THERE aren’t too many athletes set a new national record on a training run and there are even fewer who then scoop an award for doing just that.
But Ann-Marie McGlynn is no ordinary athlete and her ‘training run’ wasn’t your everyday, garden variety jog. She broke her own Northern Ireland women’s half marathon record at the World Half Marathon Championships in Poland where she finished in 42nd spot in a stunning time of 71 minutes and 40 seconds, which is why she has been named the Ulster Herald Sports Personality for October.
While it sounds a bit odd to refer to her competing in a World Championship race as a ‘training run’, for the Strabane woman it was just that as she sprints towards a much bigger picture that is coming more an more into focus lately.
The 40-year-old mother of two is hoping to earn a place in the marathon at the Tokyo Olympics next July but to do that she has to run under two hours 29 minutes and 30 seconds in Valencia early next month and her record breaking efforts in Poland were part of her preparations to do just that.
While she is in good form ahead of the Valencia Marathon on Sunday, December 6th, the pressure she is under ahead of that race is growing.
That’s mainly down to the fact Ann-Marie knows what she needs to do to make it to the Olympic Games – she has to run faster than she has ever run before over 26.2 miles, which means she needs to shave almost three and a half minutes off her personal best of 2:22.54.
That’s not beyond the realms of possibility, though, as she took seven minutes off her PB when breaking the NI women’s record at the Dublin Marathon last year, which was only her second time over the distance.
“I need to go for the qualifying standard so I have no option but to go for a sub-2:29.30 because anything less won’t get me to Tokyo,” she said.
“I don’t want to be going down to route of trying to get into the top 80 in the world because I think I was 86th when they froze it, so I’ll have to go for it.
“That’s just the way it is and we know it will come down to fine margins but we also know we really need to hit the nail on the head this time.
“My head is just in Valencia at the moment,” she stressed. “It’s coming quickly so we’re coming to the end of the training now before we start pulling it back a bit.
“I’m just trying to keep my head straight for that, stay healthy – I just can’t even see beyond it at the minute.
“I love Christmas and I have the tree up but I can’t even think about that at the minute, I need to get Valencia done.”
Ann-Marie will be able to take plenty of positives from her record-breaking run in Poland when she toes the line in Valencia in just over a fortnight.
FULL STORY IN TODAY’S STRABANE CHRONICLE