herald

Friday 15 December 2017

kenyans too hot to handle

Africans rule as Monahan sets wheelchair record

Although it was windy and warm on the tough new Dublin Marathon course, 12,097 of the 14,600 who signed up made it to the finish line on Monday.

All of those had a story - none more so than the winner Eliud Kibet Too from Kenya's fabled Rift Valley. He made it to Ireland after a chance meeting with many times Irish canoeing champion Neil Fleming from Celbridge. Like many others, Fleming was lost to Irish sport when he couldn't find work here. With a degree in exercise physiology, he ended up working at Indiana State University.

He came across Too through one of his students who is living in Kenya and studying the local athletes. As part of the study, Too and other athletes fly to Indiana for regular physiological testing.

Debut

Earlier this year, Too made his marathon debut in Cleveland, finishing second. For the past fortnight, he has been staying with the Fleming family - and training with the Le Chéile club, which was why he was wearing their singlet on Monday. One big question remains: has Neil persuaded him to step into a kayak?

Maria McCambridge's story is more familiar to us and what an inspiration she is. She was winning Dublin for a third time and as everyone now knows, missed out on the overall title by four seconds. So what next?

In perfect conditions and on a faster course, she reckons she could have run around 2:31. Her time from Monday knocked more than a minute off her previous best - but more importantly, her consistency over the past three years has established her as a key member of a strong group of Irish marathon women.

For this, the Marathon Mission, established by the Dublin Marathon to promote Irish distance running, can take much credit.

Further good news came when the entire race was led home by wheelchair whizz Patrick Monahan whose time of 1:52.43 was the best ever recorded by an Irish paralympian in Dublin. Irish wheelchair racing has needed a boost - and Monahan looks likes the man to deliver it.

Of the Irish men, Sergiu Ciobanu of Clonliffe held off the challenge of Barry Minnock and Eoin Flynn, both Rathfarnham, to win his third Irish title.

Of the masters, former Irish champion Pauric McKinney of Inishowen, in his 15th consecutive Dublin Marathon, was first over-45 in 2:33.14. Belfast-based Tommy Hughes, the 1991 race winner, was back for the first time since and first over 50, while Sligo's Lucy Brennan ran 3:00.50 to finish first W55, beating many women half her age.

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