Sergiu Ciobanu of Clonliffe Harriers was the class act in Sunday's Ballycotton 10-mile in East Cork, the 37th edition of the famous road race. Ciobanu won the event for the fourth year in a row, finishing in 48.58 – a new personal best for the distance.
Ciobanu and Alan O'Shea of Bantry AC shared the early lead, but before three miles had been completed, Ciobanu had surged clear and continued to run strongly all the way to the finish. Alan O'Shea stuck to his task to hold down second place in 51.06 and Tim O'Donoghue, of the local East Cork Athletic Club, received a rousing reception as he finished third in 51.10.
"I was very happy with my performance today – especially as I dipped under 49 minutes to set a personal best time for 10 miles," Ciobanu said. "I am hoping to achieve the 2.17 qualifying standard for the European Championships Marathon when I run in the Rotterdam Marathon next month and I hope by then that my Irish citizenship application may also have had a positive result."
Ciobanu, who is coached by Jerry Kiernan, competed in the marathon for his native Moldova at last year's World Track & Field Championships in Moscow, but is now looking forward to competing in an Irish singlet.
Siobhan O'Doherty of Borrisokane AC was a clear winner of the women's race in 57.32 – a time that was well short of the course record of 54.48, set in 2012 by Maria McCambridge of DSD, who was forced to miss this year's Ballycotton '10' because of flu.
O'Doherty, who last year won the Flora Women's Mini-Marathon, led all the way in the event. Jill Hodgins (unattached) finished second in 1:00.39 and Ann Marie Holland (St Finbarr's AC) was third in 61.49. It was a solid performance by O'Doherty who finished second in the race last year.
Weather conditions in Ballycotton were ideal, with the vent attracting more than 3,000 entrants. It was a day of special celebration for father-and-son team Tadgh Twomey senior and junior. Tadgh junior, of Raheny Shamrock AC, finished in 1:09.29 and Tadgh senior finished second in the over-75 age category. John O'Leary (St Finbarr's AC), who ran in the first Ballycotton '10' 37 years ago, won this division in 1:22.28.
Mary Sweeney (St Finbarr's AC), who won the women's race in the first Ballycotton '10' in 1:08.16, won her over-50 age category in 1:07.25. Joan Coyle (DSD) broke her own over-65 record when winning the age division in 81 minutes.