Armagh International Road Races

Twenty Orangegrove athletes gathered after dark in the Cathedral City in the Orchard County for the Armagh International Road Races, the fifth round of our internal club championship. This is not a race for the faint hearted and it is one that requires not a little courage to enter,…. short, but very, very fast. All of us ran in the 3k races. Some of the World’s best were on show….and you must run for your life not to be last or lapped. Credit to the organisers. The setting on Armagh’s Mall could not be more perfect,…. a beautiful green area surrounded by some of the most impressive Georgian architecture in the country. This, together with very slick organisation and top class after race hospitality, made for an enjoyable evening in great company.

In the ladies’ 3k, Leann Gibson continued her impressive recent form to finish in 11:19:18 which took 43rd place altogether. A super run, during which she didn’t look out of place at all amongst the front runners. Emma McWilliams surprised herself (but nobody else) by finishing second OAC lady on 12:30:94, a result which consolidates her lead at this stage of the ladies’ championship. Julie McKimm, as always, was flying and Louise Browne once again proved that she will be a force to be reckoned with in the future if she can stay off the red wine. The indomitable Liz Leitch was next over the line following a strong run, followed by Jacqueline Maxwell who stole off with some of the organisers cash by coming home second lady in the FV50 category. Surely she is not that age! Sharon Dickenson was next, sprinting over the finishing line cursing short sprint races and the smell of chips around the course. However, all is well as she was later seen walking up the Mall eating a fish supper. The lovely Verity Cornford (Crawford) finished next in a very good position and immediately announced that she would be back next year to knock a few minutes off her time. Catherine Fearon who, luckily for her, missed last week’s Lurgan debacle, bagged herself 10 championship points in the race for the OAC ladies’ title and, on completing her run, immediately set up her ‘Stall on the Mall’.

In the men’s championship race it is most certainly ‘nip and tuck’ as they say. Thomas Leitch and Andrew McIntyre are neck and neck on 85 points. Andrew had a very strong run to finish in 10:29:94 (78th place overall) to Thomas’ 10:37:47. It will take a few more events to separate this pair. However, Thomas walked away from Armagh with a cool £100 in crisp new notes having won one of the major veterans’ prizes. However, the money was in Liz’s handbag in the blink of an eye! Further down the field Robin Montgomery, Tim Robinson and Chris Downey all ran well and secured respectable club championship points. Brian Todd stumbled over the line on 11:34:71 and promptly fell over one of the barriers. He was closely followed (not over the barrier) by Michael O’Donoghue, the ever improving Steven Hamilton, Fintan Hurl and Martin Walker. Eoin Woodman raised the biggest cheer of the evening as he crossed the line on 17:40:33…. just behind a Brownlee. Unfortunately, it was Desmond Brownlee of the Lagan Valley Club.

Altogether a great club night in Armagh… and now we forget about the club championship until the 5k Bay Road Race in the Maiden City on Wednesday 9th April… a date for your diaries. The current tables are here.

Postscript: It looks as though the Orangegrove ladies were 4th team and that Eoin Woodman has won the Over 70 category cash prize. Well done!