Sammy McAnaney’s magnificient 2 hrs. 50 mins. 16 secs. London Marathon run on Sunday, placing him second overall in the M55 age group was the highlight of last weekend athletics action.
Not far behind, however, was the M40 team bronze medals won by Philip Donaghy, Colin Roberts and Oran McBride in Dublin at the Nationl Road Relays while Letterkenny AC added to the North-West honours, their senior squad winning team bronze in a top class men’s race at the Raheny venue.
McAnaney was the undoubted star of the local London Marathon contingent, producing a terrific run to finish less than a minute behind the M55 winner on Sunday morning. Given the massive world wide entry at the London classic, the City of Derry Spartan turned in a truly magnificent effort to get right up there in his age group. Indeed, he is in a rich vein of form just now as he won the M55 age group a week earlier in Dublin at the National 10 Kms. Road Championships, to show he was ready for a big one in London.
Back in Dublin a City of Derry contingent chased National Road Relay medals with teams in all Championship categories. Despite missing several key athletes the ‘red vests’ were prominent in the hot afternoon action in Raheny Village. A radically changed M40 line-up were particulary impressive as they battled hard for team bronze in the 1 mile/2 mile/1 mile race.
Philip Donaghy led off for the Spartans and surpassed all expectations with an eye catching fourth place in the opening leg. His 4m 59s clocking for the slightly over distance mile circuit gave two lap runner Colin Roberts the ideal launch pad and the long striding Eglinton resident pushed through to finish a few strides behind the second placed Donore runner as eventual winners Raheny were out front and going for gold.
Oran Mc Bride on the final leg, dug in after Roberts 10m 12s two lap effort, and galloped home unchallanged to confirm team bronze for the red vests with a strong 5m 27s run. South Donegal club Tir Chonaill were next home 16 seconds in arrears as the local men celebrated an unexpected, but richly deserved success.
Colin Roberts has been there before but Donaghy and McBride were grabbing their first ever National Championship medals and fully deserved them.
Hard Luck Stories
Earlier the Spartans F40 trio of Bridgeen Byrne, Jackie McGinley and Paula McGilloway were just run out of the medals in their race, falling just 11 seconds shy of team bronze. Raheny sped to a clear victory almost a minute clear of Rathfarnham on 25m 4s, Tallaght on 25m 14s and the Spartans on 25m 25s.
The latter trio were always fairly close and the ‘red vests’ held the bronze medal position until well into the last lap before Paula McGilloway, who had stepped in at the last moment, succumbed to a late Tallaght charge.
It was no cigar again for the M50 men as Robert Bigger, Dermot Connolly and Peter Lilburn battled strongly but lost out behind Liffey Valley, NE Runners and Rathfarnham. After three tough legs the latter club edged the bronze medals by a 12 seconds margin ahead of the gallant Derry men.
Two inexperienced Spartans squads contested a super fast Senior women’s race, won in a tight finish by Kilcoole AC from Raheny and Clonliffe. The Derry women finished off the pace,12th and 13th, but can take a lot from their experience, well done to Catherine Lilburn, Sara Mahon, Amy McDaid, Ciara Fraser, Catherine Lagan and Grainne Kearns.