Strabane-based Ann Marie McGlynn continued her golden 12-month period with yet another Northern Ireland record in the weekend's World Half Marathon Championships in Gdynia, Poland.
The 40-year-old Letterkenny woman took full advantage of the dry, windless conditions to finish in the top half of the field in 42nd position in a time of 71 mins 40 secs which takes 20 seconds off her own NI record set in the Barcelona Half in February last year. Ann Marie's latest achievement was not unexpected given her scintillating form over the past 12 months.
It began with a new NI marathon time in Dublin of 2.32.54 which took over two minutes off Teresa Duffy's old record. Last July she addressed the coronavirus restrictions in style with a new NI 10k record of 32.43 at Down Royal Racecourse.
Ann Marie then decided to give the star-packed Larne Half Marathon a miss to concentrate on the World event in Poland. This has clearly paid off with a classy performance which beat all the British girls. Samatha Harrison was 47th followed by Becky Briggs (64th) and Clara Evans (65th).
A clearly delighted Ann Marie tweeted: "Lots of work behind the scenes with all the boys that helped me in training (too many to mention). Time to recover now and look forward to the next one."
Her next event is almost certain to be a marathon within the next three months as McGlynn is desperate to achieve the Tokyo Olympics qualification time of 2 hrs 29 mins 30 secs. By that time she will be 41.
Ann Marie only took up the sport competitively some seven years ago at the age of 33.
In 2013 she made the Irish Cross-Country team for the European Cross Country in Belgrade. The following year in Samokov she finished 46th and was part of the bronze medal-winning Irish team.
Ann Marie explained that prior to this she was only training up to 25 miles a week and avoided road surfaces. This has kept her injury free in recent times when she has had to treble her mileage. She also receives significant physiotherapy.
Mother of two Ann Marie recently said she doesn't feel like 40 and points to Jo Pavey who has remained at an elite running level into her fifth decade.
The race in Poland was won by 2016 World Half Marathon champion Peres Jepchirchir of Kenya in a world best time of 65.16.
There were an astonishing 65 personal best times in the event which could not be exclusively explained by the excellent running conditions. Standards were already exceptionally high as coronavirus had ensured that the Polish event was the only European or World event this calendar year. Another factor was that there has been a massive development in running shoe technology which World Ath-letics has been slow to address.
There is now a recent agreement between athletes and the World body that all-new shoe products must comply with a maximum sole thickness of 40 millimetres.
North Belfast's Kevin Seaward also produced a commendable performance when he worked his way up from the rear of the field as usual to finish 58th in a time of 62 mins 58 secs. This is seven secs faster than his previous PB set recently when finishing fifth at Larne.
Hugh Armstrong from Ballina finished 70th in a PB of 63.37. while Seaward defeated the British pair Kristin Jones (60th) and Tom Evans (64th) with Jake Smith of Wales finishing an impressive 18th.