Love is in the air at Armagh International Races

Twell winning Armagh 2019 -MM

Armagh saw perfect conditions with temperatures close to 10 degrees and just a slight breeze, as the international events began just after 8pm. A record 113 runners broke the 15 minute mark in the men’s 5k and 49 women were under 10 minutes in the 3k event. The dedicated team of enthusiastic volunteers and organisers were lapping up the love from hundreds of PB performances on Valentine's night.

Steph Twell (pictured above) made a long run for home in her usual tenacious fashion, equalling the 8:59 course record set by Laura Weighman, to clinch victory in the Intersport women’s 3k race.  Finnish steeplechaser Topi Raitanen ran a blistering 13:43 to break the Brooks men’s 5k course record.

A quick statistical analysis showed that 49 women broke 10 minutes for 3k, 10 men broke the previous course 5k course record of 13:54 and 12 men went sub 14 minutes.

In the women’s 3k race, Steph Twell (handicap -1.2), along with Jess Judd (handicap -1.4), and Amy Griffiths (handicap -0.5), took to the front early  around the lapped Armagh Mall course. As the race went into the closing stages on the final lap it was the British 5000m champion who pulled away to clinch the win in 8:59, finishing six seconds ahead of Jess Judd (9:05).

Amy Griffiths completed the podium in 9:10, with Kate Avery (handicap -1.4), fourth in 9:11 and Lauren Heyes (handicap -0.3) fifth in a time of 9:16. Armagh’s Fionnuala Ross (handicap -0.3) finished in 9:29.

The men's event was frantic from the off with the first km called out at 2:41. Scottish duo Adam Craig (handicap -5.4) and Luke Traynor (handicap -6.1) were at the front of the tightly packed lead group at the end of the second lap.

As the long train of runners flowed around the Mall, h the final lap approached. At the bell,  Jonny Mellor (handicap -5.6), Craig and Raitanen had a gap on the rest of the field. Approaching the final long straight it was the strong Finn who clinched the victory in a course record of 13:43.

The runner-up spot was Adam Craig in 13:45 ahead of defending champion Sam Stabler (handicap -3.3). Jonny Mellor (handicap -5.6) was also among the PB performances and clocked 13:46 in fourth.

Andy Heyes (handicap -5.6), was fifth in 13:48 with Phil Sesemann (handicap -5.4) next across the finish line in 13:50. Graham Rush (handicap -4.5), clocked 13:51 in seventh, while Jack Gray (handicap -5.3), was eighth in 13:52. Nigel Martin (handicap -4.4) clocked 13:53 alongside Kieran Clements (handicap -5.8) to make a total of 10 under the previous course record. Matt Bergin (handicap -4.4), representing Ireland also went sub 14 in 13:59.

The full results from the Armagh International Road Race can be found via this link

Photo credit: Malcolm McCausland