DTC Athletes Set PBs in Letterkenny

DTC athletes were in top form at the Inter-Firms 5K in Letterkenny registering a bag full of personal and age category bests.

Keith Shiels and Cathal McLaughlin helped E & I to runner-up spot in the team classifications.

Keith Shiels (E & I Engineering) was the leading DTC runner, taking 18th in 17:10.4. He was followed shortly by works colleague Cathal McLaughlin who was first M50 in 17:22.2.

Ben kicks for home.

Sixteen-year-old Ben Mellon got under 18 minutes for the first time with a 17:57.5 which was good enough for the second Junior Man’s prize.

Robert Bigger was the first M60 clocking an exceptional 18:18.7. He was followed by Conor McIlveen registering a personal best 18:51.3. David Mellon also had cause to celebrate as he broke the 19 minute barrier by the most narrow of margins with an 18:59.7 timing.

What a Shambles!

What have Dublin, Longford, Derry, Cork, Connemara got in common but not Belfast?  These are just some of the places you can run a marathon in Ireland and be assured the distance is correct. It cannot be difficult measuring out 26.2 miles (42.2K) given so many organisers get it right first time but not the Belfast City Marathon.

Joel Kositany breaks the tape for a record fourth victory.

Meanwhile the complaints continue to roll in following last weekend’s shambolic event. Wrong distance, poor traffic management and runners having to wait upwards of an hour to retrieve warm clothes after completing the marathon. It even featured on television as far away as Australia where ABC News reported on it in a joking manner.

And it was all supposed to be the dawn of a new era with the 2019 Belfast City Marathon taking to a faster, more runner-friendly, route and the move to a Sunday rather the Bank Holiday Monday encouraging more participants.

Runners weave their way through the walkers to reach the finish line.

But where did it all go wrong? Well the race was only two miles into the new route before the lead runners were sent the wrong way and had to do a U turn adding at least an additional 400 metres.  Then the whole field then missed the left turn at Clara Street meaning everyone was going to run at least an additional 460m, according to the organisers. But most runners believe it was nearer 650m and for the elite few at the front, probably a kilometre.

The underlying problem may be that in the desire to generate as much revenue as possible – 18,000 people took part in various events – the organisers have created a juggernaut that has got out of control. Standing in the finish area last Sunday, it was like being at Euston Station with arrivals and departures on all sides as close to 1800 walkers and fun runners converged on the Ozone Centre.

Add to that over 2200 relay teams comprising 11,000 people and you have the perfect recipe for disaster. No-one wants to stop a marvellous day out for many works and office teams but the relay, like a cuckoo, has outgrown the marathon nest.

The decision by the BCM to adjust everybody’s time to compensate for the extra distance was simply a knee-jerk reaction and only discredits the event even more – if that is possible at this stage. It does not take into account the u-turn by the elite and also opens another can of worms in relation to the final placings.

Max Travers gets the better of Pierce McCullagh in the final metres.

For example, Annadale Striders clubman Max Travers came past Sperrin Harrier Pierce McCullagh in the last 40 metres to claim third place in the NI championship. If adjustments are to be made in relation to the extra distance, has McCullagh a case to be awarded the bronze medal as he was third at 26.2 miles? Of course not, if so, we might as well get the pools panel in to decide the result of next year’s event.

In 2016, a remeasure of the Greater Manchester Marathon found the distance to be short by 380m meaning that the 24,000 runners who competed in 2013, 2014 and 2015 had their times annulled and were not recognised by UK Athletics. 

That is unlikely to happen this time with the runners covering extra distance but will they accept these new “doctored” times where a percentage has been deducted from that shown on the electronic timing.  There were other problems too in the parks with congestion and people quite entitled to be walking their dog in a public place. On the event’s 37th birthday, it is a bit ironic to be talking about teething problems especially when much younger races like Longford, Derry, Cork and Connemara can get it right first time and every year.