The women’s three kilometres in the 23rd Armagh International Road Race around the historic floodlit Mall on Thursday is building up to be the greatest ever as five top rated athletes go head to head with Kate Reed’s 2006 record of 9 minutes 15 under distinct threat.
Mary Cullen, Lisa Dobriskey, Ava Hutchinson, Kerry Harty and Breege Connolly all have the credentials to make the rostrum in front of a star studded field.
Mary from North Sligo is a former Greenmount winner and European medalist while Lisa from Loughborough the 2006 Commonwealth 1,500 winner has the mixture of speed and stamina to succeed.
Ava Hutchinson from DSD competed in the Olympic marathon and is a former National cross country champion. She placed fifth in Armagh two years ago.
Kerry Harty from Newcastle is a multi Northern Ireland record holder who came close to making the Olympic steeplechase team. She won in Armagh in 2009. Breege Connolly of North Belfast the 2012 cross country gold medalist has won the Armagh 10 Miler on the last four occasions.
Ellie Stevens, third last year, has taken top places for the last four seasons while the younger brigade will be led by Danielle Fegan, Fionnuala Ross, Emma Mitchell and Yasmin Wilson.
The men’s race is looking like a duel between Irish marathon star Mark Kenneally and Annadale’s Paul Pollock who will both go close to the record.
Kenneally set a best for the marathon of 2:13:55 in Amsterdam. He was eighth in the European Cross Country three years ago.
Pollock is the reigning National marathon and half marathon champion. He is a former cross country gold medalist and clocked 2:16:30 in Dublin.