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McKiernan sets her sights on Marathon Best as Loroupe aims for third New York victory

Catherina McKiernan sets her sights on Marathon Best as Loroupe aims for third New York victory

As the final countdown starts for both the Amsterdam and New York Marathons, both of which will be run next Sunday, Ireland’s Catherina McKiernan has high hopes of wiping out the world best set by Kenya’s Tegla Loroupe in the Rotterdam Marathon last April.

Loroupe herself will meanwhile be aiming at clinching a third victory (she also won in 1994 and 1995) in the New York Marathon, where the nature of the course is likely to preclude any possibility of a record attempt.

McKiernan’s marathon running history may look thin compared to the veritable honours roll owned by Loroupe, but the determined Irish athlete nonetheless set the fastest time in history for a debut performance in the blue riband distance running event, at her first outing in Berlin in September last year, when she clocked a stunning 2:23:44. McKiernan will also be assisted by male pacemakers in Amsterdam, despite the condemnation of this practice by the IAAF General Secretary, Istvan Gyulai after Loroupe’s male-assisted world best in Rotterdam.

Also lining up in Amsterdam - in the men’s event - will be last year’s winner, Sammy Korir (KEN), Martin Fiz (ESP), the 1995 World Champion over the distance and his compatriot Alberto Juzdado, who won the Tokyo Marathon earlier this year. Weather conditions permitting, we can expect to see some sparks flying around the picturesque canal-crossing course on Sunday.

Back in New York, Loroupe will face competition from last year’s winner Franziska Rochat-Moser from Switzerland, Romania’s Anuta Catuna and the USA’s Anne Marie Lauck, while the stars in the men’s field include last year’s winner John Kagwe from Kenya, South African 1996 Olympic champion Josiah Thugwane and Spain’s Abel Anton - reigning world champion and winner of this year’s London Marathon, with the latter two the likely favourites after disappointing showings from Kagwe in the New Haven 20K and the Philadelphia Distance Classic in September.