Gemma Steel continued her ascent into the top bracket of distance runners by taking first place at Saturday’s (11 April) SPAR Great Ireland Run 10K. Victory for Steel - who also tasted success at the event in 2012 - meant Fionnuala Britton was unable to triumph on home soil.
Celebrating its 13th staging, the race is Ireland’s largest mixed 10k and is the only event in the country to be awarded silver label status from the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF). Famous faces taking part included Tony Audenshaw who plays Bob Hope in Emmerdale, Ryan Andrews who plays Sean Cassidy in Fair City and Irish model, Roz Purcell.
Steel, a late entry to the race, prevailed in testing, windy conditions to cross the line in 33:03, just four seconds ahead of Britton (33:07) and Spain’s Alessandra Aguilar, who took third in 33:11.
Britton commented on her close contest with the Charnwood runner: "She (Steel) got that little gap and I knew even warming up out the back whoever gets in front (in the final kilometre) is not going to get caught because you have the wind behind you. I just couldn’t get my legs to turn over any quicker. It was hard to close the gap when it’s like that.”
In the men’s competition, Kenyan Japhet Korir retained his title with an impressive time of 28:15, with Ethiopia’s Birhan Nebebew second in 28:21 and Kenya’s James Rungaru closely following in 28:22. Britain’s Olympic marathoner Scott Overall dipped under 30 minutes to take sixth place in 29:59.
Willie O'Byrne, managing director of BWG Foods (owners and operators of the SPAR brand in Ireland) said: “Congratulations to everyone who took part in the SPAR Great Ireland Run today, whether you were trying for one of the top spots against the elite athletes or walked the course for your chosen charity, you should be proud of your accomplishment and we really hope you had a great day in the Phoenix Park.”