MOORFOOT runner Sarah McCormack was delighted with her eighth-place finish for Ireland in the European Mountain Running Championships in Turkey last Saturday, a significant improvement on her 42nd placing last year.
The 8.40am race time (6.40am BST) meant an early start, but the heat, even at that time of the morning, still ensured a real test on the 8.3km two-lap up-and-down course.
A solid start saw McCormack cross the summit for the first time in seventh place, 30 seconds behind the leader and eventual winner Monika Furholz from Switzerland.
A fast descent, the third fastest split time for that section, pulled her up to fifth equal as she set out on lap two, eight seconds behind Furholz.
GB’s Mary Wilkinson was now leading after a storming downhill, closely followed by her team-mate Emma Clayton. Talk in the Irish camp of a possible individual medal at that point was certainly not misplaced. The second ascent proved tough.
At the summit of the second lap, McCormack was eighth, 71 seconds off the lead, which Furholz had regained, with the GB girls dropping to fifth and sixth.
Another strong descent saw McCormack only just fail to take seventh on the line. Her finishing time of 40.55 was only 71 seconds behind the winner and 48 seconds off the medal positions.
Explaining her improvement she said: “I’ve coped much better this year with a higher weekly mileage of up to 70 miles and I’ve also improved my speed with weekly track sessions with Dave Campbell’s squad at Meadowbank on top of my hill runs around Peebles.
“The unwavering support of Moorfoots coach Gregor Nicholson and sports therapist Ivor Rathie were also invaluable to me in my months of training.
“My preparation went well, including my heat acclimatisation workouts in Peebles swimming pool, and I wouldn’t have changed anything. My legs are really sore and stiff now, though, so I’ll need a good few days to recover.”
McCormack’s attention now turns to the World Mountain Running Championships in Italy in September.