Belfast Telegraph

Star names set for Brooks Armagh International Road Races

By Robert Jones

There will be a star-studded line-up for the 26th Brooks Armagh International Road Races on Thursday, reinforcing the event's reputation as one of Europe's most exciting elite 5k road races.

Scottish champion Andrew Butchard, who last year recorded a best time of 13 minutes 29 seconds, and Ireland and Brooks athlete Mark Keneally, who has recorded 13.36.71 over 5km, will both be lining up at the starting point in The Mall.

They'll be challenged by American Andrew Colley, who has run 13.40, and English athlete Richard Peters, who is close behind on 13.46.

The European 3km St Chase champion Krystian Zalewski and Polish 5km champion Krysztof Zebrowski lead a very strong Polish challenge.

Yannick Michiels of Belgium and Janne Ukonmaanaho of Finland, both athletes of international standing, will also be in contention.

There are big names sponsoring the races too, with Linwoods Healthy Seeds joining a support team which includes Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon District Council, Intersport, Simply Fruit and headline funder Brooks. Athletics Northern Ireland has also given its organisational support.

Illustrating the unprecedented in-depth nature of this year's race, the Men's 5k has almost 100 athletes entered who have clocked under 15 minutes.

Big on bragging rights will be the Linwoods Health Foods Men's Open 3k.

Laura Whittle, with a best of 8.50, and Beth Potter, with a best of 8.58, will lead the challenge in the Intersport Women's 3k. Charlene Thomas of Wakefield and Katrina Wootton of Coventry, who both have run 9.01, will also be ones to watch.

Looking forward to an evening packed with over a dozen races, Sarah Shimmons, Head of Marketing at Linwoods, said: "We're thrilled to get behind an occasion which has such an impressive track record.

"The race programme is not only a fantastic highpoint of our local sporting calendar, but also has flagship elements of true international standing.

"In 2016 Northern Ireland Year of Food and Drink it is particularly appropriate that Linwoods, as a leading local producer, should support a venture which has such a wide international appeal."

The evening isn't all about the sport's biggest names; starting at 6:30pm, there will be a unique programme which features nine under-age races.

To enter or to find out more information about Armagh's annual celebration of road running, visit www.armagh5k.com

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