2011 Waterside Half Marathon (inc NI Half Marathon Championship)
North Belfast Harriers are the Northern Ireland Half Marathon Champions for 2011.
Strong winds, constant rain and a strong City of Derry team were no match for the travelling stags who were determined to win the national title today.
On a day of high winds and high drama, the individual men’s race was as close as the team battle – initally.
Stephen Scullion started as pre-race favourite but it was another Stephen, he of the Omagh Duncan variety, who would walk away victorious after 13.1 miles.
The early pace was forced on by Scullion but Duncan couldn’t be dropped and when Duncan made his move at 9 miles, it was a decisive one. Duncan opened up into the strong head wind over the last 4 miles and was over 90 seconds ahead (67.56) of Scullion (69.31)at the end.
Back down the field, Declan Reed ran in isolation for most of the race . Alan O’Hara had club mate Eamon White for company over the first few miles.
As the miles ticked by, positions remained unchanged. The strong headwinds favouring those in packs rather than those running in “no man’s land”…
Cheered on by the army of Sparta supporters in cars, on bikes and around the course, Declan Reed ran very strongly to finish 3rd (70.20).
Alan O’Hara ran really solidly to finish 4th (72.37), perhaps feeling the effects of travelling back from Italy late on Friday evening but posting a very good time nonethelss.
The real action was just unfolding slightly further back in the race where the positioning for the team title had turned into a real dog fight, especially as Eamon White began to drift back feeling the effects of an early hard pace.
Pauric McKinney (Letterkenny) and Emmet McGinty occupied the next two places having broken from the pack around 10.5 miles. They would go on to finish 5th (74.02) and 6th (74.17).
The team race would effectively be decided by the position of the last man – with the title destined for either Belfast or Derry.
With a mile to go, Noel Logan (COD) and Conor Curran got into a great battle which saw them draw in Eamon White.
All three ran side by side downhill and into the Gransha estate but with 400m to go Curran pushed into the wind and opened a 10m gap on White and Logan who in turn responded again with 150m to go.
In a sprint for the line North Belfast man Curran held his form to hold off fast finishing White, both collapsing after crossing the line. Curran (7th) ran a two minute personal best (74.31) two seconds ahead of White (8th in 74.33).
Logan finished a few seconds back, the team race having been decided in the last few hundred meters. Paddy Mór Doherty was next across the line for City of Derry (10th).
It must be said that City of Derry were very good hosts and their runners gracious in defeat – one which can’t have been easy to swallow, especially in the event’s 30th year.
Other harriers who performed well on the day were Lisa Sturgeon (4th lady), Gerry McNamara 54th in 1.24.10, Alan Ritchie 58th in 1.24.42 and Jim Clinton who ran a pb of 1.39.43.
Credit to Gerry Lynch and the club for putting on another good event. However, the event’s failure to secure chip timing was very disappointing, especially for a national championship – leaving many runners disappointed not to have secured an accurate personal time for their efforts. Perhaps this can be remedied next year…
Marty Rea was forced to withdraw half way around his 100k international ultra race on Saturday with a calf injury.
The warm conditions were not condusive to running an ultra distance and many competitors were forced to stop.
Hopefully Marty’s injury wont be too serious and he’ll be back on the roads after a well earned rest.
We mistakenly reported in the weekend preview that the Great North Run was this weekend. It is in fact next weekend.