AES Larne Half Marathon 2018 – Race review thanks to NI Running
A record breaking field of 2,000 athletes will take on the 26th annual AES Larne Half Marathon this weekend (Saturday 24th March 2018).
Attracting participants from around the world, the Larne Athletic Club hosted event covers a stunning 13.1 mile coastal route and is part of the prestigious Pure Running Half Marathon Series.
Rio Olympian and two time winner of the Larne Half Marathon, Breege Connolly (City of Derry AC), will headline the star-studded capacity field. The Northern Ireland and Ireland international, who ran 2:44:41 over marathon distance at the Olympics, clocked a personal best of 1:16:19 when winning the Larne Half Marathon in 2015. Breege also won the event back in 2009, running 1:22:53.
Breege is in good form going into the event, having won the Altamuskin 5 mile road race in 29:16 last weekend; this was enough for the Spartan athlete to claim 2nd place overall.
Another former Champion in Larne, Fiona Stack (Raheny Shamrock AC), will provide good competition for Breege. In 2014, the well-known Irish athlete claimed victory in 1:19:24.
Both ladies will need to be in good form if they want to fend off a strong field, which includes Northern Ireland international, Amy Bulman (Willowfield Harriers), a podium finisher in Larne last year.
Experienced distance runners Louise Smith (North Belfast Harriers), Suzanne Higgins (Lagan Valley AC), Diane Watson (City of Lisburn AC), Susan Smyth (Dromore AC) and Beverley Mitchell (Albertville Harriers) will also be vying for a podium place.
Spectators will also be able to catch a glimpse of former AAI National 24-hour Champion Louise Smart (County Antrim Harriers), who was this week named on Ireland’s team for the upcoming European 24-hour Championships. Larne AC’s own Patricia Blair should lead the local contingent home.
Foyle Valley AC’s Keith Shiels will head the challenge for top honours in the men’s race. Given his personal best of 1:09:32 for the distance, it’s hard to see anyone beating the North West based athlete to the picturesque Promenade finish line.
However, with Neill Weir (Willowfield Harriers) and Mark Long (City of Derry AC) also in the line up, nothing is guaranteed. The classy pair will be chasing Keith all the way, and their recent form looks good – Neill claimed a runners up spot at the SSE Airtricity 10 mile road race in 53:44, while Mark, who boasts a 13.1 mile personal best of 1:12:39, helped his City of Derry AC team to a memorable win at the NI & Ulster Senior XC Championships earlier this month.
Interestingly, Mark will travel from his Newcastle-Upon-Tyne base for the event and is keen to record a personal best after the Reading Half Marathon, which he was set to race, was cancelled at the weekend.
The aforementioned trio will be joined on the Tower Road start line by North Belfast Harriers men Joe Malone, Philip Goss and Andrew Considine, who will all play a part at the front. The same can be said for Ballymena Runners athlete Ben Morrow, who will return from warm weather training in Kenya for the event. Stephen Wylie (Victoria Park & Connswater AC) and Don Travers (Newry City Runners) will also be worth watching.
Northern Ireland international mountain runner Timothy Johnston (Mourne Runners), Slieve Gullion Runners star Joe McKevitt and triathlete Rhodri Jones (Springwell Running Club) will all battle for a high placing. In the race for the first local finisher, Larne AC’s David Noble should feature.
Tags: Larne half marathon