Freddy rules the road on Leeside

Freddy Keron denied Sergui Ciobanu a notable three-in-a-row triumph when the Kenyan broke the course record to win yesterday’s sixth edition of the Cork City Marathon since it was revived in 2007.

The winner made the decisive break midway through and crossed the line in 2:22:11, smashing more than three minutes off the record set by Ciobanu last year.

On a day when bright blue skies and warm temperatures greeted the athletes, Clonmel’s Angela McCann retained her ladies title in style, clocking 2:53:02, 29 seconds faster than she posted 12 months ago.

Clouds had gathered and a south easterly breeze had begun to strengthen by the time the leaders made their way to the picturesque waterfront area near Mahon. Here Keron took a decisive hold at halfway, quickly opening up a gap of over 20 seconds on Ciobanu who had kept him company since the starter’s gun.

Had Ciobanu kicked on at that stage, the outcome may have been different but the defending champion gave himself too much to do. Huw Lobb, from Serpentine, who had kept the leaders company over the opening five miles, was now running solo in third place.

Meantime up front, Keron maintained a steady pace, dropping just under a minute on the return journey having posted 1:10:37 at the halfway point. In contrast Ciobanu, despite chopping 2 minutes 29 seconds off his 2011 winning time, lost 1 minute 42 seconds on his homeward journey.

Lobb, who lost ground over the closing miles, held on to take the bronze medal. Behind was Cork’s first finisher Cillian O’Leary who runs with Raheny Shamrocks club in Dublin.

In his first marathon, the 32-year-old former winner of the National Half Marathon in Waterford had reason to be pleased, with his finishing time of 2:29:52. His clubmate Brian Leahy completed the top five.

Ladies winner Angela McCann also established a winning lead by the business end of the race as the 41-year-old mother of three powered on to make it two wins in four Cork Marathon starts. In her eighth marathon overall, the Clonmel runner was exactly one minute clear of runner-up Ann Curley (Donore Harriers) at halfway.

Again she showed her strength, extending her lead to 1 minute 33 seconds by the time she crossed the line in 2:53:02.

German-based Cork native Mary O’Leary, second in 2007, had reason to be very pleased with her sub three-hour third placed finish as she shaved over eight minutes off her time of five summers ago. Another consistent Cork marathoner, Anne Marie Holland of Eagle AC, finished just behind whilst Helen Leonard of Rathfarnham, now based on Leeside, was an impressive fifth. Less than 24 hours after finishing the Newry Marathon, wheelchair competitor Jerry Forde completed his 211th marathon.

The powerful West Waterford AC team, anchored by Sandis Bralitis, won the relay event. Gary O’Hanlon of Clonliffe Harriers won the Half Marathon with Leevale’s Lizzie Lee retaining the ladies’ crown.

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