FORMER Galway City Harriers’ runner and two-time Dublin City Marathon winner Christine Kennedy is once again becoming one of the headline acts in athletics circles in the United States.
At the age of 59, Kennedy (née Boyle) has already become the oldest woman ever to break three hours in the marathon. However, her ambition does not stop there as she looks to become the first woman over 60 to run a sub three-hour marathon once she hits the milestone age at the end of December.
Kennedy, who was named the USA Track and Field Master Athlete of the Year in 2011, was back in the limelight once again when she clocked a time of 2:59:39 at the Twin Cities Marathon in the Minneapolis-Saint Paul area.
Her brilliant time saw her finish 30th overall – and 26 minutes ahead of her nearest competitor in the Over 55 category. It has provided the perfect scene set for her ambition of becoming the first Over 60 to run the marathon under three hours, which she hopes to do in Boston next April. Last year, the Corofin native posted a time of 2:57:44 at that event.
No doubt, Kennedy’s journey to this point in time has been a remarkable one. Although a latecomer to running – only taking to the sport in her late 20s – she has always defied the odds . . . no more so when she became the first woman to win back-to-back Dublin City Marathons in 1990 and ’91.
A co-owner of two running gear stores in Los Gatos in California, the mother-of-two first became interested in running after watching Emily Dowling win the 1981 Dublin marathon on TV. She decided to give it a go.
Within two years, Kennedy had firmly established herself as a formidable runner, winning such events as the Galway Marathon in a time of 2 hours, 56 minutes and 19 seconds.
In 1984, she was crowned National Marathon Champion following a string of good performances and she carried this form onto the cross country circuit where she also excelled. Indeed, she would later represent Ireland in this discipline.
It was not until 1990, though, that Kennedy realised the dream she had conjured up in her sitting-room almost a decade earlier. Having secured her first national marathon title with an easy victory in a time of 2hours, 38 minutes in Clonmel in April, 1990 – two minutes clear of second placed Elizabeth Butler, John Treacy’s twin sister – she finally secured that Dublin City Marathon win she promised herself all those years before.
Kennedy came home in a time of 2:41:27, over four minutes ahead of second placed Galway City Harriers Bernie Stankard. It was a powerful display. A year later, she became the first person to successfully defend her title in an even faster time of 2:35:55.