Pollock books Olympics spot by smashing his marathon PB
The golden era of Northern Ireland running continued in style yesterday in the Valencia Marathon.
Annadale's Paul Pollock ran a stunning time of 2 hrs 10 mins 17 secs which took nearly two minutes off Stephen Scullion's short-lived NI record.
This is a personal best by over five minutes for 33-year-old Pollock and places him second on the Irish all-time list behind the legendary John Treacy who ran 2.9.15 in Boston in 1988.
Holywood man Pollock is now qualified for next summer's Tokyo Olympics marathon and his run is particularly impressive as it comes after a series of injuries in recent years.
Paul said: "I am absolutely delighted with this, especially after requiring an operation in September to fix a broken metatarsal. Its great to be the second fastest ever Irishman."
Banbridge's Emma Mitchell was also impressive in the women's race where she was timed at 2 hrs 36 mins 47 secs in her inaugural marathon.
This makes her the third fastest ever Northern Ireland woman. The 25-year-old will now be aiming for another marathon in the spring with one eye on the Tokyo Olympics.
Her coach Eamon Christie said: "We are happy enough, though Emma found the last part of the race really tough after a very fast first half time of 75 mins. This was a whole new experience for her."
The marathon theme was also evident in the weekend's Podium4Sport Joe Seeley 10K at Ormeau Park which again attracted the cream of the province's road racers.
The quality competition and perfect weather produced a series of PB's for many of the top athletes in the 850-strong field.
Letterkenny's Anne Marie McGlynn, who is also aiming for the Olympics, produced her sixth PB of the year with a resounding victory in 33 mins 38 secs.
She was well ahead of team-mate Nakita Burke (34.37) and third placer Jessica Craig of North Down (35.11) plus Rachel Gibson (35.41).
North Down retained the team title with 24 points.
McGlynn (39), who recently set a NI marathon record of 2.32.54 in Dublin, said: "I am 25 days on from my Dublin run and my legs are still tired. I suffered a bit today towards the end.
"I've had a really good year and will be aiming for Tokyo, assuming I stay injury free."
In the men's event, Ben Branagh of St Malachy's successfully defended his title with some ease in a time of 30.25.
He pulled clear in the latter stages from Lisburn's Chris Madden who finished second in 30.29 with Annadale's Conall Kirk producing another sprint finish for third (30.42) just ahead of Lisburn's James Edgar (30.44).
North Belfast won the team event with 158 points.