The walks and distance events could prove to be the most exciting races at this weekend’s Woodie’s DIY National Senior Indoor Championships. Olympian Rob Heffernan (Togher AC) and European Cross Country Champion Fionnuala Britton (Kilcoole AC) are just two of the big names set to delight the crowd at the AIT International Arena in Athlone.
Olympic fourth place athlete Rob Heffernan (Togher AC) will start as the over whelming favourite to win the senior men’s 5,000m Walk title. Heffernan has had a tremendous start to his 2013 season posting quick times of 11.13.92 and 19.32.82 for the 3000m and 5000m Walk respectively. His own national record of 18.51.46 could be in danger around the quick bends of the Athlone track. Cian McManamon (Westport AC) and Luke Hickey (Leevale AC) will both be in the hunt for a podium position.
Another Olympian Laura Reynolds (Mohill AC) will headline the women’s 3,000m Walk event. Reynolds is the defending champions and the national championships will mark her 2013 debut. Maeve Curley (Craughwell AC) currently sits top of the 2013 indoor ranking with a time of 13.47.58
Ciara Everard (UCD AC) fresh from her national record of 2:02.54 at the weekend will start as the favourite to take the national title. Everard will have to be close to her best as a number of other athletes will target a fast time. National outdoor champion Siobhan Eviston (Raheny Shamrock AC) and Laura Crowe (Riocht AC) are two of the athletes aiming to achieve the European standard of 2.03.50.
World Junior Finalist Mark English (Letterkenny AC) leads the entries in the men’s 800m. English is making his 2013 indoor debut, in a year where his major target is the European U23 Outdoor Championships. Darren McBrearty (Letterkenny AC) has been in good form over 1500m this year and with a personal best of 1.47.79 for the 800m; he will start as one of the favourites. Defending champion Brian Kelly (St Abbans AC) and emerging talent Shane Fitzsimons (Mullingar Harriers AC) will all be in the hunt for a podium position.
European Cross Country Champion Fionnuala Britton (Kilcoole AC) will step down in distance and compete in the 1500m. Britton is targeting the 3,000m at the European championships and will use the 1500m to work on her speed. Claire Tarplee (Dundrum South Dublin AC) recently set a personal best of 2:03.69 for the 800m will start as the favourite for the title. Another athlete who is rounding into the good form is Roseanne Galligan (Newbridge AC) who sits top of the Irish indoor rankings with a time of 4.14.53
The battle for the men’s title looks set to be wide open with a number of athletes posting similar times over recent weeks. Joe Warne (Doheny AC), Eoin Everard (Kilkenny City Harriers AC) and John Coughlan (MSB AC) are just a few of the athletes to watch out for on Sunday. Reigning outdoor 1500m Champion Colin Costello (Star of the Sea AC) is making his 2013 debut at the championships.
European cross country team gold medallist Lizzie Lee (Leevale AC) makes a rare appearance indoors as she target’s the national title over 3,000m. Kerry Harty (Newcastle AC) is the fastest on paper thanks to her 9.20.95 at Sheffield last weekend.
In the men’s event John Travers (Donore Harriers AC) has run 8.02.58 for the distance and will start as favourite to take the title. Mark Hanrahan (Leevale AC) has a proven track record at championship level and will once again mount a serious challenge for the title. Conor Bradley (City of Derry AC) recorded a new personal best of 3.44.07 for 1500m recently and will be one to watch on Sunday.