Triumphant McColgan warms to Olympic marathon theme

Liz McColgan swept to victory over 10 kilometres at the Bupa Great Midland Run in Coventry yesterday, and insisted that she still has the appetite and enthusiasm to surpass her outstanding past achievements.

The Scot sees her future over the longer marathon distance and has set a target of victory in next year's Olympics. After winning four major British races in five weeks, McColgan is convinced she can run even faster.

It is a year since McColgan returned to action at the same Coventry venue after enduring an 18-month lay-off with a steady stream of serious injuries, which she insists are now history.

And winning in 32min 06sec, she said: "I think I can go a lot better over the marathon than I have ever done before."

McColgan was 21 seconds quicker than when she recorded the fastest time by a British woman in Edinburgh a fortnight ago, and was convinced she could have gone even faster.

"I changed my race plan when I heard Klara Kashopova was competing," she explained. "I was told she had a fairly fast time over the distance this year so I took it easy for the first three kilometres.

"When I looked around I couldn't see her so I pressed ahead. I'm pleased with my performance, it was a tough course and the wind was blowing in my face for much of the time."

The threat from Kashopova never materialised, the Russian champion finishing second in 33min 26sec with Katy McCandless of the United States and Parkside third in 33:36.

McColgan, normally extremely self-critical after a race, finally admitted that her training and racing - supervised by the Norwegian distance legend Grete Waitz - was well ahead of schedule. "I didn't expect to run such a fast time today. I've had a heavy week's training, including an 18-mile session on Thursday. Honestly, my legs seemed dead before the race," McColgan said. But she contradicted that statement during the race as, running in a 2,000-strong mixed field, her confidence and strength enabled her to finish 29th overall.

Today McColgan departs for 24 days of altitude training in Mexico City - then she and husband Peter will descend to sea level 10 days before next month's Tokyo Marathon.

There, McColgan will face world-class opposition and the result will allow her and Waitz to decide whether to repeat the same Mexico build- up for the Olympic Games, or adopt another approach.

In the men's race, James Kariuki - brother of the recently reinstated five-times world cross-country champion John Ngugi - was a runaway winner. The Kenyan won in 28:18. Second was Andrew Pearson of Longwood Harriers in 28:35 while the defending champion Gary Staines was third in 28:44.