Kenyan athlete Freddy Keron Sittuk won the Seamie Weldon Memorial 5K in Ardee on Saturday afternoon, smashing his time from last year’s win in the event by 11 seconds. It was also a memorable day for Dunleer AC, who won both team cups in the popular annual race.
Sittuk, who’s athletic success follows his international pole vaulter father, ran the 5k route in a time of 15:18, beating his 2016 effort of 15:29. He narrowly neat Lithuanian runner Valdas Dopolskas to first place, with the second place finisher posting a time of 15:23. Remarkably, just twelve months ago Dopolskas was representing his country in Rio for the 2016 Olympic Games, competing in the marathon event.
Local man Brian McCloskey of North East Runners came third in 16:29.
Dunleer AC’s team of Pat Fitzpatrick, Paul Butler, Danny O’Brien and Raymond Hughes won the third annual Seamie Weldon Memorial Cup, ahead of North East Runners. The women’s competition – the Jimmy Bradley Cup – was won by Dunleer AC (Nicola Welsh, Karen Costello, Nicola Courtney and Sandra Doheny). North East Runners finished second.
Seamie’s wife Helen – who as always ran the course with son Barry and daughter Elaine (pictured above, top), was on hand to present the Seamie Weldon Memorial Cup to first time winners Dunleer while Jimmy’s granddaughter Ruth Kelly was present to hand out the cup named in honour of her grandfather.
A total of 450 people registered for the event, with 386 finishing within an hour of the start on the Drogheda Road. The route took in Sliabh Breagh, Stoney Lane, Oberstown Cross, Blakestown Cross and then a finish down the N2 to the Ardee St Marys pitch. Numbers taking part were well up on the 2015 and 2016 races, making this the most successful outing yet for the fledgling event put on by Ardee & District Athletic Club.
Unlike last year, the rain stayed away and the participants had the sun on their backs for virtually the entirely of their run, walk or stroll. Temperatures were high, but so were spirits as a whole host of participants from initiatives like the Syddan C25K, Commit to Get Fit, Zero 10k Annagassan and Gary McKenny and Joan Dixon’s walkers joined more seasoned athletes from clubs around the region.
Running throughout the summer, participants from many of these trained several times weekly to get ready for the 5K course.
In total, 20 athletes ran in Ardee & District Athletic Club colours. Seamie’s son Barry was first over the line with a time of 20:47, just pipping Leo Farrell by four seconds. The club enjoyed some success themselves, with Abbie Sheridan and Tara McGuinness finishing first and second respectively in the female junior category. Kathleen Brennan was the first home past the post in the women’s Over 60s category, coming in at a brilliant 30:16.
Danny O’Brien won Best Male Junior finish with a time of 18:36, improving on last year by 16 seconds.
The day was also notable for some returning faces to athletic competition in Ardee. 35 years ago, in 1985 (Friday, July 30th to be exact), the then Ardee De La Salle Athletic Club held a 10,000m road race in the town. Chris Keeling, who finished 71st that day, returned to take part in today’s Seamie Weldon event – 35 years on from his last visit to the town.
Tom Sharkey and Seamie Weldon himself competed for the Ardee club that day, but it was Sean Woods who earned local bragging rights with a 12th place finish in a time of 31.08. Everyone was delighted to see Chris back in Ardee today. He excelled himself, running in a time of 19:14.
“It’s great to see everyone here today and everyone running,” Ardee & District Athletic chairman Derek Gillespie said. “The main reason we do this is to remember Seamie Weldon, a great club man, who sadly passed away. This is our third year and it’s getting bigger and bigger. Last year, we introduced the Jimmy Bradley Cup and Jimmy was another great club man and a great man in the sport too.”
List of Winners:
1st Freddy Keron Sittuk (Raheny Shamrocks) – 15:18
2nd Valdas Dopolskas (Balbriggan & District AC) – 15:23
3rd Brian McCluskey (North East Runners) – 16:29
1st Niamh Devlin (Clones AC) – 18:28
2nd Karen Costello (Dunleer AC) – 18:58
3rd Erin McHugh (Drogheda & District AC) – 19:11
1st Danny O’Brien (Dunleer AC) – 18:36
2nd Oisin Hughes (Blackrock AC) – 18:56
3rd: Fran Whelan (Naomh Mairtin GFC) – 21:13
1st – Abbie Sheridan (Ardee & District Athletic Club) 23:00
2nd Tara McGuinness (Ardee & District Athletics Club) – 23:28
3rd – Eimear McCoy – 23:47
1st Brian McCluskey (North East Runners) – 16:29
2nd Malcolm McDonnell (Mullingar Harriers AC) – 16:36
3rd Maurice McMahon – 16:56
1st Kate Costello (Dunleer AC) – 18:58
2nd Mary Leech (Drogheda & District AC) – 19:37
3rd Dearbhla Greene (North East Runners) – 20:58
1st David O’Connell (Bohermeen AC) – 18:50
2nd Chris Keeling (Balbriggan & District AC) – 19:14
3rd Jim McArdle – 20:20
1st Josephine Killeen – 21:59
2nd Anita Bolton (North East Runners AC) – 21:51
3rd Mary McDonnell (Drogheda & District AC) – 24:44
1st Andrew Rogers (St Peters) – 21:26
2nd Sean Cooney (Tara AC) – 24:39
3rd – Paddy Donoghue (Syddan C25K) – 25:30
1st Kathleen Brennan (Ardee & District AC) – 30:16
2nd Rosemary Gorman (St Marys GFC) – 45:03
3rd Anne Woods – 46:36
To see the full results from the day, log onto My Run Results Ireland. Remember, we’ll have a full gallery of images from the day on ThisIsArdee.ie and on Facebook over the weekend, so keep an eye out.