Eric Koech holds off his Dan Tanui for Derry victory
KENYANS Eric Koech and Dan Tanui overcame the heat and humidity to see off the opposition at the Walled City Marathon in Derry yesterday.
Irish Olympic marathon representative Pauline Curley was equally impressive in the women’s race, finishing fifth overall in a field of well over 1000 runners.
The east African pair, running shoulder to shoulder, were already well clear by halfway as Rosses AC’s Ciaran McGonagle and Foyle Valley stalwart Chris McGuinness led the chase some distance back.
Ironically at the end of 26 miles, it came down to a sprint with the taller Koech prevailing over his Project Africa Athletics stablemate Tanui by three seconds in 2:23:47.
The dogged McGonagle held on for the minor podium place almost 20 minutes back in 2:41:24. Beechmount Harrier Niall Farquharson impressed with a strong late run for fourth place in 2:46:02.
A bronzed Pauline Curley never looked in any danger of losing out on the top women’s prize and the Beijing Olympian crossed the line fifth overall in 2:47:20.
England-based Hannah Oldroyd was second woman across the line in a credible 2:56:14 with Lifford-Strabane’s consistent Claire McGuigan taking third in 3:07:16.
The race did not pass without incident with the heat affecting many of the competitors including one young man who required extensive medical treatment on Strand Road close to the finish.
The cream of the province’s young talent were in action at the Irish Secondary Schools’ Track & Field Championships in Tullamore.
The event was celebrating its centenary, with the Ulster representatives bringing home more than their fair share of the titles.
Star of the sprinters was Bangor Grammar’s Aaron Sexton who set a new intermediate boys’ record in the 100m of 10.86 (+1.3) and took gold in the 200m in 21.85 (-0.3).
Belfast High School’s Ellie McCartney improved her own intermediate girls’ record in the pole vault by a massive 65 centimetres with a fine 3.60m clearance.
Two Donegal athletes were not far outside the existing records. Christopher O’Donnell from Magh Ene College in Bundoran scorched to a convincing victory in the senior boys’ 400m with a 48.07 timing and Arlene Crossan, Loreto College, Letterkenny, was a class apart in the senior girls’ 400m hurdles recording 60.87 seconds.
However, Friends’ School star James Edgar had to settle for second in the senior boys’ 5000m behind Clongowes College’s Jack O’Leary. Eagle-eyed followers of the sport may have spotted O’Leary leading in the winner Don Cossack after the Cheltenham Gold Cup this year.