Paul Pollock produced a magnificent exhibition of running as he became the second European to finish in the marathon at the World Athletics Championships in Moscow.
Conditions were hot with the temperature at over 30 degrees as the field completed the first 600 metres in the stadium with the 27 year old Annadale Strider right at the back.
He was still in 61st after 5 kilometres as athletes from Kenya, Uganda, Eritrea and Ethiopia dominated the leading group which contained more than a dozen.
Paul, mindful that he had covered the first stages in London too fast, was right on his schedule as he reached half distance in 67 minutes 59 still back in 52nd.
He improved dramatically during the second half of the distance passing 25K in 40th and 35K in 27th and looking very comfortable.
He entered the stadium running strongly and was rewarded with 21st in 2:16:42 the second finisher from Europe behind Spain Javier Guerra. Irish based Sergiu Ciobanu running for Muldova ran 2:34:17 as the race was won by Olympic champion Stephen Kipropick of Uganda in 2:09:51 ahead of two Ethiopians.
Paul was delighted with the result and said: “It was a very hard race but I made sure I took on plenty of water. I deliberately started conservatively because running in those conditions can add a couple of minutes to the overall time.”
He is taking a career break next year and will hopefully be competing in the European and Commonwealth Games possibly over 10,000 metres. His ultimate aim will be the Olympic marathon in Rio in 2016.
On the evidence of his Moscow run the Belfast doctor will soon come close to 2 hours 10 for the classic 26 miles distance.
Meanwhile, Brian Young followed up his Crawfordsburn success with another victory in the Shore 10K at Killough. He crossed the line just four seconds before David O’Flaherty with Richard Coey in third.
Cheryl Denvir and Catherine O’Connor repeated their top two places from Darragh Cross to give the promoting East Down club gold and silver ahead of mountain star Virginia Ervine.
Elsewhere, Don Travers came first in the inaugural Groomsport half marathon which was part of the Pure Running Series. The Newry athlete had almost two minutes in hand over Ballydrain’s Richard Coey who was also on the rostrum at Darragh Cross and Killough. Gareth Grew and Nigel Grier followed.
Julie Balmer was in a class of her own as she took her sixth half marathon victory of the year well ahead of Gillian Douglas and Diane Watson. Aaron Bell and Jill Aicken were first in the 10K races held at the same time.