Local runners impressed at the sharp end of Sunday’s 35th staging of the Waterside Half Marathon with Scott Rankin posting a new PB as he pushed Freddy Sittuk all the way to the line while defending female champion, Catherine Whoriskey, took a huge chunk off her PB with a virtually unchallenged defence of her title.
The Kenyan athlete is a well known face in these parts and from the gun it always was a battle of attrition between him and Foyle Valley’s in-form Rankin. They went head-to-head for mile after mile on the journey around the banks of the Foyle before Freddy just got his nose in front inside the final mile as they crossed the Peace Bridge en route to the St. Columb’s Park running track finish.
The popular Kenyan dug deep down the finish straight to pip the gallant Rankin by a few strides and a flimsy one second, 67m 37s to the 67m 38s PB for the local runner. An absorbing tussle and a brilliant effort from the Foyle Valley man who should be delighted with his PB despite a narrow defeat.
Whoriskey achieved both her stated targets with retention of her WHM title and a sparkling new 77m 52s PB to boot. The Spartan finished a very impressive 15th overall in the huge field with a five minute advantage over runner up Claire McGuigan of Lifford-Strabane AC, to consolidate her status as one of the most improved female athletes in the country.
She ripped over five minutes off her 2015 winning time and broke 80 minutes for the first time in some style. In recent months PBs over 5K, 10K and now the Half Marathon puts her clearly into a different class and after a well deserved break she will go into the 2016-17 season with significantly upgraded targets!
Elsewhere, local runners were also making waves with Kyle Doherty claiming the final male podium finish spot with a battling finish, seeing off a bunch of challangers as his 74m 24s gave the Spartan a well deserved third place finish.
In a hotly contested club team race, the emerging Strathfoyle man led home his Spartans club mates, Dermot McElhinney (the top M45 in 74m 54s for 7th), and Brendan Murphy (9th in 76m 13s), to give the red vests the club team honours, just one point ahead of local rivals, Foyle Valley. A good few weeks for Kyle who also made the Dessie’s Run podium just two weeks ago!
Scott Rankin was ably supported by Mark Long (8th in 75m 52s) and Stephen Connor (10th in 76m 59s) as the Valley trio posted 20 points to their rival’s 19.
The Foyle Valley females however were clear winners in their team contest with Grainne Neill (4th), Martina McMullan (5th) and Deirdre Shields (6th) ensuring a comprehensive victory for the purple vests. An excellent display of packing by this talented trio to easily see off all comers in the club team contest.
F50 Grainne and F45 Martina crossed the line hand in hand but were given chip times of 93m 24s and 93m 24s respectively hence the placings. Deirdre, a F35, posted 94m 05s, excellent efforts from all three!
The local awards went to Scott Rankin and Catherine Whoriskey with Masters Dermot McElhinney and Grainne Neill claiming the age group local prizes.
Carndonagh man Karol Doherty was as expected the Wheelchair winner posting 82m 38s for the win as he returns to action after a recent arm injury.