By Mark Jones
DUBLIN — Catherina McKiernan may have missed out on a massive payday when she failed to set a world record for the marathon in Amsterdam last Sunday, but the Cavan athlete still recorded the fifth fastest time in history as she stormed to another impressive victory.
A bonus of $500,000 was on offer for a record and while McKiernan was on target at the halfway stage, the blustery conditions meant she fell 91 seconds short of Tegla Laroupe’s time, finishing in a superb 2 hours 22 minutes and 23 seconds.
"If I had things in my favor, I don’t know exactly what time I would’ve have run," said McKiernan, "but I know now for sure that I can break the record. Given that the wind was blowing me around, I have to feel very happy with my run in the circumstances."
At the halfway point, McKiernan was seven seconds ahead of schedule and she was in contention for the big prize when she went through the 30 kilometer mark in 1 hour, 40 minutes. But as the conditions deteriorated and the pacemakers dropped off the pace, she still managed to battle on and trim 1 minute, 21 seconds off her personal best.
This third victory in three marathon starts earned McKiernan in the region of $175,000 and surely now earmarks her as one of the favorites for the gold medal at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney.
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Wood may miss 3
Former international captain Keith Wood is likely to miss all three of Ireland’s rugby games this month because of a contractual dispute with the IRFU. Wood refused to sign his contract because of a clause over promotional work and he was told to stay away from this week’s squad session in Cork.
Ireland play Georgia and Romania in World Cup qualifying matches and then take on World champions, South Africa, in a one-off test at Lansdowne Road on Nov. 28.
Meanwhile, Munster booked their place in the quarter-final of the European Cup with a 13-5 win over French club Perpignan at Musgrave Park. However, Leinster have to beat Llanelli in Dublin on Friday to have any chance of progressing to the last eight.
Following a comfortable 43-18 win over Ebbw Vale, Ulster must win in Edinburgh next Sunday to go through. However, Connacht’s chances of making the European Shield quarterfinals diminished when they were comprehsively beaten 39-8 by C’rphilly.