Some local podium action in the last week at races in Donaghmore, Magherafelt, Milford and Rathlin Island with outright wins for Anne Paul and Scott Rankin at the first two venues and age group success for Peter Lilburn, Joe McCarthy and Una Gavin at Milford and Rathlin respectively.
Anne Paul made a welcome return to competition at the Donaghmore 5 miler on Wednesday night and posted a reasonable 34m 49s to comfortably take the female honours while on Friday night in Magherafelt, Scott Rankin improved on his third place Dessie’s Run finish two days earlier to take the tape at the Mighty Acorns 5K in a decent 15m 22s.
In the same race Noel Logan got back into race action with a 16m 25s effort for fourth, a mere four seconds off runner up, Paralympian star Michael McKillop’s 16m21s and the 16m 23s clocking of Darrel McKee of the promoting club Acorns AC. Kieran Hurley was eighth and second M35 in 17m 19s.
The Milford 5K on Friday night saw another M60 win for Peter Lilburn in 18m 30s and Joe McCarthy ran 19m 24s to lift the M55 prize.
Teenager Christopher Crampsey ran just over 18m among the leading juniors. The Rathlin 10 miler on Sunday was rewarding for Una Gavin, 10th female overall and top F55.
The Long Running
The focus locally now is firmly on this Sunday’s Waterside Half Marathon, the 34th staging of the popular and enduring Classic which is set to take close to 2,000 runners round the new course from Ebrington to a finish on the St Columb’s Park running track.
Race HQ is in the Foyle Arena, newly opened on the site of the former St Columb’s Park Leisure Centre which hosted the Waterside from its inception back in 1981 to 2005.
The event then moved to Gransha but this year returns to its roots in St Columb’s Park, to the delight of many local runners.
The new course will bring the race to the other side of the Foyle for the first time and will see the participants cross both under and over the Foyle Bridge to return to the Park via the Peace Bridge.
It is a good running course albeit the weather conditions will determine the degree of difficulty on the Foyle Bridge and has been welcomed by the local running fraternity.
Start time is 10 a.m., the solitary wheelchair competitor Karol Doherty will get a few minutes head start, and the first finishers are expected back to the finish line, 13.1 miles later around 11 06am.
The top males are the Raheny Shamrock AC duo from Dublin, Freddy Sittuk well known in these parts as the double Walled City Marathon winner, and Mick Clohisey an established top Irish road and cross country exponent with a 64m 42s Half Marathon PB.
Declan Reed, Scott Rankin and Pauric McKinney will front the local challenge with Gary Slevin, Chris McGuinness and Pius McIntyre also all expected to chase top 10 spots.
Catherine Whoriskey is in a rich vein of form right now and will look for a podium place in what looks like an extremely open Women’s race with Martina McMullan and Gemma McGinty and Marie Boyle of Letterkenny also eyeing up big runs.
Race Pack collection begins at the Foyle Arena on Friday 4th at 12 noon, continues on Saturday 5th from 10am and for visiting runners only there is a race day collection between 8am and 9am. Locals should ensure they pick up on either Friday or Saturday!
Speaking from race HQ a spokesperson confirmed that entry is definitely closed and said “there absolutely is no “on the day” entry for the WHM, we have reached our target numbers and are all set for the start gun on Sunday.”
“We ask runners to get to the start line in good time for the 10am kick off and co operate with the Police and Parking Stewards to access the range of designated parking areas in and around the St Columb’s Park/Ebrington grounds.”
The supporting Fun Run of around 2K has a 10.15am start and will use the Ebrington site grounds and the Greenway to take participants from Ebrington to the St Columb’s Park running track finish. The Half Marathon start and finish will also be used for the Fun Run.
Entries can be made at the Foyle Arena this week including between 8am and 9.30am on Sunday morning and race packs collected at similar times as those already indicated for the Half Marathon.