Energia 24-Hr Race 2018:
Ireland’s Aidan Hogan and current British 100k Champion Samantha Amend (England) claimed top honours as standards continued to rise with the mercury at the Energia 24-hour International in Victoria Park, Belfast at the weekend (Saturday 23rd and Sunday 24th June 2018).
The event also incorporated the AAI National 24-hour Championships, with overall winner Aidan taking the men’s gold and Northern Ireland’s Louise Smart (County Antrim Harriers) securing the ladies title.
The increasingly popular event, which hosted the IAU World Championships last year, also had a 12-hour race, a 100k race and an exciting 24-hour Team Relay.
In the flagship 24-hour race, there were personal bests all over the park as the top 10 finishers all went past 200k and some 53 claimed those coveted jackets for reaching 100 miles – a record outside of last year’s World Championship. And, 8 women placed in the top 20 overall.
Pride of place went to Cork’s Aidan Hogan,45, who smashed his personal best to be crowned National Champion covering 243.9k (151.54 miles) and get the better for the first time of three-time champion and record holder Eoin Keith,49, his Irish international colleague. Well-known adventurer Eoin had to settle for the runners up prize, approximately 5k behind Aidan with 239k. Scotland’s Nathan Flear, 35, something of a surprise package, with another big PB of 235k, secured third.
As Nathan was ineligible for the Irish Championship, the bronze medal went to Bangor’s Mark Walker, 48, who has been knocking at the door in recent times and was also in personal best form after covering in excess of 226k. Australian Barry Loveday,40, from Queensland was the long time leader, but dropped out after 14 hours.
In the women’s race, England’s Samantha Amend, 39, was a class apart leading from start to finish. The Belgrave Harrier accumulating 220.2 (136.9miles) along the way. Irish international Louise Smart, 39, from Newtownabbey finished second and with Samantha ineligible, claimed the National title for the second time with another personal best of 205k.
Finland’s Paula Wright,42, finished third overall with 198k – but her membership at the Newport AC club allowed her to take second in the National Championship with Ballycastle’s Helena Dornan,46, claiming the bronze medal with a big personal best total of 186k. The pre-race favourite Mizuki Aotani,44, from Japan finished 4th and 12th overall.
In the 12-hour race, Dublin Bay Running Club’s Ger Copeland, 40, won with 115.7k (71.9miles), with Fiona Prue, 49, from Ward Park Runners in Bangor taking the women’s title (111.9k/69.5 miles). Fiona was in fact second overall with North Belfast’s Gregg McClure third and visually impaired runner Sinead Kane and her guide fourth.
In the highly anticipated 100k, Ennis athlete Keith Whyte, 38, was on the comeback trail and looking to pitch at his own Irish record of 7 hours and 3 minutes. He was on schedule at the 50k halfway mark but couldn’t sustain it and eventually stopped leaving the way clear for Belfast’s Tim Brownlie, 38, to sweep on to victory in 7:47:56 – a huge personal best for him by some 40 minutes – which will have impressed the Irish selectors ahead of the World Championships in Croatia in September. Teresa Taaffe (Dublin Bay Runners) won the ladies 100k in 16:28:33.
Fittingly, there was a double in the 24-hr team event for local club Orangegrove AC as they took the mixed team title (291.5k/181.1miles) and the women’s title (245.2k/152.4 miles).
Michael Ringland from title sponsor Energia spoke after the successful event: “Hats off to all who took part not only did they overcome the time on their feet but also the heat of the day with sponges much in evidence. The atmosphere was great and as a company we were proud to support such endeavour.”
Race Director Ed Smith added: “After last year’s World Championships, I didn’t think we could come close to matching it – but there was again a real buzz of anticipation and huge effort out there with a lot of PBs and brilliant support from crews, spectators, family, volunteers, medics and everyone who contributed.”
Full results for the event are available HERE.