City of Lisburn, Willowfield, Newcastle and North Belfast shared the honours in a superbly organised Northern Ireland and Ulster Road Relay Championships promoted by Orangegrove AC at Victoria Park.
The action opened with the Women’s Masters. Lisburn took the lead with a great run by Ann Terek who came in ahead of Ballydrain and North Belfast with Lagan Valley and Dromore close behind.
Diane Watson held the advantage for Lisburn over Roisin Hughes from North Belfast before Kelly Neely with the fastest time brought Lisburn over the line ahead of Gladys Ganiel who clinched second for North. Ballymena Runners with Sharon Leetch clocking the second fastest just caught Ballydrain to take third.
In the Male Masters Conor Curran headed the first stage for North just in front of Willowfield’s Brian Campbell. Neil Weir reversed the placings over Thomas Simmons at half distance with Ben Morrow moving Ballymena Runners into third.
Paul Rowan and Chris Moren completed the job for Willowfield with North Belfast and Ballymena Runners completing the rostrum line-up.
Kerry O’Flaherty, just back from the World Championships in Beijing, blasted Newcastle into the lead on the first stage of the Senior Ladies. Banbridge girl Emma Mitchell stayed with her for half the distance and was a good second in front of Dromore’s Gillian Burns.
Joanne Mills increased the advantage on the middle stage leaving Mari Troeng 59 seconds ahead of Breege Connolly as they started the final leg.
Marathon star Breege fresh from her Bangor 10k victory had closed dramatically by halfway but Mari held on to cross the line just seven seconds to the good.
Holders North Down with Jessica Craig, Jodi Smith and Rachel Gibson were a good third ahead of Dromore, Springwell and Beechmount.
The Senior Men’s race was dramatic with three teams leading at different times. Paddy Robb gave St Malachy’s the early advantage with the fastest of the day just three seconds in front of Adam Boyd from North with Brendan Teer East Down and Seamus Lynch Newcastle following.
Neil McCartan ran a great stage to give East Down a four second gap over North’s Mark McKinstry at half distance with St Malachy’s now third and Lisburn with Chris Madden close up.
Conal McCambridge kept North in front on the penultimate leg with Derry City TC moving into second after great runs by Conor and Matt Doherty. St Malachy’s and North Down were next.
Andrew Annett made sure for North on the last leg crossing the line 52 seconds before Conor Gallagher of St Malachy’s with Jamie Budde of North Down clinching third ahead of Newcastle, Springwell and Derry City.
There were 151 teams entered in total for the four Championship races.