Graham celebrates Irish marathon title

Laura Graham from Kilkeel was best Irish runner in the 2016 Dublin Marathon
Laura Graham from Kilkeel was best Irish runner in the 2016 Dublin Marathon

Laura Graham from Kilkeel was a surprise winner of the Irish marathon championship, run as part of Sunday's Dublin Marathon.

Thirty-year-old Graham, who finished 10th overall, crossed the line in 2:41.53 - over three minutes clear of Caitriona Jennings.

"I only first did a marathon because my dad had a heart attack," said mother-of-four Graham.

"I still don't think I am good enough to be an elite athlete."

Donegal woman Jennings posted a time of 2:44.59 with last year's national champion Pauline Curley taking bronze in 2:48.38.

"I knew I had to go steady and think smart for a change, because I didn't do that in London last year" added Graham, competing in just her sixth marathon.

Nambia's Helalia Johannes won the women's race outright in a sprint finish with Bizuayehu Gebireyes. Helalia clocked 2:32.31 a second ahead of Gebireyes.

Dereje Debele produced a front running display to take the men's title in 2:12:18 in an Ethopian 1-2-3 with Dereje Beyecha second in 2:14.37 and Legese Bekele third (2:15.00).

Sergui Ciobanu, the marathoner who just missed out on Rio 2016 selection, took the men's Irish title in 2:17:39, just 39 seconds outside the qualifying time for the 2017 World Championships in London.

Paul Pollock and Mick Clohissey have already secured the qualifying standard of 2:17.00 for London 2017.

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