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Classy Cragg rocks out in Philadelphia

In a weekend dominated by half-marathons, the enigmatic Alistair Cragg again underlined his class when he finished sixth at the Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon in Philadelphia. Cragg's time of 62minutes 15seconds was just outside the 61.58 he ran last March in New York.

A large contingent from the Marathon Mission group headed for Newcastle aiming for fast times at the 30th Great North Run. The group, coached by Dick Hooper, is funded and organised by the Lifestyle Sport adidas Dublin Marathon in co-operation with Athletics Ireland in a positive example of a big city race putting part of its profit back into the sport.

Martin Fagan from Mullingar led the Irish home in seventh place at Newcastle although his time of 63.24 was well off his Irish best time of 60.57 set in the Hague last year.

Galway's Gary Thornton clocked an excellent 65.24 for 14th place and was followed by Joe McAlister of St Malachy's 19th in 66.46, Derry's Greg Roberts 21st in 67.23, Barry Minnock 23rd in 68.12 and Brian McMahon 33rd in 70.21.

Letterkenny's Maria McCambridge ran a superb personal best of 74.32 for ninth place in the women's race, followed by Caitriona Jennings of Sportsworld 14th in 77.47, Barbara Sanchez of Raheny 16th in 78.06, Gladys Ganiel O'Neill of Abbey 18th in 79.20 and Mayo's Breege Connolly 20th in 83.01.

At home, Alan O'Shea from Bandon was a convincing winner of the Lifestyle Sports adidas Dublin Half Marathon in the Phoenix Park. His time of 67.06 for this tough course made him fifth fastest of the Irish men in action last weekend.

O'Shea led from the start and finished with well over a minute to spare on Brazilian visitor Pablo Vega. Raheny's Mick Clohisey was third in 69.12.

First woman was Patrycja Wlodarczyk whose time of 78.03 seconds put her about half a minute ahead of her Raheny team mate Lorraine Manning. Previous winner Pauline Curley of Tullamore was third.

Among the veteran winners was Vinnie Clohisey, father of Mick, who was first M55, beating his Raheny clubmate Dave Brady in his final race as a M55 -- he turned 60 on Sunday and celebrated by running the Kilkenny Half Marathon.