Sunday’s Waterside Half Marathon said goodbye to the Gransha Park based course in fine style, as a record 1600 finishers put on a terrific show for the hundreds of enthusiastic supporters.
And it was St Malachy’s Gary Murray who got away late on to post an impressive 68m 01s winning time, just ahead of the gritty City of Derry Spartan Declan Reed whose 68, 11s was a new PB - it was the third consecutive year Reed finished in second place!.
And Foyle Valley’s Scott Rankin placed third on 69m 53s - another personal best on the windy 13.1 mile course from Broadbridge and back to a packed Gransha.
Defending women’s champion Anne Marie McGlynn had a more convincing win, her brilliant 77m 21s, a new PB, which left her well clear of runner up Fiona Stack of Dublin club Raheny Shamrock who posted 80m 25s, two minutes faster than her winning 2012 time, with Lifford AC’s Claire McGuigan third on 85m 18s.
Omagh Harrier Paul Barbour ran 71m 43s for fourth overall, the Spartans Gary Slevin produced a massive new PB of 72m 23s in fifth and Foyle Valley’s Chris McGuinness on 74m 13s completed the top six . In the three to score team race Reed and Slevin were brilliantly supported by the leading M45 finisher Paul McCafferty whose 74m 59s for eighth sealed a very close team win from a tenacious Foyle Valley whose third finisher Pius McIntyre was seventh in 74m 45s.
The red vests also claimed the Women’s team honours packing their three scorers into the top six finishers. Female Master 50 Anne Paul , twice a winner here some years ago, was a battling fourth on 87m 43s, Marina Campbell shook of injury for fifth on 89m 57s and Catherine Whoriskey with a 90m 28s run completed the winning trio with her sixth place individual finish.
Runners from the North West made up the bulk of the huge field and showed that both quality and quantity is here in abundance with the established athletics clubs dominating the prizes but the new breed community based running groups certainly providing much of the overall numbers. Indeed the counter attraction of the Belfast Half Marathon on the same day was never a factor, as some had feared. Both races drew record entry numbers!
A great day overall, all credit to the participants and the event organisers who together put on a terrific show. On to next year and the return to St Columbs Park, where it all began back in 1981!