Thousands set for 37th annual Waterside Half Marathon, and Paula Radcliffe attending Laganside 10k
31 August 2018
This weekend’s Waterside Half Marathon in Derry / Londonderry will incorporate the Northern Ireland & Ulster Half Marathon Championships (Sunday 2nd September 2018).
The 37th annual running of the popular event will bring over 2,000 athletes to the Maiden City. The action will kick off at 9:55am at the Ebrington Square start line. The finish area will be in St Columbs Park, with the final finisher expected to return around 1pm.
The front running athletes will be looking for Championship medals but they will also have one eye on selection for the upcoming Commonwealth Half Marathon Championships set for Cardiff on Sunday 7th October 2018.
Northern Ireland and Ireland international Ann-Marie McGlynn of Letterkenny AC will head the challenge for honours in the ladies race. The Strabane resident won here in 2013 and 2014, posting 1:17:21 in 2014, and is the class act in the field. She could target Catherine Whoriskey's 2016 course record of 1:17:52 en-route to matching the Spartan's three WHM wins.
Springwell RC’s Ciara Toner, last year's runner up Deborah Gray of Bellahouston Road Runners and Gemma McDonald of Ballycastle Runners should fight it out for the other podium places but look out also for local Foyle Valley AC athletes Denise Ward and Grainne Neill who could front a strong Valley challenge for the team honours.
In the men’s race, Kenyan athletes Freddy Sittuk and Gideon Kimosop are expected to dominate the up front. Freddy is chasing three in a row but will have to go some way to stave off his compatriot who has impressed with previous visits to the North West. Mick Clohisey's course record of 1:05:08 could be threatened if conditions are favourable.
Behind this duo, much focus will be on locals such as Scott Rankin (Foyle Valley AC), Declan Reed (City of Derry AC) - if he lines up - Mark Long (City of Derry AC), Gary Slevin (City of Derry AC), Kyle Doherty (City of Derry AC), Noel Logan (City of Derry AC) and Pius McIntyre (Foyle Valley AC). North West pride will be at stake with the in-form Scott Rankin and Mark Long perhaps the pair to emerge from the pack.
North Belfast Harriers’ Andrew Annett and Conal McCambridge, Chris Madden of City of Lisburn AC, who finished ahead of Mark Long at the recent National Half Marathon Championships in Dublin, and Cambuslang Harrier Iain Reid, are serious top ten contenders as well.
The team battle will be fought out between Foyle Valley AC, City of Derry Spartans, North Belfast Harriers and Victoria Park & Connswater AC.
There is also an intriguing Wheelchair battle in store between the experienced Karol Doherty and newcomer James Divin, who surprised the Innishowen man to take the Walled City Marathon title back in June (2018). Both are class acts and this should be a thriller!
Also this weekend….
Laganside 10k Road Race 2018:
Marathon World Record holder Paula Radcliffe (Bedford & County AC) will be the star attraction at this weekend’s Pure Running Laganside 10k road race in Belfast (Sunday 2nd September 2018).
The decorated athlete, who has a plethora of World and European titles to her name, including the famous 26.2 mile best of 2:15:25, will compete against some of Northern Ireland’s finest athletes in what is the latest round of the Novosco 10k Grand Prix.
Despite officially retiring from competitive action several years ago, Paula continues to be involved in the sport that she loves and late last year, clocked 18:43 for 5k. The former GB & Northern Ireland international has a 10,000m personal best of 30:01 (2002), with her most recent outing over the distance (on record) being a 34:16 in 2015.
If Paula goes out to race, she will take the ladies title. However, the highly respected athlete and commentator will face some strong opposition, with two of the top three ladies from 2017 set to compete. Recently crowned NI & Ulster 5,000m Champion Jessica Craig (North Down AC) and Gladys Ganiel O’Neill (North Belfast Harriers) will be chasing top honours.
Jessica ran 37:02 for third place here twelve months ago but has since bettered that time with a 35:51 outing at the Lisburn 10k in June (2018). This was just after the Northern Ireland international had claimed gold at the NI & Ulster 5,000m Championships in 17:12.
Gladys will represent the host club North Belfast Harriers, fresh from an excellent performance at the European Athletics Championships in Berlin earlier this month – there, Gladys ran 2:42:42 in the marathon, despite the very warm conditions. This year, the experienced Northern Ireland and Ireland international has run 36:19 for 10k, which makes her worth watching.
Catherine Diver (Beechmount Harriers), Laura Bickerstaff (Dromore AC) and Sarah Lindsay (North Down AC) will be hot on the heels of the aforementioned trio. Also looking for sub-40 finishes will be Paula Worthington (Ballymena Runners), Jodi Smith (North Down AC), Collette McCourt (Dub Runners), Patricia Blair (Larne AC), Diane Watson (City of Lisburn AC), Ciara Coffey (Newry AC), Leanne Sands (Acorns AC) and Louise Smith (North Belfast Harriers).
Jana Ross (County Antrim Harriers) and Geraldine Quigley (Ballymena Runners) also have the potential to dip under the famous benchmark.
Looking at the men’s entry list it looks like there will be an excellent head-to-head between North Belfast Harriers’ Conan McCaughey and St Malachy’s AC’s Ben Branagh for the men’s race.
Interestingly, both men have exactly the same season’s best over the 10k distance, with Conan having run 31:54 for a podium place at the Run with Catherina 10k in Cavan (April 2018) and Ben having clocked 31:54 for the win at last weekend’s Storming the Castle 10k
Given that Conan had a niggle over the Summer, Ben may just have the advantage – however, Conan won the Valencia 10k in 32:18 two weeks ago, so he is in good shape.
Behind, two well-respected athletes, and Ballymena & Antrim AC team mates, Gareth Hill and Jarlath Falls will battle it out for the remaining podium place.
Gareth comes off a good track season having produced strong performances over 800m and 1500m and will be keen to build on the the 15:27 5k he ran earlier this year – his last outing over 10k was a 32:58 at Seeley Cup in November 2017.
Jarlath has made a welcome return to competition over the last month or so and clocked 16:38 at the recent Crebilly 5k; he has also ran 27:21 for 5 miles within the last four weeks.
QUB AC’s ever improving Vincent McKenna will be worth watching, as will emerging junior stars Tony McCambridge (St Malachy’s AC) and Jared Martin (Scrabo Striders). Stephen O’Gorman (Dromore AC), Mark Cornett (Dromore AC), Daniel Girvin (East Coast AC), Kevin O’Boyle (Glens Runners) and Stephen Cassidy (Enniskillen RC) should finish well up the field.