Sports Personality: Helen kicks off season with cracking April

Helen Stockdale

Fermanagh Herald sports personality of the month for April 2014, Helen Stockdale, with her award

Runner Helen Stockdale kicked off her season with a cracking April.

The veteran runner had a hard winter of good training under her belt before the Queen’s Round the Bridges 5k event with a personal best time of 18.05.

In that run she took the first vets place by a substantial margin and finished in fourth place overall.

The result catapulted her to number one in the vets ranking in the UK.

With even more confidence she took on her first track race of the season in the Bangor 3,000 metre, setting a lively personal best of 10.38.

“It was just a brilliant way to start off the season,” said a delighted Helen. “It gave me a great confidence after a hard winter of training and preparation.”

She consolidated her running with a visit to Raheeney in Dublin where she took part in the Irish Road Relays and finished in sixth place overall.

It was then on to the Northern Ireland 5k road race championships and the Northern Ireland Ulster Championships in Derry.

“It was my first proper road race as a senior and I ran 18.12 on that course which was excellent,” said Helen.

Indeed no better time has been run by a woman in the last three years.

The Spring was pretty good to Helen as she rose through the ranks to be at the top of her game on the road and track.

Shortly after that Helen travelled to Belfast to the Mary Peters track to run in the senior 5,000 metres and at the age of 50 took a superb silver in the he senior category.

By the time she got to Ballyshannon for her next event she felt in top form and sure enough her personal best fell again, this time to 18.02, making the elusive 17 minutes a real achievable target.

“I could see that the hard graft through the winter had paid off with Finn Valley and my coach Mark Connolly.

“He was very clear on my training schedule as was Mark McAlone of Fitness Matters in  Enniskillen for my strength and conditioning,” she said.

Since then she has been picking her races.

“I target races that think would be good for me. The ones I really want to do and use them as a hard training session. The local races round Fermanagh have all been good and it is no wonder running is improving week by week here,” she said.

Next on her agenda is the Irish Masters in Tullamore and the Northern Ireland Masters events at the Mary Peters track.

“They will both be a big challenge for me, but I have a good month to get ready with a number of good local races,” she enthused.

Helen Stockdale wins 10,000 metres championship event at Mary Peters track

Runner Stockdale now number one in the UK

The Fermanagh athlete has been selected to race in the Lee Valley Athletics Centre, London