World’s best athletes in Armagh this week to celebrate iconic event’s 25thanniversary
One of the world’s biggest names in athletics, Jonathan Brownlee, has added his name to an international roster of top athletes taking part in Thursday’s Brooks International Road Race in Armagh.
Brownlee, a bronze medal winner in the Olympic triathlon at the London 2012 Olympic Games, is also a two-time World Spring Triathlon Champion and a former Under 23 Triathlon World Champion.
European 3000M steeplechase silver medalist, Poland’s Krystian Zalewski, has also confirmed his attendance, as has top middle distance runner and 2012 Olympic contender Ross Murray from Great Britain.
Confirmation that Brownlee, Zalewski and Murray have all booked their spaces in the elite Men’s 5K race comes just days after Athletics England confirmed official entries for both the Men’s 5K and Women’s 3K challenge on Thursday 19thFebruary, in addition to development squad of three which is also on its way to take part in the series of events.
The Men’s 5K is the only race in Ireland with a strict qualifying time of under 17 minutes, with many of the anticipated 130 entrants from Ireland, England, Scotland, Wales, Poland, the US and France vying to complete the race in less than 14 minutes, thereby continuing Armagh’s tradition of hosting the strongest in-depth Men’s 5K race in the world.
The Women’s 3K international race sees former Irish record holder Mary Cullen from Sligo taking on English star Katrina Wootten from Coventry.
The 12-event programme is run on a 1,030M lap around the historic 18th Century Mall, providing a spectacular floodlit arena for the thousands of spectators expected on the night. The Women’s 3K International starts at 8.05pm, with the Men’s 5K race scheduled for 8.20pm and the Men’s Open 3K starting at 8.45pm.
Armagh International Road Race Director, Brian Vallely, said:
“It will come as no surprise to anyone who follows global athletics that the Brooks International Road Race in Armagh is among the world’s best and most competitive athletic challenges on offer and we are delighted that we are officially on course to make this year’s the biggest in its 25-year history.
“Competition from across the world is tighter than it has ever been and we look forward to welcoming thousands of spectators and international media to what will be an adrenalin-filled evening of top class athletics in and around the city’s historic Mall, which will become an amazing floodlit arena on the night.”
The supporting juvenile races have attracted starting lists of more than 1,000 competitors and some individual events have over 200 taking part. Senior races will have around 500 competitors in each race.
Taking place on Thursday 19th February, the iconic race event is widely acknowledged as one of the best road races in the world for the calibre of its participants and the fierce competition among athletes vying to take the top spot in the men’s and women’s high-speed races.
Organisers say that this year’s event, which is sponsored by sports footwear specialist Brooks, in addition to Inter Sport, and supported by Armagh City and District Council, will feature some of the most hotly-contested racing challenges seen for many years.
Last year, the race standard in the international men’s race was so high that 45 runners came in under 15 minutes, with the last finisher was only 90 seconds behind the winner.
Laura Whittle from Loughborough University was victorious in the women’s 3K, while Nick McCormick from Morpeth AC in North East England came first in the Men’s 5K.
Other big names confirmed include English racing champions Luke Cragg, Jonny Mellor and John Beattie, while former Irish national cross country champion Gary Murray joins Scotland’s finest, Jake Wightman, in a battle for the top spot that could also see David Nightingale’s 2009 race record of 13:54 come under fresh pressure.
The full programme, which includes details of the 12 races scheduled, is available at www.armaghroadrace.com. The first race starts at 6.30pm at the top of Mall East in the city centre.