Britton on course for Rio as second fastest qualifier
Fionnuala Britton secured Olympic qualification at the Chicago Marathon yesterday, finishing 13th in 2:33.15, a run which makes her the third Irish woman to qualify for the marathon in Rio de Janeiro next year.
Britton (31) passed halfway in 75:09 in yesterday's race but was unable to maintain the pace through the latter miles and came home in 2:33.15, comfortably inside the standard of 2:42, but well off her best of 2:31.46, which was run in her marathon debut at the European Championships last year.
The double European cross-country champion, who is a member of the Kilcoole club in Co Wicklow, started off brightly, clocking a time of 17 minutes 27 seconds at 5km. Had she maintained this pace, she would have become the first Irishwoman in 10 years to break 2 hours 30 seconds.
Unfortunately, the conditions, including a stiff breeze, meant she was slowing down all the time. When she went through the halfway mark in 75 minutes 9 seconds - well off the 71 minutes 33 seconds she ran at the Lille Half Marathon last month - hopes of a fast time were fading.
Though Britton's time makes her the second fastest Irish qualifier for Rio, she is still not guaranteed selection, with Maria McCambridge and others set to make attempts at the standard in the coming months. Lizzie Lee is currently the fastest Irish qualifier, having run 2:32.51 at the Berlin Marathon last month, while Breege Connolly ran 2:37.29 in London earlier this year.
DSD's Maria McCambridge will chase the time at the Frankfurt on October 25.
Although clearly struggling in the later stages of the race, she held on to finish 13th woman behind Kenya's Florence Kiplagat, the world half marathon record holder, who made a late break to win in 2:23.33.
Overall winner of the race was Kenya's Dickson Chumba in 2:09.25. For the first time in 26 years, the race was run without pacemakers, which meant that although times were noticeably slower, those who ran got valuable experience of championship running in advance of the Olympics.