Athletes test themselves ahead of Commonwealth Games in road race festival in Northern Ireland

Laura Weightman defends her title at the Armagh Road Races in Northern Ireland tonight (February 15) as her preparations for the Commonwealth Games gather pace.

The Morpeth Harrier has recently returned from a training camp in South Africa and will be attacking the 3km course record of 8:59 that she set in last year’s race.

It is part of her build-up to racing on the Gold Coast in April, where she moves up from her usual 1500m distance – where she finished sixth in the World Championships final last year – to tackle the 5000m for England.

In Armagh she faces Jess Judd, who was third last year and is also heading to the Commonwealth Games for England, plus Claire Duck, Lauren Howarth, Kerry O’Flaherty, Mhairi MacLennan, Verity Ockenden and Kate Avery. Alex Bell, the Commonwealth Games-bound 800m runner, is also set to test her strength over 3km.

In the 28th running of these road races, Dewi Griffiths leads the entries in the Brooks-sponsored men’s 5km race. Like many top runners in the field, the Welshman is also deep in training for the Commonwealth Games in Australia.

He faces former English National Cross and Armagh 5km winner Charlie Hulson, Jonny Hay, Sam Stabler, Mahamad Mahamad and Belgium’s Yannick Michaels, Jordan Mann, Josh Izewski and Aaron Nelson.

Last year the men’s 5km saw 77 runners break the 15-minute barrier.

» Full coverage in the February 22 issue of AW