ATHLETICS: Mark McKinstry and Jessica Craig retain Comber Cup titles

Jessica Craig
Jessica Craig

Mark McKinstry and Jessica Craig retained their titles at the Comber Cup Cross Country promoted by Ballydrain Harriers at the Billy Neill Soccer Centre.

McKinstry from North Belfast started favourite and went straight into the lead. He came round after the first circuit shadowed by Jonny Whan with New artless Seamus Lynch and David O’Flaherty well placed.

At half distance McKinstry and Lynch were side by side and they were still together at the bell with O’Flaherty third ahead of John Black and Junior star Christy Conlon.

Lynch was determined but it was McKinstry who made the decisive break on the penultimate hill opening a small gap which he held to the finish.

Lynch and O’Flaherty took the other medal positions with Conlon,Black and Philip Goss next.

The Ladies race like the Mens attracted a massive entry.

Defending champion Jessica Craig made her intentions clear and was her own after a lap North Down club ate Rachel Gibson was second . with Willowfield’s Amy Bulman third.

At the bell Jessica,looking good was still well clear and she came home for a great victory from Rachel who finished quickly. The impressive Amy was next with Jodi Smith,Karen Alexander and Laura Bickerstaff next Gerry O’Doherty took the M60

Meanwhile Laura Graham added the National Marathon crown to her half Marathon title with a superb run in Dublin amid record entries.

The Kilkeel mother of four clocked 2:41:54 to knock over six minutes off her personal best set in London and must have propelled herself into Commonwealth consideration.

“It was really good,” she said not initially realising that she had taken the National title. “I really love the course. The crowd was unbelievable. I loved every minute,even the tough bits. Hard work pays off”

Catriona Jennings and holder Pauline Curley were next while Sergiu Ciobanu took his 4th Mens win ahead of Sean Hehir.

The overall winners were Derese Tulu of Ethiopia and Helele Johannesburg of Namibia.

There were good runs by Ulster athletes. Patric McKinney had 2:35:03,Gary Slevin2:37:40,Tommy Simmons 2:40:02 and PierceMcCul