ATHLETICS: Brooks Armagh Road Race takes centre stage

Mark Kenneally'.
Mark Kenneally'.

The 26th Brooks Armagh Road Race was launched in the City this week at an event hosted by Councillor Darryn Causby, the Lord Mayor of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon.

Athletics Northern Ireland President Gary Keenan was in attendance along with representatives of the private sector sponsors Brooks, Intersport and Linwoods.

The Armagh International has developed over the years into one of the most significant elite races worldwide and this year is no exception, with no fewer than 10 of the Mens entry having run below 14 minutes for 5K.

Scottish champion Andrew Butchardt, who ran so well at Greenmount, has a best of 13:29 while Irish and Brooks star Mark Kenneally has clocked 13:36.71, Andrew Colley of USA has achieved 13:40 and Richard Peters from England 13:46.

Poland, Finland and Belgium will also have strong teams while Dan Studley of Bristol - fourth last year - Commonwealth 1500 runner Jake Wightman of Scotland and Andy Maud, fourth in the English 5K Championship, will all go well.

Last year’s Ladies winner, Rachael Bamford of Leeds City, will return to defend her title. She has a great record in the race having finished third, fourth and fourth in the three previous seasons.

The challenge will be headed by English stars Charlene Thomas and Catriona Wooton while Scotland will have Internationals Laura Whittle and Beth Potter in their ranks.

There will be 2 races altogether in what is a true festival of racing round the spectacular floodlit Mall.

Meanwhile, Craig McMeechan and Rebekah Nixon won the Senior titles at the County Down Schools Cross Country Championship at Delamont Park.

Craig, from Bangor Grammar, moved away from defending champion Daniel Dawson of Dromore High after half distance while Rebekah of Banbridge Academy looked strong as she opened up on the final lap to win from Laura Gardiner St Marys.

It was a double for Banbridge Academy as Patrick McNiff gave an impressive display to win the Inters from Peter Gracey of Aquinas while Olivia Nelson from Stratherne scored a runaway win in the Girls Inters.

Other victories went to Sean Campbell of Abbey, Jakob Swann Bangor Grammar, Dylan McBride Grosvenor in the Boys and Hannah Gilliland Down High, Amelia Kane Stratherne and Tara McDonagh Sullivan in the Girls.