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Byrne hits high gear

ATHLETICS: Linda Byrne of DSD put the final touches to her marathon preparation when she won the Athlone Three-Quarter Marathon in a new record time of 1 hour 59 minutes and 14 seconds.

After a long lay-off, Byrne cautiously resumed training last May and since then has stuck to the half-marathon distance and longer.

“I was doing well on the roads last year, but I overdid it and then had to take a long break,” said the 26-year old Dubliner. “Plus I was trying to hold down a job.

“Now I'm training full-time and everything is going well.”

The next race for her is the National Lottery Dublin Marathon, where her aim is to run under 2 hours 37 minutes and qualify for the Olympics next year. In Athlone, Byrne ran 40 minutes 19 seconds for her first quarter and around the same for the second.

She then speeded up to run the final quarter – including a long incline – over a minute faster. Maintaining that pace would give her a marathon time of 2 hours 40 minutes.

Smashing

Winning the race and smashing the course record with a time of 1 hour 45 minutes and 59 seconds was Gary O’Hanlon of Clonliffe.

O’Hanlon’s average of just over 35 minutes per quarter would give him a marathon time of 2 hours 20 minutes.

The veteran Noelie Kelly from Tullamore in second place ran a fast middle quarter and finished in 1 hour 52 minutes 51 seconds. His aim for Dublin is 2 hours 37 minutes.

The second-placed woman was Lorraine Manning of Raheny in only her third race since illness interrupted her training.

Not surprisingly, she slowed down as the race progressed, but her overall time of 2 hours 4 minutes 30 seconds shows that she’s on target for around 2 hours 45 minutes in Dublin, where she runs as part of the Marathon Mission.

Behind the leaders came over 600 other runners, many of them using the race as a final test before the marathon.

Thanks to the detailed statistics on offer, they’ll all have a much better idea of what to expect on the big day.

Simple

Like all great ideas, the Athlone Three Quarter Marathon, organised by marathon runner Barry Minnock and Paul Mahon, is fundamentally simple. Sunday proved how well it works.