Bord na Móna representatives Brendan Kelly, Sharon Daly and Ger Breen at the launch of this year's Bord na Móna Tullamore Harriers Half Marathon which takes place on Saturday, August 26. Photo: Ger Rogers

Tullamore test for national half marathon championships

The national half marathon championships will take place alongside the sold-out Bord Na Mona Tullamore Harriers Half Marathon this Saturday, August 26.

The race will start from the Tullamore Harriers Stadium at 10am taking in a scenic route through Mucklagh, Killurin and Cloonagh before finishing with a lap of the stadium track.

It promises to be an ultra-competitive race with over 800 athletes set to battle it out over the generally flat course for team and individual honours across the various age groups.

Crusaders AC will bid to defend the senior men’s title they won in Ratoath last year, while Raheny Shamrock AC are sending another strong team to Tullamore as they look to retain the women’s title.

Last year’s champion Kate Purcell will spearhead the Raheny challenge in the women’s race as she bids to claim back-to-back national victories.

Purcell won’t have it all her own way, however, with last year’s silver and bronze medallists also returning in Sarah Baryga (Sli Cualann) and Denise Toner (Clones AC), while Letterkenny’s Natasha Adams will ensure a true pace from the gun.

Ciara Hickey (Brothers Pearse AC) looks a leading favourite for the race following her brilliant win at the Fingal 10k race earlier this summer.

Peter Brandon Somba (Dunboyne AC) was second in last year’s national marathon men’s race in Ratoath and will be out to better that result come Saturday morning. However, Somba did win last year's half marathon race in Tullamore with a time of 1:07:24, smashing the previous race record of 1.08.31, set in 2019 by Freddy Situk.

Athlone native Mick Fogarty, a member of Ferbane AC, finished second in last year's Tullamore Harriers half marathon, clocking a superb time of 1:09:43.

Stephen Conroy (Celbridge AC) ran a huge race in last year’s national half to finish within 30 seconds of the top three and is sure to be right up there once again.

The women’s race in Tullamore last year was won by Catherine O’Connor of Sli Cualann in a time of 1:23:27. In second place was Caroline Donnellan of Edenderry AC and Heather Murphy of St Michael’s AC was third.

Hosts Tullamore Harriers boast an entry of over 60 athletes for Saturday's race and can be expected to challenge for the category medals.

Offaly and Leinster titles will also be up for grabs in the Tullamore Harriers Half Marathon. The prestigious Quinlan Cup will be awarded to the winning men's team and the Phyllis Delaney Cup to the winning ladies' team.

In 2022, the Tullamore Harriers men’s team claimed the Quinlan Cup team trophy. The Harriers team consisted of Pauric Ennis, Paul Mitchell, Mick O’Brien and Jonathan Dunne.

The Athlone Athletics Club ladies team won the Phyllis Delaney Cup last year, with Theresa Hughes, Triona Kinane, Emer Gaffey and Lisa O’Rourke scoring points for Athlone AC.

Phyllis Delaney became involved with Tullamore Harriers way back in 1973 and played a huge part in developing the juvenile section of the club.