Johnston and mitchell exceL in greencastle

26 December 2019

Nothing trumps speed and track specialist Neil Johnston proved it once again when he was the emphatic winner of the Greencastle 5 Miles road race in Tyrone. The race confirmed its status as the number one holiday fixture with over 700 hardy runners crossing the finish line in damp and windy conditions.

Neil Johnston speeds home.

Johnston was making his debut in the race and was in a group of three, along with Scott Rankin and Mark McKinstry, who broke away from the field almost from the gun. But Johnston’s track speed told as he took an early lead on the downhill before going on to break the tape in 24 minutes and 54 seconds. Rankin held on to the runner-up spot a further 24 seconds back with 2018 winner McKinstry having to settle for third on this occasion in 25:34.

“Conditions were pretty tough there but I just went out with Scott and Mark McKinstry,” said the Coleraine man. “It’s downhill then and I started getting a bit of a lead and then Scott and myself broke off. I think I was in the lead from two miles on and built it on. But it’s a tough climb from three to four miles.”

Matthew Neill was the first U20, taking fourth in 25:50, while Eoin Hughes (26:16) and Colin Griffin (26:33) rounded off the top half dozen finishers.

Emma Mitchell completed her third consecutive victory in the women’s race it could not have been any easier for the Clonliffe Harrier who won by over three minutes in 29:21. Pauline McGurren (32:24) and April Clarke (32:32) completed the women’s podium.

The organisers set new standards in terms of the content of the goody bags both in terms of the quantity of the items included and the quality. No more plastic bottles, replaced by paper cartons and surely a first anywhere …. a pack of four free range eggs!

Results –