Sunday 26 March 2017

McCormack trounces field in Rio warm-up

Fionnuala McCormack winning the Great Ireland Run yesterday. Photo: Tomás Greally / Sportsfile
Fionnuala McCormack winning the Great Ireland Run yesterday. Photo: Tomás Greally / Sportsfile

Cathal Dennehy

Fionnuala McCormack proved her Olympic preparations are well on track by trouncing the field at the SPAR Great Ireland Run in Dublin yesterday, coming home a distant winner in 33:30.

With strong winds buffeting the runners during the 10km Phoenix Park race, the Kilcoole, Co Wicklow native made a cautious start - sitting on Maria McCambridge's shoulder in the opening mile.

However the two-time European cross-country champion soon showed the gulf in class that existed between her and the others, surging to the front and opening an advantage that grew all the way to the finish. McCormack crossed the line well clear of fellow Wicklow woman Deirdre Byrne (34:41), with Maria McCambridge third (34:52).

"I'd say I lost any chance of a good time at the start," said McCormack. "It was windy and a tough course. This race is never about times."

McCormack's win brought to a close her first key racing block of 2016, which featured a fourth-place finish at the New York City Half Marathon and a 10,000m Olympic qualifier of 32:05.08 in California last weekend.

"It was a short spring season and it was three good races," she said. "It sets me up well for the summer."

The men's race proved much closer, with England's Andy Maud edging Raheny's Mick Clohisey in a sprint finish. Clohisey cut out much of the early running alongside fellow Dubliner Brandon Hargreaves and made a move shortly before 7km, a surge only Maud could follow.

The pair traded blows over the final mile, but Maud landed the knockout punch inside the final 200 metres, the Englishman taking victory in 29:55 to Clohisey's 30:00.

The men's mile was won in commanding fashion by Donore's John Travers, whose mid-race surge carried him clear to win in 4:11 ahead of England's John Ashcroft (4:14).

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