On Thursday next March 31st the Clonliffe Grand Prix Series 2016 roars back into action with the Frank White 5 Mile. This season`s opener, sponsored by Colm Doran, is held in memory of the former Clonliffe athlete and Hon. Secretary Frank White who passed away in the club`s centenary year of 1986. Frank actually ran in the World Record 2 Mile set by Albie Thomas in Santry in August 1958 and was a two time winner of the Clonliffe 2 (1955 and 1957).
Thursday`s race is a true 5 mile in that it is the only 5 mile race held in Ireland on a 400m. Back in the 1940s many a track meet featured 4 and 5 mile track races. Indeed these were National Championship races. In 1946 the Irish 5 Mile record was set by Martin Egan of Shanaglish, Gort, Co. Galway a time of 24.22.4. Egan was an athlete of some note and in the 1940s won no less than 30 Irish titles, in addition to holding the 5 mile record he also set a new 4 mile (track) mark. The last National champion over 5 miles was Cork`s John Buckley.
Martin Egan`s 5 mile record has stood now for 70 years. On Thursday night at 8.00pm Irish International athlete, former National Cross Country and Marathon Champion Sergiu Ciobanu will line up in the Frank White 5. The question is will that 70 year old record remain standing by 8.25pm?
Sergiu in the meantime has the small matter of the World Half Marathon Championships in Cardiff tomorrow, and hopefully the Olympic Games in August, so Thursday on the back of the Half Marathon is a key session in his quest.
With a big field expected on Thursday traffic may be an issue for Sergiu but with the other athletes` awareness and favourable weather conditions it could be a very special night indeed.
Thursday`s opener in the Morton Stadium is the first of a 16 round series which includes two 4 mile track races The McDonald Cup and the Walker Cup amongst the traditional Clonliffe club races as Clonliffe Harriers keeps great traditions alive.