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International athletics will be returning to Letterkenny again this year, with the Letterkenny AC Sub 4 Minute Mile Challenge Event set for Friday 10th July. This event follows on from last year’s success where we witnessed exceptional performances from a host of world class athletes at the Danny McDaid Athletics Track.

The fields already assembled for the track and field programme are showing signs that this will be one of the highlights on the Irish and international athletics calendar for 2015, and the organisers will be hoping for meeting records, sub 4 minute miles, and qualification standards for both the World Championships and Olympic Games.

The men’s feature event on the programme will be the iconic distance of 1609m, the Mile. Last year’s race produced the first ever sub 4 minute mile on Donegal soil with Mexico’s Juan Luis Barrios marking his place in history by stopping the clock at 3:59.43. In a very exciting finish, Kenya’s Vincent Mutai also dipped under the 4 minute barrier, followed closely a number of athletes who just narrowly missed out with times of 4:00.

For this year’s race, South Africa’s Jerry Motsau with a personal best of 3:36 for 1500m leads the entries so far. Motsau is a bronze medallist from the World Student Games in 2013. Emanuel Rolim of Portugal, Austria’s Andreas Vojta, Scotland’s Cameron Boyek and England’s Matt Clowes will lead the charge from Europe. The Americans are also coming in force for the mile with Tommy Schmitz, Jon Peterson, Jack Bolas, Johnny Gregorek, Will Geoghegan and Jake Hurysz all making the trip across the Atlantic. Ireland’s challenge will be led by Letterkenny’s own Danny Mooney, who will be looking to upset the odds with a hometown victory. Mooney has been edging closer to a sub 4 minute mile after competing at the 2014 Commonwealth Games and 2015 European Indoor championships.

The women’s feature event this year will be the 3000m steeplechase. This event will be aimed at producing qualification standards for the World Championships in Beijing (9:44) and Olympic Games (9:45) in Rio.

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Letterkenny A.C. athlete Annmarie Mc Glynn will be hoping that the quality field assembled for the steeplechase will help Annmarie achieve the standard and her goal to compete in another major championship. USA’s Ashley Higginson with a personal best of 9:27 will be sure to push the pace, and will be challenged by fellow Americans Jamie Cheever, Sarah Pease, Addie Bracy and Maggie Callahan, along with Sofie Gallein of Belgium and Ronja Bohrer of Germany. A number of Irish athletes are on the cusp of making the breakthrough to World and Olympic level in the steeplechase with Michelle Finn and Elizabeth Egan coming to Letterkenny to take on the barriers. The womens steeplechase is a relatively new event in international athletics, with it only being introduced to the Olympic Games in 2008. But in that short period of time, it has emerged as one of the most competitive events on the track, and will be sure to provide some added splash to the Letterkenny meeting.

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The mens javelin is another event that will be sure to impress the crowd in Letterkenny. It is shaping up to be one of the most competitive fields ever assembled in Ireland with Jamie Doran of Wales (PB 79.72m), Joe Dunderdale of England (PB 76.13m) and Julian Lehmann of Switzerland (PB 68.93m). Interestingly, Lehmann is coached by Irish javelin record holder and five time Olympian Terry McHugh who is now Swiss National coach for the javelin event.

The international track and field programme will also feature a mens 100m, 400m, 800m, 3000m and high jump, and a womens 200m, 800m, and long jump event so watch out in the coming weeks for more big announcements in these events.

When the Letterkenny AC Sub 4 Minute Mile Challenge Event was first held at the opening of the Danny McDaid track in 2013, we had 11 international athletes from 7 different countries competing. At the 2014 event, 27 international athletes from 11 different countries took part. European champions & medallists, World champions & medallists, and numerous Olympians have all graced the tartan track in Letterkenny in the past two years. The competition is growing in strength from year to year, and it is exciting to look forward to this year’s event on Friday 10th July. The action gets underway at the Danny McDaid track at 7pm, and it will be an evening of world class athletics not to be missed.

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