Cool conditions in Europe and toasty warm in Sapporo, Japan, lead to some exciting, yet tough racing this weekend. Lindie Naughton reports. 

Ryan Creech of Leevale AC beat a top-class entry to win the Kilbeggan 10-Mile held in Co Westmeath on Sunday (August 8).

Creech pulled away from the pack to win in 48 mins 50 secs. John Travers of Donore Harriers was second in 49:12, Jake O’Regan of St John’s Ennis third in 49:23, Conor Duffy of Glaslough Harriers AC fourth in 49:55 and Mick Clohisey of Raheny Shamrock AC fifth in 50:07.

First woman was Grace Lynch of Iveragh AC in 55:46. Ciara Hickey of Brothers Pearse AC, back racing after a long lay-off, was second and first W40 in 57.41 and Clare Mc Carthy of Leevale AC, another athlete back racing after a long break, third and second M40 in 59:38.

The race was split into two waves with 197 in the first and 183 in the second; a nice total of 380.

Derese streaks ahead

On the same day in Co Louth, Yared Derese of Carrick Aces AC proved the class of the field when he won the Drogheda and District Capital Masters 5km — his second win in a few weeks.

Derese’s time of 14 mins 28 put him over a minute clear of the chasers led by local athlete Liam Mulligan, who finished second in 15:45. In third place was Ciaran Madden of Longford AC in 16:20.

First woman was Karen Costello of Dunleer AC in 17:59. Charlottte Moore was second in 18:24 and Laura Mathews of North East Runners third in 18.55.

Winning the Feile 10km at Malone Integrated College, Belfast, also on Sunday, was Eskander Turki of Annadale Striders in 32 mins 37 secs. John Black of North Belfast Harriers was second in 32:45 and Stephen Connolly of Annadale Striders third in 32:54.

First women was Gladys Ganiel of North Belfast Harriers in 36:56. Aslene Mussen was second in 39:51 and Rachel McCloskey of Beechmount Harriers third in 40:22.

Wicklow 5km Series closer for front pairs

Sean Hehir of Metro St Brigid’s AC was again the winner at the fourth round of the Wicklow 5km Series held at Avondale House, Rathdrum on Friday (August 6).

Hehir finished in 16 mins 16 secs, with Alan Duffy of Parnell AC second in 16:55 and his clubmate Patrick Kinsella third in 18:03. First women and fifth overall was Sheila O’Byrne, also Parnell AC, in 18:22. Emma O’Brien of Sli Culainn AC was second in 18:35 and Anna O’Connor of Waterford AC third in 18:52. First junior was Edward Byrne of Parnell AC in 18:50.

First master and first M50 was Dominic Horan of Bray Runners in 18:44. Mick Byrne of Parnell AC was first M60 in 21:34 and Mary Nolan Hickey of Sli Culainn AC first W65 in 29:58. Hickey is the only woman to have completed all Dublin Marathons to date.

Jimmy Sloan of Newry AC and Gillan McCrory of St Peter’s AC were the winners of the Mallusk Harriers 5-Mile held on Thursday (August 5).

Sloan was a clear winner of the race in 27 mins 20 secs, with Gordy Graham of East Down AC second in 27:37 and Brandon McMinn of North Belfast Harriers third in 27:56.

McCrory, who finished in 31:14, was followed home by Sarah Lavery of Beechmount Harriers in 31:30 and Martsje Hell of North Belfast Harriers, better known as a mountain runner, in 32:23.

The heat hits times hard in Japan

Kevin Seaward of St Malachy’s AC fared the best of the Irish in the men’s marathon held in oven-like conditions at Sapporo on Sunday (August 8).

Seaward finished 58th in a time of 2:21:45. Paul Pollock of Annadale Striders AC was 71st in 2:27:48, while Stephen Scullion of Clonliffe Harriers AC dropped out of the race before the halfway mark.

The three Irish men started off conservatively, going through 10km towards the back of the field.

At halfway, Seaward was in 86th position. With a steady charge though the field, he picked up twenty-eight places over the second half of the race.

“It’s probably the hardest marathon I’ve ever run,” he said after finishing. “I don’t think people at home can put into context quite how challenging it was. I learned a lot about myself in terms of resilience and inner strength.”

Pollock, 80th at halfway, moved up nine places holding on grimly as the race progressed. “It was about getting to the finish line as quickly as possible and as safely as possible,” he said.

“Running has broken my heart so many times, so I should probably be used to it, but I still love it so I’ll be back again.”

A day earlier, Fionnuala McCormack of Kilcoole AC had finished 25th in the women’s marathon with a time of 2:34:09. Her team mate Aoife Cooke of Eagle AC dropped out just before halfway.

An earlier start time than originally planned was intended to give the athletes a cooler start to the race, but when the race began, the temperature had already reached 25°C, with over 80% humidity.

McCormack went with the lead pack of about forty women until about 10km, and passed through halfway in 27th place with a time of 75:41, less than thirty seconds down on the leaders. She picked up two places in the final two kilometres.

“It wasn’t the result I had hoped for. It was a battle today, both physical and mental,” she said. “Running has broken my heart so many times, so I should probably be used to it, but I still love it so I’ll be back again.”

Tokyo was a fourth Olympic Games for the Wicklow athlete. She finished 20th in the marathon at the Rio Games of 2006, after running the steeplechase in 2008 and the 10,000m in 2012.

Photo: Melbourne Marathon

Best placed Irish-born runner

Best result for an Irish-born athlete came from Mayo’s Sinead Diver. Wearing an Australian vest, the 44-year-old finished an impressive tenth place in 2:31.14.

Diver was delighted with her top ten placing. “I’m speechless, I’m so happy. I didn’t expect to come top ten That was something I really wanted before the race, so I’m absolutely stoked that I fought for that spot at the end. I had to sprint to get past the girl in front of me, so I’m so happy I managed to do that.”

Born in Belmullet, Co Mayo, Diver moved to Australia in 2002 and only took up running eleven years ago to get fit after her first pregnancy.

When she recorded a 2:34:15 marathon time 2014, she thought that was enough to book her place on the Irish team for the following year’s World Championships in Beijing. Unfortunately Athletics Ireland dropped the qualification time to 2:33:30, and a disappointed Diver transferred her allegiance to Australia. Injury ruled her out of the Rio Olympics, making her Tokyo qualification all the more special.

Her dad back in Ireland would be “probably the proudest man in the world”, she said.

Steede’s success in the cooler air of the mountains

Jonny Steede’s journey from Antrim to Co Mayo over the weekend proved worthwhile when he won both at Mweelrea on Saturday (August 7) and Nephin a day later.

At Mweelrea, Steele covered the 10.7km distance in 53 mins 37 secs, winning by a comfortable margin. Barry McEvoy was second in 56:29 and Brian Furey of Rathfarnham WSAF AC third in 56:49.

A day later, over a shorter distance of 5.3km, the battle up front was closer, with Steede finishing just ten seconds clear of McEvoy in 49 mins 18 secs, with McEvoy timed at 49:28 and Karol Cronin of Sportsworld AC a close third in 50:33.

Elizabeth Wheeler was first woman at Mweelrea in 68:15, with IMRA chairwoman Laura Flynn, second in 49 mins 74:01 and Emer O’Connell third in 76:23. At Nephin, Flynn was the winner in 76:11, with Niamh O’Gorman of Kilcoole AC second in 76:41 and Emer O’Connell again third in 83:48.

Internationally Zak Hanna was forced to pull out of the annual Sierre to Zinal 31km classic in Switzerland. It was his debut in the classic race, which combines a vertical kilometre to start with fast, runnable dirt roads at altitude, before a swift descent to the finish. Winner was mountain racing legend, Killian Jornet of Spain in 2 hrs 31 mins 44 secs.

Midweek action

In the mid-week Leinster Evening League race over 8km at the Devil’s Glen in Co Wicklow on Wednesday (August 4), Barry Minnock of Tullamore Harriers was first home in 33 mins 43 secs. Joe Warne was second in 34.12 and Rory Mossop third in 34:37.

Caoimhe Daniels of Sportsworld AC was first woman in 38:57.Becky Quinn was second in 40:01 and Nicola Soraghan third in 40.38.