The Brooks Armagh International Road Races on February 20 look set to be one of the most impressive of a glittering series.
The event, consisting of 12 races, begins with a series of nine age group races before the International Women’s 3K followed by the International Men’s 5K and the Open Men’s 3K.
The Armagh spectacular has consistently attracted athletes from USA, Russia, Poland, France, Africa and England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland with both international and club team prizes very closely contested.
The race rates very highly in each year’s ranking lists with at least five of the top ten British times regularly being clocked.
It is a very flat course with former Irish champion Mary Cullen setting a new record earlier this year as she won in 9 minutes 07.88 from fellow international Ava Hutchinson and local girl Kerry Harty - the 2009 and 2010 winner.
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The men’s record was set by David Nightingale of USA in 2009 with 13 minutes 54 ahead of England’s Chris Thompson in a blistering finish with the top half dozen covered by just six seconds.
Last year 15 athletes broke 14 minutes 30 with a massive 37 under 15 minutes as Ethan Shaw of the USA triumphed in an even closer finish ahead of Richard Weir of Derby and local champion Paul Pollock, with two more USA runners close behind.
“This is a unique race with many athletes returning year after year and praising the organisation,” said Dermot Kerr of the Organising Committee. “It is not only a chance for athletes to record a fast time but also to experience local culture with outside organised trips to local tourist attractions and schools.”