Fionnuala McCormack of Kilcoole smashed her personal best by almost three minutes when finishing fifth woman at the Valencia Marathon in Spain on Sunday (December 5) in a time of 2 hrs 23 mins 58 secs.

The time – a huge improvement on the 2:26.47 she ran two years ago in Chicago – puts her second only behind Catherina McKiernan on the all-time Irish list. McKiernan’s best time of 2:22:23, run in Amsterdam, dates back to 1998.

McCormack, who competed in her fourth Olympic Games last August, finished fifth in a race won by the Kenyan Nancy Jelagat who, with the help of a male pacemaker, recorded a huge personal best time of 2:19.31.

Depending on how she recovers, McCormack hopes to lead the Irish team at the European Cross-Country Championships next Sunday in Abbotstown, Co Dublin. If she runs, it will be a record seventeenth appearance at these championships which she won in 2011 and 2012.

Finishing second M45 in Valenica with a time of 2:20.56 was former Irish marathon champion Gary O’Hanlon of Clonliffe Harriers, who then had another race on his hands to catch his flight home. Also having a good run was Feidhlim McGowan of North Sligo AC who finished in 2:22.38. A total of 68 Irish ran in Valencia.

Seeley win for Everard

Eoin Everard of Kilkenny City Harriers, better known as a track athlete, was the surprise winner of the Seeley Cup 10km in Belfast on Saturday (December 4)

Everard, along with Mathew Neill of Strive RC and Annadale Striders pair Eskander Turki and John Craig made up the leading pack at halfway. Only in the chase for the line did the Kilkenny man use his track speed to race away for victory. His time was 30 mins 18 secs, with Neill finishing on his heels only a second behind.

Turki was eventually third, while for fourth place, Craig just pipped Finn McNally of North Belfast Harriers.

Winning the team title was Annadale Striders, who beat arch-rivals North Belfast Harriers and City of Derry Spartans in both the Seeley Cup and the Northern Ireland and Ulster Championships. A total of thirty-six club teams finished the race.

First woman in a course record time of 33:32 was the pre-race favourite Ann-Marie McGlynn of Letterkenny AC.

Aoife Kilgallon of Sligo AC was second in 33:48 and Nakita Burke of Letterkenny AC third in 34:20. Annadale, led by Caitlyn Harvey, made it a club double when finishing best of the teams. Victoria Park and Connswater AC was second and North Down AC third of twenty-five teams entered.

O’Connors keep it in the family

One of the many West Waterford promotions is the Paddy-Joe Curran Memorial Cup (or Turkey Trot) over five miles which took place for the 13th occasion at Old Parish, just off the N25 outside Dungarvan, writes John Walshe.

Due to the restrictions, the usual cosy welcomingly atmosphere inside the Marine Bar wasn’t possible but there was still a fine turnout of runners and walkers on a cold but sunny day.

First home was 18-year-old Adam O’Connor from United Striders in Wexford, in a time of 27 mins 35 secs. Ravis Zakis of the home club – a five-time winner of the race – was second in 27:53 with John O’Rourke of Ferrybank third in 28:10.

Elaine Horgan, one of a number of Clonmel women taking race victories in recent weeks, took the honours after a close battle with Liz Nyhan of West Waterford AC; their times were 33:53 and 34:04.

In third place in a time of 36:03 was Beth O’Connor United Striders mother of the overall winner Adam.

In all, a total of €3,810 was raised for the Solas Cancer Support Centre. This was a fitting tribute to the late Paddy-Joe Curran who lost his battle with cancer in 2011.

Youghal couple Eddie and Celia OíRegan pictured at the Paddy-Joe Curran race. Picture: John Walshe

Jingle all the way for Travers and Lee

John Travers unleashed his trademark kick to make it a home win at the 30th annual Jingle Bells 5km, superbly organised by Donore Harriers in Dublin’s Phoenix Park on Saturday (December 4).

On a bright cold morning, Travers finished in 14 mins 22 secs – four seconds ahead of Conor Maguire from Monaghan Phoenix AC. Mitchell Byrne of Rathfarnham WSAF AC was third and UCD’s Mark Milner fourth with both given a time of 14:28.

In all, eleven men broke the 15 minute barrier and finishing with minimal seconds between were Raheny’s Kieran Kelly, David Scanlon of Rathfarnham WSAF AC, Mullingar’s Jamie Battle, Colin Maher of Ballyfin AC, Darragh Fitzgibbon of Donore Harriers and and Kevin Moore from Dundrum AC.

Photo: Gearóid Ó Laoi

In a quality women’s field, Lizzie Lee of Leevale AC, first in 16:15, was chased home by the in-form Sorcha Nic Dhomhnaill of the host club Donore Harriers and Catherina Mullen of Metro St Brigid’s AC. Lee, who had left Cork very early indeed to reach Dublin in time for the race’s 9.30am start, had last won the race in 2010.

Of the masters men, Emmett Dunleavy of Sligo AC was first M40 in 15:03, Declan Toal of North East Runners AC first M50 in 16:39 and Patrick O’Grady of Drogheda and District AC first M60 in 17:22. First W40 was the evergreen Lee. Annette Kealy of Raheny Shamrock AC was first W50 in 18:28, and Mary Browne of Lucan Harriers AC first W60 in 24:13. Finishers in this superveteran category including former Irish international athletes, Louise McGrillen and Bernie Kavanagh, and marathon woman Olive Nolan.

Junior winners were Gavin Curtin of Donore Harriers in a personal best time of 15:01 and Christelle Vall of Dublin City Harriers in 18:41.

In the team categories, Donore Harriers took the men’s title, with Rathfarnham WSAF second. For the women’s title, Dublin City Harriers was beating Raheny Shamrock.


Eavan McLoughlin of Sligo AC was the winner of the women’s 4km race at the National Novice Cross-Country Championships, held in Gowran, Co Kilkenny, on Sunday (December 5)

McLaughlin, who finished in 14 mins 09 secs, successfully held off the challenge of Letterkenny pair, Christine Russell and Noeleen Scanlan, who were given the same time of 14:14 when finishing second and third.

Backed up by Niamh Kelly and Shauna McGeehan, Letterkenny AC took the team title ahead of Dunboyne AC and Dublin City Harriers. Only a fortnight ago, Letterkenny AC won the national senior title for the first time in its history. Donegal finished best of the county teams ahead of Dublin and Meath.

Liam Harris of Togher AC led home 221 finishers in the men’s 6km race with Jamie Fallon of Craughwell AC second. The pair were given times of 18:43 and 18:53. Daniel Stone of Raheny Shamrock AC was third in 18:57.

Brilliant packing, with all four runners in the top sixteen, saw Leevale taking the team title from Craughwell by a single point. Raheny Shamrock AC was third. Galway was first of the county teams, with Dublin second and Cork third.

Rebecca Rossiter of Loughview AC in Co Down, who will line out with the Irish U20 team at next Sunday’s European Cross-Country Championships, won the girls U19 title. Matthew Lavery of North Belfast Harriers made it an Ulster double when he finished best of the U19 boys.

Indoors from the cold

Barry Keane of Waterford AC improved the national 5000m indoor record at the Boston University Sharon Colyear-Danville Season Opener on Saturday (December 4).

Keane’s time of 13:25.96 shaved almost three seconds off Alistair Cragg’s 13:28.93 record which had stood since March 2003. He finished eighth in the race.

Keane, aged 24, and a student at at Butler University, Indianapolis, since 2017, ran an outdoor best for the distance of 13:35.00 last April.

At the same meet, Alex O’Neill of Ennis TC won the women’s 1000m in 2:48.18.

In Providence, Rhode Island, Holly Brennan of Cilles AC clocked 10:07.49 for second place in the 3000m at the Brown Alden Indoors Invitational. Shane Coffey of Naas AC was third in the men’s 3000m in 8:41.457.