Tough conditions and strong competition in the Irish Examiner Cork City Marathon

Tough conditions and strong competition in the Irish Examiner Cork City Marathon
Cara O'Sullivan hugs her father Tony O'Sullivan, Grenagh at the finish line. Picture: Darragh Kane

FORMER champions Gary O’Hanlon and Angela McCann experienced a sweet sense of déjà vu at the Irish Examiner Cork City Marathon on Sunday, defeating tough conditions and strong fields to reign supreme once again.

O’Hanlon made it two wins on the trot with a late-race surge that proved too much for his rivals to handle, the Clonliffe Harrier breaking away from Tim O’Donoghue and Sergiu Ciobanu after 18 miles. He hit the line in 2:21:43 to retain the title.

Second-place winner Tim O’Donoghue, East Cork AC. Picture: Darragh Kane
Second-place winner Tim O’Donoghue, East Cork AC. Picture: Darragh Kane

“I’m delighted with that,” said O’Hanlon. “It was very tough out there and the wind was very, very strong. I knew a fast time was out of the question after two miles.

“I was planning on running around 5:10 pace a mile but I knew when I was running 5:13 a mile and was flat out that it was too fast. I turned around to Sergiu, we had a conversation and he just said, ‘it’s too windy’, so we backed off a little bit.”

While the 44-year-old’s winning time was well down on the personal best of 2:17:11, it was impressive, given the strong winds that buffeted runners throughout. Only in the last couple of miles did he believe the victory was secure.

“I knew Sergiu would be tough, he always is,” he said. “The goal was to retain my title and thankfully I did.”

O’Donoghue took second in 2:25:52, with Ciobanu third in 2:28:26.

For Angela McCann, victory in the women’s race in 3:02:53 provided a throwback to 2012 when she last won here. The Clonmel athlete set off with the three-hour pacemakers but despite the strong winds and humid conditions, she found the pace relatively easy.

“I didn’t have a strategy — I said I’ll run relatively comfortable for the first half,” she said. “But I did find it very tough the last few miles. That’s marathon running for you.”

Picture: Darragh Kane
Picture: Darragh Kane

Despite being a two-time winner in the past, the 48-year-old admitted this victory had an extra special feel.

“It’s better than the first two times, to be honest,” she said. “To get back this year is such a huge achievement for me because the last few years haven’t been great so I’m ecstatic. The support and everything on the course was fantastic and I was able to stay with the pacers for a good bit so I’d a bit of company.”

Leevale’s Nollaig O’Neil took second in 3:07:56 with Megan Armitage third in 3:08:31.

Togher’s Gavin Sweeney took victory in the men’s half marathon in 1:09:04 ahead of Raheny duo Cillian O’Leary (1:09:29) and Freddy Kerron Sittuk (1:11:03). Fiona Santry took the women’s title in 1:23:17 ahead of Sorcha Kearney (1:25:26) and Andrea Bickerdike (1:26:58). “I knew on the way around that I’d be very lucky to get a PB as it was very windy out there, but I’m still happy,” said Santry.

The marathon team relay was won by Leevale AC in 2:24:24 ahead of Togher (2:29:12) and Crusaders (2:30:37). Across all races, a total of 8,000 athletes participated in this year’s event.

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