Team Ireland had two athlete’s competing in the draining women’s Olympic marathon in Tokyo final last night
Wicklow’s Fionnuala McCormack was at her fourth Olympic Games while Cork woman Aoife Cooke was making her debut at the competition.
For this event, a group of around 90 women would have to run 42.195km in Tokyo’s 27 degree morning heat.
Your podium in the Olympic women's marathon.
— AW (@AthleticsWeekly) August 6, 2021
The race commenced at 06:00 Japan time and from the beginning the three main Kenyan runners took to the front to control the pack. This was a race expected to be dominated by the Kenyan, Ethiopian and Japanese athletes.
After 10km, McCormack was still part of the main pack. The officials had her marked as 38th place but only a single second behind the leaders. Cooke was part of the large secondary pack of runner but still within seconds of the top.
Kenya’s Peres Jepchirchir held the lead a quarter the way through the race and held onto that title throughout in a powerful display.
It took until the fuelling station at 13.5km when the main pack started to split up. McCormack dropped in the chasing pack while about 15 athletes stayed on top.
After 20km the Wicklow woman was now in 27th, 27 seconds behind first. Cooke was in 80th place just over a minute and a half within the leader.
Cooke would unfortunately not make it to the halfway mark and would drop out. The tough heat proved very difficult for many of the European athletes as 15 athletes failed to make it to the finish line.
This was a valiant effort by Cooke in her first Olympics at the age of 34 having only taken up competitive running again in 2015.
— Team Ireland (@TeamIreland) August 6, 2021
After 30km, McCormack had boosted her standings to 25th on the slightly downhill part of the course. She was now 2:02 behind the Kenyan in first.
The final stretch of the race was tight but Jepchirchir would take gold in a time of 2:27:20. The world record holder, Kenya’s Brigid Kosgei would come in second while Molly Seidel of USA would impressively take bronze.
Fionnuala McCormack made it to the finish line in 2:34:09, running a season best for herself in the process. This is even more inspiring when you understand that she became a mother in 2018 and managed to get herself back up to such a high standard.
Two really good Olympic marathon runs by @diversinead and Fionnuala McCormack – 10th for Diver in 2:31:14 and 25th for McCormack in 2:34:09.
Aoife Cooke stopped just before halfway. pic.twitter.com/GB43jkVokC
— Cathal Dennehy (@Cathal_Dennehy) August 6, 2021