Letterkenny Athletic Club had a highly successful Ulster Novice cross country on Sunday afternoon at the Finn Valley Centre. Although the rain had temporarily stopped, the deep mud was a real stamina tester. However, the conscientious training done by LAC athletes meant that the club’s runners were up to the task. Nakita Burke and Noeleen Scanlon were the first 2 finishers in the race.  Nakita came home in 15.27 for the 5K course, with Noeleen just 3 seconds behind. Jane Toner, 16.40, was the next LAC runner and these 3 runners garnered 12 points, to take team gold with 10 points to spare over 2nd placed Derry Track Club. Marie Boyle ran 16.49 to join Nakita, Noeleen and Jane in the winning Donegal team which scooped the County prize. Marie made a miraculously quick recovery from last week’s exploits when she achieved a PB in the Dublin Marathon.  The next LAC runner was Maria Ni Mhaolagain, 17.14, followed by Deirdre Diver, who was 3 seconds behind. Fionnuala Larkin, in her first season with the club, had a superb run to finish in 17.33. Marian Kerr ran well and finished in 18.11.
By the time the men’s Novice race got underway, the course was very churned up but the club’s runners still gave a very good account of themselves. The club took 3rd place in the team event with 53 points,  the counters on the tough 6K course being Adam Friel, 20.50, Raymond Birch, 20.54,  Pauric Breslin 2 seconds behind and Daniel Hannigan, 21.26.
These  4 counters received excellent support from the other LAC athletes. Gerard McGranaghan clocked 21.39, with Mark Dooley and Brian Crossan both crossing the line in sub 23 minutes.
There were also fine performances from Mark Diver, Paul McFadden, Brian Ferry and Martin Devenney, who all finished inside 24 minutes. Michael Galvin ran 24.13, with Adrian Callaghan just 3 seconds behind. Adrian, like Marie Boyle, showed his committment to the club and his powers of recovery as he had also run in last week’s Dublin Marathon. Aidan McKenna’s time was 25.02 and Mark McFadden’s was 25.29.
Apart from good performances from all the LAC runners, another feature of the race was the large number of LAC members who turned out to support the competitors. The club hopes for similar support in next Sunday’s Donegal Senior Cross Country Championship, which will also be held at the Finn Valley Centre.
Richard Raymond ran 22.50 in the Mark Farren 5K in Derry on Sunday morning.
Cathal Roarty ran the Letterkenny parkrun 5K on Saturday morning, for the 2nd consecutive week. Cathal clocked 24.01 to take 7th place and, in the process, took 11 seconds off last week’s time.
In addition to the large number of outstanding individual performances by LAC runners in the recent Dublin City Marathon, that were outlined last week, there was also team glory for the club. The F35 women’s team, of Catriona Jennings, Marie Boyle and Monica McGranaghan won team gold in their category. The team posted an aggregate time of 9hrs 38mins 58secs, which gave them a comfortable winning margin of 29m27s over nearest rivals, Galway City Harriers AC.
All at LAC wish a speedy recovery to club athlete Gwyn Yemm. Gwyn is currently in hospital where he is receiving treatment after falling from a horse a few days ago.
                                   Hugh Gallagher
                               Letterkenny AC PRO.
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