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'A' grade on Connolly's mind

HEADING for Sunday's Rotterdam Marathon with the Olympic A standard of 2 hours 15 minutes on his mind is Tallaght's Sean Connolly, who ran 2:17.23 on this fast, flat course last year.

He will be joined by Tom Frazer of St Malachy's and Galway's Gary Thornton. Sportsworld's Caitriona Jennings goes in the women's race, along with Lizzie Lee of Leevale, who is making her marathon debut.

The women aim to break 2:37 and join the trio of Eva Hutchinson, Linda Byrne and Marie McCambridge, who already have A standard times to their credit.

Connolly warmed up for Rotterdam when he won the Good Friday five-mile in Killarney in a time of 24.41. With Linda Byrne of DSD finishing fourth overall in 27.05.

This proved to be the quality race of a packed weekend on the roads. Mark Kenneally of Clonliffe and DSD's Linda Byrne lead the entry for Sunday's Woodie's DIY National 10km Championship taking place as part of the Spar Great Ireland Run in the Phoenix Park (1.0).

Both Kenneally and Byrne have marathon 'A' standard times for the forthcoming Olympic Games. Former world champion Kenenisa Bekele leads the entry for the Spar Ireland Great Run.

Another top class 10km coming up in the K-Club 10km in Straffan on Saturday April 21. Entry just €10 for BHAA members or €15 for guests. See www.bhaa.ie.

Britton sets PB: Fionnuala Britton of Kilcoole ran a personal best time of 15 minutes 28.22 seconds for 5,000m at the Stanford Invitational in California -- just eight seconds off the 'A' standards for London 2012. In the men's 1,500m, Alistair Cragg, who has his sights set on the European Championships in Helsinki, finished sixth in 3:42.00. He then clocked 13:32.76 for fourth place in the 5,000m -- a nice little session!

In Alabama, Mullingar's Mark Christie won the 3000m at the Tiger Track Classic, in 8:00.41.

Track stars' early test: Derval O'Rourke, Ailis Sweeney, Kelly Proper and Marian Heffernan will test their early season fitness at Saturday's warm-up track and field meet hosted by Leevale at the CIT. Hopes are high that Ciara Mageean of UCD will run the 1,500m, while both men and women's 3,000m races are shaping up nicely. Entry for everyone is €5 at the gate -- athletes can then take part in any or indeed all of the events on offer. Juveniles will have their turn on Sunday.


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