Record turnout and a new course best marked the 10th edition of the Newmarket Christmas Classic 5km road race

Two Olympian elites from their chosen sports – professional cyclist Eddie Dunbar from nearby Bantee and rower Paul O’Donovan – also acquitted themselves well when finishing in respective times of 15:26 (15th) and 16:55 (59th).
Record turnout and a new course best marked the 10th edition of the Newmarket Christmas Classic 5km road race

Local runners Billy Lane, Paul Verling and John Guerin at the Newmarket 5km. Picture: John Walshe

A record turnout and a new course best marked the 10th edition of the Newmarket Christmas Classic 5km, organised by Duhallow AC. 

It certainly lived up to it’s name with a new men’s record by Evan Byrne while Michelle Finn made it an incredible seven victories out of all the races held since 2011.

Although course record holder Hiko Tonosa was absent, there was still an impressive line-up from all parts of the country and the battle up front saw Byrne, a member of the Togher club, and Ryan Creech from Leevale fight it out.

Togher runners Siobhan Hoare and Elaine Collins pictured at the Newmarket 5km. Picture: John Walshe
Togher runners Siobhan Hoare and Elaine Collins pictured at the Newmarket 5km. Picture: John Walshe

Having dropped Donore’s John Travers after the turn on the flat out-and-back course, it came down to the last 600 metres when Byrne – home from Butler College where he is on scholarship – started to pull away and at the line he had six seconds to spare over Creech, his 14:06 knocking five seconds from Tonosa’s time of 2019 when the race was last held.

Byrne, who was to celebrate his 24th birthday a couple of days later, has a best of 14:13.68 for 5,000m on the track while his previous fastest on the road was the 14:18 he ran in Armagh in 2020.

Travers finished an isolated third in 14:17 with Alan O’Shea, the original winner back in 2011, coming home sixth in 14:41 as 11 of the record 424 finishers broke the 15-minute barrier.

Long-time Mallow AC stalwart John Holland pictured with some of his female colleagues at the Newmarket 5km. Picture: John Walshe
Long-time Mallow AC stalwart John Holland pictured with some of his female colleagues at the Newmarket 5km. Picture: John Walshe

Two years ago Michelle Finn set the women’s record of 15:49, but on this occasion she was happy to do just enough to win, her 15:58 giving her a margin of nine seconds over Bronagh Kearns of St Senan’s with Cliona Murphy of DCH close behind in third in a time of 16:13. 

The next Cork athlete to finish was Martina Kiely of St Finbarr’s who came fifth in 17:08.

Two Olympian elites from their chosen sports – professional cyclist Eddie Dunbar from nearby Bantee and rower Paul O’Donovan – also acquitted themselves well when finishing in respective times of 15:26 (15th) and 16:55 (59th).

Results: 

Men 

1 E Byrne (Togher) 14:06; 2 R Creech (Leevale) 14:12; 3 J Travers (Donore) 14:17; 4 N Shanahan (An Bru) 14:22; 5 O Spillane (Tralee Hrs) 14:35; 6 A O’Shea (Bantry) 14:41; 7 C McCauley (Leevale) 14:52; 8 M Walsh (Leevale) 14:54; 9 M Bruton (Leevale) 14:56; 10 K Collins (Donore) 14:57.

M40: 1 N O’Riordan (An Bru) 15:45; 2 R O’Sullivan (St Finbarrs) 16:03; 3 D White (Riocht) 16:11.

M45: 1 T Harty (Killarney Valley) 15:51; 2 C Diviney (Crusaders) 16:19; 3 M Sheehy (West Limerick) 16:28.

M50: 1 D Kearns (Dooneen) 16:20; 2 L O’Connor (Grsnge-Fermoy) 16:33; 3 D Leahy (Listowel) 17:12.

M55: 1 C O’Connell (St Finbarrs) 16:56; 2 P Sheehan (Millstreet) 17:59; 3 P Dunworth (Riocht) 18:55 M60: 1 K Griffin (Riocht) 18:04; 2 M Murphy (St Finbarrs) 19:39; 3 L Lynch (Donoughmore) 19:57.

M65: 1 E McEvoy (St Finbarrs) 19:28; 2 W Hayes (St Finbarrs) 21:19; 3 B Menton (unatt) 22:45.

M70: 1 R Piotrowski (Eagle) 21:42; 2 K Higgs (Eagle) 22:22; 3 J Holland (Mallow) 23:14.

M75: 1 M Dunne (St Finbarrs) 24:36; 2 J Langan (Tullamore) 27:50; 3 T Feehan (Gneeveguilla) 28:03.

MJ: 1 P Smallcombe (Jarrow & Hebburn) 15:46; 2 R Troy (unatt) 17:10; 3 T Kiely (North Cork) 17:43.

Women 

1 M Finn (Leevale) 15:58; 2 B Kearns (St Senans) 16:07; 3 C Murphy (DCH) 16:13; 4 M O’Sullivan (St Abbans) 16:34; 5 M Kiely (St Finbarrs) 17:08; 6 N O’Mahony (Riocht, FJ) 17:26; 7 M Kenny (Leevale) 17:28; 8 L Dermody (Castlecomer) 17:37.

F35: 1 H Konto (Limerick) 17:07; 2 V Spiteri (Midleton) 19:11; 3 A O’Mahony (Watergrasshill) 20:00.

F40: 1 S Hoare (Togher) 19:01; 2 N Forde (Leevale) 19:30; 3 S Grant (unatt) 19:32.

F45: 1 S Neilan (Riocht) 17:55; 2 P Grant (unatt) 18:34; 3 L O’Connor (Carrigaline) 18:50.

F50: 1 L O’Sullivan (Watergrasshill) 18:17; 2 T Cunningham (KCH) 20:35; 3 L Palmer (Mallow) 22:38.

F55: 1 N O’Sullivan (Riocht) 18:32; 2 S Cahill (Riocht) 19:46; 3 C Murphy (Gneeveguilla) 20:39.

F60: 1 U UiMhuirithe (unatt) 22:44; 2 M Sweeney (St Finbarrs) 23:03; 3 M Murphy (Shandrum) 25:36.

F65: 1 M Diskin (Riocht) 22:31; 2 M Lyons (St Finbarrs) 26:07; 3 B O’Riordan (unatt) 28:19.

FJ: 2 L O’Keeffe (unatt) 24:10; 3 K O’Keeffe (unatt) 24:41.

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