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Thursday 29 September 2016

Pollock delivers marathon effort

Paul Pollock ran his second fastest marathon time in Rio as he finished a very respectable 32nd. Photo: Sportsfile
Paul Pollock ran his second fastest marathon time in Rio as he finished a very respectable 32nd. Photo: Sportsfile

While the Glo Health National Masters Championships took place in Tullamore, a big screen in the stadium was showing the unfolding drama of the Rio Olympics marathon.

At one point, Paul Pollock and Mick Clohisey were pretty much together, but in the end, Pollock proved the man of the day, picking up 60 places in the second half of the race to finish a 32nd in a creditable time of 2 hrs 16 mins 24 secs. It was his second fastest time ever and completely justified his selection, which had provoked some controversy.

Pollock took some scalps - behind him was Meb Keflezighi, the 41-year-old Eritrean refugee who has lived in the USA since the age of 12 and took a silver medal in the marathon at the 2004 Olympics.

Fortune didn't favour the other two members of the Irish team, both of them suffering from viruses picked up in the holding camp. Pollock's training partner Kevin Seaward came home 64th in 2:20:06. Raheny's Mick Clohisey, who as well as the virus, was nursing an infected blister, finished a disappointed 103rd in 2:26:34.

Times generally were slow, with the race won by Kenya's Eliud Kipchoge in 2:08:44. That's a good five minutes off the winning times in the big city races of London, New York and Berlin.

Of the top ten, only five were east African, again in marked contrast to the major city marathons. Wesley Biwott, race leader at halfway, and fellow Kenyan Stanley Biwott both dropped out, blaming stomach upsets caused by a drinks mix-up

Also failing to finish was the Ethiopian Tesfaye Abera who has a marathon best time of 2:04.24. Of the 15 who dropped out, ten were African.

So arguably, the most successful nation was the USA with Galen Rupp in third place, Jared Ward sixth and Keflezighi 33rd.

The weather in Rio was wet but warm. The same could almost be said for Dublin's Phoenix Park on Saturday where the finish gantry and the portaloos refused to stay upright because of high wind at the SSE Airtricity Frank Duffy 10-Mile race.

On a day when survival was top priority, Freddy Sittuk (52.37) and Gladys Ganiel (59.05) ran conservative races to finish first man and woman.

Sittuk ran along with his Raheny clubmate Mark Kirwan for most of the race, only breaking away for victory with the line in sight. Both are aiming to run the Dblin Marathon, with Sittuk heading for half marathons in Longford this weekend and Derry a week later as part of his preparations.

Ganiel was closely followed home by Catherina McKiernan, who may or may not make a marathon comeback in the near future.

"We'll see how it goes in the half marathon," she says.

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