Fionnuala McCormack delivered a sublime performance in tremendously tough conditions to finish 18th at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Aarhus, Denmark on Saturday. Irish teammate Sara Treacy braved the course to place 73rd.
The 34-year-old’s achievement shouldn’t go understated as this was her comeback to the international stage, only six months after giving birth. This was McCormack’s 37th time representing her country and she did so in some style, crossing the line as the second European, behind home favourite Anna Moller in 15th.
The Kilcoole runner is a two-time European Cross Country Champion and her best result in the World Cross Country Championships were 14th place finishes in 2007 and 2013, however taking into account the circumstances, this is undoubtedly one of her finest achievements to date.
This was the 43rd edition of the IAAF’s oldest World Championship and it was marked with one of the toughest courses to date. The course at Aahrus was considerably tough with specially created sections of varying terrain, undulations of mud pits and sand pits, all adding to the energy sapping course. It was a battle of both mental strength and stamina as the course was unquestionably one of the toughest in memory.
With the popularity of cross country waning, the IAAF sought to try a different format to capture interest in viewers and athletes alike. McCormack gave her seal of approval of the new format.
“Everyone knows I love cross country”
“They built it up to be something brilliant and I think they pulled it off. The crowds out there were brilliant and the course was good. It felt longer than 10k but it was a good test.”
Sara Treacy marked her first senior appearance in the World Cross Country Championships with a notable performance. Treacy was selected for the Championships for the first time in 11 years where she made her debut in the junior’s race in Japan.
Tough aul day on a long hilly course but I'm bloody proud of my effort whatever! Always a huge honour to rep my country 🇮🇪 & test myself against the best! Massive thanks as ever to husband, coach @buds_run family&friends for getting me this point!!! Now to recover… #aarhus2019 pic.twitter.com/Pr0OcZTuWh— Sara Treacy (@sara_treacy) March 31, 2019
Treacy was Ireland’s top finisher at the European Cross Country in December and continues her comeback from an injury plagued 24 months. Competing at this level again will do Treacy the world of good as she can be confident she is more than capable of mixing it up with the world’s best again.
McCormack will now run in the world famous Boston Marathon on April 15th.