History was created at the Danny McDaid Track at the Aura Leisure Centre in Letterkenny yesterday afternoon when Juan Luis Barrios became the first ever athlete to run a sub four minute mile in Donegal.
A quality field had been assembled by the organisers of the track and field meet and when the leaders went through half way in just under two minutes, a sub four minute mile looked on the cards. It was touch and go when they took the bell in 3:00 and with the wind against them down the back straight - 3:30 was on the clock with 200 metres remaining - the history-making feat looked all but gone.
But the Mexican opened up and found another gear around the last bend and down the home straight and had just over half a second to spare when the clock stopped. While the trackside clock stopped at 3:59.44, the official time was 3:59.33. Kenya’s Vincent Murtai, with a personal best of 3:35.45, also dipped under the four minute barrier when clocking 3:59.63.
Speaking after the race, the winner was pleased with his performance.
“Today was a great meeting and I am very happy with my win. This will serve me well in preparations for my 5K in Belgium next week,” the 31 year old commented.
Yesterday was the fifth time the Mexican ran under four minutes for the mile. He is hoping to run close to 13:15 in Belgium in his next outing.
Cameron Boyek from Scotland took third in a time of 4:00.23. Letterkenny’s Dan Monney was the only local in the field and finished 10th in 4:07.63. On Friday night, Danny set a new personal best for the mile with running 4.00. Surely it is only a matter of time before the dips under the magical four minute barrier.
Earlier in the afternoon, the crowd were served up a number of cracking races. Letterkenny track specialist, Mark English set a new stadium record in the 400 metres when posting a time of 46.88. It was a rare opportunity for people from the region to see the talented local man execute yet another race with such fine precision.
Philip Redrick from the USA won the 100 metres in 10.87, Steph Creaner of Dublin City Harriers took victory in the 200 metres. Kenya’s Reuben Bett was first home in the men’s 800 metres in 1:49.51, while Scotland’s Emily Dudgeon won the women’s 800 metres in 2:03.42.
Eric Keogh of Donore Harriers led the field home in the 3,000 metres mixed race, while Addie Bracy of the USA won the women’s category in 9:16.
The winners in the field events were Naomi Morgan of City of Derry (long jump 5:28) and Matthew Martin from North Down (javelin 58:81).
Speaking after the event, Letterkenny AC chairman, Brendan McDaid, said he was delighted with how things had unfolded.
“We had a meet here last year to mark the official of the track, and while the day ended up a complete wash out, it was doubly disappointing because the four minute barrier wasn’t broken,” he said.
“It was a bit of unfinished business from the club’s point of view, so we are thrilled that we managed to stage a quality meet today. And while it was ‘heart in the mouth time’ over the last few hundred metres, it was the perfect ending to a great day. It’s great for the profile of athletics and it’s certainly a day we can all look back on with fond memories,” he added.