The Murray Lambden Open athletics meeting took place over the perimeter roadway of the National Sports Centre on Saturday.

Conditions were almost perfect for competitors, where half the field finished with personal bests in both the walks and 10km run.

Named after one of Manx Harriers’ great race walkers, who was also a passionate runner, the meeting once again presented high class race walking courtesy of a large Irish contingent, with good local support.

The early-season open event has a glorious history which Murray was part of and included him breaking the existing 30km road record in 1982.

The Irish connection has delivered Olympic and world champions with the likes of Olive Loughnane, Gillian O’Sullivan, Jimmy McDonald and Robert Heffernan amongst others.

The event was given international profile from its inception in the late 1960s when Paul Nihill, of Irish descent himself and an Olympic silver medallist, broke world imperial records and in 1972 recorded the fastest ever 20km walk at the time on this circuit, but in a July race.

Saturday’s racing started with the younger juniors. They were all local competitors but each showed great determination and excellent technique and potential for the future if desire directs them for a career as a race walker.

The combined 5km, 10km and 20km walks followed with a massed start at these three distances, giving spectators the excitement of top-class walkers going a fair pace, racing each other and for positions overall and in their respective events.

The 5km (over six laps) was made up of young Irish walkers and local woman Lorna Gleave.

Seamus Clark of Moy Valley AC was a clear winner in a time of 23min 12sec in the under-17 class. The women’s race was won by Aoife Tuthill, an under-20, in 27m 20s.

Gleave did herself proud with a well-paced 30 minute 41 second time.

During the racing a leading trio of male seniors were putting in fast laps. Matthew Glennon and Oisin Lane, both from Mullingar Harriers AC, County Westmeath walked with Tom Partington of Manx Harriers for quite a while.

Oisin was side-by-side with clubmate Glennon, but ultimately retired with one eye on international events ahead.

Partington, walking the 10km distance, had to let the leaders go but still recorded an encouraging 46m 02s. Andrew Glennon was second fastest, 23 seconds behind Partington, while under-20 Aisling Lane was first female home in 53m 40s.

Fourth male was Neil Wade of Manx Harriers with another personal best time of 53.46.

Sixth in the 10km and third female was Northern AC’s Mia Dunwell with 55.32. Leading local woman Erika Kelly started but unfortunately had to retire early.

Matthew Glennon was on his own for much of the 20km event but kept up his pace to charge home in 89m 30s. This was not only a benchmark sub-90 but also a European championships under-23 development consideration time for the distance. Hopefully this race will be the springboard for things to come for him.

Some way back Manx Harrier Adam Killip was next, while third on the road and first woman was Marie Jackson, also of Manx Harriers, showing younger legs how it’s done.

Craig Fletcher was third man with Jayne Farquhar and Nicola Raven (both MH) second and third females respectively.