herald

Monday 17 December 2018

Marathon a team effort

Mick Clohisey has set the fastest Irish marathon time this year
Mick Clohisey has set the fastest Irish marathon time this year

On Sunday, full Irish teams will run in the men's and women's marathons on the final day of the European Athletics Championships in Berlin.

A total of 73 runners, from 26 countries, will compete in the men's race, with Mick Clohisey of Raheny Shamrock the fastest of the Irish this year with a personal best of 2:14.55, from Seville in February.

Since then Clohisey has punctuated his training with well-chosen races and most recently finished second in the 10,000m at the National Championships in Santry.

Improved

Stephen Scullion, who won the 10,000m title in Santry, will join Clohisey in the marathon next Sunday.

After running a half marathon personal best of 63:17 in Houston last January, Scullion improved his marathon best to 2:15.55 in London in April.

Kevin Seaward has a marathon best time of 2:14.52 dating back to Berlin in 2015, which qualified him for the Rio Olympics. He finished fourth in the marathon at the Commonwealth Games in Brisbane last April in 2:19.54.

Seaward shares a coach with Paul Pollock, an athlete who has had more than his fair share of injuries.

At the Commonwealth Games, Pollock was forced to pull out of the marathon at the last moment with a fractured ankle. Three weeks ago he ran a time of 31:41 the Virgin Sport British 10km in London - his first race since March.

Making up the team are Sergiu Ciobanu and Sean Hehir, both former Irish marathon champions. Ciobanu will celebrate his 35th birthday in Berlin on Friday and has a marathon best of 2:15.14 from Berlin in 2015.

Hehir ran a time of 2:16.18 at the 2017 London Marathon and most recently clocked a time of 30:21.41 for 10,000m at the National Championships in Santry.

Also running on Sunday is Dublin-based Valdas Dopolskas of Clonliffe Harriers, who will turn out in the colours of his native Lithuania.

The Irish will face tough opposition from a field which is led by Sondre Nordstad Moen of Norway, who set a stunning European record of 2:05.48 last year.

Top ranked of the Irish women racing in Berlin next Sunday is Lizzie Lee, who ran a personal best of 73.19 in the Barcelona Half Marathon last March.

Laura Graham, from Co Down, exploded on to the scene in 2016 when she won the National Marathon title in Dublin. She repeated that feat a year later, despite having run a personal best 2:37.05 a month earlier in Berlin.

Distinguished

Breege Connolly qualified for the Rio Olympics at the age of 38, while Belfast-based Gladys Ganiel, who lived in Dublin for a number of years, combines her running with a distinguished academic career.

Top ranked of the women in Europe this year is Volha Mazuronak of Belarus who finished fifth in the marathon in Rio and ran a time of 2:25.25 in Dusseldorf last April.

Fellow Belarusian Nastassia Ivanova is second in the rankings with a time of 2:28.03.

Two others running on Sunday have gone under 2 hrs 30 mins ties this season - Britain's Lily Partridge, and Giovanna Epis of Italy.

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