Fionnuala McCormack produces lifetime best with fifth place in Valencia marathon

Irish runner moves closer to Catherina McKiernan’s Irish record at the distance

Ireland’s Fionnuala McCormack finished fifth in the Valencia marathon, taking almost three minutes of her own personal best. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Ireland’s Fionnuala McCormack finished fifth in the Valencia marathon, taking almost three minutes of her own personal best. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

 

Just four months after running the Olympic marathon, Fionnuala McCormack produced a brilliant new lifetime best by almost three minutes in Valencia on Sunday morning, moving ever closer to the Irish women’s marathon record which has stood untouched for over 23 years.

In near perfect running conditions, McCormack finished fifth best woman in two hours, 23 minutes and 58 seconds, significantly faster that the 2:26.47 she ran in Chicago in October 2019, at the time an improvement of almost four minutes on her previous marathon best.

Only Catherina McKiernan, with her Irish record of 2:22.23 from Amsterdam in 1999, is faster on the Irish all-time women’s list, McCormack also eclipsing the 2:24.11 run in 2019 by Mayo-born Sinead Diver, now representing Australia.

Now aged 37, and a mother of two, it’s another highly impressive run for McCormack, coming just four months after she competed in her fourth Olympics, finishing 25th in the marathon staged in sweltering conditions 800km north of Tokyo in Sapporo, where she clocked 2:34.09. She also since improved her half-marathon best to 69.32 in Valencia in October.

McCormack sat a little back in the early stages before gathering momentum, passing the halfway mark in 71.33, and picking off several runners in the closing miles. Victory went to Kenya’s Nancy Jelagat in 2:19.31 ahead of Etagegne Woldu (2:20.16), both those women finishing well clear of Woldu’s Ethiopian team-mate Beyenu Degefa, who took in third 2:23.04. Lawrence Cherono also won the men’s race for Kenya in 2:05.12.

McCormack now has just six days to recover before taking her place in the Irish women’s team at next Sunday’s European Cross-Country Championships in Abbotstown in Dublin. That will also extend her women’s record of Irish international caps in athletics to 42, and will also mark her 17th appearance in the event, from junior upwards, more than any other woman in European athletics history.

Despite the quick turnaround, McCormack was keen to make herself available for the Dublin event, and another crack at the title she has won twice before, in 2011 and 2012, the first women to win in successive years, in her words “can’t resist the allure” of a home European Cross-Country.

The Wicklow athlete will be central again to the Irish women’s medal chances, after leading them home to team silver with her fourth place in Lisbon 2019 (her fourth fourth-placing in the event), and also leading them to team gold in 2012.

Elsewhere, Barry Keane has set a new Irish indoor record over 5,000m at the Boston University Sharon Colyear-Danville meeting, the Waterford athlete clocking 13:25.96 to improve on Alistair Cragg’s mark of 13:28.93 which had stood since March 2003. The Waterford runner, competing for Butler University, finished 100th in the NCAA Cross-Country Championships two weeks ago.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.