England women’s 3km quartet, rapidly followed by the men’s 5km flying foursome took the International team titles, in what was an exceptionally fast and furious evening of road running.
The women: Charlotte Dannatt (7th, 9:21), Laura Brenton (16th, 9:32), Rebecca Johnson (19th, 9:34) and Kirsty Longley (31st/1st W40, 9:44) displayed tremendous strength in depth as well as superb race savvy, to comfortably emerge champions in what traditionally is a loaded field. Up front, Anna Moller flew to a course record in 8:58, in close to perfect conditions - the calm between two storms, literally!
If the women’s race was fast, spare a thought for the runner who finished 147th in the men’s race – just a tick inside 15min! This is the best 5km road race in the world when it comes to cracking out fast times, and crack them out they did in the men’s race.
The scoring trio averaged an amazing 13:50 to easily secure the title, led by team captain, Phil Sesseman (3rd, 13:45), Jake Shelley (4th, 13:46) and Graham Rush (12th, 13:55). Carl Avery found his time of 14:11, a clocking that would usually win most races, good for only 32nd as an amazing 21 athletes cracked 14 minutes.
‘It’s great to see so many race,’ said one coach, Tony Leonard, watching on in awe. ‘It’s what the sport needs – head to head competition where runners just go out there and battle.’
Credit too must go to the organisers at Armagh AC who have hosted this amazing event for 30 years now. Race after race kicked the evening off with all ages competing in a variety of distances from 400m to 3km around the super-fast city centre circuit in this usually sleepy Northern Irish town.