Scullion targeting 10,000m at Commonwealth Games
South Belfast's Stephen Scullion was a convincing winner of yesterday's inaugural Belfast Deep RiverRock Half Marathon.
His winning margin of one and a half minutes emphasised his domination over a field which had to be restricted to some 4,000 runners.
Irish 10K road champion Scullion wasted little time in opening a gap on his opposition shortly after the start at Belfast City Hall.
A short spell of five-minute mile pacing ensured a 150 metres lead at the eight-mile mark ahead of Annadale's Eddie McGinley.
East Down's Brendan Teer was a further 300 metres back at that stage followed by North Belfast's Conor Magill.
The positions remained unchanged along the final three miles comprising the Lagan Towpath to the finish at the revamped Mary Peters Track.
Scullion broke the tape in 66 mins 57 secs, well clear of McGinley who was timed at 68.22.
Teer completed the rostrum positions in 71.27 followed by Magill who was given the same time as Omagh's Paul Barbour (73.37 ).
North Belfast pair Conor Curran and Andrew Considine were sixth and seventh respectively in a time of 76.16.
Scullion said: " I love racing in Belfast and there was a fantastic atmosphere today.
"I felt good and now I plan to go to Font Romeu in France this week for altitude training."
The 24-year-old confirmed that his remaining objective this year is the European Cross Country Championships, while his 2014 target is selection for the 10,000 metres at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
McGinley revealed his aim this autumn is the Dublin Marathon. He said he had been hoping for a slightly better time in Belfast, but the unfamiliar distance had caught him out a little.
In the ladies race the absence of pre-race favourite Breege Connolly did not reduce the quality as the gap was filled by Lisburn's Aileen Reid – who was fresh from her superb runner-up spot a week ago in the final of the World Triathlon series in London.
The classy Londonderry woman dominated from the gun and at the finish she had a four minutes-plus winning margin in a time of 79 mins 33 secs.
Waterside Half Marathon runner-up Julie Balmer of North Down was second again in 83.57, followed by Lisburn AC's Kelly Neely in 84.52.
Judith Lonnen was fourth in 87.23 followed by Lagan Valley's Lauren Quee in 87.46.
Triathlon star Reid said: "It's good to be involved in a race in Belfast as it happens so rarely for me.
"I asked my coach if it was ok to race here so soon after competing in London, but I am in great form. My key aim next year is the Commonwealth Games."
The ideal weather conditions added to the upbeat mood of the organisers. Chairman Danny O'Connor said they were delighted with the level of support.
The intention next year is to ensure an even bigger event which would become an annual fixture in the running calendar.
Meanwhile, Foyle Valley's Keith Shiels just took victory from North's Alan O'Hara in the Dungannon 10K in a time of 31 mins 30 secs.