Aoife Cooke stops her watch at Cheshire marathon finish line 2:28.36 (screenshot)

The Cheshire Elite Marathon and half marathon was held this morning in Pulford. It was organised by Mike Harrington to help some athletes achieve qualifying times for the Tokyo Olympics and  produced some fantastic results.

As reported by Ian O’Riordan in this week’s Irish Times a number of Irish athletes travelled over to compete. Among them was Aoife Cooke (Eagle AC) winner of the Irish marathon in October 2019 in 2:32.34 – her last race at the distance. She ran a brilliant race in Pulford coming home first woman finisher in 2:28.36, just under a minute inside the Olympic qualifying time of 2:29.30. The second placed athlete Maor Tiyouri also achieved a qualifying time 2:29.03. Ann Marie McGlynn (Letterkenny AC) also ran a great race and was just five seconds outside the time in 2:29.34 – as the finish line commentator said “hopefully Irish athletics will see fit to include her in their team for Tokyo”. It’s a wonderful achievement for both athletes – McGlynn was second to Cooke in Dublin 2019 so both made fantastic improvements by about four minutes.
The first man home was Jake Smith from Cardiff who entered the marathon race as a pacer, went the whole way and got an Olympics qualifying time of 2:11.00 – amazing story!

This 7.59 lap race was open to male athletes capable of running 2:40 or quicker for a marathon and female athletes capable of running a sub 3:00 hour marathon or the elite half marathon equivalent (1:15 men and 1:30 women).

It was over a new and officially measured (World Athletics accredited) in Pulford (rural Cheshire).

The race was planned in preparation for a return to COVID-19 safe road running and was well organised.