Antrim Coast Half Marathon: Top Irish and GB runners to race in September event – BBC News

Antrim Coast Half Marathon: Top Irish and GB runners to race in September event  BBC News

British great Jo Pavey, who is now 46, will be among Ann-Marie McGlynn’s rivals at the Antrim Coast Half Marathon on 12 September

Former British Olympian and Larne man James McIlroy is playing a key role in attracting leading distance runners from the UK, Ireland and overseas.

Prospective Tokyo Olympians Kevin Seaward and Stephen Scullion will face several top Britons in the men’s race.

Ann-Marie McGlynn’s opposition in the women’s field will include Jo Pavey.

The remarkable Pavey, now 46, is aiming to clinch a place at a sixth successive Olympic Games next year.

Strabane-based Offaly woman McGlynn, meanwhile, is hoping she will secure her first Olympic berth at the age of 41.

European champion Steel in field

However, the two veterans are unlikely to have it all their own way on the scenic course which will sweep out from Larne to Ballygally and back.

Britain’s former European Cross Country champion Gemma Steel has also filed an entry with other top GB hopefuls set to include Lily Partridge, Sam Harrison and ultra distance world champion and record holder Aly Dixon.

South African ultra distance star Gerda Steyn, who became the first women to go under six hours at the 55-mile Comrades Marathon in her native country last year, is also set to run in Larne.

Northern Ireland stars Seaward and Scullion are likely to face tough tasks in fending off the top British males making the trip to the Antrim coast.

“We’ve got Ben Connor, Scott Overall, Nick McCormick and Marc Scott, who broke the British record for 5km on the road when he clocked 13:20 a few days ago,” Sydney Olympian McIlroy told BBC Sport Northern Ireland.

“Marc also broke Mo Farah’s European indoor 5,000m record last year as well.

“Effectively we’ve got most of the top distance runners in Britain and Ireland competing along the Antrim coast.

“Mick Clohisey and Tommy Hughes, who will be going for the vets over-60 world record, are among other Olympians who will race and all in all, we will have 20 Olympians taking to the start.

Stephen Scullion has secured qualification for next year’s Olympic marathon

‘The field could be strengthened still further’

“We’re also still negotiating with some other big names so we hope to strengthen the field still further.”

McIlroy is confident the quality of the entry will see both races producing the fastest half marathon times ever run in Ireland.

Jerry Kiernan holds the Irish men’s all-comers record with a 62:29 clocking as far back as 1982 while Maria McCambridge set the women’s mark with her 72:26 in 2014.

“Will we get the weather? Who’s to know but we’ve got a beautiful course and a great starting line-up,” added McIlroy.

Race organisers will be ensuring social distancing rules are stringently observed around the start/finish area with competitors moved on once they finish the event.

“We will stream the race live so everybody will be able to watch from home,” continued McIlroy.

“Also, the P&O Ferry will be sailing past at 10am to sound its foghorn to start the women’s race which will quite cool.”