Race preview of the Armagh 5K and 3k International Road Races

Adam Craig 2943

The 2019 edition of the Brooks 5K International Road Race is the 29th anniversary of this iconic event now viewed as one of the best road races in the world. The Armagh International Road Races attract greater numbers of  high quality athletes each year as it offers a unique opportunity for personal best times in an exciting race on a fast course. Last year 95 men ran faster than 15 minutes in the 5k and 34 women ran faster than 10 minutes.

Some of the fastest athletes from the UK, Ireland and further afield have arrived in Armagh and are ready to race on Valentine's night.

Last year, in this 'Cathedral City', Sam Stabler (handicap -3.3) led home a record 95 men under the 15-minute mark in the Brooks Men’s 5k, whilst Laura Weightman (handicap -1.0) was at the forefront as 34 women ran inside 10-minutes in the Intersport Women’s 3k.

Sam returns to defend against another impressive men’s field including Adam Craig (handicap -5.4), Andy Heyes (handicap -5.6), Luke Traynor (handicap -6.3), Richard Allen (handicap -4.4), Kieran Clements (handicap -5.9), Jack Gray (handicap -5.3),  Philip Sesemann (handicap -5.5) and Luke Caldwell (handicap -4.6). Liverpool Harrier Jonny Mellor (handicap -5.6), returns after a seven year absence. His 13:57 in 2012 gave him third position then and he will be looking to go two places better this year!

This event also incorporates an international team race. The home team, Northern Ireland & Ulster will have Conor Duffy, Chris Madden (handicap -2.9), James Edgar (handicap 1.9) and Neil Johnston (handicap -3.3) lining up against the other home countries and Ireland. Unfortunately, the athletes from Belgium have not made it due to travel disruption..

The Irish team have Matt Bergin (handicap -4.0) who clocked 14:08 to finish 12th in 2018 along with Kevin Dooney, who ran 14:24 two years ago. David Flynn and Brian Maher complete the Irish quartet.

The Women’s International 3k continues to attract some of the finest athletes with the 2018 winner and record holder, Laura Weightman (handicap -1.4), going on to take the bronze medal in the European Championships over 1500m. This year, in the 3k event, we could well see another sub-9 performance with many potential winners. Alex Bell (handicap -0.9) has shown great strength over the mud recently and with a sub-2 minute 800m to her credit, she will be hard to overhaul in the final straight.

Jess Judd (handicap -1.6) has shown her versatility and is expected to be on the podium while Steph Twell (handicap -1.4) has the tenacity and speed to challenge all the way.

Hayley Carruthers (handicap -1.2) has great experience of multiple parkruns this year and with a best of  16:22, she'll need to be watched closely. Steeplechaser Iona Lake (handicap 0.6) can mix it with the best. Katie Snowdon (handicap -0.24, Claire Duck (handicap -0.6), Jacqueline Fairchild (handicap 0.5) and Jo Moultrie (handicap 1.8) are also down to run.  

Fionnula Ross (handicap -0.3) who recently won the Leeds Abbey Dash 10k is expected to be competitive at the front and to lead the Northern Ireland & Ulster team home which comprises of Breege Connolly (handicap 0.5), Rachel Gibson (handicap 1.7) and Ciara Toner (handicap 2.6) .

As the race is being held on Valentine's night, we also predict that Andy Heyes and Lauren Heyes (handicap -0.3), who recently tied the knot, will be favourites for a couples combined time on Valentines night!

The programme consists of 14 races staged on the 1000 metre Mall circuit, with floodlighting. The atmosphere is always electric as the races are fast and furious and many of the cheering crowds and spectators charge from one side of the Mall to the other to see as much as they can.

The slick delivery of the programme contributes to the excitement and atmosphere as runners of all ages and abilities are encouraged all the way by the knowledgeable Olympic commentator, Geoff Wightman, who also provides the spectators with everything they need to know of who's who and how they are running. The course is flat and fast and the competition at every level is of the keenest, giving runners the opportunity to run personal best times. 

Armagh International road race website here