RECORD NUMBERS SET FOR QUEENS 5K
29 March 2017
A record number of close to 1,000 athletes will take to the streets of Belfast tonight (Wednesday 29th March 2017) for the annual Deep RiverRock Queen’s Sport ‘Race around the River’ 5k road race, which also incorporates the NI & Ulster 5k (Road) Championships.
The flat and fast 5k course starts on the Annadale Embankment at and covers two and three quarter laps (each lap measures approximately 1.8k), finishing outside the impressive Queen’s University Physical Education Centre (PEC) on the Stranmillis Embankment.
Rio Olympian Kerry O’Flaherty (Newcastle AC) heads a star-studded line-up which also includes fellow Northern Ireland and Ireland international Ann-Marie McGlynn (Letterkenny AC). However, all eyes will be on recently crowned NI & Ulster 10k (Road) gold medallist Emma Mitchell (QUB AC) as she aims to add the 5k title to her memorable win at the Seeley Cup 10k at the back end of 2016, where she recorded an exceptional 33:57 for top spot.
NI & Ulster Senior XC Champion Jessica Craig (North Down AC) and NI & Ulster Masters XC Champion Amy Bulman (Willowfield Harriers) should start, while reigning Queen’s 5k Champion Shalene McMurray (Newcastle AC) and club mate Joanne Mills (Newcastle AC) will also be worth watching. QUB AC’s own Sinead Sweeney, Craic 10k winner Maeve Lavery (City of Lisburn AC) and Laura Bickerstaff (Dromore AC) add depth to an impressive ladies line-up.
The men’s race will be a hotly contested affair, with NI & Ulster 10k (Road) Champion JP Williamson (City of Derry AC) likely to go head to head with fellow North West man and former NI & Ulster 10k (Road) Champion Conor Bradley, as well as Neil Johnston (Springwell Running Club) and the in-form Ben Branagh (St Malachy’s AC). No more than ten seconds have split the aforementioned quartet in terms of performances over this distance in 2017, which means that it will be down to who performs best on the night – Conor Bradley is the fastest, having recorded 14:30 at the Armagh 5k.
Then, if you add Conan McCaughey (Derry Track Club), Chris Madden (City of Lisburn AC) and Declan Reed (City of Derry AC) to the mix, it makes for an excellent night of competition. All three possess the ability to challenge at the front, with Conan and Chris having been involved in an epic battle for second and third place at this event in 2016; that night, Chris (14:52) edged it by the narrowest of margins from Conan (14:53).
Like 2016, the event will also offer the option of a 3k road race, with Springwell Running Club’s Luke Dinsmore and North Down AC’s Northern Ireland international Rachel Gibson likely to play a prominent part in their respective races.