Cullen returns to Armagh for International Road Races

Eddie McGinley will compete in Armagh
Eddie McGinley will compete in Armagh

Reigning champion and record holder Mary Cullen from North Sligo will be making a return visit to the Brooks Armagh International Road Races around the historic floodlit Mall on February 20.

Details of the event, which is set to be the best in its 24-year history, were announced at a Press Conference in Armagh on Tuesday.

The spectacular is sponsored by Brooks and Armagh City Council, with help from Little Bigshot and Simply Fruit along with local businesses. It has attracted World, Olympic, Commonwealth and European athletes plus the cream of talent from both North and South.

Mary Cullen set the record of 9:07.88 for the 3k race last time. She has suffered from injuries recently but the former European Indoor medallist has the talent to go close to the 9-minute barrier.

Ava Hutchinson, second 12 months ago, will present a very strong challenge. She ran for Ireland in the Olympic Marathon and was a gold medallist with the Irish team in the 2012 European Cross Country.

Olympic steeplechaser Matylda Szlezak has a best time of 9m 7s for 3k and will go close along with Welsh international Stevie Stockton, American girl Shauna McNiff, Rachel Bamford from Leeds, fourth last year and former runner-up Ellie Stephens of Birchfield a top seven finisher in the last five runnings.

Double winner Kerry O’Flaherty the triple Northern Ireland record holder leads the home side which will include Armagh stars Fionnuala Ross and Danielle Fegan.

The men’s race is also loaded with talent and the record of 13m 54s set by David Nightingale of the USA in 2009 is likely to go.

England have a particularly strong squad with 2010 and 2011 winners Nick McCormick and Matt Bowser, Tom Lancashire a Commonwealth, World and European finalist over 1,500 along with Ryan McLeod the son of multi medallist Mick.

Marathon ace Mark Kenneally and European star Michael Mulhare head the Irish side, Kevin Schwab with a best of 13:36 for 5,000 goes for USA while Krzysztof Zibrowski with 3:35.07 for 1,500 spearheads a strong Polish quartet.

The Northern Ireland side is very strong with Stephen Scullion, Paddy Hamilton, Joe McAllister, Eddie McGinley and Andrew Agnew all listed to run.

The 12-event programme starts at 6.30pm with nine age group races. The women’s 3k international starts at 8.05pm, the men’s 5k international at 8.20pm with an open men’s 3k closing the action at 8.45pm.