Pollock burnt off by Ndungu
ATHLETICS:THERE ARE nice and sensible ways of running your first marathon, and surging into the lead after just eight miles, racing clear of the all-conquering Kenyans and buying straight into some oxygen debt, is not one of them.
At least not one they’d teach you in respiratory medicine.
Paul Pollock should have known better, given that’s actually his primary qualification, and that it’s the pace, not the distance, that kills the marathon debutant. But then nor did he run to regret it – defying the apparent folly of his boldly ambitious start to run the fastest Irish time in Dublin in 13 years, clocking 2:16:30, good enough for ninth place overall.
In the end the Kenyans calmly restored their rightful place at the front, Geofrey Ndungu defending his Dublin Marathon title ahead of countryman Robert Kipchumba, in a seemingly comfortable winning time of 2:11:09. Not that anyone runs 26.2 miles without some discomfort, as Con Houlihan once said.
Anyway, Pollock looked far from comfortable at the finish, and for good reason: the 26-year-old from Holywood, just outside Belfast, produced the best Irish finish since Dublin’s Gerry Healy ran 2:15:37 for second overall, in 1999, and Pollock’s performance actually bettered 11 of the 32 previous winning times. Amazingly, Pollock only decided to run Dublin a few weeks ago, having initially focused on half marathons this summer, and the upcoming cross country season – and more amazing still found the time to log the necessary miles between the long and tiring GP shifts at the Royal Hospital in Belfast.
Yet in many ways it’s simply a return to form, as Pollock’s promising Irish junior career was put on hold while he concentrated on his medical studies. Clearly aware of the potential he has suddenly tapped, he joins the growing list of emerging Irish marathon talents, with fellow debutant Seán Hehir finishing just over a minute behind in 2:17:35, with his Rathfarnham club mate Barry Minnock the third best Irish finisher in 2:18:45.
For a few years there no Irish man could crack a sub-2:20 in Dublin, and although Pollock didn’t exactly do it the smart way, he certainly ran it his way.
“Happy enough,” he declared, “although I was hoping to run sub-2:15, that was the plan. So a bit disappointed with the time, from that point of view, but I think all the times were a bit slow this year. Hopefully there will be faster times to come, yeah.”