The Clonliffe senior men and women took a break from cross country training today travelling to Victoria Park Belfast for the Northern Ireland Open Road relay championships. This was a fabulous event hosted by Victoria Park and Connswater AC on a great loop of a little over a mile, the athletes all running two laps, the event distance being 4 x 3300. It proved to be an excellent day for the club as the men added the Northern Ireland championship to the national title and the women took thoroughly deserved bronze.
First off for the women was Alannah Cooley who clocked a solid 12.06 passing over to Meghan O’Keeffe in 8th place of 19, Meghan ran an impressive leg taking back two places as she ran 12.43 to pass over to Emma Mitchell. Emma tore through the field recording the fastest time of the day (10.39) as she moved the team up to 3rd place. The anchor leg was handled very well indeed by Laura Tuite , indeed with a lap to go Laura was on the shoulder of silver but paid the price for probably going out a little too hard and had to settle for bronze, with a fine leg of 11.53 as the team recorded a time of 47.20. This was an excellent performance by the team for 3rd behind Annadale Striders 1st and North Down 2nd.
The men’s team were most impressive. Lead man Sean O’Leary ran 9.42 for the opening leg passing on in 3rd place of a bumper 29 strong field. Jonny Whan went out a sensible pace for his opening lap and made up considerable ground on the 2nd lap running 9.38 and passing on in 2nd place to Efrem Gidey. Efrem went to work straight away running an opening lap, of 4.26 for the over a mile distance turning a 10 second deficit into a 10 second advantage and then recorded the fastest ever leg recorded in this race 9.04 (the previous record stood at 9.18). Efrem handed over to Ian Guiden with a pretty substantial lead which Ian held all the way and extended as he ran 9.26. The winning time was 37.48 by all accounts also a new record. 2nd were St. Malachys AC with Annadale Striders 3rd.
In all it was a most worthwhile exercise for the teams. Clonliffe would also like to extend our appreciation to our hosts VPCAC and to Athletics Northern Ireland on a thoroughly well organised event.