Sparkling up front runs from North West duo Craig Simpson of Foyle Valley and Letterkenny AC star Anne Marie McGlynn saw them head the record 1078 finishers at Saturday’s Walled city 10 mile road race out of St Columbs Park.
Simpson took two minutes off his third place time from last year posting an impressive 52m 14 seconds to stride home well clear of the chasers while McGlynn as ever was a class apart clocking a tasty 57m 15s, three minutes clear of the next female finisher.
Conditions were a bit better than last year , dry throughout but the prevailing south westerly wind while also less of a factor this time still was testing enough in the latter stages.
Simpson was always out front and looking good and never allowed the chasing group to get close. His clubmate Scott Rankin, and the Spartans duo Emmett McGinty and Allan Bogle and Eoin Hughes of Acorns AC tried hard but the powerful leader was on a mission and ran strong all the way to the line for a significant victory.
Hughes came through for the runners up spot in 53m 05s, seven seconds clear of the doughty Rankin’s 53m 12s with McGinty winning the battle of the Spartans, posting 54m 32s to Bogle’s 54m 32s. Springwell’s Ciaran Ferris in sixth kept the NW flag flying on 54m 46s Bogle was consoled by claiming the M35 category win.
McGlynn too was always out front in the female race and finished 13th overall with a swift 57m 15s effort. This was well clear of defending champion Springwell’s Ciara Toners’s 60m 33s with 2019 Walled City Marathon champion Natalie Hall of Armagh AC third on 63m 18s. Natalie just about saw off Ballycastle Runners Gemma McDonald for the final podium spot but her 63m 30s clocking saw the Glens based McDonald settle for the F35 age group prize.
Neil Weir of Willowfield in 7th took the M40 age group win in 55m 37s and the evergreen Brigid Quinn of Ballymena Runners , the oldest runner in the field showed a clean pair of heels to the many who finished behind her with a F75 age group win in 1hr 38m 24s. Until recently the NI marathon record holder, Greg Hannon, was a finisher also, his 82m 45s net clocking substantially faster than his predicter 85m.. Class is permanant!!