Morton Games last night proved to be another superb night of athletics in Santry. Throughout the course of the day the weather was exceptionally kind, a bright sunny day, at times cloudy but overall an excellent night for athletics. Although the wind did pick up a little on occasions this on the whole did not deter the athletes with tremendously exciting races all round.
There were three outstanding highlights.
In the Loki Sports 400 local hero Brian Gregan (Clonliffe Harriers) lined up as pre race favourite, with the World Championship qualifying time already bagged it meant that Brian could simply focus on racing and running fast without the burden of having to run fast. The result – Grehan ran his fastest ever time! At the top bend Gregan was sitting in maybe 3rd place, however, he simply stepped on the gas to power down the home straight and by the finish was yards in front of his pursuers. Gregan was naturally enough ecstatic with his time of 45.26 which was a new Meet record, a personal best and a Clonliffe Harriers club record. 2nd place was Anderson Henriques (BRA) 45.51 with the multi decorated head band wearing Conrad Williams (GBR) 3rd in 46.78.
The decision of the organisers to change the Albie Thomas Memorial from a 3000 to 5000 paid off in spades. This race really attracted the attention of the international athletes who came to Dublin chasing the world qualifying mark of 13.22.5. The pace making in the 5000 was superb with the two pacers hitting the mark within a single second of the pre-arranged pace. With the field strung out behind as the second pacer pulled out at 3000 big Collis Birmingham (AUS) led the train with his Aussie teammate Stewart McSweyn latching onto his tail. These two dropped the rest of the field although Great Britain’s Ben Conor, the English national cross country champion, seemed to get stronger as the race progressed and he looked to be the only athlete from the chasing pack who might have got up with the Aussie pair. With 350 to go McSwyn struck and then powered down the back straight at the finish line the clock showed a time of 13.19.98. This was not only a Meet record, it also consigned to history the 30 plus year old stadium record of Eamon Coghlan (interesting to see that the first pacer was Eamon’s son John Coghlan!), from McSweyn’s point of view more importantly it was a PB by a massive 15 seconds and was a world qualifying time. 11 athletes broke 14 minutes.
The other outstanding highlight of the Meet came right at the very end, the iconic Morton Mile, sponsored by Behan & Associates and Commercial Hygiene Services. The 16 athletes in this field were well and truly stubbed?? up and it proved to be an outstanding race. In addition to it being an outstanding race it was also a fast race, although the pack were a little tentative in taking up the early pace, at 800 they were well and truly on it. Once again, as has become a feature of this Morton Mile, with 200 to go it could have been anyone’s race, at the line and making it an Irish double was Robert Domanic (USA) in 3.55.71 followed by up and coming Aussie in a new PB of 3.55.79 Morgan McDonald and also running a PB the USA’s Sam Prakel, 3.56.55.
If we thought last year’s feat of 11 sub 4 minute miles was one never to be beaten it lasted precisely 12 months as Peter Callanan (BEL) was the final sub 4 minute on the night – 3.58.86 – in 12th place. An unbelievable dozen sub 4 minute miles in the Morton Mile!
In addition to Sam Prakel running his first outdoor sub 4 likewise Tom Marshall (GBR) did the same – 3.58.31 and Ireland’s Sean Tobin joined the Irish sub 4 team with an outstanding 3.58.70. Letterkenny A.C.’s Danny Mooney was tantalisingly close, once again 4.00.12 with Kieran Kelly likewise within touching distance 4.00.70.
In between all of this there was the small matter of the Marathon Mission Women’s 800 again a race which was extremely competitive, there were several athletes chasing that elusive sub 2 including Ireland’s Ciara Mageean, at the finish in a time of 2.01.53 Adelle Tracey (GBR) crossed the line first closely followed by Angie Petty (NZL) and Mageean in 3rd.
It was clear from the starters gun in the Muscle Clinic Men’s 800 that the athletes were more concerned with racing than with chasing the pacemaker. Again it was a stunning race, coming down the home straight it could have been anyone’s and at the line the win was taken by Kyle Langford (GBR) successfully defending the title he won in 2016 in a time of 1.46.98, Jesse Garn (USA) was 2nd 1.47.26 with Anthonio Mascoll 3rd 1.47.33.
The other change made by the organisers was changing the Women’s Mile to a Women’s 1500 particularly with world qualifying mark of 4.07.5 in mind. The result was win for Alexa Efraimson (USA) 4.06.73, Melissa Courtney (GBR) was 2nd 4.07.02 with Sweden’s Linn Nilsson 3rd 4.08.47.
The two short sprint events were pretty sensational, Great Britain visitor Margaret Adeoye just got past Ireland’s Phil Healy with maybe ten metres to go Adeoye winning in 23.78 with Healy 2nd 23.95 and Amy Foster (IRL) 3rd in 23.96.
Former American footballer Jeff Demps (USA) led a US 1, 2 in the 100 in a time of 10.38, Sean McClean was 2nd in an identical time with former stadium record holder Warren Fraser (BAH) 3rd in 10.54.
The Men’s 400 hurdles had got the international section of the Meet off to a great start. It was a really tightly matched affair which was won by Alfredo Sepulveda, the first athlete from Chile to take part in this Meet, in a time of 49.98. United States multi-eventer Curtis Beach was 2nd in 50.20 with Cameron French (NZL) 3rd in 50.55.
In the field events Jade Lally (GBR) was a comfortable winner of the discus some 5 and a half metres ahead of the field winning with a best throw of 58.19m, Claire Fitzgerald (IRL) was 2nd 52.32 with Phoebe Dawson 3rd 49.23.
The Pole Vault competition was won by Latvian visitor Mareks Arents with a best of 5.50, 2nd was Jack Phipps (GBR) 5.10 and 3rd was Luke Cutts 5.00.
And so the curtain comes down on the 2017 Morton Games, it was an extremely exciting night and one that will long live in the memory – the roar of the crowd as Gregan came off that top bend, the sheer effort of the 5000 metre runners and the speed over those final four laps was awesome and then of course the Morton Mile itself with 12 sub 4s – magical!