Fast times expected at Armagh tonight

Armagh Road Races

The 2014 Brooks Armagh International Road Races take place around The Mall in Armagh from 1830hrs tonight.

This established event will get underway with nine junior races before the start of the eagerly awaited clash of the road running titans from across the world. The men will race over 5k and the women will race over 3k.

The International women will be under starters orders from around 2000hrs and the men at 2020hrs. The programme will round off with a three lap Open Men's 3k at 2045hrs.

Laura Whittle (handicap -0.3) and Elle Vernon (handicap 1.2) are expected to be at the forefront of the women’s field with best times of 8:50 and 9:05 respectively for 3000m. Olympian Matylda Szlezak (Poland, 9:07) will also be a threat as will Stevie Stockton (handicap 1.1), Ava Hutchinson (handicap 1.8), Kerry O'Flaherty (handicap 2.1 ), Racheal Bamford (handicap 0.4), Shauna McNiff (USA 9:20) and there will always be fast improving outsiders as we saw in 2012 when Lizzie Adams (handicap 6.8) improved by 58 seconds to win in 9:17!

The men’s event will again see a monumental field that threatens to obliterate the course record of 13:54 by David Nightingale from the USA.  Athletes in great form include Ieuan Thomas (handicap -3.1) who recently ran 13:44 indoors and Dewi Griffths (handicap -4.0) who won many of the cross-country fixtures through the winter. Ryan McLeod (handicap -5.1) and Tom Lancashire (handicap -1.2) are both returning from altitude training in Kenya and are expected to be at the front of the field.
Poland also send two great athletes and one to watch is Krzysztof Zebrowski  who has a best 1500m time of 3:35!  Kevin Schwab (USA, 13:36),  Irish internationals Mark Keneally (Ireland, 13:36),  Stephen Scullion (handicap -3.9) and Michael Mulhare (handicap 0.8) are also in the hunt for podium places.

 This is always a great race for improving young runners with the likes of Jon Hopkins (handicap -2.0), Marek Skorupa  (Poland), Dan Studley (handicap -4.0), Gordon Benson  (handicap -2.3) and Cameron Boyek (handicap -3.7) all  good bets for an outside chance.

The weather is forecast to be cool with a slight breeze which should suit the locals around The Mall in Armagh City centre from 1830hrs on Thursday 20/2/14.