Marathon man Ciobanu on course for Cork three in-a-row

Sergiu Ciobanu (Clonliffe Harriers) broke the course record when winning the Bord Gáis Energy Cork City Marathon in 2010 and 2011, and that’s his target again as he bids for an unprecedented three in-a-row today.

The Moldovan, based in Ireland for the past six years, shaved 20 seconds off his previous record when he won last year’s race in 2:25:34 with US-based Corkman Alan Foolkes (Leevale AC) and Colin Merritt (Carrig na bhFear) five minutes behind.

Ciobanu came to Cork as national champion, having won that title in Dublin the previous October, but he relinquished that crown to Sean Connolly (Tallaght AC) in their failed bid for Olympic qualification at last year’s Dublin Marathon.

Since then, however, Ciobanu, has continued to dominate men’s road running. He retained his Ballycotton 10 title in March and returned to Cork two weeks ago to smash the course record in Youghal with a 30:06 run.

All the indications are that he will add a third Cork title to a list that includes two national championships and the Connemara and Longford marathons as well as most of Ireland’s major road races. Colin Merritt and Wieslaw Sosnowski (Eagle) have been placed in every edition since the Cork marathon returned to the calendar and are likely to figure again if they toe the line.

Angela McCann (Clonmel) will be hotly fancied to retain her women’s title despite the exertions of winning the Limerick Marathon a month ago.

McCann, who took up jogging after the birth of her third baby, competes in her eighth marathon today and goes to the line oozing confidence after recording a string of personal best performances over shorter distances since last year. They included 78:51 in the National Half Marathon in Waterford, 59:01 winning the 10 miles in Mallow and 36:43 for 10k in Dungarvan. With three children, Caoibha (18), Shane (10) and Hazel (5) she has to slot her training into a hectic lifestyle but she does not need massive mileage to get her through the races.

“I run when I get a chance,” she said. “I’d try to get up to around 60 miles a week for a marathon and the rest of the time I would do 40 to 60. I suppose I don’t take it too seriously.”

The Limerick marathon was a last minute decision that worked out perfectly — 2:58:36 — which would indicate that she is right on target for Cork.

“I really enjoyed it and wasn’t under any pressure so I ran the first half very relaxed,” she said. “As I wasn’t really prepared for it, I had my husband, Mike, waiting for me at 16 miles in case I had to pull out but I was able to get to the end no bother.”

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