Press Release October 2004
GREENCASTLE TO REMAIN NUMBER 1
Gareth Turnbull is a surprise late addition to the line-up for Monday’s Greencastle “5” Mile Road Race sponsored by Rocwell Mineral Water.
The former World University Games 1500 metres silver –medallist will be making his first appearance in a local road race for some years and should find the roller-coaster course high in the Sperrins a tough test.
Turnbull who has his eyes on the World Indoor Championships in Moscow next March is still finding his feet in competitive terms after missing over a year through injury.
However, an excellent third place in last month’s National Inter-Counties’ Cross-Country in Sligo was enough to gain him a place on Ireland’s team at the Europeans two weeks ago.
Although the tricky course with lots of twists and turns did not suit him, he still performed well in Tilburg to be fourth Irish finisher in a respectable 60th spot.
With cold but dry weather predicted the green light is on for a major invasion of the quiet Tyrone hamlet which has become the running Mecca over the Christmas holidays.
Organiser Oliver McCullagh is expecting a record field of 250 runners for the race with as many taking to the roads to raise funds for the Foyle Hospice in Derry.
Main opposition to Turnbull should come from 2003 winner Paul Rowan and his Willowfield clubmate Alan McCullough, a bronze medallist in the Masters’ International Cross-Country in November.
City of Derry will field their top three distance runners, Diarmuid Grant, Allan Bogle and Gregory Roberts, in an attempt to keep the top men’ prize in the northwest.
However, a local victory in the women’s race looks unlikely with Ulster’s top female road runner, Jill Shannon from Belfast, looking a class apart.
Nevertheless, City of Derry’s Anne Paul and Omagh Harrier Julie Butler will not surrender without a fight in a race that they have both won in the past.
Race Organiser Oliver McCullagh promises that the twentieth edition of the Greencastle “5” on Boxing Day will maintain its reputation of being the top road race on the Ulster calendar over the Christmas period.
With Brian Quinn of the Rocwell Mineral Water Company providing the financial support, the Tyrone classic again enjoys a budget the envy of organisers of more prestigious national events.
And to keep the quality of the race up to its normal high standard McCullagh has been busy on the telephone for the past weeks signing up the best of the local running talent.
“Last year’s surprise winner Pat Cassidy has been quiet on the competitive scene of late but I’m expecting him to be on the line seeking a second victory,” said McCullagh.
However, the Glaslough Harrier can expect some hot opposition from crack Willowfield trio Paul Rowan, Alan McCullough and Deane Fisher.
Add Letterkenny’s Pauric McKinney and City of Derry’s Diarmuid Grant and Allan Bogle and the Sperrin roads should be sizzling on St. Stephen’s Day.
“The women’s race has all the signs of being every bit as exciting as the men’s contest with last year’s champion Jill Shannon already a confirmed starter,” continued the City of Derry veteran.
“Shannon has dominated female distance running in the province for the past two seasons and is determined to run despite a pressing engagement back in Belfast.
“An engagement is not exactly the correct description because immediately after the race she is dashing back to Belfast for the wedding reception of the well known athlete, Thomas Frazer,” revealed McCullagh.
Shannon is again pitted against last year’s runner-up and third-placer, Anne Paul and Julie, who are both former winners of the race.
However, the event also has a serious side with thousands of pounds being raised for charity each year as Oliver McCullagh explains;
“It not just about competition, we usually have over 200 local people who come out and walk around the course to raise money for a good cause, this year the nominated charity is the Foyle Hospice,” concluded Oliver.
The race starts again at 1:00 pm with entries taken in Greencastle Community Centre up to 15 minutes before the gun is due to fire. There are prizes in all categories and much needed refreshments will be provided afterwards.