Tuesday 19 February 2019

London calling!

HIGH HOPES: Emma Mitchell will be in action at Parliament Hill in London. Photo: Sportsfile
HIGH HOPES: Emma Mitchell will be in action at Parliament Hill in London. Photo: Sportsfile

A strong team of Irish distance runners will take to the track on Saturday when the European 10km Cup takes place as part of the annual 'Night of 10,000 PBs' hosted by Highgate Harriers at Parliament Hill.

Since it first started in 2013, this "celebration of 25-lap running", as the organisers describe it, has become a standout event for distance runners of all standards.

Organised by club volunteers and, with free entry for spectators, the unique atmosphere of the event - with fire jugglers, stilt walkers, a pedestrian bridge, infield spectating and live music - has not only put the fun back into running but has produced some extraordinary performances.

Irish athletes quickly put it on their must-do list, and among those who have clocked fast times there are Fionnuala McCormack in 2014, Maria McCambridge and John Travers in 2015, and Mick Clohisey and Lizzie Lee in 2016.

Last year Mark Christie clocked 29:26.61 and Kevin Dooney 29:35.8 in the elite men's race, while Emma Mitchell with 32:15.78 and Ann Marie McGlynn with 33:16.73 both ran their fastest ever times.

The good news is that Mitchell, McGlynn and Clohisey are all part of the Irish team running on Saturday. Also running for the women's team are Irish cross-country champion Shona Heaslip and the much improved Fionnuala Ross. Joining Clohisey on the men's team are Ballina's Hugh Armstrong, and Clonliffe pair Sergiu Ciobanu and Stephen Scullion.


Clohisey finalised his preparations for the race with a strong second place at the Terenure 5 last Sunday. Emma Mitchell of QUB AC, who is the current Irish 5000m champion, ran a time of 32:49.91 at the Commonwealth Games a month ago and most recently won the Pat Finnerty 5km in Mullingar in 16:23.

Shona Heaslip of An Riocht AC won the national 10km title over a tough course in the Phoenix Park in 34:52 last month and, ten days ago, ran a time of 34:19 for second in the Great Birmingham Run 10km.

As for McGlynn, of Letterkenny AC, at 38 she simply gets better with age. On a family holiday to London last month, she was overall winner of the Hyde Park 10km in 33:50, joining the elite club of women who have won races outright, beating the men as well as the women.

Fionnuala Ross of Armagh AC ran 34:05 for 10,000m on the track at a British Milers Club meet in Glasgow last month.

Of the men, Stephen Scullion, along with Clohisey and Ciobanu, will run the marathon at the European Championships next August.

Scullion ran a personal best 2:15.55 at the London Marathon last month, while Ciobanu finished a fighting third behind Brian Maher and Clohisey at the National 10km.

Then there's US-based Hugh Armstrong of Mayo AC, who ran a time of 29:28 for 10,000m in the USA last March.

Races take place at 8.30pm on Saturday evening.

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