AFTER its cancellation last year, the St Stephen’s Day Road Race returned this year with one lap of the Tura Triangle for female/juvenile members and three laps for the men.
In previous years’ the Jack Mealy and Paddy Doc Delaney cups have been presented to the athletes who make the biggest improvement on their previous year’s performance. However, with no event taking place in 2020 it was decided the cups would be presented to the winners of each race.
In the women’s and juvenile race 31 athletes toed the line. When they emerged from the bottom of the Triangle it was Rachel Ayers who led them up the home straight and took the victory. She was followed closely by the fast finishing Ben Reid in second and Kalem Buggy in third.
The men’s race promised fast times with Cian Kelly and Jack Fenlon both displaying excellent form throughout the cross country season. As the race began, both athletes made their intentions very clear from the off building a gap very early on from the rest of the field. As the came back down the hill it was Cian leading with Jack tucked closely behind. In the battle for third Mick Kelly, Cornelius Marshall and Will Fox all made attempts to make it theirs.
As the men entered the final lap it was still nip and tuck between Cian and Jack with Cian still leading the way. When they rounded the corner Cian had opened a small gap which he maintained the whole way to the line crossing it in 13:10 to become the fastest St Abban’s member around the Turra Triangle. Cian’s previous best was 13:45 which sees him make a huge 35 second leap over the distance. It also moves him from 11th to third on the all-time list around the Christmas route.
For 16 year old Jack Fenlon to cut a phenomenal 1 minute and 19 seconds off his previous best finishing in 13:20 was amazing. This moves Jack to sixth on the overall list with plenty of time for improvements in the years to come.
The battle for third p[lace saw Mick Kelly forge a gap on the third lap and finish in 14:52. Cornelius Marshall was fourth in 15:07 with Will Fox returning from injury to run 15:13.
Overall more than 60 athletes got out to enjoy the post-Christmas event with many going home happy after winning spot prizes or part of teams who won prizes.
The club would like to thank Cllr Ben Brennan for his kind sponsorship of the event and all of those who helped gather prizes and run the event.