Olympian Pollock and Sittuk Clash in Bangor 10K
23 September 2016
Olympian Paul Pollock and Belfast Half Marathon champion Freddy Sittuk will battle it out for the honours in Saturday's Bangor Aurora 10k which has the usual high entry of some 650 competitors (start 11 am at Castle Park).
Organisers North Down are delighted to have secured the services of such high profile athletes with twice previous winner Pollock favourite to secure a hat trick of victories.
Bangor will be Paul's first competitive outing since last month's Rio Olympics marathon where he finished a highly commendable 32nd from a field of 150 in a time of 2 hrs 16 mins 24 secs. This performance further endorsed the 30 year old Holywood man as Ireland's top long distance runner with a reputation for producing the goods in the highest level races.
The Annadale man could well have secured a top 20 place in Rio had he not adopted an ultra-cautious approach earlier in the race which resulted in him passing some 50 athletes in the final 15K. Afterwards he commented that Rio gave him a good platform to produce even better performances in future major Championships. His next key aim is the World Championships in London next summer.
This will only be Pollock's sixth race of the year and his first in the Province since his win in the Queen's 5K some 18 months ago. He will in all probability force the pace from the gun to take the sting out of any attempt by Sittuk to rely on his sprint finish. A fast winning time of under 30 mins over the hilly Bangor course could be a distinct possibility. Pollock won here in 2012 (30.19) and 2013 (30.45).
35 year old Kenyan Sittuk took victory in Belfast a week ago by 3 secs from Foyle's Scott Rankin. The former Belfast Marathon winner is better suited to longer distances and may well struggle to stay with Pollock's hectic pace. Freddy should however be able to secure the runner up spot from last week's 3rd placer Mark McKinstry of North Belfast who won the Laganside 10K earlier this month.
The class name in the Women's event is Laura Graham of Mourne Runners whose recent onerous race schedule should not prevent her from securing another victory. The 30 year old won the Belfast Half Marathon with ease last weekend and there should be a similar result in Bangor particularly given her PB time of 35 mins 24 secs. The race will be a useful stepping stone for her Dublin Marathon ambitions next month.
North Belfast's Cathy McCourt should perform well following her recent return from serious injury.