Athletics: Paul Pollock leads Berlin mission in bid to secure qualification for Rio
Current national half marathon champions Paul Pollock and Lizzie Lee lead a large Irish team at Sunday’s Berlin Marathon, all of them seeking qualification for Rio ‘16.
With the standards of 2:42 for women and 2:17 for men not too outrageous, Berlin is the first skirmish in the battle to nail down one of the three men and three women’s places on offer.
Annadale’s Pollock ran a 62 minute 10 second half marathon in March last year, but then had to pull out of the marathon at the European Championships in Zurich a few months later.
He showed that he had recovered when he won the National Inter-county Cross-Country Championships in December and has managed to put together a good block of training since then.
He won the national half marathon in 65 minutes nine secs, not a bad time for the Phoenix Park.
A close second was Raheny’s Mick Clohisey who ran 65 mins 20 secs, with Kevin Seaward of St Malachy’s third in 65 mins 52 and Leevale’s Mark Hanrahan fourth in 66 mins three secs.
All four men line out in Berlin, along with Thomas Fitzpatrick of Tallaght who was fifth, Galway’s Gary Thornton sixth, former Dublin Marathon winner Sean Hehir of Rathfarnham WSAF and Raheny’s Mark Kirwan.
Joining them is Clonliffe’s Sergiu Ciobanu, who ran his personal best of 2:15.27 in the 2012 Rotterdam Marathon. That makes him second fastest overall behind Pollock of the Irish entry.
In the past few weeks, Ciobanu has won the SSE Airtricity Frank Duffy 10-mile in 49 mins 15 secs and the Athlone Half Marathon in an untroubled 66 mins 10 secs.
With John Treacy’s Irish record of 2:09.15 now 27 years old, the fastest Irish run in recent years has come from Clonliffe’s Mark Kenneally who clocked a time of 2:13.55 at the 2011 Amsterdam Marathon. Kenneally went on to represent Ireland at the London Olympics, and was looking sharp this summer until forced to pull up in the Frank Duffy ‘10’.
Fionnuala (Britton) McCormack’s time of 71 mins 33 secs at Lille a fortnight ago puts her firmly on top of the current women’s half marathon listings, but she’s bypassing Berlin in favour of Chicago on October 11.
Lizzie Lee has been improving her personal best times since the birth of her daughter last year and she hopes to go faster than her 2 hours 38 minutes of two years ago in Berlin.
Maria McCambridge of DSD is another athlete who will bypass Berlin. She’s signed up for the Frankfurt Marathon on Sunday October 25 – the day before the Dublin Marathon where she so narrowly missed out on victory last year.