THE 27th SPAR Omagh Half Marathon took place on Saturday, organised by the Omagh Harriers with charitable support going to the Foyle Hospice.
On a day which also included a 5K fun run and walking event, over 1,300 took part in the half marathon, the third race in the Pure Running Half Marathon Series. Weather conditions were quite favourable, with spells of light rain falling on a reasonably flat course with some hills.
Despite the damp conditions it was a near perfect running weather for the near 3,000 participants overall and this was taken advantage of with many clocking personal bests along the way.
From when the horn sounded to signal the beginning of the Half Marathon at 11am first, second and third positions were settled almost immediately. Gideon Kimosop from Project Africa Athletics, was eager to impress from the start. Indeed by the 5 mile mark he had opened a one minute gap on second placed Gary O’Hanlon, a regular podium finisher in Omagh.
Gary had in turn opened up a two minute lead on third placed Gary Henderson. Gideon, who nearly seems like a local in the area now, romped home in 1:05:53, no course record but a very impressive time to retain the title he won last year.
Gary O’Hanlon from Clonliffe Harriers comfortably held on to second place in 1:09:05 with ex Irish League footballer Gary Henderson from Armagh AC taking the final podium place.
In the ladies event it was Laura Graham from Mourne Runners once again who stole the headlines. An inspiration to anyone looking to take up the sport, Laura is a mum of four young kids, works part time and only took up running in 2014. She has been collecting podium finishes on a near weekly basis around the country.
On Saturday she recorded a half marathon pb on the way to claiming the ladies title in 1:18:07. In second place was North Belfast Harriers Louise Smith in 1:22:10, followed in third place by Jacqueline McMonagle from City of Derry AC.
The men’s team prize was kept local with three terrific runs scoring success for host club Omagh Harriers. Pete Neill had the honour of being the first local home in 1:17:32, followed home by Chris McGuigan in 1:18:21.
The third local home to make up the team success was Derryl McQuaid in only his second year running and running his first half marathon in a stunning time of 1:19:38. Sinead McCann also brought some local success winning the F40 category in a time of 1:34:16.
In the 5K event it was Cathoir Purvis from Acorns AC who led the way in 17:23. Niall Elliott from the Lifford /Strabane club was next to follow closely behind in 17:34. Ethan Dunn, from Dromore AC, claimed third place in 18:09. Omagh Harrier junior member Matthew Neill was fourth in 18:38 and like his father claiming silverware by winning the M15 category.
Tomas Haigney, running for popular local charity Run for Enda, took the M13 prize in 19:45 and Niamh Heaney kept the local theme going winning the female category in 20:02. Great to see local young talent claiming prizes on their home turf as they are doing on a regular basis across Ireland.
Karol Doherty won the wheelchair event in 1.19.33.