Preview – Queen’s 5k Road Race 2018 (inc NI & Ulster 5k Road Championships):
Queen’s Sport will welcome close to 1,000 athletes to their annual Deep RiverRock Queen’s Sport ‘Race around the River’ 5k road race tomorrow night (Wednesday 21st March 2018). The increasingly popular event also incorporates the NI & Ulster 5k (Road) Championships.
The flat and fast 5k course starts on the Annadale Embankment 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.
QUB’s own student Neil Johnston (Springwell RC) will be hoping to make it third time lucky in the men’s race. In the last two years, Neil has finished just outside the podium place in fourth; on both occasions, he’s been the final athlete to dip under the 15 minute mark, running 14:51 and 14:57 in 2017 and 2016 respectively.
This time around, following his excellent run for Northern Ireland at the Armagh International Road Race, were he ran a personal best of 14:35 – Neil will go into the event as favourite. However, he will face tough competition in the form of Danny Mooney (Letterkenny AC), Chris Madden (City of Lisburn AC) and Scott Rankin (Foyle Valley AC).
Danny picked up a silver medal at this event last year and ran 14:43 in Armagh last month (March 2017) – the NI Commonwealth Games star has a 5k best of 14:16. In 2016, Chris claimed the runners up spot here with a time of 14:52, which is 3 seconds outside his personal best of 14:49. NI & Ulster 10k Road Champion Scott boasts an excellent PB of 14:29 for 5k, set back in 2015 – that same year, the North West man was runner up at the Queen’s 5k in 14:56.
Gutsy Derry Track Club athlete Conan McCaughey, recently crowned NI & Ulster Intermediate XC Champion Craig McMeechan (North Down AC) and the always impressive Mark McKinstry (North Belfast Harriers), should also feature at the sharp end. Chris McGuinness (Foyle Valley AC), Andrew Annett (North Belfast Harriers) and Neill Weir (Willowfield Harriers) will finish with a low 15-minute clocking.
Reigning Champion Kerry O’Flaherty (Newcastle AC) heads a strong ladies field and following a confidence boosting victory at Streets of Portlaoise 5k, where the Rio Olympian ran a new course record of 16:10, it’s hard to look past her in terms of favourites to claim the title.
Finn Valley AC’s Teresa Doherty, who has covered this course in 16:44, for a runners up place in 2015, will be Kerry’s main opposition. Recently, Teresa won the Glenmore 10 mile road race in a new course record of 57:49.
Like the men’s field, the ladies entry has excellent strength in depth. Jessica Craig (North Down AC), a podium finisher at this event in 2017, will also return and will be looking to improve her personal best of 17:13. Gladys Ganiel O’Neill (North Belfast Harriers), winner of the Craic 10k last weekend, QUB AC’s own Sinead Sweeney, in-form track star Kelly Neely (City of Lisburn AC) and St Patrick’s Day 5k winner Rachel Gibson (North Down AC), will challenge for a podium place.
Rebecca Henderson (QUB AC), Katie Moore (North Down AC), Ciara Toner (Springwell RC), Esther Dickson (Newry AC), Sarah Lindsay (North Down AC) and Jodi Smith (North Down AC) are just a few other ladies worth watching in what is sure to be an epic battle for medals.
In the associated 3k road race, Peter Gracey (Beechmount Harriers) and Rebecca Wallace (Lagan Valley AC) should play a prominent part in their respective races.
Full details of the event, including race schedule and pack collection information can be found HERE.