By Richard O'Reilly
Runners and spectators turned out in their thousands on Sunday as Derry City and Strabane District Council, in conjunction with Lifford Strabane AC, hosted another successful Strabane Lifford Half Marathon and 5k.
Kenya's Dan Tanui and local runner Catherine Whoriskey were the first senior men and women past the post at the race finish on the running track at the Melvin Sports Complex.
Tanui was retaining the title he won at this venue last year while City of Derry Spartans runner Whoriskey's win represented a local half marathon double following her success in the Waterside Half Marathon last September.
The number of entrants topped 1,500 this year
There were winners all through the record field however as runners of all levels reached and surpassed their individual goals.
The combined total of runners between the two races surpassed the 1,500 mark, cementing the event's reputation as one of the biggest and most popular races on the local athletics calendar.
Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Alderman Hilary McClintock, congratulated everyone involved in making the event another day to remember.
"Well done to everyone who took part in the Strabane Lifford Half Marathon and 5k and the hundreds of people who lined the route to give encouragement to the runners," she said.
"The races attracted entrants from all over the island of Ireland as well as international runners and a high proportion of those were taking part in their first 5k and half marathon which was heartening to see.
"The public have voted for the event with their feet with a record entry that bears testimony to the hard work of Lifford Strabane Athletics Club and Council's Festivals and Events team in building its reputation as an efficiently run and friendly event to attend and take part in."
Festival and Events Officer at Derry City and Strabane District Council, Liz Cunningham, thanked everyone who took part in the race which was being hosted for a fourth successive year.
"Congratulations to all the runners, no matter what your level, running in a half marathon is a significant achievement and everyone can feel justifiably proud of their efforts," she said
"We were delighted that our decision to expand the field for this year's race was backed by the public who registered early for the race and in such large numbers.
"Thanks to Lifford Strabane Athletics Club, without their expertise this event wouldn't be possible and best wishes to all the runners in pursuing their future fitness goals."