Stephen Cassidy cruised home at the head of a field of over 600 runners on Saturday to win his first ever Enniskillen 10K. It was a sweet victory for Irvinestown athlete after a series of near misses in recent years.
“It’s a monkey of my back, one to tick off the bucket list,” said the Enniskillen Running Club athlete.
“I was delighted to win. I’ve been second two or three years now. It was nice to get the win. I remember reading a couple of years ago that Glenn Phair from Lisnaskea was the only Fermanagh person to win it and he was an unbelievable runner.”
Cassidy had to do it the hard way, with the sweltering conditions and undulating course proving a real test for runners. That was reflected in times which were up on last year’s event.
“It was tough going, very warm and close,” said Cassidy.
“I knew I was going to go out hard to 5K and then see if there was anybody around me at that stage. Thankfully I was on my own so I was able to enjoy that last 5K.
“I had a good lead. There was a good crowd out and people were saying I was well ahead so I was able to enjoy running up the Ardhowen hill for a change.”
The victory comes on the back of a spate of good results for the Irvinestown man. He clocked a 10k PB at the prestigious Run With Catherina in Cavan at the end of April, and added a 5 mile PB the night before the Enniskillen 10k.
“I PBed in Cavan (33:26), there was a top quality field at that so that pulled me a long. Last Friday I was at the five miler in Cliffoney and I PBed (26:24) at that too so I knew going into the race that I was in good shape and I was confident.”
Cassidy isn’t the only Fermanagh man in form though, with Conán McCaughey blitzing the field in Sligo.
“I was chasing after Conán McCaughey in Cliffoney. We went down together and he won it in 25:15, just over five minute mile pace, and set the course record. He’s in the shape of his life. I wouldn’t catch him on the bike!”
Another rising star is young unheralded Ronan Maguire who came from nowhere to claim silver at the Enniskillen 10K.
“He was never on the radar before, but he did fantastic,” said Cassidy. “It’s good to see somebody young pushing into the top places. The guy who came third, Mike Reilly, represented Ireland at duathlon last year and won his category in the European Masters, so he’s a good standard as well.”
Cassidy’s target now is the Newell 10k in Coalisland at the end of June.
“Most of the top runners in the North go to it. I’ll be aiming to better my PB at that.”