Tipperary athlete Sean Tobin finishes the year in spectacular style

Record-breaking run at Mary Peters Track in Belfast

Eamonn Wynne


Eamonn Wynne



Sean Tobin

In Belfast last Saturday, Clonmel man Sean Tobin ran the fastest 10,000 metres by an Irishman in 11 years

Sean Tobin ran a phenomenal race at the Athletics Northern Ireland Winter Sprints and 10,000 metres meet at the Mary Peters Track in Belfast last weekend, when his winning performance set a Northern Ireland all-comers record.

He crossed the line in a new record of 28 minutes, 30.91 seconds, which was the fastest time for the distance by an Irish athlete since 2009 when Martin Fagan ran 27.58.48 in California.

The Clonmel athlete, says Clonmel Athletic Club PRO Niall O’Sullivan, had been “training away on the byways, highways, Blueway and track in his home town for the past couple of months, aided by a small group of local athletes when the lockdown lifted.”

Right from the start in Belfast he was in the leading group of three athletes, who were his training partners at the Dublin Track Club. 

They set a strong pace, clipping along at 69 second laps, and going through two miles in 9.14, three miles in 13.52 and four miles in approximately 18.29. 

As they approached the five-mile mark, Sean Tobin increased the pace and that soon saw him draw clear of the chasing pack, as he reeled off laps of 66 seconds. 

At this stage he was full of running as he approached the bell in 27 minutes, 28 seconds. 

Then down the back straight he gave it everything and despite a headwind down the finishing straight he produced a 62 seconds last lap to cross the finishing line in a phenomenal time of 28 minutes, 30.91 seconds.

This was a whopping 65 seconds improvement on his national 10,000 metres title winning time last August.

“More noted as a miler, Sean has moved up in distance and last Saturday in Belfast he produced the kind of performance we all knew he was well capable of on the track over this distance,” says Niall O’Sullivan. 

“He has competed in very few 10,000 metres races on the track. But each time he has, he has lowered his figures in spectacular fashion.” 

This performance by Tobin is now the 17th fastest time by an Irish athlete. 

Last August he won the national 10,000 metres title in Santry in a time of 29 minutes, 35.14 seconds. 

“Now four months later during a pandemic he produces this spectacular performance, it speaks volumes about the man,” says Niall O’Sullivan.

“It is worth noting that Sean ran the second half of this race faster than the first half and that in itself is a brilliant achievement.”

In August the 26 year-old ran a personal best over 5,000 metres in a time of 13 minutes, 53.65 seconds. 

This set him up for the national senior track championships in August when he won the 10,000 metres title, as well as winning the silver medal in what was “the race of the decade,” the 1,500 metres. 

In September he paced the first four laps of the 3,000 metres at the Rome Diamond League meet, where the top six finishers all set personal bests, with four of them setting national records. All were full of praise for the way Sean set them up for such performances with an even pace of 60 seconds per lap over the first four laps. 

A week later he went to Barcelona and ran a fantastic time of 7 minutes, 45.46 seconds in a 3,000 metres track meet, the tenth fastest and the quickest since 2007 over this distance by an Irishman.

“I wonder, with Sean in such terrific form, how he would have fared in the European cross-country championships, which were to have been held in Abbotstown on December 13, considering he finished 18th last year in Lisbon,” says Niall O’Sullivan.

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