Novice marathon runner Byrne qualifies for 2012

A novice marathon runner has qualified for the London Olympics after her first run over the distance.

A novice marathon runner has qualified for the London Olympics after her first run over the distance.

Linda Byrne, from Dundrum, south Dublin, crossed the finish line in the Dublin Marathon in 2.36.21 – 39 seconds inside the cut-off time for qualification for next year’s Olympics.

The 25-year-old was sixth overall, six minutes behind the winner of the women’s race Helalia Johannes, from Namibia.

Byrne said she was absolutely shocked and delighted after getting the time confirmed.

The men’s race was won by Kenyan Geoffrey Ndungu who set a new record for the route of 2.08.32, smashing last year’s time by 24 seconds.

The fastest Irish man was Sean Connolly, a commendable 12th in 2.18.52, but too slow for qualification for London.

A record 14,000 competitors took to the streets with light but persistent rain making conditions for the race difficult.

Kenyan Moses Kangogo Kibet, who held the 2010 title in a then record time of 2.08.58, finished fifth.

More than 200 gardaí and PSNI officers running the marathon wore black ribbons in memory of a colleague who died in flash floods last week.

Garda Ciaran Jones, 24, was swept away while trying to warn motorists over dangerous conditions at a bridge in the Wicklow mountains on Monday night.

They were also paying tribute to Filipino woman Celia Ferrer de Jesus, the hospice nurse who died when her basement flat in Dublin flooded.

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