Breaking a major barrier and record in one swoop, Louise Shanahan produced a stunning run at the Belfast Irish Milers Meet on Saturday afternoon, taking down the Irish senior 800 metres record and beating previous record holder Ciara Mageean on the process.
Conditions at the leafy surrounds of the Mary Peters Track were ideal, and both runners made the most of them – Mageean taking up the running with a lap to go, only for Shanahan to edge past in the last 50 metres, winning in 1:59.42.
Only the second Irish woman to break the two-minute barrier, it improved Shanahan’s previous best 2:01.44, set on the same track last year, and also improved the Irish record of 1:59.69 which Mageean ran in 2020.
There was some reward for Mageean’s effort as she again dipped under two minutes, clocking 1:59.82, another bonus for Shanahan being it qualifies her for both the World and European Championships later this summer.
The Leevale AC runner, studying for a PhD quantum physics at Cambridge University, was naturally delighted with her effort.
“With perfect conditions, and the pace up to 400m good, Ciara was the perfect wind block for the entre race, and I felt with 1.29, with 200m to go, I felt really good, and thought maybe today I can break two,” she said.
“I was just battling with Ciara down the straight, then get the win, and a two second personal best, I can’t believe it. On Tuesday I wasn’t going to race, didn’t think I was in shape, so this is my wildest dreams, I can’t believe it. It’s also my fourth personal best here, so I’m just delighted.”
Teenage sprinter Israel Olatunde also improved his 100m best, winning in 10.35 seconds, before Tokyo relay Olympian Sophie Becker moved to fifth on the Irish all-time list with another new best of 52.24 over 400m. A fine win for Robert McDonnell of Galway City Harriers also saw him improve his 200m best to 20.61, now sixth on the Irish all-time list.
Elsewhere, at the Night of 10,000m races in England, Dean Casey improved the Irish under-20 record to 28:57.34, the Ennis Track Club athlete taking 26 seconds off the record set back in March in the US by Abdel Laadjel.