Gary O'Hanlon of Clonliffe Harriers was in sparkling form in Kildare on Saturday taking victory in the National 50k Championships held over a 10-lap course in Donadea Forest Park.
O'Hanlon came home in a national record time of 2:59.19 – well clear of second-place finisher Raivis Zakis of West Waterford AC, in 3:13.44. Peter Mooney (100 Marathon Club) finished third in 3:16.11 and Steven McKeague was fourth in 3:16.41. Justin Maxwell (East Coast) finished fifth in 3:17.24 while Mike Cunningham (Bilboa AC) was sixth in 3:28.45.
Orna Dilworth of Sportsworld Running Club won the women's title in 3:43.06. Olwyn Dunne (Crusaders AC) was second in 4:13.23, with Donna McLoughlin third in 4:21.35. Deirdre Finn (100 Marathon Club) was fourth in 4:27.49 and Kate Kelly fifth in 4:28.40.
O'Hanlon, who had only decided to run in the event a few days previously when he learnt that his friend Kevin English had entered him in the championship, said: "I had been telling Kevin that I had completed a 20-mile training run with Mark Christie and Joe Sweeney and he told me that he had entered me in the 50k.
"I was delighted with my performance, but I found the last mile especially challenging. I had no problem with the 10 5k laps and I decided to go for a good time right from the start."
Last year, O'Hanlon, pictured below, won six marathons: Connemara, Newry, Kildare, Limerick, Waterford and Clonakilty and also finished second in the Cork event. Saturday's victory means that the Clonliffe runner now has national medals in track, cross-country, hill running road and trail events and he is now looking forward to racing in the Rotterdam Marathon in April, where his target is a 2:17 performance.
O'Hanlon will turn 40 on August 3 and, as he gets older, his appetite for racing seems to increase all the time.
Dilworth, pictured right, who's coached by David Fitzpatrick, ran 2:57 in the Dublin Marathon last October and wants to break 2:50 in the event this year.