From the mean streets of the north-east of England, via European tracks and back to home roads, Lindie Naughton covers the Irish endurance news from this weekend. 

In his debut run over the distance, Efrem Gidey of Clonliffe Harriers finished fifth in the Great North Run on Sunday with a time of 64 mins 3 secs for the point-to-point course from Newcastle to South Shields on Tyneside, England.

Despite the sweltering conditions, the opening miles were fast with the lead group, including Gidey, going through five miles in 23 mins 11 secs and through10km in 28:55. Soon after that, the pre-race favourite Tamirat Tola of Ethiopia upped the pace, going on to win in 59 mins 55 secs.

Six times winner Sir Mo Farah, running his final race, was now fourth and until the final two miles, Gidey managed to stick with him. Farah pulled away to finish in 63:28; Gidey was a solid fifth almost half a minute to spare over British athlete Andy Butchart. Stephen Scullion, also Clonliffe Harriers, finished 32nd in 70:19.

Top masters athletes in attendance

Some of the country’s top master athletes turned out for the Charleville International Half Marathon in Co Cork on Sunday (September 10), where Michael Harty of East Cork AC and Barbara Cleary of Donore Harriers were the winners.

Harty, an M40, was the race winner in 67 mins 3 secs, seeing off the challenge of William Maunsell from Clonmel AC, who finished a close second in 67:13. Third in 69:00 was Sean Doyle of Cork City AC. Jake O’Regan of St John’s AC was fourth in 69:31.

Cleary finished in 79: 20, which beats her own W50 record set a few weeks ago. Isabel Oakes of Sligo AC was second in 79:53, and Sinead Lynch of no fixed club, third and first W45 in 82:43. First W55 was Tracey Guilfoyle of Kilnaboy AC in 96:51, with Mary Sweeney of St Finbarr’s AC first W60 in 1:41.13 and Anne Mangan of Star of the Laune AC in Kerry first W65 in 1:43.45.

Of the men, Myles Gibbons of Sliabh Bhuide Rovers A.C. was first M45 in 74:10. Third M70 and first wheelchair was Jerry Forde. All these athletes have considerable careers as senior athletes behind them – and are clearly still producing the goods.

Half marathon season

Peter Somba of Dunboyne AC was the winner of the Ratoath Half Marathon at Fairyhouse Racecourse, Co Meath on Saturday (September 9) in a time of 70 mins 15 secs. Second and first M40 in 70:54 was former Olympic race walker Colin Griffin of Ballinamore AC. Paul Stephenson of Rathfarnham WSAF AC was third in 71:37. Grace Lynch of Dundrum South Harriers in 79:01 was first women ahead of Rachel Birt of Annalee AC in 82:30 and Niamh Devlin of DSD AC in 84:02.

At the Dromiskin 5km, in Co Louth, Daniel Stone of Rahney Shamrock AC was the winner in 14 mins 38 secs, with Yared Derese of Carrick Aces second in 14:46 and Sean Doran of Clonliffe Harriers third in 15:35.

First junior was Lorcan Forde Dunne of Ace AC in 16:30. Catherine O’Connor of English club Harrow AC was first woman in 16:37. Nichol Sheridan was second in 17:31 and Dearbhla Allen of St Peter’s AC third and first junior woman in 18:13.

North East Runners, led by Declan Toal in fourth place, took the men’s team prize, with Dunleer AC pipping Drogheda and District for second place. Best of the women’s teams was Dunleer , with St Peter’s AC second and North East Runners third.

This photo is from the same meet last year, but we imagine it was similar feelings in 2023. Photo: James Rhodes

Track season finishing with a bang

Although the track season is winding down, it proved an exceptionally busy week for Irish athletes, who were racing at meets all over Europe before settling down for the winter.

Top honors must go to Ciara Mageean of City of Lisburn AC who improved on her own Irish record when finishing second in the 1500m at the Brussels Diamond League meet on Saturday (September 9).

Mageean’s time of 3:55.87 saw her losing out to her old rival Laura Muir of Scotland, who won the race in 3:55.34. A year earlier at the same meet, Mageean had beaten Muir in a time of 3:56.63, which broke Sonia O’Sullivan’s 1995 record.

Last May, Mageean improved the Irish 800m record to 1:59.27 and in July she set an Irish mile record of 4:14.58 in Monaco, which also broke one of Sonia O’Sullivan’s records.

Photo: James Rhodes

O’Sullivan in flying form

Also in superb late season form is Sophie O’Sullivan of Ballinamore Cobh AC. In Rovereto Italy on Wednesday, O’Sullivan finished second in the women’s 3000m in a time of 8:44:72 which is a new Irish U23 record.

Then on Friday, O’Sullivan ran two races at the Volksbank Trier Flutlichtmeeting in Germany, winning the 2000m in a personal best 6:00.44 and finished second in the 800m 2:01.43, also a personal best.

Brian Fay of Raheny Shamrock AC was competing at the Palio Città della Quercia in Rovereto, Italy, where he finished second in the men’s 3000m in a lifetime best time of 7:36.89, putting him third on the all-time Irish rankings.

A few days earlier in Padua (Sunday September 3), Fay had run a personal best 3:36.52 for 1500m.

Brian Fay might not have noticed this lovely sunset with his focus on PBs. Photo: James Rhodes

Most recently, on Sunday (September 10), in the men’s 800m at the Boris Hanžeković Memorial in Zagreb, Croatia, Mark English of Finn Valley AC finished fifth in 1:45.56 – his third sub-1:46 time of the season.

Finally, in Pflungstadt on Wednesday (September 6), Luke McCann of UCD AC ran an outdoor personal best 3:53.82 when finishing sixth in the mile; McCann ran 3:53.55 indoors last February in New York.