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    McCormack excels with a 2:23:57 clocking in the Valencia Marathon

    One week before the SPAR European Cross Country Championships in Fingal-Dublin, Fionnuala McCormack excelled in the Valencia Marathon on Sunday (5) morning with a fifth-place finish in a lifetime best of 2:23:57.

    Despite the blustery conditions in one of the world’s foremost running cities, the four-time Olympian slashed almost three minutes from her previous lifetime best of 2:26:47 to bring Catherina McKiernan’s long-standing national record of 2:22:23 into closer view.

    McCormack moves up to third on the 2021 European list behind Lonah Chemtai Salpeter from Israel and Great Britain’s Charlotte Purdue who ran 2:18:54 and 2:23:26 respectively in the London Marathon in October.

    But all being well McCormack will be moving down in distance next weekend when she makes her 17th appearance at the European Cross Country Championships at the Sport Ireland Campus. 

    Competing under her maiden name of Britton, McCormack became the first female athlete to win back-to-back individual titles in 2011 and 2012 and she also led Ireland to team silver two years ago in Lisbon.

    In the men’s race, Amanal Petros sliced almost one minute from his German record in 11th in 2:06:26 while Hamid Ben Daoud sliced one second off the Spanish record in 12th in 2:06:34, breaking the previous mark set by Olympic fifth-placer Ayad Lamdassem in this race last year.

    Reigning European champion Koen Naert was 18th in 2:08:40 but former European marathon record-holder Sondre Nordstad Moen from Norway was a notable non-finisher.

    Kenyans won both races courtesy of Nancy Jelagat in the women's race in 2:19:30 and Lawrence Cherono in the men's race in 2:05:11.