O'Sullivan sets the standard in Newcastle

 

Sonia O'Sullivan ran the fastest half-marathon in the world this year in winning the BUPA Great North Run today.

The 1998 champion, who hit the front after three miles, scorched along the roads of Tyneside to cross the line in 67 minutes 19 seconds.

That set a new Irish record and bettered the previous best time for this year of 68mins 23secs achieved by Mizuki Nogchi of Japan in January.

O'Sullivan, who is targeting the New York Marathon on November 3, had insisted in the past few weeks that the Great North Run would prove the most positive indication of how her build-up was progressing.

Now the 32-year-old will travel to the Big Apple confident she is in the best possible shape after following up the world best 10-mile time she set in Portsmouth at the beginning of September.

O'Sullivan said: "I came here aiming to run a fast time and obviously I'm delighted with improving on my previous best of 70mins 05secs.

"I have to say the last mile really hurt me. I was absolutely shattered and I never thought I would be so glad to see the finishing line."

Behind O'Sullivan there was a spirited performance from Susie Power, the Australian who has been training with the winner during her stay in England, who was making her debut.

Power was delighted to clock 67mins 56secs. 1999 champion Joyce Chepchumba was third, the Kenyan crossing the line in 68 mins 34 secs.