, October 21st next. The three race league continues in St. Columb’s Park on Friday, December 2nd and concludes back at the Complex on Friday, January 20th with the best overall teams and individual runners going on to the N.I. finals in Mallusk in mid-February.
The league has been well supported by local primary schools across the Derry City Council area in the past couple of years and this year should be no exception. Information may be accessed at www.niathletics.org or from Gerry Lynch on 07702006667.