On Your Marks – Herald September 5

What next for Paul Pollock of Annadale Striders and Letterkenny’s Maria McCambridge after their victories at the Woodie’s DIY Half Marathon in Athenry?

Pollock ran the race of his life leaving Clonliffe pair, Gary O’Hanlon and Sergiu Ciobanu and defending champion Sean Hehir of  Rathfarnham WSAF to fight it out for the  minor places. All of these are training for autumn marathons.
By contrast, Pollock is aiming to make the Irish team for the European Cross-County Championships next December and will also compete in the  World Half Marathon Championships next month.
In the women’s race, McCambridge was out on her own from the start and finished with two minutes to spare on the chasers in 75 mins 25 secs.
After her disappointment at missing out on the London Olympics despite getting the A standard, McCambridge has returned to her Dublin based after a few years in Donegal and is clearly an athlete on a mission.
Her form this year has been impressive – she smashed the women’s record for the Ballycotton ’10’ last March when she ran 54 mins 48 secs, and recently confirmed that form when she ran 55 mins 10 secs to win the Frank Duffy ’10’.
In Athenry, her time was of  75 mins 25 secs outside her best of 73 mins 49 secs from last year’s Great North Run, but there is little doubt that she is the distance runner in form at the moment.
Donore’s Barbara Cleary  and Barbara Sanchez  of Raheny Shamrock  were two minutes  adrift as they battled it out for second in Athenry, with Cleary just edging it by ten seconds and leading Donore to team victory, ahead of Raheny Shamrock and Clonliffe Harriers. Clonliffe took the men’s title.

Meanwhile the Marathon Mission road show has its last outing at the Donore Sports Centre on Saturday (11.0). Any decent club athlete (10km times of under 34 minutes for men and 39 minutes for women) committed to improving the standard of Irish distance running is welcome. The session will include a two-hour training session, so some prepared to work!

Finally, entry for the Dublin Half Marathon taking place on Saturday September 15 closed earlier this week when the entry reached  8,250. It augurs well for a record turn-out at the Dublin Marathon next month. 
Over 400 teams are expected to run tomorrow’s Grant Thornton Corporate 5km Team Challenge in Dublin’s Docklands (7.30). Although the race is organised by Athletics Ireland, it will make a perfect introduction to the thriving Business Houses Athletics scene in both Dublin and Cork.
Runners of all ages and standards are welcome in the BHAA and this was obvious at last weekend’s Zurich Track Miles in Santry, where five graded mile races were held. In the fastest of these, Ray Hynes clocking 4 mins 31 secs, with Dermot McDermott just four seconds behind. Fastest woman was Susan McDonnell with a time of 5 mins 56 secs. Fastest of the masters were Pearse Coyle M45 with a time of 5 mins 4 secs and orla Gormley W45 in 6 mins 3 secs. Behind them came runners of all standards clearly enjoying the chance to run on the track.  
Next up for the BHAA is Saturday’s Firhouse 10km (11.0) – a race previously sponsored by Grant Thornton and now dubbed the “Finding the Run of Ourselves 10km”. Details www.bhaa.ie.
Highlight of the Templemore International Throws Festival was a new Irish javelin record for Anita Fitzgibbon of DSD. Fitzgibbon threw  52.97m at her first attempt proving that the 52.21m she threw at the league final in Tullamore last month was no fluke. Then her javelin was  judged to be marginally too short; this time there was no such drama.  
In the men’s hammer, American-based Conor McCullough of Crusaders, wearing an Irish vest for the first time, won the  men’s  hammer with a throw of 66.95m.  46.95.
Irish international Sarah McCormack, who is based in Scotland, continued her brilliant year on the hills when she finished 15th in the women’s race at the World Mountain Running Championships held on an uphill only 8.8km course in Italy. Earlier this year, McCormack finished eighth at the European Championships.
Moira O’Neill, a pioneer of Irish women’s marathon running, has died aged 57  after a long battle with illness. O’Neill’s finest moment came in 1988 when she won the Dublin Marathon in 2:37.06, knocking five minutes off her previous best.
She set numerous Northern Irish records and competed in two Commonwealth Games.  O’Neill won the Belfast Marathon in 1985 and in 1986 finished eighth at the Commonwealth Games marathon in Edinburgh in 2:42.29 only eight weeks after a second victory in Belfast.
No let-up on the roads this weekend, with half marathons in Derry and Cork, the 40th Patrick Bell 5-Mile and the Lakes 10k in Blessington among the highlights;  online entry is still open for most.
Entries are also flowing in for the Rathfarnham 5km on Sunday  September 23, where fast times are promised.  Coming up next Tuesday (8.0) is the Jim Wall 3-Mile Handicap in Raheny.  
Also coming up is the Mick Murphy 4-mile organised by our Sliabh Buidhe Rovers pals in Ferns on Saturday September 15.€2,000 prize fund, course record bonuses and a big welcome for runners of all standards.

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