Paul Pollock overcomes heat to finish 14th in Delhi Half Marathon

Paul Pollock finished 14th in Sunday's Delhi Half Marathon  
Malcolm McCausland

IRELAND'S top distance runner Paul Pollock overcame the heat and humidity to finish 14th in a world-class field in Sunday’s Delhi Half Marathon in India.

The Annadale Strider clocked 64 minutes and 43 seconds in a race won by reigning Olympic marathon champion Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya. Kipchoge, considered one of the greatest of all time, clocked 59:44 ahead of Ethiopia’s Yigrem Demelash, who clocked his personal best of 59:48, in a close finish. Another Kenyan Augustine Choge was third in 60:01. Pollock had been hoping to improve on his best of 62:09, set at the World Championships in Amsterdam two years ago, on what is regarded as one of the fastest courses on the international circuit.

In the women’s elite race, Worknesh Degefa clocked 67:42 to clinch the title ahead of fellow Ethiopian Ababel Yeshaneh (1:07:52) and Helah Kiprop (1:08:11) of Kenya. Both the men’s and women’s elite winners pocketed US$ 27,000 for their efforts.

On the local scene, Séamus Lynch finally hit the bull’s-eye after peppering the target in recent weeks with a convincing victory in the Acorns Cross Country at Cookstown. Jessica Scott has also played the role of bridesmaid a good number of times but grabbed centre stage in the women’s race on this occasion.

Lynch was runner-up in Armagh, Kilbroney and Comber but made no mistake as he cantered to a comfortable win on the demanding course at the Mid Ulster Sports Arena. The Newcastle & District athlete had over a minute to spare at the finish line over runner-up Derry Track Club’s Paul Barbour with Springwell’s Jonathan McKee grabbing the minor podium place. On an unofficial count it looked as though hosts Acorns may have taken the team prize.

North Down’s Jessica Craig was equally dominant in the women’s race handing out a 40 seconds beating to mountain running champion Karen Alexander from the host club. Michelle Sturm grabbed third spot on the run-in to lead Omagh Harriers to the win in the team competition.

Not far away from MUSA, there was a good turn out for the second of the Born2Run Event Company’s Run Forest Run 10K Series 2016 at Drum Manor Forest Park. Dromore AC’s Stephen O’Gorman was soon prominent and fought off the challenge of Pace Running Club’s Aaron Woodman, a prize-winner at the first fixture, to cross the line first in 36:06. Woodman held on quite comfortably to take the silver medal place 52 seconds back with his club mate Oliver Cook claiming third in 38:36.

In the women’s race Cathy McCourt showed no sign of fatigue following her five races at the World Masters Athletics Championships in Australia as cruised to a comfortable win in 39:11. City of Lisburn’s Judith Lonnen, who won the opening race at Minnowburn, filled the runner-up spot in 40:02 with Kathleen Diver a somewhat distant third in 46:58.

Laura Graham was back in action for the first time after her victory in the national marathon in Dublin at the end of last month when she won yesterday’s Mourne Runners’ ‘Run 4 Rescue’ event in Annalong, county Down. Graham slashed an incredible three minutes off her winning time of 2015 with 61:42 mark. Ballydrain Harrier Amanda Perry took the runners up spot in 70:41 while Graham’s Mourne Runner colleague Karalee Porter completed the podium in 75:00.

It was a one-two for Mourne runners in the men’s event, with William McKee first across the line in 57:08, that was over three minutes ahead of David McKee (60:58), with North Belfast Harrier Neil Carty grabbing the bronze medal another 10 seconds in arrears.

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