Queen’s Sport ‘Race around the River’ 5k Road Race 2018:
Northern Ireland internationals Neil Johnston (Springwell RC) and Kerry O’Flaherty (Newcastle AC) reigned supreme as nearly 1,000 athletes took on the Queen’s Sport ‘Race around the River’ 5k road race tonight (Wednesday 21st March 2018).
The popular event again incorporated the Northern Ireland & Ulster 5k (Road) Championships.
Chris Madden (City of Lisburn AC) made the early running in the men’s race. However, the City of Lisburn AC man was absorbed into a fast moving group of five, which included Andrew Annett (North Belfast Harriers), Craig McMeechan (North Down AC), Patrick McNiff (Newcastle AC) and event winner Neil, as they convened at the head of the pack with one 1.8k lap remaining.
As the men negotiated the final sharp bends, Neil and Craig surged clear. As they hurtled towards the atmospheric finish line, it was QUB student Neil who moved clear and broke the tape in 15:02 (1st place). Craig followed in 15:05 (2nd place), before Andrew claimed the bronze medal in 15:08 (3rd place).
In the team competition, North Belfast Harriers claimed 1st place with 74 points. Springwell RC secured silver with 90 points (2nd place) and Acorns AC edged out Foyle Valley AC to complete the top three with 124 points (3rd place).
Rio Olympian Kerry dominated the ladies race, leading from start to finish. Despite the best efforts of in-form duo Nakita Burke (Letterkenny AC) and Kelly Neely (City of Lisburn AC), there was no stopping Kerry as she retained her title in 16:13 (1st place). Nakita secured silver in 16:45 (2nd place), with the fast finishing Kelly completing the podium in 16:48 (3rd place); this was an incredible 47 second personal best over the distance.
In the ladies team standings, North Down AC took gold with 68 points (1st place). The always impressive Lagan Valley AC finished on 77 points for 2nd place, while Ballymena Runners claimed bronze medals with 68 points (3rd place).
In the associated 3k race, Alex Boyd (Lagan Valley AC) claimed the men’s title in 9:31 (1st place) as Lagan Valley AC dominated at the front. In the ladies race, Hope McBride (North Belfast Harriers) took the win in 10:59 (1st place).