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Maze runners aiming for 30 minute 10k finish as racing returns to Northern Ireland



Helping hand: Stephen Scullion will be providing guidance

Helping hand: Stephen Scullion will be providing guidance

�INPHO/Bryan Keane

Helping hand: Stephen Scullion will be providing guidance

Road racing returns to Northern Ireland tomorrow for the first time since March with a series of events at the Down Royal Racecourse at the Maze.

Major names taking part include international athletes Stephen Scullion and Anne-Marie McGlynn.

After the four-month lockdown, the meeting is designed to give athletes the opportunity to gauge their competitive edge as measured against both their fellow competitors and their own individual time targets.

The Maze outing is part of the ChampionChip Ireland Running series and includes runners who are members of the Athletics NI Marathon Potential squad which aims to deliver Olympic standards for the 2024 Games in Paris. Some of these athletes will be among competitors in the 10k event which is organised within social distance requirements and aimed at a 30-minute time objective or better.

South Belfast's Stephen Scullion, who had already qualified for this year's cancelled Tokyo Olympics marathon, will be helping athletes to achieve this goal.

Last year's Dublin Marathon winner reflected this comradeship when he said: "One thing we can learn from Covid-19 is that if we stick together and you are having a positive day, it may inspire someone else to have a positive day also."

Stephen, 31 - who qualified for the Tokyo Olympics with a time of 2 hrs 11 mins 52 secs in Houston - has a very fast 10k PB time of 29 mins 14 secs to his credit. Athletes whom he will be assisting towards the 30-minute goal include Ben Branagh of St Malachy's.

Ben has a PB of 30 mins 25 secs and is a double winner of the Joe Seeley 10k. Also participating is Lisburn's Chris Madden (PB of 30.29) and North Belfast's Conan McCaughey (PB of 30.28) .

Racing in the same event is Strabane-based McGlynn, who found the cancellation of Tokyo particularly frustrating.

The 40-year-old Irish international was getting ever closer to the Olympic qualification mark with a 2 hrs 32 mins time in Dublin. This was followed by PBs over both 10k and the half marathon .

She said: "To toe the line at Down Royal after the lockdown is really exciting. It will be a chance to test yourself because you don't really know where your form is at when you are just training."

There are some 400 plus athletes in the various activities, which also include 5K and half-marathon events. The 10k is scheduled for 2pm with the course encompassing the hard surface area surrounding the racecourse.

There will be similar events organised by ChampionChip Ireland at Balmoral Park, Maze on August 1 and Glenarm Castle on August 8.

Belfast Telegraph