Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Ballycotton 2011 - How The Race Was Won

Ciobanu And Lee, The Ballycotton Headline Makers

John Cashman

(Evening Echo March 7th)

Sergiu Ciobanu won the 34th running of Ballycotton’s famed ‘10’ Mile Road Race yesterday as he seized control from 2007 winner Alan O’Shea (Bantry AC) over the closing three miles. On a perfect day for running the duo both set personal best times for the distance whilst ladies winner Lizzie Lee from Leevale AC did likewise as she produced an assured and composed performance.

The battle lines between Ciobanu, last year’s Cork City Marathon winner and O’Shea were set from early in the race when the pair made a decisive break to go clear of their nearest pursuers including last year’s runner up Mick Clohisey, Sean Hehir of Rathfarnham and local favourite Sean McGrath.

Early pace checks saw O’Shea cover the first half mile in 2:15, before passing the initial mile marker in 4:35. By mile 3 the clock was reading 14:12 and by now the smooth moving Cork athlete had established an advantage of 7 seconds on Ciobanu. Little changed, as the leaders with a gentle breeze to their backs, progressed to the mid way point of the race where O’Shea’s time read 24:14, with Ciobanu still lurking 7 seconds back.

In fact the sixth mile saw the status again quo continued (O’Shea’s next marker indicated 29:15 four miles from home)

However, the decisive move followed soon afterwards with the Moldovan eventually closing in on the leader to reach parity by the 7 mile mark as the clock showed 34:22. Ciobanu’s upward spiral continued in the next mile as he established a ten second advantage. From there he retained the initiative to eventually break the tape in 49:36, 22 seconds clear of O’Shea who in setting a personal landmark for the distance also completed his first ‘10’ miler under 50 minutes.

Sean Hehir outsmarted Mick Clohisey by 35 seconds to take third prize whilst James McCarthy paced himself superbly to come home in fifth position. Colin Merritt of Carraig na bhFear the top man Over 40 was two places further back whilst McCarthy’s East Cork AC team mates Sean McGrath and Fergus Meade were next to cross the line.

Both Ciobanu and O’Shea, who incidentally has the Rotterdam Marathon next month as his major goal, have had plenty of close contests in recent years and on this occasion, the Clonliffe Harriers club man, who has expressed his wish to run for Ireland at Olympic level, just held the balance of power.

“I’m very proud to win this great race and to set a new personal best time in the process”, commented Ballycotton’s lastest leading man.

“Three years ago when I ran here it was a very windy day and I discovered that the last two miles were very tough. Today, I decided to keep some extra reserves for that area of the race and then go hard to the end. From now I will think about returning to Cork for the Marathon in June, before planning ahead and try to retain the National Marathon title in Dublin”.

Alan O’Shea whose more immediate marathon mission sees him jet off to the Algarve today for three weeks of intensive training, was also happy with his personal best time.

“I missed a couple of years here due both to injury and being in Australia, thus I was glad to return this year. With a ‘pb’ I’m happy enough although looking back the feeling now is that I went out a bit too fast. In fairness to Sergiu he stuck with me and over the last 3 miles he had more in the tank.

“Presently, it’s heavy training all the way for me ahead the Rotterdam Marathon. I’m going to take in a Half Marathon in between and hopefully try and get a personal best next month for the marathon and get inside 2 hours 20 minutes”, concluded the popular Cork based doctor.

Ladies winner Lizzie Lee made her move early in the race building up a lead of 1 minute by the three mile mark and maintaining that advantage through to mile 7. She won in impressive style crossing the line in emotional fashion with the clock reading 58:48. It gave the 30 year old Cork runner a cushion of 32 seconds over Angela McCann from Clonmel AC.

Five years ago in her only other visit to the famous race, when she was concentrating on triathlons, Lizzie’s time was 76:33.

“I must pay special tribute to my coach Donie Walshe for all his guidance and expertise. This year I was injured up until mid January so I had to pack in a lot of training to achieve my target of winning this race. Whn you come from Cork all you dream about is winning in Ballycotton – it’s the holy grail It’s a fantastic race and a fantastic occasion, which is superbly organised by John Walshe and his colleagues”

Anotherr Cork lady in celebratory mood was Mary Sweeney, whose first excursion into the Over 50 category in Ballycotton saw her set a new course record of 66:10 for the category. In the process she also ran 1:37 faster than 32 years ago when she became the first female to cross the line in the race.

Overall yesterday’s perfect weather conditions led to many runners in a field of close on 2,400 posting new personal best times for the race. It was also significant that this year’s race was the first occasion in 7 years in which more than 100 athletes broke the magical hour barrier.

After a day on intense activity Ballycotton’s beautiful village was returning to normality by the time darkness fell last evening. As thousands of runners and spectators went their separate ways they left in the knowledge that they had been part of a unique occasion – a race organised to the highest standards by runners for runners.

1 S Ciabunu (Clonliffe) 49:36; 2 A O’Shea (Bantry) 49:58; 3 S Hehir (Rathfarnham-WSAF) 50:57; 4 M Clohisey (Raheny) 51:32; 5 J McCarthy (East Cork) 51:54; 6 I Walsh (Raheny) 51:57; 7 C Merritt (Carraig na bhFear, M40) 52:27; 8 S McGrath (East Cork) 52:45; 9 F Meade (East Cork) 52:59; 10 D O’Callaghan (Riocht) 53:01.
M40: 2 D Power (Clonliffe) 54:22; 3 K Norgrove (Donore) 54:38.
M45: 1 C Burke (St Abbans) 53:14; 3 C O’Connell (St Finbarrs) 54:24.
M50: 1 T Payne (Tinryland) 54:52; 2 B Hogan (Rathfarnham-WSAF) 60:50; 3 M Murphy (St Finbarrs) 62:39.
M55: 1 E McEvoy (St Finbarrs) 59:11; 2 N Aherne (Midleton) 60:56; 3 M McGeogh (Les Croupiers) 61:18.
M60: 1 P O’Shea (Iveragh) 61:50; 2 P Twomey (Eagle) 65:42; 3 M Tobin (Grange-Fermoy) 66:05.
M65: 1 J Cotter (unatt) 75:59; 2 J Motherway (unatt) 82:33; 3 M Keane (Athenry) 83:22.
M70: 1 J McNamara (Donore) 71:42; 2 T Twomey (Metro-St Brigids) 79:47; 3 J Fitzsimons (Crusaders) 93:19.
M80: 1 P Clifford (unatt) 123:06.
MJ: 1 M Furlong (Midleton) 68:08; 2 K Neville (unatt) 68:19; 3 T Sheehan (Bandon) 80:24.
Team: 1 East Cork 23; 2 Raheny 51; 3 St Finbarrs 75.
Women: 1 L Lee (Leevale) 58:48; 2 A McCann (Clonmel, F40) 59:19; 3 C Conway (Mayo) 60:15; 4 N Hutchinson (unatt, F35) 61:04; 5 A Curley (Donore, F35) 61:14; 6 A-M Holland (Eagle) 62:39.
F40: 2 M Hanley (Na Fianna) 62:53; 3 L D’Arcy (Sportsworld) 63:05.
F45: 1 L Flynn (Rathfarnham-WSAF) 69:49; 2 M O’Keefe (Youghal) 71:31; 3 S Drennan (Midleton) 72:03.
F50: 1 M Sweeney (St Finbarrs) 66:10; 2 A Donnelly (St Finbarrs) 67:03; 3 B Manley (Raheny) 71:20.
F55: 1 H Ingram (Rathfarnham-WSAF) 69:43; 2 N Reilly (Drogheda & Dist) 73:38; 3 C MacDomhnaill (West Limerick) 75:44.
F60: 1 M Barry (Midleton) 92:37; 2 B McDonnell (Mullingar) 94:49.
F65: 1 M Dunne (Carrig na bhFear) 89:41; 2 G Walsh (Mulingar) 109:48.
F70: 1 B Murphy (unatt) 106:48.
Team: 1 Eagle 38; 2 St Finbarrs 67.