Raheny Road Relays reach new heights
Record numbers turned out for the annual Glo Health National Road Relays in Raheny - an event that has become one of the highlights of the club running year.
Winners of the senior titles were Donore's men and the Leevale women - but every team that turned out was cheered all the way to the finish line by a substantial crowd.
For Donore, it was their first victory since 1992; the club also has the distinction of winning the first National Relays held in 1973 in Wexford. Among the team members that day 42 years ago was the legendary Jim McNamara, still going strong and cheering on all the Donore teams on Sunday.
Clonliffe, with Andrew Jenkinson running the opening two-mile leg, made the early pace but was caught by Donore's Lee van Haeften, although it was Ferrybank's Niall Tuohy who ran the fastest leg of the day at 9 mins 27 secs.
Next up was the mile, where Daragh Fitzgibbon took over in front for Donore before handing over to John Travers for the decisive three-mile leg. Travers built up a decisive lead, finishing in a lightning fast time of 14 mins 7 secs. He handed over to Eric Keogh who brought the team home in 39 mins 52 secs - not far off the course record of 37 mins 33 secs.
In the battle for second place, Freddy Keron Sittuk - back in Ireland after a break in Kenya - ran a fast three-mile leg for Raheny, but it was Ennis Track Club, with national junior cross-country champion Kevin Mulcaire on the anchor leg, who came home runners-up for a second year. Less than a minute separated the next six teams, with Raheny taking bronze.
In the women's senior race, Leevale lived up to their billing as favourites and led from the start. Carole Finn ran the opening mile in 5 mins 8 secs, Lizzie Lee the second two-mile leg and Michelle Finn then brought them home in 20 mins 39 secs. Letterkenny, with Anne Marie McGlynn on the two-mile leg, were only four seconds adrift after the second leg and finished second ahead of Crusaders.
Winning their first national masters title was the Newbridge trio of Paul Archbold, Paul Campbell and David Keenan; Crusaders were second, and early leaders Letterkenny third. Despite an Achilles strain for Damien Martin on the opening leg, Raheny won the M50 title in 21 mins 01 secs; Mick Traynor and Dave Woods made up the winning trio.
In a closely-fought women's masters race, Raheny's trio of Annmarie Woods, Annette Kealy and Jenny Mulry won the W35 title in 23 mins 41 secs, followed by Letterkenny and Donore, with Clonliffe's Collette McKenny, Bernie Byrne and Geraldine Reilly comfortably beating Raheny for the W50 title.