Connolly excels in Rotterdam Marathon & Weekend Round Up
North Belfast's Breege Connolly had the race of her life in the Rotterdam Marathon when she sliced a massive 10 minutes off her previous best time to set new figures of 2hrs 40 mins 25 secs.
This time elevates the 34 year old to 3rd in the NI All Time List behind Teresa Duffy (2.35.27) and Moira O'Neill.
Pre race predictions that Connolly might produce something special in Rotterdam proved to be well founded. It was clear from the start that her pace was significantly faster than her 2.50.28 previous PB set in last October's Dublin Marathon.
She was clearly full of confidence following good recent performances over the half marathon and 10 miles. However, even Breege would not have predicted such a huge improvement which augurs well for the Commonwealth Games in 2014.
A rather less euphoric clubmate Gladys Ganiel saw her London Olympics dream disappear when she crossed the line in 2.43.49 which was some 3 mins slower than her PB in the Houston Marathon in January.
It was always going to be a major challenge for Gladys to achieve the Olympic "A" standard of 2.37 in what was her 3rd marathon in 6 months yet still a great achievement with consistent times in high quality races.
Catriona Jennings (Rathfarnham AC) put in an outstanding performance to achieve the qualification standard for the London Olympic Games in today’s Rotterdam Marathon, running a time of 2:36:14 (inside the Olympic A standard of 2:37).
Jennings joins Linda Byrne (Dundrum South Dublin AC) 2:36:23, Ava Hutchinson (Dundrum South Dublin AC) 2:35:33 and Maria McCambridge (Letterkenny AC) 2:36:37 as the fourth Irish women to achieve the standard for London.
There was disappointment for the Irish male runners as no-one gained the Olympic A time. Best of the bunch was Tallaght's Sean Connolly who recorded 2.16.40. Gary Thornton set new figures of 2.17.27 while St Malachy's Thomas Frazer was only 16 secs off his PB with a time of 2.19.58. Martin Rea of North Belfast was pacing the North girls and finished in 2.46.33
Leevale Track & Field Meet
Meanwhile world Junior silver medallist Ciara Mageean had an indifferent start to her track season over the weekend in the Leevale Club meeting in Cork. She was runner up in a time of 4 mins 21.61 secs which was over 3 secs slower than UCC winner Orla Drumm who crossed the line in 4.18.48.
Mageean described her performance as "flat" and will be disappointed that she was so far adrift of her pre-race objective of around 4 mins 10 secs. She will now be looking for a substantial improvement leading up to her next race over 1,000 metres in Norway on 22nd May.
Aislinn Crossey of Newry was 3rd in the 800m with 2:15.47.
Great Ireland Run
The Spar Great Ireland run in Phoenix Park was won by double Olympic champion Kenenisa Bekele in a new record and world leading 10K time of 27 mins 49 secs.
Eddie McGinley (Annadale) continued his good season with a new PB finishing in 14th place and 4th Irish in 30.38 with teammate Andrew Agnew behind in 16th in 31.05, just 0.02 off his current PB. Keith Purdy (Annadale) clocked 33.13, Connor Magill (NBH) 33.44 with a cold and Edward Cooke (NBH) 34.02.
The women's race was a much more evenly contested competition where Gemma Steel reversed her defeat at the hands of fellow Briton Charlotte Purdue a year ago, when pulling away in the final kilometre. Julie Turley of Dromore AC was 11th home in 35.48.