MARIA McCAMBRIDGE makes her marathon debut at the Lifestyle Sports-adidas Dublin City Marathon on Monday when her presence will add an air of excitement to the record entry of over 11,700 who will face the starter.
It was always expected that the Dubliner would compete over the classic distance after an illustrious career at both track and cross-country.
On the track — to date — she has won three national titles at 5,000m, another at 10,000m, represented Ireland at the Olympic Games in Athens, European championships, indoor and outdoor, the world championships and it was her performance that clinched the bronze team medals for Ireland when the world cross-country championships were staged on Leopardstown Racecourse in 2002.
This year she claimed her first major title on the road when she won the half marathon but she insisted yesterday that, despite that performance, Monday’s marathon debut will be more of an exploratory expedition than a serious shot at the coveted title.
“The marathon was always going to be the next step for me although I may not have planned it to be so soon,” she said. “I am going into the race with just a 10-week build-up so I just want to get out there and enjoy it and if I do that then I will definitely go after a serious time at one of the big marathons in the spring.”
Alina Ivanova, who once represented Russia in the 10k walk at the world championships, has won the Dublin Marathon for the past two years and is back to defend her title.
Close on her tail will be fellow Russian Larissa Zousko who finished second in Dublin last year, third in 2006 and second in 2005.
Raheny Shamrock’s Annette Kealy has had a fantastic year, winning the Flora Women’s Mini Marathon and last month’s Lifestyle Sports-adidas Dublin Half Marathon and will hope to continue that form. The men’s current title holder Alexsey Sokolov is not defending his title as he, like Ireland’s Pauline Curley, is resting his body after competing in the Beijing Olympics in August.
The men’s elite field includes Ukranian Dmytro Osadchy who was the 2005 winner in a time of 2.13.14, finished fourth in 2006 in 2.14.22 and sixth last year in 2.16.31.
Great Britain’s Tomas Abyu finished second last year in 2.10.36 and will be hoping to build on that.
Gary Crossan who has been plagued by a leg injury will literally step off the physio table to go to the line for his 22nd marathon.
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