What a brilliant run by Fionnuala Britton to retain the European Cross-Country title!
On a snow-packed course through a model village in Budapest, Britton pushed the pace from the start. Her grerat rival Ana Dulce Felix of Portugal stcuk to her back until about halfway round the 8km course, when she mysteriously drifted backwards. It left Britton with the Ethiopian Almensch Belete, who runs for Belgium, to contend with.
With about 2km to go, Felix made a miraculous recovery and, with Adrianne Herzog of the Netherlands, closed the gap to Britton and Belete. Sensing the danger, Britton pushed the pace again, dropping Belete and building on her lead. She crossed the line in 27 mins 45 secs. For a second year, Felix finished second; Herzog was third and Belete fourth.
|Golden girl Fionnuala|
Behind Britton, the Irish team was packing exceptionally well. Linda Byrne, a experienced cross-country campaigner, moved into the top 10 in the latter stages of the race, finishing a brilliant 8th. Ave Hutchinson and Lizzie Lee had run together for much of the race and they finished 20th and 23rd. That brought the Irish total to 52 points. With France on the same total, the Irish just edged it on countback, thanks to the extra point taken by Lizzie Lee when she pipped the Spanish runner Lidia Rodriquez on the line. Backing up the scoring four were Sarah McCormack and Sarah Treacy.
Leading home the senior men in 22nd place was Breandan O’Neill, winner of U-23 team gold a few years ago. O’Neill, who was as high as 14th early on, finished almost half a minute ahead of intercounty champion Joe Sweeney in 27th place. They were followed by David Rooney 38th, Michael Mulhare 44th, Sean Hehir 52nd and Brian Maher 73rd.
The women’s junior team finished in eighth place, led by Sarah Collins 31st and Siofra Cleirigh Buttner 36th. Best of a depleted men’s junior squad was Stephen Kerr 37th. John Travers in 44th position led the men’s U-23 team to 11th position.
* Sligo AC’s Dermot McDermott won the men’s race at the National Novice C-C in Adamstown, beating his training partner Ray Hynes of Crusaders. Laura Crowe of Riocht was a convincing winner of the women’s race. Due to an unfortunate systems breakdown, results are only coming through now.
* Running machine Gary O’Hanlon of Clonliffe won the Clonakilty Marathon in 2 hrs 30 mins, with his buddy Sergiu Ciobanu first in the half marathon. Supervet Mary Sweeney of St Finbarr’s was first woman in the marathon. Over 2,000 finishers between three races.
*Mick Clohisey of Raheny Shamrock won the Aware 10km in 31 mins 7 secs; first woman was Fiona Roche, also Raheny, in an excellent time of 34 mins 59 secs.
* Phil Kilgannon of Sportsworld won the Vodafone BHAA 5km C-C in Marlay, with Sarah Mulligan first of the women.
Sunday December 9
Women (100 finishers) – 1 Laura Crowe (Riocht) 14.30, 2 Caroline Crowley (Crusaders) 15.05, 3 Eimear O’Leary (MSB) 15.13; 4 Maria McCarthy 15.15; 5 Ide Nic Dhomhnaill (Donore) 15.25; 6 Martina O’Dwyer 15.25. Teams (11)– 1 Crusaders (2,10.24.32) 68; 2 Donore Hrs (5.13.22,42) 82; 3 Sportsworld (16,26,31.37) 110. Counties (9)-1 Dublin 20; 2 Tipperary 99; 3 Kerry 101.
Saturday December 8