The Armagh International Road Race is always a hotly anticipated race in the running calendar due to its combination of super-fast course and consistently stacked field. It is a super-fast race which attracts top runners from across the world. This year was no different with athletes from the United States, Poland, Finland, Denmark and across the UK and Ireland participating. Some of Wales’ top athletes were also taking part and put in some superb performances.
The race is probably one of the fastest road races in the world and this year the men’s race was won by Adam Clarke from Aldershot, Farnham and District in a blistering 13.42. We understand that this is a course record.
There was also some superb running by our Welsh athletes including both Jonathan Hopkins (Swansea Harriers) and James Hunt (Cardiff AAC) dipping underneath the magic 14 minute barrier for the first time on the road in 13.54 and 13.58 respectively. Commonwealth Games steeplechaser Jonny has previously run 13.57 on the track but this was an 11 second PB on the road. Having won the Welsh Indoor 1500m title recently, we understand that Jonathan is heading straight to BUCS indoors to run 3000m this weekend so good luck to Jonathan representing Cardiff University.
James went off like a rocket and led in the early stages. This paid off as he secured a huge PB of 39 seconds (track and road) and shows that he is in excellent early season form after recently taking 5th place in the Run Stirling Cross Challenge. No doubt he will have the Welsh Cross Country Championships in his sights having lifted the title back in 2018. James spoke to RunningReviewCymru:
The race went pretty much perfectly for me. I didn’t plan on running at the front of the race but found my self there so just got on with it. Started to tire at 3km but I’ve got a good bank of big miles in me so that carried me through the final 2km! Seeing 13:40 on the clock in the distance I knew I had to give it everything if I was going to sneak under the magic sub 14 barrier, it’s still sinking in!! I’ve gone from first breaking 16 mins for 5km 4 years ago (15:59) to sub 14 so it’s pretty special for me to see how far I’ve come!
Next race is the welsh XC champs and I’m looking for a good workout and mixing it with the top guys in the welsh XC scene, I’m feeling good and in great shape so should make for an interesting race.
Next home for Wales was Andy Davies of Stockport Harriers. Andy has been going from strength to strength since turning 40 and recently ran a scintillating 2.14 at the Valencia Marathon, a V40 British Record. In Armagh, Andy secured a PB of 14.21 to put him 2nd on the UK all-time list for 5k for 40 year olds and above.
Also running 14.21 was Dewi Griffiths. The Swansea Harrier, who has run 13.33 on the track is on the comeback trail having missed most of 2019 with a mystery illness. Having ran 15.18 at Nos Galan 5k on New Year’s Eve this was a big step in the right direction and it appears that Dewi is progressing well towards the 2020 London Marathon where he will hope to secure qualification for the Tokyo Olympics.
There was also some excellent performances from Wales’ youngsters with under 20 athletes James Vincent (Cardiff AAC) running 14.36 and Dominic Smith (Swansea Harriers) running 14.43 and under 17 athletes Osian Perrin (Menai Track and Field) running 14.42 and Ben Reynolds (Cardiff AAC) running 14.48. Last year Osian ran 8.23 for 3000m to break the Welsh under 17 record. Superb performances from the up and coming athletes and definitely ones to keep an eye out in the future.
Other Welsh results include Marc Hobbs (Swansea Harriers) with 14.38, Ben Thomas (Carmarthen Harriers) with 15.10 and Commonwealth Games triathlete Liam Lloyd (Swansea Harriers) with 15.13. Interestingly, Marc has only missed one Armagh 5k race since 2001! Impressive.
There was also a course record in the women’s 3km race with European u23 Cross Country Champion Anna Emilie Mller from Denmark taking the win in 8.58. It was also a great night for the Welsh ladies, they were led home by Yorkshire based Bronwen Owen (Leeds City). She ran brilliantly to take 5th place in 9.11 having been in the mix early on. Bronwen is clearly in fine form having recently finished 3rd in the Run Stirling XC and winning the Yorkshire County XC Championships. Next home was the ever improving Anna Bracegirdle (Menai Track and Field) in 9.44. The 2018 Snowdonia Marathon Champion has recently stepped down in distance and was 2nd at the Nos Galan 5km race in 16.48. Kate Seary (Cardiff AAC) finished two seconds later in 9.48 – the recently crowned Welsh Indoor 1500m champion and Birmingham University Alumni is continuing with her great form.
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