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Turnbull wins at Greencastle


from Athletic Northern Ireland Gareth Turnbull and Maria McCambridge ended the year in style by defending their titles at the Greencastle “5” in County Tyrone. Both took advantage of the unseasonably mild conditions to set new records for the hilly Sperrin course as an unprecedented 590 runners crossed the finish line. Turnbull’s victory concluded a turbulent year which saw him miss the summer season after an adverse reaction to the inoculations he was given for Beijing back in May.

However, the St. Malachy’s athlete showed no sign of any weakness as he went straight to the front from the gun. After summarily dispensing with the challenge of young pretender Paul Pollock in the first mile, the former Irish champion turned the race into a solo time trial as he chased his own record of 24 minutes 21 seconds.

At the three mile mark in the village of Greencastle he had built up a 100 metres lead over Stephen Duncan and Stephen Scullion with a group comprising Diarmuid Grant, Paul Rowan and Andrew Agnew heading up the main field.

Turnbull kept his foot on the gas up the tough climb in the fourth mile but looked to be outside record schedule as he appeared at the top of the final hill for the headlong pursuit to the line.

However showing the speed that look him to the semi-finals of the World Championships 1500 metres in 2003, he was able to make up any shortfall and broke the tape in 24:14 for his third record in the race in as many years.

“I don’t see this is a good end to a disappointing 2008 because my year starts in September and I know from my training that I have the ability to make a mark on the international stage,” said the 28-year-old who will be heading to Florida in January to team up again with coach Mark Carroll.

The Irish Mountain Running champion Stephen Duncan (25:35) overhauled Scullion (25:41) at the top of the final hill to take the runner-up spot. Paul Rowan (25:56) showed a clean pair of heels to his younger rivals on the run-in to take fourth and the first M40 Masters’ prize.

Diarmuid Grant (26:17) who had won the Northwest Cross Country title five days earlier and Andrew Agnew (26:26) made up the top half dozen. Other category awards went to Noel Collins (M20/28:49), Denis Kerr (M45/28:56), Dermot Kerr (M50/27:25), Irwin Speirs (M55/33:29), Pat McBride (M60/34:52) and Jude Collins (M65/42:36).

Maria McCambridge’s victory in the women’s race was even more emphatic than Turnbull’s with the Letterkenny-based Dubliner enjoying a massive advantage of in excess of two minutes over her nearest rival.

The DSD athlete’s time of 28:25 pared three seconds off her old mark and augured well for a successful 2009 when she will run a Spring marathon in the hope of get a qualifying time for the World Championships in Berlin next August.

Clare Connor (30:51) and Judi Graham (31:48) filled the minor places on the podium while Sara Moore (F20/36:13), Andrea Heslip (F35/36:47), Hanny Stockman (F40/34:36), Bernie Ryan (F45/36:08) and Mary Mackin (F50/36:58) were winners of their respective age groups.