Linda burns up personal best
AFTER improving her personal best time for 10km at the Creane and Creane Enniscorthy 10km, Linda Byrne (pictured) will return to her cross-county roots when she leads the Dundrum South Dublin team at the National Intercounties in 10 days' time.
After running a London 2012 qualifying time for the marathon in Dublin last October, Byrne decided she wouldn't chase a faster time at a spring marathon.
She has resumed racing over the past few weeks, winning the AXA Raheny 5 in 26 minutes 23 seconds and then finishing a fighting 11th for DSD at the European clubs cross-country in Spain.
Enniscorthy was her third race in as many weeks, and she surprised even herself when she clocked a time of 32:52 -- almost two minutes inside Hazel Murphy's record of last year -- on a hilly course.
"When I ran the first kilometre in 3:20, I knew I was in good form so I went for it, but I'm still a bit surprised by that time," said Byrne, who finished ninth overall. Her previous best of 34:29 came in the Flora Women's Mini Marathon two years ago when Maria McCambridge almost caught her on the line.
McCambridge was again the biggest threat in Enniscorthy and finished in 33:07 -- also inside the previous record. Next up for the Letterkenny-based Dubliner is the Rome Marathon on March 18, where she hopes to make the London 2012 qualifying time of 2 hours 37 minutes.
Brian Maher proved the form man in the men's race, beating national half marathon champion Sean Hehir of Rathfarnham.
The Kilkenny athlete forced the pace from the start and by halfway, had built up a 10-metre lead on Hehir.
That gap soon stretched to 50 metres and Maher came home a comfortable winner in 30:06, with Hehir about 18 seconds adrift.
The pair will now compete in the Hague Half Marathon next month.
A brilliant third was Raheny junior Kevin Dooney, winner of the Leinster Schools senior cross-country title a few days earlier.
With Simon Ryan fourth, Raheny were comfortable winners of the team prize, while home club Slaney Olympic, led by Catherine Murphy, were best of the women's teams.