Fionnuala Britton denied victory by Steel after fascinating duel

Gemma Steel denied Fionnuala Britton a maiden victory in a fascinating duel in blustery conditions in the Phoenix Park at the SPAR Great Ireland Run 10km on Saturday.

Fionnuala Britton denied victory by Steel after fascinating duel

Steel made much of the running in trying conditions and was rewarded with victory in 33:03, four seconds clear of Britton, with Spain’s Alessandra Aguilar third in 33:11.

This was a much improved performance for Britton whose previous best was 33:54 last year and is a clear indicator her coaching link-up with Catherina McKiernan’s old coach Joe Doonan is beginning to bear fruit.

“It was better than last year,” confirmed the double European cross country champion who won the national 10km title held in conjunction with the race.

“Obviously you want to win. I did think I could win and halfway round I felt good. She (Steel) got that little gap and I knew even warming-up out the back whoever gets in front (in the final kilometre) is not going to get caught because you have the wind behind you.”

Steel, a late addition to the start list, tested the legs, and the lungs, of her rivals before pushing on at 5km. “I just wanted a good honest race with no altitude and no Kenyans,” she jokedafterwards .

Leevale’s Lizzie Lee recovered from a bug during the week to place second in the national championship, and 5th overall, in 34:18 while the evergreen Catherina McKiernan (Annalee) has shown no sign of abating finishing third, 8th overall, in 35:15.

Japhet Korir had it in the bag with 3km remaining in the men’s race and the Kenyan retained his title with ease in 28:15. Ethiopia’s Birhan Nebebew got up for second in 28:21 with Kenya’s James Rungaru only a second behind in 28:22.

Mullingar Harriers’ Mark Christie won the national 10km title in 30:10 with Clonliffe Harriers’ Sergiu Ciobanu second in 30:20 and Brandon Hargreaves (DSD) third in 30:31.

800m specialist Mark English (UCD) found the increase in distance in the men’s mile too tough to handle clearing the way for Great Britain’s Jonny Hay to win in 4:12.

Elsewhere, Mick Clohisey (Raheny Shamrock) was the first Irishman home in the Rotterdam marathon yesterday in 2:17:42 and under the Olympic qualifying standard of 2:18:00. Thomas Frazer (Crusaders) was also under the standard with 2:17:44.

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