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'Fair' play to Enniscorthy

With runners of all standards spoiled for choice, races have to offer good value and something special if they are to get the numbers.

Two races last weekend underlined this - one new and the other taking place for a 31st time.

In Enniscorthy, the inaugural Strawberry Fair Half Marathon attracted almost 600 entries, some of them walkers opting for a shorter 15k route and others competing as part of teams.

For their €45 entry fee, everyone got a technical t-shirt, mug, fruit, water, and tea and sandwiches at the Riverside Hotel, where prizegiving took place.

The winners each got a cheque for €1,000 plus a glass dish of a certain ubiquitous fruit. There were generous prizes in all age groups, plus spots. From start to finish the hard work was obvious.

All junctions were clearly marked and marshalled, there were three water stations and even a Portaloo about half way around.

Up front, the women's race had attracted the best - Linda Byrne, Caitiona Jennings, Rosemary Ryan and Pauline Curley finished in that order. Byrne, running her first ever half marathon, finished tenth overall in 76 minutes 39 seconds.

In the men's race, Sergiu Ciobanu led from the start and won in 68 minutes 26 seconds. Almost two minutes behind was Sandis Bralitis, while Lorcan Cronin beat Lebete Debele in the sprint for third place.

Slaney Olympic members were out in force, with Pat O'Sullivan first over 55 and Patrick Dobbs first over 70. Kathleen O'Regan, who will run her 100th marathon in Dublin, was first woman over 70.

Over the 30 years, the Michael Manning Memorial 10km in Dunshaughlin has earned a reputation for superb organisation. This year, it attracted 520 entries, with 452 home in under the hour.

Making it a Raheny double were Mick Traynor and Barbara Sanchez.

Traynor, a winner in 2002, soon took a clear lead, finishing in 32 mins 8 seconds. For second, Rory McDonnell of Dunboyne held off Tinryland's Dwayne Farrell, with Clonliffe's Eric McCann the winning junior.

Sanchez and her Raheny team-mates Lorraine Manning and Patrycja Wlodarczyk finished in that order, with Anne Curley of Donore fourth and first over 35.

Davey Byrne of Tallaght in sixth place was first over 35 man, with Paul Cowhie of Civil Service ninth and first over 45 in 33 mins 42 secs.

Two for the 2011 diary!


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