THE popular Duhallow Athletic Club 5km Classic promises a large field for the Newmarket showpiece on Sunday commencing at 1pm.
ith the club celebrating its 25th Anniversary, organisers are hopeful of the Duhallow 5k retaining its popular attraction for participants from across North Cork and beyond, the winner of the 2022 staging collects the Jer Murphy Perpetual Cup.
Amongst the winners over recent years were Ed Murphy (Gneeveguilla), Alan O’Shea (Bantry), David McCarthy (West Waterford), Colm Sheahan and Mark Hanrahan (Leevale), Canadian born Ben Thistlewood (Leevale) Emmett Dunleavy(Sligo) Ethiopian native Hiko Haso Tonosa and Evan Byrne (Togher) is the defending champion.
Last year Byrne produced an incredible burst to shatter the course record, from a day borrowed off spring, a record number of participants lined up at the starting line including a number of established faces such as Olympic Gold medalist Paul O’Donovan; international cyclist Eddie Dunbar and All Ireland Senior Ladies Cross Country Champion Michelle Finn.
No surprise that Castlemagner native Finn retained the ladies title, bringing her tally to seven. Of course Finn and great favourite in Newmarket Tonosa are big names in cross country, the pair representing Ireland in the European Championships in Turin this weekend thus missing out on a visit to Newmarket.
From last season’s men’s race, Byrne delivered a spectacular performance to duly hold off some of the best athletes from the South West Region and beyond. Run over a relatively flat and fast course, Byrne hung with Ryan Creech (Leevale) and John Travers (Donore Harriers) up to half way with Niall Shanahan (An Brú) and former winner Alan O’Shea (Bantry) were amongst those in hot pursuit.
However Byrne hit the front on the return into the town, ahead of Creech and duly clipped five seconds off the course record. Likewise, another top class entry is expected for the ladies field in the aftermath of cracking
outcomes over the years that included wins for USA based Michelle Scott Murphy from Carrig Na bhFear, former world cross country team medallist Valerie Vaughan from Blarney/Inniscarra, versatile Olympian and former national senior cross country champion Rosemary Ryan (Bilboa), Mary Sweeney (St Finbarrs), Orla Drumn (UCC), Michelle Finn (Leevale) and Laura Crowe (Riocht).
“We ‘ve a tough task to repeat the outstanding success of previous quality fields and hopefully the weather will be favourable. Plans for this season’s race were set in motion a number of months ago,” said Donie Shine, Organising Chairman.
Race headquarters is outside Safaris Night Club a short distance from the race start on the Kanturk road that takes the field through the town centre, out the Rockchapel road and a return to finish in Newmarket town.
Included on the programme are category prizes in senior, vets, junior and U-16 age categories. Prizes to the winners will be presented at the finishing line, further details on the big race is available from Donie Shine (086-8149970)