CONOR BRADLEY AND KERRY OFLAHERTY SHOW CLASS AT QUEENS 5K
30 March 2017
Thousands of athletes and spectators took to the streets around the impressive Queen’s University Physical Education Centre in Belfast last night (Wednesday 29th March 2017), for the annual Queen’s 5k ‘Race Round the River’, which also doubled up as the NI & Ulster 5k (Road) Championships.
Despite numerous quality performances and personal bests, it was Conor Bradley (City of Derry AC) and Kerry O’Flaherty (Newcastle AC) who secured victory and ultimately the headlines.
The flat and fast 5k course started on the Annadale Embankment and covered two and three quarter laps (each lap measures approximately 1.8k), finishing outside the aforementioned Queen's PEC on the Stranmillis Embankment.
For much of the men’s race, little split a lead group containing Mark McKinstry (North Belfast Harriers), Neill Johnston (Springwell Running Club), Conor Bradley (City of Derry AC), Chris Madden (City of Lisburn AC), Ben Branagh (St Malachy’s AC) and Danny Mooney (Letterkenny AC). However, in the latter stages, former NI & Ulster 10k (Road) Champion Conor Bradley surged clear of the field to win in an impressive 14:44 (1st place). In an epic finish Danny Mooney saw off Ben Branagh by the narrowest of margins, with both been recording 14:48 – Danny was rightly rewarded 2nd place with Ben finishing in 3rd place.
In the ladies race, it was a similar story from the off, with nothing between pre-race favourites Kerry O’Flaherty (Newcastle AC) and Emma Mitchell (QUB AC) as the pair powered through the first 1k with reigning Champion Shalene McMurray (Newcastle AC), QUB AC’s own Sinead Sweeney and in-form Jessica Craig (North Down AC) in pursuit. As the race progressed, Kerry O’Flaherty opened up a fifteen metre lead on Emma – this was a gap that proved too difficult to close and the Olympian eventually ran out comfortable winner in 16:18 (1st place) with Emma Mitchell following in 18:27 (2nd place) for the runners up spot. Jessica Craig put in a gutsy performance to secure the NI & Ulster bronze medal with a personal best of 17:13 for 3rd place.
"In the prestigious team competition, North Belfast Harriers ‘A’ team collected gold, with their ‘B’ team taking the silver medal. Willowfield Harriers finished in 3rd place. In the ladies team standings, City of Lisburn AC secured top honours, while North Down AC and Beechmount Harriers took 2nd place and 3rd place respectively."
In the associated 3k event, Oran Gartland (Foyle Valley AC) saw off a strong challenge from Luke Dinsmore (Springwell Running Club) to break the tape in 9:14 (1st place), with Luke taking 2nd place in 19:16 – Ballymena & Antrim AC’s Joshua Courtney picked up bronze after covering the course in 10:02 (3rd place).
In the ladies 3k, North Down AC’s Rachel Gibson looked a class apart as she cruised to victory in 10:18 (1st place). Emerging star Rebecca Wallace beat some tough opposition to take 2nd place in 10:35, before Deborah Gilliland (Willowfield Harriers) completed the top three in 10:54 (3rd place).