National Champions Walk Tall in Raheny

ByEmma Porter |

On a day with pleasant weather more akin to the National Road Relays in April, St. Annes Park was warm and dry for the World Race Walking Tour 2023 which attracted almost 250 athletes from 27 countries.

Given that many athletes needed the world ranking points to qualify for next Summer’s Paris Olympics Games, it was perhaps no surprise that the standout performance from an Irish point of view was that of Tokyo Olympian David Kenny (Farranfore / Maine Valley) who seems to be again coming into his best form in an Olympic year having recorded the second fastest time of his career with a very impressive 1.21.38 clocking.

As the second fastest Irish-born athlete in history, behind the great Rob Heffernan, Kenny is combining working full time and training and so far it seems to be working in his favor and he can now look forward to 2024 with hope and expectation.

Behind Kenny, there were personal best times for Oisin Lane (Mullingar Harriers) and Joe Mooney (Adamstown) who clocked 1.24.13 and 1.26.39 respectively with both finishing in the top 12.

There was much anticipation around the debut of the Mixed Race Walk Mixed Relay and it lived up to all expectations.

The concept is simple, a team comprises of one man and one woman. They have to cover the marathon distance of 42.195km walking two legs each with a minimum of 10km per leg.

So the men started with a 12.195km leg and the 3 subsequent legs were 10km.

Ultimately, the event couldn’t have been more unpredictable and came right down to the wire.

After the first 12.195km leg, Finland had the lead, followed by Slovakia, then Hungary and Ireland in 4th position. Then Kate Veale (West Waterford) took over from Brendan Boyce (Finn Valley) and had a magnificent leg hauling back the Finns, Slovakians and Hungarians to hand over to Boyce with over a minute of a lead.

Boyce battled bravely over his 10km leg to hand over to Veale in 3rd position before Veale went past the Finns and Hungarians to lead for 7km of her leg only to be hauled down by the Slovakian team to take second place in a time of 3.11.48, only 31 seconds adrift of Slovakia and 4 minutes ahead of Finland with Hungary a minute further back.

The result puts Ireland in 7th place on the road to Paris with much to fight for in 2024 as 22 teams will qualify from the World Race Walking Team Championships in Antalya in April with another 3 places remaining open for the world lists.

With Veale in this kind of form, the former World Youth Champion will have high hopes of finally making it to the Olympics, after finishing 4th in the Youth Olympics in Singapore in 2010.

The 5km races demonstrated the rise in standards and numbers competing in Ireland at this level.

First up were the Boys U18 and an exciting battle was expected between Seamus Clarke (Moy Valley) and Matthew Newell from Tuam, both of whom had achieved the AAI standard for next years European U18 Championships but both wanting to get it within the qualification window which was set at December 1.

Clarke made his intentions known from the gun and opened his first kilometre with a 4.31 before adding 4.33, 4.30 for 13.35 at 3km which was putting him well under the pace required for the qualifying time.

The Ballina man, son of 1996 Olympian Deirdre Gallagher, then lifted the pace and put a 4.26 and a 4.12 km back to back to come home in big new personal best of 22.14, 61 seconds inside the AAI standard of 23.15.

Newell, who had beaten Clarke for most of last Summer entered the competition after a two week bout of illness but nevertheless toughed it out to go through 3km 13.52 before a 9.32 last 2km saw him agonizingly miss the AAI standard by 10 seconds with a top class 23.25 clocking.

As he has already broken 23.00 he will have high hopes of getting under the required 23.15 time in the new year.

The reputation of the U18 girls is such that a Romanian and a Slovakian, both of whom can boast top 8 finishes at European Youth Olympics flew to Dublin to test themselves against the best of the Irish.

Savanagh O’Callaghan led the Irish hopes and entered the competition hoping to test herself to an early season race and put a very strong race together.

After consistent pacing she lifted the pace in the closing stages to lead home the Irish girls in a top class time of 25.34, only 4 seconds outside the AAI standard for the European U18 Championships.

Given that she is still only 15 years old, the defending Schools International Champion will have high hopes of getting the required time early in 2024.

Behind O’Callaghan a revelation was taking place as Aoife Marttin (Carraig na Bhfearr), Lily Ryan (St Josephs) and Holly Shaughnessy (Tuam) all posted times within a minute of the European U18 standards and will all be expecting to cause problems for the selectors next year when they have more training in their legs.

The U20 10km saw more progress from the up-and-coming Irish athletes.

In the Girls race Aisling Lane led home the Irish contingent in a personal best of 52.52 to take second behind Slovakian Ivana Dudova. Behind Lane, Ciara Wilson Bowan improved her lifetime best with a very strong 54.22 clocking for third place, ahead of Maebh O’Connor (Waterford), Eabha de Faoite (Kenmare) and Aoife Tuthill all of whom recorded personal bests and broke 57 minutes.

In the Boys side, Andrew Glennon (Mullingar Harriers) raced a solid 10km in 47.06 to take second place behind Jakub Batovsky (Slovakia)

In the Younger races there were stand out performances from Leah O’Gara (Letterkenny) in the Girls U16 3km, Daniel Glennon (Mullingar Harriers) in the Boys 3km, Cuisle O’Callaghan (Tuam) in the U14 2km, Sean Walsh (Adamstown) in the Boys 2km, Ava Dinkin (Clare River Harriers|) and Joseph Hanley (Monaghan Phoenix) in the 1km and Fia Ni Chonaill (Castlegar) and Conor Caroll (North Leitrim) in the 500m.


National Championship Results:


10km Women U20

1 Aisling                           LANE Mullingar Harriers 52:52
2 Ciara                             WILSON-BOWEN Dundrum South Dublin 54:22
3 Maebh                         O’CONNOR Waterford 55:16
4 Eabha                            DeFAOITE Kenmare 56:14
5 Aoife                             TUTHILL Bandon 56:24
10km Men U20
1 Andrew GLENNON Mullingar Harriers 47:06:00
2 Sam O’SULLIVAN Clonmel 50:55:00
3 Aidan BAYON Celbridge 51:26:00
10km Women Masters
1 Maggie-Helen O’CONNOR St Josephs 57:54:00 F50
2 Brenda GANNON Sligo 59:51:00 F45
3 Susanne O’BEIRNE North Leitrim 01:03:47 F50
10km Men Masters
1 John EGAN St Killian’s 54:00:00 M40
2 David KIDD St. Laurence O’Tooles 54:16:00 M40
3 Colm WALSH Mullingar Harriers 56:07:00 M45
4 Thomas CHRISTENSEN Denmark 56:29:00 M55
5 Ross ALEXANDER Coolquill 56:35:00 M40
6 John LASTE Clonmel 01:02:46 M60
7 John-Joe LAWLOR St Josephs 01:03:15 M55
8 Matthew ELLERTON Great Britain 01:03:38 M50
9 Michael O’CONNOR Farranfore / Maine Valley 01:03:54 M70
10 Mohamed CADIMI Sweden 01:05:02 M55
11 Sean MCMULLIN Mullingar Harriers 01:09:15 M75
12 David KISSANE St Brendan’s 01:10:38 M70
10 Graham BOURNE Kilkenny City Harriers 01:25:49 M45


Full list of results available Here

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