Record fields at Armagh Road Races tonight

Armagh Road Races

The 26th running of the Armagh International Road Races take place tonight. Record numbers have entered the race and 72 of those are men who have previously broken 15 minutes for 5km and so it is looking likely that last year's record of 56 under 15 minutes will be broken. The women's 3k race is also expecting great things with 28 entrants who have previously broken10 minutes.

It is almost impossible to predict the results of tonight's races. There are 11 men who have previously run sub 14 minutes for the 5k and six women who have run faster than the course record of 9:07.

Yannick Michiels, from Belgium, has a personal best time of 13:47 and will want to make his debut at this race an impressive one but will be challenged by the returners who have experience on this course and knowledge of how best to run each of the rectangular laps. Those with experience include last year's 2nd placer, Dan Cliffe (handicap -4.8), who will want to go one better this year. Dan ran the course in 13:59 last year. Welshmen Dewi Griffiths (handicap -5.8), who has run this race several times previously, and Ieuan Thomas (handicap -2.8) who ran 14:06 last year for 9th place are also likely to be in the mix and pushing the pace. Mark Kenneally, from Ireland, is another who is familiar with this race having done it many times before. Mark ran 14:20 last year. Scottish representatives include 21 year old Jake Wightman (handicap -4.3) who made his debut last year and, with that experience under his belt, may well improve on his 14:20. From further afield, Polish Champion, Krystian Zalewski returns after finishing 5th last year in 14:02. Krystian has a personal best time of 13:51.

The women's field is stronger than it has ever been. Charlene Thomas (handicap 0.5) has a personal best time of 9:01 and is a recent winner of the Dewsbury 10k in 33:33 and so could be the one to watch along with Laura Whittle (handicap -0.3) who won the race in 2014 and is returning to reclaim her title. Gemma Hillier-Moses (handicap 0.9) will be looking to move up from her podium place of 3rd from last year along with Katrina Wootton (handicap 1.4) who finished 4th. Both Dierdre Byrne, from Ireland, and Beth Potter, from Scotland, have personal bests of 8:58 and are likely to be in the mix. Justina Heslop (handicap 0.5) is flying in from altitude training in Ethiopia to make her mark and others coming from far afield are Sinead Haughey, from the USA, who has a best 10k time of 33:52 and a team from Poland including Urszula Necka who has run 9:12 for 3000m.

As well as the men's international 5k and the women's international 3k, the event offers an inclusive programme starting at 6.30pm with races for children over distances from 400m to 2400m. The women's race takes place at 8.05pm followed by men who can cover their 5km race in less than 17 minutes at 8.20pm. The final race of the night is the men's open 3km that takes place at 8.45pm.

The Armagh International Road Races are organised by Armagh Athletics Club. The slick running of the programme that sees runners lapping around the 18th Century Mall in this Catherdal City.contributes to the excitement and atmosphere. The course is flat, fast and furious and the fields are deep, giving runners the chance to run personal best times.