02 October 2016

Rio Olympics steeplechaser Kerry O'Flaherty was in record breaking form at the weekend's highly successful NI Relay Championships at Victoria Park, Belfast. A record 155 teams took full advantage of the sunny, warm conditions.

In the 3 leg Senior Women's event 35 year old O'Flaherty wasted little time in racing ahead of her rivals over the flat 3,380 metres course.  She broke her own course record by a second with a time of 10mins 48 secs and handed over a substantial lead to team mate Joanne Mills.

Mari Troeng then continued the Mourne Club's domination on the final leg. She crossed the line for an easy victory in 35 mins 24 secs. Dromore were a distant 2nd in 36.22 followed by North Down in 38.09.

A satisfied O'Flaherty said; "I am happy with my PB and glad that my Club was able to take the title again. I really enjoyed Rio and was very pleased that I got close to my best steeplechase time. Rio represented some 12 years of hard work and I feel that I can carry on to the Commonwealths in Brisbane in 2018 and even possibly the next Olympics in Tokyo. Britain's Jo Pavey has proved that the age barrier is being continually pushed back. I have found that my lottery funding is a major benefit in avoiding injury. I plan to race again in the European Cross Country at the end of the year in Italy."

In the Senior Men's 4 leg event title holders North Belfast were unseated by a determined Derry Track Club. Recent Derry recruit Adam Kirk Smith helped his club with a time of 9 mins 40 secs which was joint fastest with Springwell's Neil Johnston. 

The Derry club romped home in a time of 39 mins 22 secs which took a minute off the previous record. North had to settle for second in a time of 40.09 which was also inside their old record. Letterkenny were 3rd in 40.43.  

There were more records in the Women's Masters where defending champions Lisburn AC overcame a determined attack by North Belfast to take a 7 secs victory in 35.55.  This was some 43 secs faster than their previous record. Lagan Valley took 3rd in 38.06.

The race produced an upset on the first leg where Lisburn's Judith Lonnen set a course record of 11 mins 8 secs to defeat North's Gladys Ganiel.  Ganiel   had run a time of 2 hrs 39 mins a week ago in the Berlin Marathon.

The Men's Masters was won by Acorns in 42.49 followed by North Belfast (43.03) and Ballymena (43.49).

Meanwhile Olympic marathon runner Paul Pollock finished in a solid 10th place from a 15,000 strong field in yesterday's Cardiff Half Marathon. The 30 year old Holywood man recorded a time of 65 mins 53 secs. The race was won by Kenya's Shadrack Korir in 60 mins 54 secs.