Steel to take on likes of Fionnuala Britton and Valeria Straneo over 10km while Japhet Korir and Leonard Komon head men’s field
Gemma Steel is set to return to road race action after her 18th place finish at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in China last month when she competes over 10km at Saturday’s SPAR Great Ireland Run.
The Euro Cross champion won the Dublin event in 2012 and returns to the city’s Phoenix Park to take on a women’s field including the likes of Ireland’s two-time European cross-country gold medallist Fionnuala Britton and Italy’s European marathon silver medallist Valeria Straneo.
Britton will be hoping it is third time lucky for her at this event. She placed seventh in 2011 clocking 34:10 before running her 33:54 PB when finishing fourth last year.
“It’ll be interesting, because it’s a tough race,” said Britton. “I know it’s on the road in Phoenix Park but it’s a bit like cross country and it can be windy.
“It can be a difficult race to predict – it’s at a time of year where no-one really knows where they’re at in terms of how fit they are. Some runners are getting ready for spring marathons and others are looking to the summer and the track.”
She added: “For me, it’s really just the start. I want to try to qualify this year for Rio but not in the spring. I’m going to wait until an autumn marathon.
“It would be a brilliant race to win but a lot depends on where the other girls are at. It’s our national championship 10km road race and, with it being a mass participation race, the two liked in together makes it an even bigger race.”
Steel has run 32:52 this year in San Juan, while Straneo boasts a 10km road best of 32:07. Other athletes entered include Britton’s fellow Irishwoman Mary Cullen and British athletes Jessica Coulson and Katrina Wootton.
The men’s race is set to see a battle between Kenyans Japhet Korir and Leonard Komon as the 2013 world cross-country gold medallist and defending Great Ireland Run champion takes on the world record-holder.
Komon is the only athlete to have broken 27 minutes for 10km on the road, his 26:44 run in Utrecht in 2010. Korir clocked 29:12 when winning last year’s event and has a 10km PB of 27:52.
The duo will be joined by the likes of fellow Kenyan James Rungaru, who won the 2014 Great South Run, as well as Britain’s Olympic marathoner Scott Overall.
The day’s events also include an elite men’s mile which is set to feature athletes such as Mark English, Jonny Hay, James Bowness and Frank Baddick.
» Full elite startlists can be found here