To start the week Lindie Naughton brings us all the Irish endurance action from the weekend just gone.(Tuesday 2nd April).

At the World Cross-Country Championships, held in sweltering conditions in the Serbian capital  of Belgrade on Saturday (March 30),  Hugh Armstrong (Ballina AC)  finished 50th in the men’s senior race.

Armstrong’s time for the 10km distance was 30 mins 18 secs, with another Connacht athlete, Keelan Kilrehill (Sligo AC),  not too far behind in 56th place with a time of 30:25.  Race winner was defending champion Jacob Kiplimo of Uganda in 28:09.  First European in ninth place was Burundi-born Thierry Ndikumwenayo, the current European 5000m champion, who has run for Spain since 2023.

In the women’s race, also over 10km, national champion Fiona Everard (Bandon AC) finished 63rd in 36:35, followed by Danielle Donegan (Tullamore Harriers) 65th in 37:01. Race winner was Kenya’s Beatrice Chebet in 31:05. First European was Karoline Bjerkeli Grøvdal of Norway, who was 14th in 32:49.

At U20 level, Anna Gardiner was 37th in the women’s 6km race with a time of 21 mins 58 secs, with Kirsty Maher 39th  in 22:10. East Africans took the first fourteen places. Harry Colbert (Waterford AC )  finished  55th  in the U20 men’s 8km and Seamus Robinson (City of Derry Spartans) 70th.

Both Colbert and Robinson were members of the Irish U20 team that took gold at last December’s European Championships.

A global sport

Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia in varying orders took the top three places in all four team competitions [although GB&NI took a bronze in the mixed relay – Ed.]. Kenya won both senior titles and U20 men, with Ethiopia beating them into second place in the U20 women’s race.

Spain was the only European country to enter teams in all four races, with Britain and France entered in both the U20 races and Serbia also entered in the U20 men’s race. USA, South Africa, Canada, Australia and New Zealand also sent teams.

Individuals from Kazakstan, Macedonia, Guam, Colombia, Peru Fiji and the Athlete Refugee Team also lined in the under 20 races.

Cross-country, a European winter activity dating back to the early 19th century, is still hugely popular on the continent, with 528 runners from 38 countries competing in last December’s European Cross-Country in Brussels, Belgium. As a branch of the sport where battling the elements  and the underfoot conditions is part of the challenge, it can lose its identity when transferred to trail-like courses in countries which enjoy warmer climates.

It’s clear that  World Athletics doesn’t quite know what to do with the World Cross. Time simply to scrap it?

* A counterpoint from FR editor Robbie Britton highlights that one of the best crowds seen at a cross country race was the Kampala 2017 one, where huge local crowds cheered on this year’s senior men’s winner Kiplimo to an U20 victory. The best male Ugandan, Kiplimo compete on the roads, the track and cross country but can we say the same for all the European nations?  *

Road running

Pierre Murchan  (Dublin City Harriers) set a new course record of 14 mins 4 secs when winning the Streets of Kilkenny 5km on Thursday evening (March 28). It was the second race in the Peugeot Race Series 2024 and Murchan’s second win after his victory in the Streets of Portlaosie 5km on St Patrick’s Day.

Finishing second in a personal best 14:40 was Dylan Wright (Lucan Harriers) while third in 14:43 was Shane Spring (Raheny Shamrock AC)  Dublin visitors took the five of the top six places.

Dundrum South Dublin, winners in Portlaoise, again finished best of the mixed teams, led by mountain running specialist Killian Mooney in eighth place.  First woman in 16:50 was Fiona McKenna (UCD AC). Hannah Steeds (Leevale AC) was a close second in 16:53 and Dymphna Ryan (Dundrum AC, W40) third in 17:01.

Dundrum South Dubli , won the women’s team prize ahead of Newbridge AC and  the Kilkenny City Harriers first team — KCH had eleven teams entered from an impressive total of 26 teams in all.

KCH went two better in the men’s competition with a comfortable victory over DSD AC and Mullingar Harriers, with 34 teams entered.

Photo: Lindie Naughton

Easter Monday on the roads

Karl Nolan (Clonliffe Harriers, M35) had a comfortable win at the Battle of Clontarf 10-mile held in, St Anne’s Park, Raheny, Dublin on Easter Monday. The race incorporated the Leinster Championships.

Nolan’s times of 54 mins 16 seconds put him almost half a minute clear of Anthony Sharkey (Rathfarnham WSAF AC, M35) who finished second in  54:53 Third in 55:24 was Killian Nolan (Tullamore Harriers, M35). These three were also the top three in the Leinster Championships.

First woman in 60:47 was Sarah Flanagan (Tullamore Harriers, W45). Fiona Stack  (Raheny Shamrock AC, W40) was second in 61:37 and Caroline Donnellan (Edenderry AC, W45) third in 62:35.

Photo: Lindie Naughton

Leading home the fifteen teams in  the senior men’s team category was Tullamore Harriers, followed by Raheny Shamrock and Kilkenny City Harriers. Raheny won the senior women’s title, with Tullamore Harriers second and Sportsworld AC third.

Clonliffe won the M35 team category, ahead of Raheny Shamrock and Mullingar Harriers, with LSA AC  beating Mullingar Harriers by a single point to win the W35 category. Crusaders AC finished third.

Raheny beat Tullamore Harriers by three points for the M50 title, with Clonliffe third; Blackrock AC was first W50 team, led by Grainne Grennan W65, Clonliffe Harriers were second and Raheny Shamrock AC. A total of 359 completed the race. Special congrats to new club Coolock AC who had teams in all but one of the categories.

Peter Somba (Dunboyne AC)  led home almost 300 finishers at the Moynalty 4-Mile in a time of 20 mins 42 secs. Local athlete Fiona Nevin (Moynalty AC) was first woman in 25:49.

Junior athlete Danny Nugent (ACE AC) was a clear winer of the Dundalk Gaels GFC Easter Monday 5km in a time of 15:50. First woman was Lauren Murphy (Cilles AC) in 18:25.

Also over the Easter Weekend

Winning the Emo 10km Forest Run, in Co Laois with a time of 33 mins 12 secs  on Friday evening  (March 29) was Harry Lupton (Portlaoise AC). First woman was Heather Murphy (St Michael’s AC) in 37:13.  Riley Connolly and Siobhan O’Loughlin, both  from organising club St Michael’s AC, were the winners of the 5km.

At the Streets of Killarney 5km,  in Co Kerry also on Friday evening, the winners were Oisin Spillane (Ennis TC) in 24 mins 45 secs and Carol Finn (Leevale AC) in 29:15.

Leading home 367 finishers at the annual Kilmovee 10km in Kilcashel, Co Mayo on Saturday (March 30) were Ray Hynes (Mullingar Harriers, M40)  in 33 mins 22 secs and Aoibhean Flatley (Swinford AC) in 39:56.

Kieran Kelly (Raheny Shamrock AC) was a clear  winner of  the Beragh 5-Mile,  in St Mary’s Park also on  Saturday in a time of 25 mins 31 secs. First woman in 30:10 was junior athlete Eimear McCarroll.

A stewards enquiry was called for the children’s race as two runners seen driving home afterwards. Photo: Lindie Naughton

At the Mick Egan 4-Mile  in Doonbeg, Co Clare on Easter Sunday, Chris Jeuken (Derg AC) out-sprinted Kenneth Rodgers (St John’s AC) for victory in 19 mins 44 secs; Rodgers was second in 19:46. First woman in Kate Collins Smith (Galway City Harriers) in 25:31.

Oran Comerford (St Michael’s Kilmihil) won the U16 3.5km in 13:20, with Ava Comerford (St John’s AC) first girl in 14:28. The race was the third round of the  Run the Banner Series.

Track action overseas

Tallaght’s Rhasidat Adeleke  got her outdoor season off to a flying start at the Texas Relays in Austin on Saturday when she helped an international  team to victory in a 4 x 200m relay race.

Adeleke, fully recovered from a recent ankle injury,  ran the second leg, with the team, which included Britain’s Dina Asher Smith, clocking a world best time of 1 min 27.05 secs. Next up for Rhasidat is the 4x400m at the Worlds Relay in May, with Olympic qualification at stake for the Irish team.

At the Raleigh Relays in North Carolina USA held on March 28-30, Charlie O’Donovan (Leevale AC) was second in the men’s 1500m in 3:39.65, followed by Shane Bracken (Swinford AC)  fourth in 3:40.24. American-born Conor Murphy, who declared for Ireland last year,  finished ninth in 3:40.88.

In the women’s invitational 10,000m,  Laura Mooney (Tullamore Harriers) finished eleventh in a new Irish U23 record of 33 mins 00.20 secs.

Shane Brosnan (An Ríocht AC) clocked 28:39.42 for twelfth place in the men’s 10,000m, followed closely by Dean Casey  (Ennis TC) thirteenth in 28:39.62. Abdel Laadjel (Donore Harriers)  was 22nd in 28:56 34, Shane Coffey (Naas AC) 35th in 29:08.80 and Sean Kay (Clonliffe Harriers) 49th in 29:19.50, with all those times  lifetime bests.

Over 5000m, Tadhg Donnelly  (Drogheda and District AC) went under 14 minutes for the first time clocking 13:53.12 while  Scott Fagan (Metro St Brigid’s AC) ran 14:28.17, also a personal best.

In the 1500m, Aimee Hayde (Newport AC)  finished in 4:36.12, while in the 800m series of races , Maeve O’Neill (Doheny AC) ran a personal best time of  2:05.78,  and Alex O’Neill  (Ennis TC) a time of 2:06.04, also a personal best.

Other Irish athletes in action in the USA  on Friday were Anika Thompson (Leevale AC)  who improved the Irish U23 10,000m record to 32:54.97 in Stanford California; Darragh McElhinney (UCD AC) who ran 14:00.42 in the men’s 5000m at the same meet,   and 20-year-old Sarah Hosey  (Dooneen AC)  who the 1500m at a meet in St Louis Missouri in a personal best  4:31.73.

On the other side of the globe, Jodie McCann (DCH AC)  ran a lifetime  best of 4:342.45 for the mile in Sydney Australia  on Thursday (March 28).

It was her third personal best time in less than a month.  A week earlier, she had run  8:52.92 when finishing ninth in a 3000m in Sydney, Australia,  on Saturday, March 23 and last month, she clocked 15:35.04 for 5000m in Melbourne.