Paul Pollock and Gladys Ganiel had comfortable victories at the Belfast City Marathon on Sunday.
Pollock, who competed at both the Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020 Olympics, won the race in a time of 2.16.13. The Annadale Striders athlete had nearly nine minutes to spare on his nearest challenger. His race on Sunday was his second marathon in three weeks having been forced to pull out of the Rotterdam Marathon at 30km suffering from a chest infection he had picked up on race week. Prior to racing in Rotterdam, he had his eyes firmly set on the Irish record of 2.09.15 and believed it was attainable.
Pollock is still chasing times, with qualifying windows for the World and European Championships as well as the Commonwealth Games still open. The European standard is 2.14.30, while the Commonwealth standard is 2.13.00. For Pollock to qualify for the World Championships in Oregon in July he would need to run 2.11.30, which is undoubtedly in his range having ran 2.10.25 in Valencia in 2019 to qualify for the Olympics.
He will weigh up his options in the coming weeks as to what races he will target but focussed on remaining in Ireland to run last weekend as his second child was due imminently.
While Pollock would have been hoping to run quicker, he admitted it was “fantastic” to win a marathon on home soil.
"I thought I was on for a good time up until the last few miles but that said, to win a marathon is fantastic. I live about a mile away from the finishing line and to have all my family and friends there was an absolutely fantastic feeling. I was in a lot of pain going up the Ormeau Road at 24 or 25 miles, but you still think of those people who have supported you and got you there. Coming down the Ravenhill Road in the last mile, it was just 'get home, get the head down' and crossing the finish line with all the support really was a fantastic feeling,” he said after the race.
Conor Gallagher of St. Malachy’s AC finished second in a time of 2.25.00, while Gary O’Hanlon of Clonliffe Harriers, the 2017 National Marathon Champion was third in 2.26.59.
North Belfast Harriers athlete Gladys Ganiel was the first woman home crossing the line in 2.43.49. Gillian McCrory (St. Peter’s AC) and Natalie Hall (Annadale Striders) were second and third respectively both posting sub three-hour times.