With the countdown really on, the elite end of this year’s Ballycotton ‘10 is now taking shape and it looks like there could be a cracker of a race on Sunday. The following are some of the names to look out for.
Mick Clohisey was runner-up in Ballycotton twelve months ago, his 50:39 an improvement on the 51:02 he ran when finishing fourth the year before. Last Saturday, he took bronze in the National C-C to add to the silver he won in the National Half-Marathon last September.
Sean Hehir won the Munster C-C in his native Clare last month and had a fine ninth place last Saturday in the Nationals. A 24:31 for five miles at Raheny shows that he, too, could be close to 50 minutes on Sunday.
Cork-born Cillian O’Leary was third three years ago in Ballycotton and is part of a strong Raheny team who will be hoping to retain the team title they have won for the last three years.
And then, of course, there are the two local East Cork runners, Sean McGrath and James McCarthy. Second and third respectively in the Munster Senior behind Hehir, James turned the tables last week with his 17th in the Nationals ahead of Sean who finished 22nd. The latter had won the Carrigaline five-miler six days before in 25:21 and will be hoping to improve on his fifth position of the past two years.
Also hoping for a top 10 position will be Colin Merritt, Wieslaw Sosnowski, George Waugh, Philip Harty, Cian Murphy and no doubt a number of other outsiders.
Amongst the women, Lizzie Lee will certainly have plenty of home support as she strives to add the ten-mile crown to her two victories in the Ballycotton ‘5’ since she arrived on the scene less than two years ago. Although somewhat disappointed with her eight place performance on Saturday, a time of 28:40 for the tough Carrigaline five-miler the previous week indicates a time of around 58 minutes which should be good enough to win.
Angela McCann from Clonmel will be making her Ballycotton debut, although she is no stranger to the Cork scene having finished second in the marathon last June before winning both the Cork Half-Marathon and Cork to Cobh races in the autumn. She broke the hour (59:50) at Dungarvan a month ago and was also successful over 10km at the same venue last Sunday when winning in 36:43.
Catriona Jennings (Sportsworld) missed Ballycotton through injury last year so no doubt will be hoping to make up for that disappointment. Her clubmate, Lucy D’Arcy, is a regular Ballycotton visitor with a fourth and two fifth-place finishers over the last three years.
Niamh Roe and Ann-Marie Holland finished in the first 10 last year and will be trying to retain Eagle’s team award from 2010. There will also be a lot of local interest in the performances of Niamh Walsh (Youghal) and Michelle Nolan (Midleton) who have made considerable progress since last year’s race.
And of course we cannot forget the original Ballycotton ‘10’ winner, the evergreen Mary Sweeney. This year she has entered the new category of F50 and recorded 65:26 in Dungarvan last month and so looks set to run much faster than the 68:47 she ran all of 32 years ago here in Ballycotton.
(....with thanks to John Walshe of Ballycotton Running Promotions for this article)