Armagh International Road Races 2020
On a perfect night for running, Armagh’s historic Mall was thronged with thousands of spectators who witnessed a spectacular and record-breaking programme of athletics.
Following a series of wonderful juvenile races, the first International of the evening got underway with the 30th Armagh International Women’s 3k.
Intersport Women’s 3k
The pre-race favourite, European Cross-Country Champion Anna Emilie Moller of Denmark lived up to her billing, and by Jail Square on the first lap she was leading the 200-strong field. From there to the finish she was never headed, and broke the tape in 8 minutes and 58 secs, beating the old record of 8.59 held jointly by Olympians Laura Weightman and Steph Twell.
10 seconds behind came Alexandra Bell of England, with team mate Amy Griffiths taking third prize in 9.09. A total of 52 athletes crossed the line in under 10 minutes, another race record.
Brooks Men’s 5k
This race has over the years acquired almost iconic status as the greatest in-depth 5k Road Race in the world, and the 2020 edition did not disappoint!
An early leader was Poland’s Krystian Zalewski, competing in Armagh for the fifth consecutive year. He was hotly pursued throughout by a star-studded cast of top athletes, but going into the last lap he was still 10 metres to the good. However, the chasing bunch was closing relentlessly, and in the final 400 metres he was passed by a group of seven runners – but still finished in an excellent 13.49! Adam Clarke of Team Real Runners was the winner in a new record time of 13.42 with England’s Jonny Davies (13.45), and Phil Sesemann ( also 13.45) filling 2nd and 3rd places. With the first 21 finishers recording sub-14 minute times, and with a total of 139 competitors running sub-15, it is unlikely that the result has ever been equalled in the history of world athletics. In the same race Metro St Brigid’s athlete Shane Healy [a 1500M finalist in the Atlanta Olympics of 1996] was in sparkling form and despite finishing down the field in 135th place set a new World Over-50s Record of 14.58!
Linwoods Men’s 3k : Once again the spectators were treated to a fast start and for a while it looked as though the race record, set in 2018 at 8.31 by Michal Rozmys, might tumble. However despite a speedy first kilometre, the pace slackened enough to put a new record in doubt. Nevertheless, Matthew Neill of Acorns A.C. picked it up in the last lap and an intriguing battle for the honours ensued between him, Letterkenny’s Danny Mooney and Eskander Turku of Annadale Striders. In the end it was Neill who came home first in 8.37 with Mooney second and Turku third, both recording 8.41.