IN his first race since the indoor season back in February, Youghal athlete Fearghal Curtin ran the second fastest 5000m of his career last Friday night in California.
The 22-year-old, in the fourth year of an athletics scholarship at Arizona State University, was competing in the 2020 Sound Running Track Meet at JSerra High School in San Juan Capistrano. Six 5000m races took place in ideal conditions, with the temperature in the low 50s. There was hardly any wind and the humidity was also very low (19%).
Curtin was in the fourth seeded race for athletes hoping to get under 13:30 and with a personal best of 13:53.31 from May of last year, it wasn’t going to be an easy task. The race was won by the 2016 Olympic 1500m gold medallist Matt Centrowitz in 13:32.92 with Curtin finishing in a promising 13:57.93 for 18th place in the high-class field.
Barry Keane from Waterford placed eight, his time of 13:41.98 the fastest by an Irishman this year which of course had seen very little activity.
Curtin’s time places him sixth in the rankings and with a few more races under his belt will no doubt see further improvement. He was due to run again this coming weekend, probably in the mile, at an indoor meet in Columbia, South Carolina.
With the usual collegiate cross-country season wiped out by Covid-19 this autumn, due to the virus Curtin was unable to even train on the track at Arizona State under a new coach Patrick Henner. It has been a somewhat of a solitary year for the Killeagh native as he also was unable to travel home for the summer months.
Also in action in California was another Cork athlete, Ciaran O’Lionaird, who was tasked with pacing the sub-13:15 race. Running laps of 64/54 seconds, the Leevale man took eventual winner Luis Grijalva through halfway on schedule with the Guatemala native reducing his previous best by almost 13 second when winning in 13:16.75.
“It felt good, one thing I’ve learned since the first go-around is to take these openers for what they are.
Another solid effort, excited to plough on healthy to more training and perhaps a race sooner than later over 1500m or mile,” said O’Lionaird on his Facebook page.
Meanwhile, on the home front, the long established Dick Copithorne Memorial four-mile road race on St Stephen’s Day is the latest to fall victim to Covid-19.
Along with being the Belgooly club's only road race it has also been a significant fundraiser for the Bowel Cancer Unit in the CUH in recent years.
As many charities have seen major cutbacks to their funds this year, the club has taken the decision to make a €500 donation from their own resources to their chosen cause.