Laura to step up Games bid with Belfast-London double
Ireland's marathon champion Laura Graham is again seriously considering repeating her spectacular double from a year ago when she competed in both the London and Belfast Marathons within an eight day period.
The 31 year old Mourne Runners sensation is certainly in the sort of form where a repeat performance in the next few days could be a distinct possibility.
Last April in London, Laura ran a huge personal best where, in spite of a misjudged pace, she finished in 16th place in a time of 2 hrs 48 mins 3 secs. Just over a week later she astonished the athletics fraternity by taking a close second in the DeepRiver Rock Belfast Marathon in a time which was only 52 secs slower than her London race.
Such an achievement points to the exciting potential of this former mountain runner who only took up marathons two years ago. In Belfast on May 1 she could be the first Northern Ireland winner since Barbara Brewer's victory back in 1999.
Laura should certainly be capable of coping with the current opposition which includes last year's third placed Radka Churanova of the Czech Republic who was timed in 2.51.38.
Other athletes of note include Kenya's Salome Jepkoech who has a PB of 2.38.27 from a number of years ago plus sub three hours runner Agnes Kiss of Hungary. However none of these athletes has the ability to come close to the talented Graham who ran another massive PB of 2 hrs 41 mins 54 secs to take the Irish title last October over the difficult Dublin course.
At the weekend Laura ran just three seconds short of her 10k best time in the Titanic Race and confirmed she was targeting London with a view to further improving her marathon time. This could well ensure she gets close to next year's Brisbane Commonwealth Games qualification mark.
Belfast Marathon organisers are pleased with current entries for next month which currently stand at 2,460 for the full marathon and 1,600 in the five person relay teams. Many of these teams will be raising funds for the official charity Mencap.