When Gareth King,42, lines up for the Anglo Celtic Plate 100K British Isles Championships at the South Lake Leisure Centre, Craigavon on Sunday (April 2 – 8am start) he will do so knowing that, for the first time, the prestigious event at which he excels is happening right on his own doorstep.
It’s a ‘home run’ for the father-of-four from Tandragee who will have taken just 20 minutes to get to the venue.
“Something different, isn’t it,” said Gareth. “Having the crowds there cheering me on and my own wee club, Runwell, supporting me.”
Gareth, who heads up the Northern Ireland and Ulster mens team, sits proudly at the top of the British 100K rankings following a 9th place finish at the World Champs in Berlin last August.
His time of 6hrs 32 mins 5 seconds was the fourth quickest ever by a British runner.
He has only run three 100K races – but each time has set a new Northern Ireland and Ulster record. Earlier this month he won the Portadown marathon in 2hrs 25 mins.
“I’m not a million miles away from my best,” he said. “I feel that there’s definitely more in there and I’m still learning how to race the distance.”
A battle royal is expected between Gareth and England’s Ollie Garrod who is in fine form having very recently set a new world 40-mile record of 3 hours,45mins and 7 seconds in Barry, Wales, beating a record that had stood for 41 years.
England men will be defending the team title they won at this fixture in Perth in Scotland last year but there is some consternation that they will not be fielding a full women’s team to defend the women’s title.
With Irish Championship medals up for grabs ,the Irish are sending a strong line-up. Like Gareth, it will be a home race for Barry McCarroll who lives a stone’s throw away in Lurgan, and Alex O’Shea, who’s run 32 marathons in all 32 Irish counties in just 16 days, will be running on what will be his 49th birthday.
The Scottish mens team will also have Scottish Championship medals on their minds. The team took ACP silver in Perth, is packed with experience and includes Scottish 100K champion Jason Kelly,Chris Richardson and former British 100K champion Rob Turner – running his 6th Anglo Celtic Plate.
It is also a 6th ACP for the much travelled Welshman Nathan Flear. Nathan is based in Bulgaria and last year won the Gloucester 100K.
The women’s team race looks very open with Scotland hoping to improve on last year’s silver medal even without their Scottish champion Jo Murphy, with the experienced Alison McGill taking part in her third ACP.
Ireland will be without their record holder Caitriona Jennings who had a stellar year in 2022 winning the European 50K Champs and taking a bronze at the World 100K Champs, including setting a world 40+ record. They include in their ranks Tricia McLoughlin who recently recorded new 6hr and 12hr Irish records and Anne Jennings and Lorraine McMahon who helped the Irish women to a top 10 finish at the European 24-hr Champs in Verona last September.
For Northern Ireland, Karla Borland will be flying in from her English base to spearhead the team. Two years ago she finished 4th at the ACP in Mondello. She was followed home that day by Jenny Elliott-York to secure bronze for the team and Jenny will be back in Craigavon.
One interesting footnote is that England’s Paul Martelletti comes to Craigavon with his name in the Guinness Book of Records. How did he get there? He ran the fastest ever marathon as a superhero of just under 2hrs 30 mins.
The Anglo Celtic Plate is supported by Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Council and promoted by the Northern Ireland Ultra Running Association on behalf of the Anglo Celtic Plate Ultra Association.
For more info: Adrian Daye,Race Director on 07876560015 or Ed Smith,President ACP on 07740818389.