SNAPSHOT: Irish cross country legends Britton, O'Sullivan and McKiernan catch up

The trio were at St Brigid’s in Castleknock this afternoon to promote the Spar Great Ireland Run.

Fionnula Britton, Sonia O'Sullivan and Catherina McKiernan in Dublin this afternoon.
Fionnula Britton, Sonia O'Sullivan and Catherina McKiernan in Dublin this afternoon.
Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

SONIA O’SULLIVAN IS a tough act to follow but Fionnula Britton is hoping to emulate the Irish great on Sunday and win the Great Ireland Run on her way to even greater achievements.

The Wicklow cross country runner, and former two time European champion, is taking part in the 10k event at the Phoenix Park on Sunday. Following an injury interrupted 2013 and a fourth place finish in the European  Cross-Country Championships, in Budapest, Britton is hopeful the 10k outing will put her on track for the 2014 European Athletics Championships in Zurich.

“Obviously you’re not going to be happy with fourth when you’ve won it before but these things happen and you have to move on,” she told “It has to make you stronger and hungrier for more. That’s why this year will be good, hopefully, as I have some big goals and I’m not going into events defending anything.”

O’Sullivan carried out a Q&A with students from St Brigid’s National School in Castleknock this afternoon. She was followed by long-time cross country rival, and occasional Irish teammate, Catherina McKiernan, who helps out with the school’s young track stars. Britton demurred when the microphone was offered to her but was happy to sign autographs and pose for pictures with the enthusiastic pupils.

Fionnuala Britton, Sonia OÕSullivan and Catherina McKiernan Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Britton, O’Sullivan and McKiernan have won 23 major athletics medals between them.

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Britton will take on the current European cross country champion, France’s Sophie Duarte at the Spar Great Ireland Run. The pair will both be aiming for 10,000m gold in Zurich, in August, and come into the event in good form. Duarte ran an impressive 31 minutes 53 seconds for the distance at a 10k in Auch, France on 16 March. On the same day, Britton ran 15:33 in Dublin to win the St Patrick’s 5k Festival Race.

“This event is kind of like cross country in a way,” Britton said. “Instead of focusing on times you are focused on the run and beating the people who are there.”

The junior competitions begin from 11:20 on Sunday with live coverage beginning on RTE 2 from 12:55. The Elite Women’s race begins at 13:10 with the men, including last year’s champion Paul Robinson, getting underway at 13:30.

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Patrick McCarry

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