High five from magic Jennings
CAITRIONA JENNINGS of Rathfarnham WSAF, a qualifier for the marathon at the London Olympics, produced the run of the weekend when she finished as first woman and fifth overall at the Newry Half Marathon in a personal best of 75 minutes 29 seconds.
That time knocked over two minutes off her previous best of 77 mins 48 secs, and followed a three-week period of warm weather training in Portugal with fellow Olympian Linda Byrne.
It meant Jennings wasn't at the Women's Mini Marathon on Monday to defend her title, leaving Byrne, of host club Dundrum South Dublin, as the class of the field.
Her winning time of 33 mins 29 secs wasn't her best -- she ran 32 mins 52 secs earlier this year in Enniscorthy --but it was exactly a minute faster than her 2010 time, when she was chased to the line by Maria McCambridge.
It was also the fastest mini marathon time in five years, though some way off Sonia O'Sullivan's course record of 31 mins 28 secs, set in 2000, the year Sonia took Olympic silver for the 5,000m. A good omen!
Byrne, wearing No 1, had built up a substantial lead by the halfway mark at Nutley Lane. A chasing pack included Fiona Roche and Siobhan O'Doherty , who finished second in 35 mins 20 secs.
Not far behind were Breege Connolly, 2009 winner Annette Kealy and the great Catherina McKiernan, a four-time winner of the race, now in the over-40 class.
Elsewhere, Kenyan athlete Freddy Keron Sittok ran a new course record of 2 hrs 22 mins 12 secs to win the Cork City Marathon.
Sittok has been showing up at a number of races on this island over the past couple of months.
After finishing fifth in the Belfast Marathon, he was notoriously misdirected while winning the Kildare Marathon. A fortnight ago, he won the Belfast City Airport 5km.
Previous winner Clonliffe's Sergiu Ciobanu finished second and was also inside his own course record for the Cork course. Angela McCann defended her women's title, finishing in 2:53.02. Gary O'Hanlon of Clonliffe and Leevale's Lizzie Lee won the half marathon.