Olympic ambition prompts Britton's surprise marathon debut
Fionnuala Britton's coach Chris Jones has explained the thinking behind the revelation that she will make her marathon debut at the European Championships in just two weeks' time.
Ireland's double European cross country champion was already entered in the 10,000m (on August 12) in Zurich, and Jones confirmed that track race is "still her main target." But he confirmed that she has been tweaking her training in recent months in order to run the marathon four days later.
This year's Europeans include, for the first time, a 'team championship' within the marathon, with each nation's first three runners to score. Kilcoole AC star Britton was added to the Irish women's marathon squad yesterday, with several late changes made.
It is hoped Britton can contribute to the collective effort while getting a championship-style marathon under her belt in preparation for the 2016 Olympics.
"Running a championship marathon, on a lap course, is completely different than running a big city-centre marathon," Jones explained.
"What is important for Fionnuala is to get a marathon experience in a championship environment, there is a great opportunity here for her to learn from this.
"Championship marathons are very different, they are not about super-fast times, they suit strong, well-conditioned athletes who manage their race well."
The decision also looks guided by the fact that there will only be one other 'championship' marathon before the 2016 Olympics – next year's World Championships in Beijing, a polluted city not ideal for marathon running.
Athletics Ireland confirmed that two women have withdrawn from the Europeans marathon squad and been replaced by Britton, Raheny's Barbara Sanchez and DSD's Sarah Mulligan.
Galway City Harrier Nicola Duncan is out with injury and DSD's Maria McCambridge withdrew to "re-focus her training plans" for Rio 2016.
McCambridge was part of the DSD team that won the premier women's title at the GloHealth National League (club) finals in Tullamore yesterday. Sinead Denny, Kate Doherty and Anita Fitzgibbon also contributed to DSD's winning score of 107, ahead of Clonliffe (107) and third-placed Newbridge AC (89).
Leevale secured the men's premier title, with 116 points, just seven ahead of Laois club St Abbans, with Clonliffe third (105).
St Abban's women and Donore's men won the division one titles.
Kourosh Foroughi (Star of the Sea), with 6,303 points, held off Trim's Shane Aston (6,063) to win the national decathlon title, and Bohermeen's Karen Dunne dominated the heptathlon.