“It was a wonderful day, one of the most successful we have ever had,” said a delighted club chairman, Michael McGrath as Mayo AC swept the boards at the AAI National Half Marathon Championships at Ballybofey on Sunday. The event was hosted by Finn Valley AC and attracted a field of over 200 of the top club athletes from all over the country. The 13.1 mile one lap course went out along one side of the river Finn, across the bridge at 7 miles and back to town via the main road. Conditions were excellent — misty but not wet. Mayo AC had 23 runners of whom 14 won medals. The club had five teams and all participants competed as individuals in age categories from senior to over 70. Four of the five teams won — two gold and two silver — and six individuals collected medals.
The victory celebrations were crowned by the gold medal winning senior women’s team. It was spearheaded by Catherine Conway’s second place overall in a magnificent personal best time of 80.31, brilliantly supported by a PB also from Mary Gleeson, first overall in 82.09, Breege Blehein McHale in 88.47 and Caroline Conway in 94.34. They now qualify to represent Ireland in the European Clubs Championships in autumn 2010. Not to be outdone, the women’s o35 team also won gold. They were Cathy Connolly 91.15 (silver individual o35 ), her sister Chris Gallagher - 95.51 in her first half marathon, Ann Murray 99.34 (gold o45 ), Ann Fahey 102.22 and Mary Naylor 111.04 (bronze o45 ).
TJ McHugh switched from the senior team to lead the o35 squad to a great second place. He had an excellent race and a PB in 73.45, as did newcomer Brendan Gill in 81.13 and Dave Huane in 82.28. The seven strong o50 team won silver - Billy Gallagher returning from injury to lead them home in 83.44, Ronnie Naylor 84.25, Tom Hunt 87.18 (silver o60 ). They were supported by a brave run by Seamus Gaughan 88.10, who was just pipped for bronze o55, Owen Mongan 94.06, PJ Hall 95.20 and Chris O’Connell 107.11. The masters men’s achievements were topped by a great gold medal for Tom Waldron who turned seventy on September 3 and won o70 category in 143.46.
The new look senior men’s team performed creditably to finish sixth, led by a personal bests from Sean McDonnell 76.55, Andrew Lynskey 79.59, and Kieran Quinn 81.59.
It was indeed a great day in Donegal and the outlook is bright for Mayo AC as they prepare for the 30th Dublin Marathon incorporating the Irish Championships.