Fionnuala Britton’s debut marathon catapulted her to fourth in the Irish all-time list as the double European cross-country champion finished tenth at the European Championships 26-miler in Zurich.
Britton was in the leading group of a dozen at the start, but was burnt off early as Christelle Daunay of France beat off Valeria Straneo of Italy by thirteen seconds for the gold in a winning time of 2 hours 25 minutes 14 seconds.
Portugal’s Jessica Augusto came third a further fourteen seconds down.
Britton clocked an impressive 2:31:46 in her first competitive running at the distance, and finished ahead of Olympic triathlon champion Nicola Spirig, who fell from eighth to her final position of 24th in the closing kilometres.
The Wicklow athlete was the first twentysomething home as the top nine were all in their thirties Daunay is aged 39, Straneo 38.
Irish half-marathon champion Sarah Mulligan was 36th in 2:42:43 and Barbara Sanchez 41st in 2:43:59 as Ireland finished seventh in the Marathon Cup team competition, where Italy took gold ahead of Portugal and Russia.
Britton said afterwards: “In one way I am happy. I’m happy I survived it. I was a little bit nervous because I asked to do this.
“I wanted to put myself out there. I felt that if something went wrong, if I ran really badly, there would have been problems for me and the people who put their faith in me, those who let me run this.
“I think it paid off.
“I asked to do this and everybody told me I was mad. Then they realised I was being serious!”
Estonia’s Luik triplets all finished, with Liina finishing 29th ahead of Leila and Lily.
It’s relay action for Ireland this afternoon in the men’s 4x400m and women’s 4x100m.