Class tells as Finn battles rain and mud-bath to claim victory
Irish Olympic steeplechaser Michelle Finn and Scottish cross country champion Adam Craig took the honours in the weekend's weather-ravaged Bobby Rea International Cross Country at Dundonald.
Hundreds of young age group and international athletes were on the receiving end of the most punishing weather conditions in years. Continuous rain and plummeting temperatures produced a mud bath course but, commendably, did not affect the excellent large turnouts right down to the 11-year age group .
Class tells, regardless of the weather, so it came as no surprise in the Women's 5K race that Rio Olympian Michelle Finn dictated the pace from the start along with GB international Mhairi MacLennan.
These two seemed to be least affected by the energy-sapping mud and battled for the lead for much of the race before Finn eventually broke away in the closing stages.
The 29-year-old Clonliffe woman, who was racing for the first time following her steeplechase event in the Doha World Championships, finally crossed the line for a three seconds victory margin. Second went to the battling MacLennan who was 32nd in this year's World Championships in Denmark.
Next came an inspired Fionnuala Ross from Armagh who was well clear of fourth placer Lucy Marland of Wales. The top six were completed by Ireland's Jody McCann and Olivia Gwynn of Wales.
A pleased Finn said: "This mud fest couldn't be more different from my steeplechase in Doha. I finally got away from Mhari on the uphill sections. I will now try to qualify for the Irish team at the Euro Cross Country before going training in Australia to help me get qualified for the Tokyo Olympics."
In the Men's 8K race, after a tough battle, the honours went to GB's Adam Craig from Inverclyde who finished four seconds ahead of Michael Ward of Wales.
Another Welshman, Ewan Thomas, was third, some way ahead of a delighted Conor Bradley of City of Derry AC Spartans.
Conor said: "I am very happy, though the course was very challenging. Those conditions aren't my style. However, I am going well at present and will be aiming for a slot on the Irish team for the Euros in the trials in two weeks' time.