ATHLETICS: Whoriskey stars at Strabane/Lifford Half Marathon

Catherine Whoriskey (left), pictured representing Ireland in the Great Ireland Run at Phoenix Park last month, warmed up for the upcoming SSE Airtricity Walled City Marathon with victory in the Strabane Lifford Half Marathon.
Catherine Whoriskey (left), pictured representing Ireland in the Great Ireland Run at Phoenix Park last month, warmed up for the upcoming SSE Airtricity Walled City Marathon with victory in the Strabane Lifford Half Marathon.

The Women’s race at the upcoming SSE Airtricity Walled City Marathon has just got much more interesting with confirmation that the in-form top local distance runner Catherine Whoriskey will be in the Sunday, June 4th line-up.

The talented Spartan romped to victory at Sunday’s Strabane Half Marathon in 78m 32s, just 48 hours after confirming her intention to run her second Marathon, on home turf in three weeks time.

She will join a classy quartet in the battle for the up-front female honours in the Maiden City. Irish Olympian, defending champion and twice winner, Tullamore Harrier, Pauline Curley, 2014 winner, Anne Curley of Donore Harriers, another Irish Olympian Letterkenny’s Caitriona Jennings and the Omagh based Project Africa Kenyan, Salome Jepkeoch Kimutai are already confirmed for what should be a real battle royal through the streets of Derry! Home turf and a partisan local support could well be a big factor!

Catherine moved up in distance over the last two years posting a series of brilliant new PB’s over 5K and 10K on road and track, winning the Waterside Half Marathon in 2015 and 2016, the SSE Airtricity 10 miler this year and only a few months ago delivering an excellent 2hrs 48m clocking in her debut Marathon in Seville.

Last year’s WCM male runner-up Dan Tunai of the Project Africa squad took the men’s Strabane honours with a 66m 16s clocking and looks set to take on the two-time SSE Airtricity WCM winner Freddy Sittuk and another brace of Kenyan runners for the June 4th top spot.

Expect the roads around the Maiden City that day to be red hot!

Some of the large crowd who participated in the Strabane Lifford Half Marathon.  (North West Newspix)

Some of the large crowd who participated in the Strabane Lifford Half Marathon. (North West Newspix)

Runners out in force

Meanwhile, runners and spectators turned out in their thousands on Sunday as Derry City and Strabane District Council, in conjunction with Lifford Strabane AC, hosted another successful Strabane Lifford Half Marathon and 5k.

Kenya’s Tanui and Derry’s Whoriskey were the first senior men and women past the post at the race finish on the running track at the Melvin Sports Complex.

Tanui was retaining the title he won at this venue last year while City of Derry Spartans runner, Whoriskey’s win represented a local half marathon double following her success in the Waterside Half Marathon last September.

Congratulations to all the runners, no matter what your level, running in a half marathon is a significant achievement and everyone can feel justifiably proud of their efforts.

Liz Cunningham

There were winners all through the record field, however, as runners of all levels reached and surpassed their individual goals.

The combined total of runners between the two races surpassed the 1,500 mark, cementing the event’s reputation as one of the biggest and most popular races on the local athletics calendar.

Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Alderman Hilary McClintock, congratulated everyone involved in making the event another day to remember.

“Well done to everyone who took part in the Strabane Lifford Half Marathon and 5k and the hundreds of people who lined the route to give encouragement to the runners,” she said.

Runners representing Bolt Running Club are all smiles during the Strabane Lifford Half Marathon.

Runners representing Bolt Running Club are all smiles during the Strabane Lifford Half Marathon.

“The races attracted entrants from all over the island of Ireland as well as international runners and a high proportion of those were taking part in their first 5k and half marathon which was heartening to see.

“The public have voted for the event with their feet with a record entry that bears testimony to the hard work of Lifford Strabane Athletics Club and Council’s Festivals and Events team in building its reputation as an efficiently run and friendly event to attend and take part in.”

Festival and Events Officer at Derry City and Strabane District Council, Liz Cunningham, thanked everyone who took part in the race which was being hosted for a fourth successive year.

“Congratulations to all the runners, no matter what your level, running in a half marathon is a significant achievement and everyone can feel justifiably proud of their efforts,” she said

“We were delighted that our decision to expand the field for this year’s race was backed by the public who registered early for the race and in such large numbers.

“Thanks to Lifford Strabane Athletics Club, without their expertise this event wouldn’t be possible and best wishes to all the runners in pursuing their future fitness goals.

“A big thank you also to our main sponsors SGN Natural Gas, the company responsible for the Gas to the West development, who have also committed to sponsor next year’s event.”