SAM STABLER AND LAURA WEIGHTMAN TAKE TOP HONOURS AT ARMAGH INTERNATIONAL ROAD RACE
16 February 2018
Sam Stabler (Wreake & Soar Valley AC) and Laura Weightman (Morpeth Harriers AC) ran out victorious as the Armagh International Road Race again cemented its place amongst the fastest road races in the world.
At the Armagh AC hosted event, now in its 28th year, a staggering 94 athletes from a field of 208 ran sub-15 minute times in the International Men’s 5k, while 34 ladies from 132 starters dipped under the 10 minute mark for 3k – this included the entire NI & Ulster ladies team, who were rewarded with a podium place in the international team competition.
The event is held over a lapped course, measuring approximately 1k per lap around the historic Mall area in the heart of the City Centre. The fast and furious racing, accompanied by the unique setting and an infectious atmosphere, attracts athletes from around the globe – putting this together with the extensive programme of races brings a memorable night of action.
In the International Men’s 5k, there was no separating a large lead group until Jordan Mann (Ocean State AC Providence) made his move in the final lap. As he powered along the final straight, it looked like the American athlete, a top ten finisher at the event last year, may hold on for a surprise victory.
However, a late surge from 2016 winner Charlie Hulson (Liverpool Harriers AC) saw him catch and pass Jordan – with Sam Stabler and Orienteer Yannick Michiels in tow, the quartet raced for the line.
In an epic finish, a late kick from Sam saw him secure top honours in 13:59 (1st place), with Charlie taking 2nd place in 14:00. Jordan held on for a podium place, crossing the line in 14:02 for 3rd place; Yannick took 4th place in 14:02.
Young City of Lisburn AC athlete James Edgar (Heather Ardis) led the Northern Ireland & Ulster team home in 14:27 (30th place). Neil Johnston (Springwell RC / Mark Kirk) recorded 14:35 for 45th place, while Danny Mooney (Letterkenny AC / Teresa McDaid) and Scott Rankin (Foyle Valley AC) crossed the line in 14:43 (67th place) and 15:08 (120th place) respectively.
The Northern Ireland & Ulster men finished in 5th place in the team standings, with the Wales ‘A’ team taking 1st place.
In the International Ladies 3k, returning Champion Laura Weightman had Jessica Judd (Chelmsford AC) for company until the final 150m, when Laura moved up a gear to take four seconds out of Jessica, breaking the tape in 8:59 (1st place). Jessica clocked 9:03 for 2nd place, before Verity Ockenden (England), an impressive performer at the Antrim International XC last month, completed the top three in 9:14 (3rd place).
In-form Emma Mitchell (QUB AC / Eamonn Christie) again impressed, leading the strong Northern Ireland & Ulster ladies team home in 9:19 (6th place). Fionnuala Ross (Armagh AC / Dermot Kerr) secured 12th place in 9:28, with Newcastle AC’s Kerry O’Flaherty (Richard Rodgers) following seven seconds later in 9:35 (17th place). Laura Graham (Mourne Runners / Ryan Maxwell) clocked 9:47 for 23rd place.
The Northern Ireland & Ulster ladies claimed an excellent 2nd place finish in the ladies international team standings, with England securing 1st place.
In the accompanying Open Men’s 3k race, Polish athlete Michal Rozmys broke the course record after crossing the line in 8:30 (1st place). North Down AC’s Craig McMeechan, winner of the race in 2017, led the local contingent home in 8:43 (2nd place). Another emerging local talent, Jack O’Farrell (St Colman’s Newry) took 3rd place in 8:59.
Full results for the event are available HERE.