The half marathon season is in full swing and Lindie Naughton brings us all the Irish action.
At the World Half Marathon Championships held in Riga Latvia on Sunday, Shona Heaslip of An Riocht finished 24th in the women’s race with a time 71 mins 7 secs. Fionnuala Ross 41st in 74:40 24th. In the men’s race, Hiko Tonosa of Dundrum South Dublin AC, the sole Irish finisher, was 60th in 64:14.
At the Cardiff Half Marathon, Fergeal Curtin, who is now based in Wales and running with Pontypridd Roadents, acted as pacemaker for an elite field dominated by Kenyan athletes and still finished eighth in 64 mins 13 secs – well off the 62:35 he ran in Antrim last August.
Locally, Brian G. Murphy of Uisce Éireann was the winner of the inaugural Radisson Blu Cork BHAA 5km at Little Island, Cork, finishing in 16 mins 2 secs. Tom McKenzie of Iuna Hospitality was secodn in 16;24 and guest runner Andrew Hobbs third in 16:32
Carol Finn was first woman in 17:55, followed by Vicki Spiteri of the HSE in 19:04 and Elaine Cardiff of the Dept of Ed in 19:32. Grade A team winners were the UCCmen andthe Dept of Ed women.
Winner of the Douglas Credit Union 5km at Tramore Valley Park in Cork were Gavin Kenny of Bandon AC in 16:13 and Linda Kelly of Carrigaline Road Runners in 19:12.
Kahumburuka Tuahuku in 19 mins 57 mins and Lydia Bigley in 26.55 were the winners at the Sanctuary Runners 5km an off-road race held on the national cross-country track at Abbbotstown.
Saturday racing in Bangor, Co Down
At a well supported NI and Ulster 10km Championships in Bangor, Co Down on Saturday (September 30) Andrew Milligan of North Belfast Harriers won a three-way chase for the line, outsprinting Conor Braldey of City of Derry Spartans AC and Conall mcClean of St Malachy’s AC. Milliganwas given a time of 30 mins 27 secs, with the other pair a second slower on 30:28.
First woman in 36:11 was Robyn McKee of Annadale Striders, with her clubmate Dearbhla Cox second in 36:25 and Sarah McNutt of Lagan Valley AC third in 37:55.
Newcastle AC took the men’s team title comfortably with North Belfast Harries second and Annadale Striders third. Best of the women was Annadale Striders head of Carmen Runners and Tafelta AC.
Winning the Rossi 5km in Rostrevor was Mark Malone in 15:52. First woman was Joanne Mills in 19:04.
Earlier in the week, the Grant Thortons series of corporates races came to Dublin’s Docklands on Tuesday (September 26), with Richie Gardener of UPMC Sports the winner in 15 mins 28 secs and Sheila O’Byrne of Golf Ireland the first woman in 17:98.
Although these events cost €35 per individual or €140 per team – plus charges – this particular race attracted an entry of over 3,000.
Showing that age is no barrier to athletics success, two 43-year-olds took the honours at the Cork County cross-county championships which took place in ideal conditions at Macroom, on Sunday (October 1) writes John Walshe
Like he did last year at the same venue, Michael Harty – 43 the day before and winner last week at Rathfarnham – led an East Cork AC clean sweep when finishing 21 seconds clear of his younger club-mate Paul Hartnett who easily took the U23 title.
With Tim O’Donoghue third and Tony Forristal fifth, East Cork won the team for the 22nd time, finishing 25 points clear of Leevale with St Finbarr’s taking third.
A thrilling women’s race saw 2016 Olympian Lizzie Lee of Leevale AC and last year’s national novice champion Fiona Everard from Bandon AC neck-and-neck for most of the 6km. Half-way around the final lap, Lee’s strength provide decisive and at the finish she had 10 second to spare over Everard who was having her first since the track season.
With Niamh Moore third and Michelle Kenny – just back from the European Masters where she won gold in the cross-country and silver in the 10km – fifth, Leevale were clear team winners ahead of St Finbarr’s and Togher.
This was the 100th anniversary of the first Cork cross-country championship held back in 1923. Denis McCarthy – who recently compiled (along with Liam O’Brien) the unique list of all previous winners – made his own contribution to that history when completing in this championship for a remarkable 41st time.
At the Meath Novice and Junior/U23 Championships, Karen Hayes of Ratoath AC won the novice women’s race in 17:16, with her clubmate Aine O’Connor second in 17:52 and Karen Lavelle of Star of the Sea AC third and first W50 in 18:04. With three in the top four, Ratoath was the winning team ahead of Fr Murphy’s AC and Trim AC.
Seamus Anderson of Trim AC won the men’s race in 20:42, with Aaron Smith (Cilles AC) second in 20:53 and Conor Leech (Na Fianna AC) third in 21:31. Trim AC was top team ahead of Bohermeen AC and Na Fianna AC.
In the Junior /U18 races, the winners were Kayla Ryan and James Kelly, both Ratoath AC.
Shaun Kerrs (Tir Chonaill AC) and Amy Greene (Finn Valley AC ) were the winners at the Donegal Novice Championships held in Carndonagh. Finn Valley took both team titles. Philip McGee (Letterkenny AC) won the boys’ U18 title.
After a week of non-stop action, Ireland finished 17th on the medals table at the European Masters Track and Field Championships in Pescara, Italy, which ended on Sunday (October1).
In total Ireland won 53 medals – 17 gold, (10 individual; seven relay or team) 24 silver and 12 bronze.
Double gold medal winners were Joe Gough (West Waterford AC) M70 800m and 1500m and Annette Kealy (Raheny Shamrock AC) W55 10km and half marathon road race. Other individual winners included Annette Quaid (Leevale AC) W45 400m, Carlton Haddock (Leevale AC) M50 400m, Geraldine Finegan (North East Runners) W55 heptathlon, Michelle Kenny (Leevale AC) W40 cross-country, Edel Maguire (Clonliffe Harriers) W60 high jump, and Catherine O’Connor (Sli Cualann A.C) W35 cross-country. Relay winners were M45 4x400m, W40 4x400m, and mixed over 45 4x400m.
Ireland also took a number of team wins – W45 and W55 in half marathon, W60 in 10km and W45 and W60 in cross-country. Niamh O’Sullivan (An Riocht AC) Irene Clements (ClonesAC) and Kay Byrne (Finn Valley AC) made up the winning W60 teams in both the cross-country and the 10km.
Although she wasn’t competing, Anne Gilshinan of Slaney Olympic AC travelled to Pescara to receive her Best European Female Middle Distance Athlete of the Year and Best European Overall Female Athlete of the Year for 2022 awards.
French ultra runner Yoann Stuck proved the star of the Eco Trail Wicklow, held in wet windy conditions Saturdays (September 29).
Stuck, one of the big names in Eco Trail internationally, took 6 hrs 34 mins 16 secs to complete the 80km course having led from the start.
His time knocked almost five minutes off the course record of 6 hrs 39 mins 23 secs set by Luke Grenfell Shaw from Bristol last year. The course, which started on Bray promenade, went as far as the Vartry reservoir in Roundwood, taking in the Little Sugar Loaf and the Sugar Loaf itself as well as Djouce woods along the way. Because of the unrelenting rainfall, visibility along the away was variable and some of the trails became extremely slippery as the day wore on.
Second in 6:53.50 was Cillian Fleming, while third in 7:47.03 was Brendan Joy. First woman in 8:36.42 was Deirdre O’Gorman, followed by Lou McLaughlin in 9:12.34 and Julie McNamee, whose finishing times has still to be confirmed – it was around 9 hours 22 mins.
Winner of the 19km was Des Kennedy M50 in 1 hrs 37.32. Second in 1:38.29 was Rían MacMaoláin I; third was the 2022 winner Derek Crammond of Parnell AC who finished in 1:41.24 after going slightly astray along the way. First woman in 1:52.43 was Erin Gillingham. Second and first W40 was Imogen McGuinness in 1:55.08; third in 2:04.10 was Yani Cornthwaite
Winning the 30km was Luke Weldon in 2:37.46; Joseph Bond was second in 2:43.21 and Johnny Conway third and first M40 in 2:150.26. Fifth and first woman in 2:50.54 was Kaisa Laapas from Finland. Sarah Flanagan was second in 3:01.35 and Jasmine Wonik third in 3:09.00. Early leader Tudor Mircea Moldovan of Clonliffe Harrers, the 2022 winner, dropped out of the race after going off course.
For a second year, Enda Cloake was first home in the 46km race although his time of 3:58.01 was about thirteen minutes slower than a year earlier. He was followed home by Gavin Byrne in 4:13.42 and Donnacha Cassidy in 4:29.49. Hillary Allen was first woman in 4:56.32, Deirdre Galvin second in 5:12.42 and Rachel Murphy third in 5:18:31.
Records were shattered at the 2023 Spartahlon – the gruelling 244.7km km race which retraces the journey of Pheidippides in 490 BC, who, before the battle of Marathon, was sent from Athens to Sparta to seek help in the war between the Greeks and the Persians, taking abotu 36 hours which is the target tiem for all who start the modern-day race
This year, Greek ultra runner Fotis Zisimopoulos was well under the 36 hours when he set a new men’s record of 19 hrs 55 mins, as indeed was Camille Herron of the USA who lowered the women’s record to 22 hrs 35 mins 31 secs when finishing third overall.
Herron has an Irish connection – she’s married to Dublin-born athlete Conor Holt, who began his athletics career with Dundrum South Dublin AC before heading off on a sports shcolarship the USA. The pair frequently return to Dublin from their American base in Oklahoma.
Ireland’s only finisher was Alex O’Shea of St Finbarr’s AC in Cork,, who finished in 29:22.39. In 2021, O’Shea finished in 28:40.53.
Alastair Higgins, a Scotsman who has lived in Dublin for over two decades, completed his fifth Spartathlon in 32:20.27; he has a best of 25:49.21 from 2019 when he finished fourth in the race. Also entered were Anthony Lee, who had entered for a ninth time, and Aidan Hogan with over 300 marathons to his credit.