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Olympic dreams set to go Dutch

THREE women may have made the Olympic 'A' qualifying marathon time, but all three now must wait until the spring marathon season is over before they can be certain of selection.

Last Sunday, Maria McCambridge became the third woman to make the standard of two hours 37 minutes when she ran 2:36.37 in Rome. She joins Linda Byrne who ran 2:36.23 at last October's Dublin Marathon and Ava Hutchinson, with a time of 2:35.33 at Houston in January.

For the remaining ‘Marathon Mission’ members, the key date is April 15 when the Rotterdam Marathon takes place. Among those lining out are likely to be Caitriona Jennings, Lorraine Manning, Lizzie Lee and Breege Connolly.

Gladys Ganiel, who clocked a personal best 2:40.56 behind Hutchinson in Houston last January, may run London a week after Rotterdam.

Jennings, who ran 57:34 at the Cara Bundoran 10-Mile earlier this month, is in the form of her life and, whatever happens, looks certain to improve her marathon best time of 2:43.08, run in Dublin last October.

Lizzie Lee, the former triathlete who only took up running three years ago, is another to watch after clocking a personal best time of 57:17 behind McCambridge at the Ballycotton ‘10'.

Maintaining a consistent pace is the key to marathon success and in Rome, McCambridge stuck to around 5 minute 55 second miling (or 3:40 per km) from the start, only slowing down in the final 10km when her feet blistered badly.

McCambridge has now run four marathons in remarkably consistent times – Dublin 2008 in 2:36.33, Paris 2009 in 2:35.29, Dublin 2011 in 2:40.24 and now Rome in 2:36.37.

Clearly she has a faster marathon in her if the conditions are right – as indeed have Hutchinson and Byrne. Exciting times for Irish distance running!

Another Marathon Mission member back to winning ways is Lorraine Manning. Her time of 58:55 gave her victory in the Kostal Mallow 10-Mile on Monday. Overall winner was Bantry's Alan O'Shea in 52:35.