The weather perhaps was the big winner over the weekend with much of Saturday’s sports action seriously curtailed but the National Juvenile Indoor championships went ahead in Athlone with five medals won by local athletes.
And those performances were highlighted by golds from Claire Dougherty in the U19 Triple Jump and Naomi Morgan in the U18 Long Jump.
The talented Morgan added a 60m Hurdles silver to her tally and there were two bronzes from Jenny O’Brien, U19 400m, and Megan Devine in the U18 200m as the local contingent made their presence felt on the national stage.
Meanwhile, despite the weather which saw the Larne Marathon called off, the Wicklow Way Utra Marathon went ahead and in Saturday’s wet, foggy, snowy conditions, Hannah Shields finished second lady in the gruelling 51 kilometre trek which included almost 2,000 feet of climbing.
Apparently driving to the race was almost as bad as the race conditions, but on the course the local dentist dug in tenaciously to finish in just over six hours, missing out on pole position by a mere two minutes.
Sunday’s final race in the Finn Valley 5k series was won in 15m 35s by Letterkenny’s Ciaran Doherty from the host club’s Mark Hoy and James Speight.
Teresa McGloin ran 17m 31s to take the women’s race honours and Zach McGowan took the junior men’s award, 15th overall with 17m 49s. Pius McIntyre was the top Derry finisher, fifth in 16m 14s.
Back to the Athlone Arena and the five national medals won by the local Spartans. Naomi Morgan caught the eye with her sprint and Long Jump performances.
Her winning 5m 26cm jump was well clear of the runner-up and she wasn’t far off the 60m sprint hurdles winner.
Claire Dougherty’s 11m 03cm triple jump was yet another consistent performance on the big stage and Megan Devine’s 25.76s for 200m bronze was well deserved.
Jenny O’Brien ran 59.17s for 400m bronze, an impressive performance and was chased home in 60.28s by clubmate Tamara Boyle who posted a new personal best with this run.
Another so close to a medal was Aoife Laverty in the U17 800m, her 2m 22.93s just 0.04s behind the bronze medallist from Tirchonail AC as both NW athletes finished literally a few strides behind the leading duo.
The other athletes from City of Derry and Olympian, while out of the medals, nevertheless performed splendidly and will have learned much from the experience.
Looking ahead, it’s road racing which commands attention in the next few weeks.
The popular Queens 5K is on tomorrow night (Wednesday) in Belfast and may well attract some of the top locals as indeed will Saturday’s Omagh Half Marathon.
The latter will compete with the Ballyliffin Coastal 10 mile run on Saturday for participants, but with the increasing number of runners out there, most likely each will pull big fields.
Letterkenny’s annual Easter Sunday 5k is another popular race and will cater for a different demographic to the more distance orientated Saturday events
Bay Road 5Kms.
The first in the 2013 Furey Insurances 5K Series will be staged on Wednesday evening, April 10th on the traditional Bay Road circuit.
The start time will be 7.30pm and race HQ will be at the UU Magee Sports Centre, Rock Road where entries will be accepted on the night from 6 p.m.
As usual there is a pre-race online entry process. Simply email your name, date of birth, club, if any, and contact details to firstname.lastname@example.org and you can pay the entry fee and pick up your race pack from 6pm on race night.
Long term race series sponsors, Atlanfish have kindly stepped in to financially assist the Bay road race which hosts the ANI 5k road championships and is also the final scoring race in the NI Masters Winter League.
These will give an added edge to the race and expect to see lots of outside participants lining up alongside the local club runners and joggers who will target the flat and fast, spectator friendly Bay road event.