Gladys goes for Olympic time

Gladys Ganiel O'Neill

Gladys Ganiel O'Neill

North Belfast Marathon star Gladys Ganiel O’Neill laid off the chocolates over Christmas as she finalised her preparation for the 2012 Houston Marathon which takes place on Sunday 15 January 2012.

Gladys is using the event to chase down the Olympic Marathon “A” qualifying standard for London 2012 and will be joined stateside by Marathon Mission colleague Ava Hutchinson.

Commenting on her approach to the Houston event, Gladys, who was recently made an Irish citizen said:  “I decided once I had secured Irish citizenship not to run the US Trials. First, training for the Dublin Marathon with the North Belfast Harriers guys seemed a lot more appealing to me than foregoing an autumn marathon to focus on the US Trials, and I wanted to run in Dublin because it is the Irish National Championship.”

No one would have blamed Gladys for wanting a break after her excellent run in the Dublin Marathon, where she finished 3rd Irish woman but she says: “I decided to give Houston a shot when I realised how well I had recovered from Dublin. My body felt much better than after all of my other marathons, which I think demonstrates that I am getting fitter and stronger with every training cycle – even if my time hasn’t shifted below 2.41 in my last threefold marathons!”

Indeed, she hasn’t showed any obvious signs of exhaustion or post marathon fatigue, finishing only 6 seconds behind friend and Marathon Mission colleague Maria McCambridge in the Greencastle 5 mile road race on St Stephen’s Day: “I’ve been surprised that I was able to jump back into a high level of training after my run at the Seeley 10k – I’ve been mostly hitting my target times in my sessions and I know my body wouldn’t have stood for that so soon after any of my previous marathon.”

The Houston Marathon is widely regarded as one of the faster races in America whose runners have traditionally benefited from very favourable weather, so it was an obvious choice for Gladys and her coaches Matt Shields (North Belfast Harriers) and Ray Treacy (Providence):“It is a gamble at one level to run another marathon so soon after the Dublin Marathon but I trust both Ray and Matt and the fact that they are enthusiastic about it has helped enormously. If all continues to go well, I will have gotten in a good few weeks of Gladys would like to thank a number of people who have supported her Olympic Marathon qualifying attempts this year, in particular the staff the Sports Institute Northern Ireland (SINI) and the Irish Marathon Mission Squad who have pitched in to help cover her flight and some hotel expenses for Houston.

In an effort to give something back Gladys and club mate Marty Rea have agreed to be charity ambassadors for the 2012 Belfast City Marathon and have set up an online donations page to help raise funds for the NI Children’s Hospice.

This is a great charity which is reliant upon public donations.

If you’re a kind hearted runner, please visit their page at: http://www.justgiving.com/GladysandMarty

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