Tomorrow Saturday’s Walled City 10 mile road race has once again attracted a bumper entry with runners of all abilities from near and far all set for the 10am start on the St Columbs Park track.
Well over 1300 entries have signed up to take on the riverside course along both banks of the Foyle and featuring both the Foyle and Peace Bridges, St Columbs Park Greenway, the Gransha grounds, Boom Hall and Bay Road Park paths, along the cityside Cycle path to cross the Peace Bridge for the final mile or so back to the finish on the track.
Its a hugely popular race and distance, seen by many runners as ideal preparation for the Spring Half and full Marathons , serious club runners mixing with joggers and recreational runners in a celebration of healthy exercise and honest endeavor. The up front competitors will be chasing quick times and the various prizes on offer and the quality is good.
Last year’s male champion David Flynn of Dublin club Clonliffe Harriers had entered but subsequently was selected on the Irish team for the upcoming World Half Marathon championships and will now travel to Morocco for a spell of altitude training before donning the green vest on March 29th. Female champion Ciara Toner of Springwell will line up however and among others will face top NW runner Anne Marie McGlynn who is currently in cracking form.
Other ladies to watch out for are 3rd placer last year, Gemma McDonald of Ballycastle Runners, the 2019 Walled City Marathon winner Natalie Hall of Armagh AC , and locals Gemma McGinty, Denise Ward -just back after injury– and Jackie McMonagle. Derry native Jacqui Boyle runs with Dublin club Tallaght AC and won the inaugural 2013 Walled City Marathon and tomorrow makes her first competitive return to the city since then.
Back to the male action and with Flynn out of the equation the stage could be set for a home win as Craig Simpson, Scott Rankin, Allan Bogle, Emmett McGinty, and Steven McAlary are on the start list. Simpson could be the one to watch tomorrow. Willowfield’s Neil Weir and Albertville’s Colum Gaile are quality distance men and the Acorns AC trio of Eoin Hughes, Vincent McKenna and Gerard Heaney and North Belfast’s Conor Curran should also be prominent.
The leading finishers are expected to be on the Peace Bridge and inside the last mile shortly after 10 45am. The top female is likely to be Anne Marie McGlynn who could run close to 5m 30s miles with a few of the other ladies weather permitting, looking to break the magical 60 minutes for the distance.
A big day then tomorrow, a big race and finish times between 50 minutes and 2 hours plus……Race Director Noel McMonagle comments…..” we look forward to some real tasty action up front and right down through the field so get out there and cheer them all home “