It was good to finally ‘get back in the water,’ last Sunday (May 30) and join over two hundred competitors gathered in brilliant sunshine to celebrate Finn Valley AC’s Golden Jubilee Grand Prix.
A 5k race was the first of Finn Valley’s three festive events. Given the current Republic of Ireland restrictions the race took place just over the border from Donegal in Northern Ireland where different rules apply. Such is life in our small island in 2021.
The 5k venue was St Davog’s GAA club at Aghyaran in Co Tyrone, about 20 kilometres from the Finn Valley clubhouse in Ballybofey.
The projected finish times of runners dictated the socially distanced waves start. Race results were taken from chip timing as runners crossed the start mat.
The well organised race format was different to what we are used to, but it’s similar to what we’ll probably be experiencing at events over the next while.
There is always a good buzz around on race days, and this is one aspect that has been greatly missed by many in recent times. The return to live events underlines the vital part human interaction plays in sport.
The field of 218 in Aghyaran were mainly runners from a wide range of clubs from border counties, with 80% of finishers coming home in under 25 minutes.
The winner was Martin Cunningham (Tír Chonnaill AC) in 15:43
First woman home was Christine Russell (Letterkenny AC) in 17:11.
Finishing 6th was Pauric McKinney, former national marathon and half marathon champion, and a great cross- country athlete over many years.
The Inishowen AC star got his season off to a cracker and he put in an incredible run to equal Tommy Hughes’ Irish M55 record of 16min 15sec.
It was good also to meet up with some local runners from Corran AC and Sligo AC who made the trip up the N15.
5k results: https://m.facebook.com/
Elsewhere at the weekend, Whitespace Northern Ireland Ultra Running Championships took place. And results from there explained why the aforementioned Tommy Hughes wasn’t among those at Aghyaran. He was competing under the banner of Strive Running Club which he formed in 2020, and finished third overall in the 50k ultra V60 in a time of 3:06:28 (unofficial) for an age group masters World Record.