Laura is Irish National Marathon Champion
Tuesday, 1 November 2016
LAURA Graham had surely one of the greatest local marathon runs of all time.
In the Dublin City Marathon on Sunday the Kilkeel mother of four won the Irish Championship in a massive personal best time of 2.41.54, leaving behind her Olympians Caitriona Jennings, over three minutes back on 2:44:59 in second, and Pauline Curley 2:48:38 in third.
Without doubt the greatest marathon run of all time from anyone in the locality came from Willie McCracken who clocked 2.23.53 in Dublin in 1981, the Meadow man placing 14th in a field of over 10,000.
But Laura's run on Sunday went so close to Willie's achievements. Indeed her performance over the 26.2 miles can be measured against the previous best by a local woman - Roma McConville who ran 2.58 in Belfast in 1983.
Earlier this the year 30-year-old Laura ran 2.48 twice in a week (in London and Belfast) but to chop over six minutes from those times is truly astonishing and speaks volumes for her ability and guts.
Laura's rise to the top of distance-running in the nation is all the more unbelievable as she has been running just over two years and has four young children, aged six, five, four and two, plus a job in Kilkeel Leisure.
Laura, who is coached Brian Maxwell of Mourne Runners, said: "No, I really, really didn't expect that. I loved the course, the conditions were perfect, very little wind, and there was a great atmosphere. But I am completely surprised to be the first Irish woman. For most of the race I wasn't even sure I was leading it. I just had it in my head to go for it.
“And I actually loved every minute, even when it got tough towards the end. I just wanted to run steady, run smart, for a change. When I ran London last year, I went out far too quickly. I trained harder for this one as well, so hard work pays off, I suppose. But the four kids take up a lot of time, and of course they come first."
Laura continued: "To say I'm in disbelief is an understatement. I was not expecting this today. I have a lot to be thankful for. First of all the man upstairs who let it all happen and my better half who has more confidence in me than I'll ever have in myself and who has been there for me through thick and thin.
“It wouldn't have been possible without him. He has helped and supported me all the way. And my four wee beauties make it all worthwhile and they make me eager to try harder. They are what it's all about.
“I would also like to thank my coach Ryan Maxwell who has provided me with great guidance this past year. I would also like to thank my family and friends who have supported me and thanks to each and every person who wished me well and indeed sponsored me in my Autism appeal. Thanks to all from the bottom of my heart," said Irish champion Laura.
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