Maria McCambridge ran a time of 2:36.37 this morning at the Rome Marathon - inside the A qualifying mark off 2 hours 37 minutes for London 2012. Maria becomes the third Irish women to make the marathon qualifying mark - and like Linda Byrne and Ava Hutchinson is a product of the Dundum South Dublin club, although McCambridge, currently based in Donegal with husband Gary Crossan, currently runs in the Letterkenny colours.
After giving birth to son Dylan and a disappointing run in the Dublin Marathon last October, McCambridge went back to basics. She fine-tuned her training with a 33 min 7 sec time behind Linda Byrne at the Enniscorthy 10km last month and then a new course record of 54 mins 48 secs at the Ballycotton '10'.
In Rome, she stuck to a pace of around 5 mins 55 secs per mile (or 3 mins 40 per km) from the start, going through 5km in 18.23, then 10km in 36. 43 and 15km in 55.13. Her half marathon time of 1:17.37 meant she was well within her target, and she continued to churn out even paced miles until the final 10km or so when - like many others in the race - she slowed down, with her 35km split 18.51 and her next 5km slower again at 19.14.
By then however with only 2km to go, McCambridge knew she could break 2 hours 237 minutes as planned. This she did, finishing ninth woman and second European in a race dominated by Africans. First woman was Hellen Jemaiyo Kimutai from Kenya in 2:31.11, with Ashete D. Bekele of Ethiopia a close second; there were six Ethiopians in the top 10.
McCambridge's time is close to the 2:26.23 run by Linda Byrne in the Dublin Marathon last October; fastest of the three qualifiers is Ava Hutchinson with a time of 2:35:33.
IRISH OLYMPIC QUALIFIERS TO DATE IN ATHLETICS
Derval O'Rourke (Leevale), 100m hurdles
Fionnuala Britton (Sli Cualann), 3000m steeplechase
Stephanie Reilly(Sli Cualann), 3000m steeplechase
Deirdre Ryan (Dundrum Sth Dublin), high jump
Tori Pena (Finn Valley), pole vault
Olive Loughnane, 20k walk
Linda Byrne (DSD), Ava Hutchinson (DSD), Maria McCambridge (Letterkenny), marathon
Paul Hession (Athenry), 200m
Ciarán O Lionaird (Leevale), 1500m
Alistair Cragg (Clonliffe), 5000m
Mark Kenneally (Clonliffe), marathon
Robert Heffernan, 20k and 50k walk
Brendan Boyce, 50k walk