CATHERINA McKiernan, making her half-marathon debut yesterday in Glasgow, carved 89 seconds from Liz McColgan's course record, then threw down the gauntlet to both McColgan and Yvonne Murray: ''I would love to race them in the London Marathon next year,'' she said.
Ireland's McKiernan was timed at 69 minutes exactly for the Irn-Bru XS Great Scottish Run as overseas athletes ran off with the major honours. There was a record entry of 9419, of whom more than 8300 finished. A further 2268, also a record, took part in the junior 3000 metres event.
''This gives me a lot of confidence - I am making my marathon debut in Berlin next month,'' said McKiernan who was running on a course slightly modified from that on which McColgan clocked 70-29 in 1992.
Her time ranks her nineteenth fastest ever among women, and only McColgan, among British and Irish runners, has gone faster.
Joseph Kibor, last year's winner, clocked 61-46, a course record, to head a Kenyan sweep of the men's first three places. He collected #2000, two return flights to the USA, plus a further #500 for the record. It is just 10 days since Kibor, a member of Kenya's winning team at the World cross-country championships, recovered from a bout of malaria.
''I felt pretty weak today - I lost four kilos in a week, and haven't really got it to lose,'' said the man who sold the family's goat in order to qualify for the 1990 Commonwealth Games at 17. ''I was much lighter then,'' he offers, by way of explaining why he has never been in another Kenyan track championship team.
Kibor had already broken clear by three miles, in 14-32. He reached five in 24-21; 10 in 47-25; and 12 in 56-47.
Leading Briton, in fourth place, was Morpeth Harrier Ian Hudspith, trained by Scotland's 1966 Commonwealth marathon champion Jim Alder, who exhorted his protege from the sidelines.
Tom Murray, from Greenock, was first Scot, 12th, collecting #500 in cash and the same again in jewellery, a prize which City of Glasgow's Sandra Branney, the leading Scot behind McKiernan in the women's race, also collected.
Murray, light-headed and swaying slightly in the closing stages on a baking hot day, held off Law's Alaister Russell by just 14 seconds. Former World Mountain Racing Trophy silver medallist Murray, due to run that event for Scotland in a fortnight, said: ''I hope my legs have recovered in time. I also hope I can get to the bottom of the problem, because I have drunk plenty fluids all week, and I'm due to make my marathon debut in New York, in November.''
Strathclyde University admissions officer Branney, who won the Great Scottish event back in 1985, when it was a marathon, shows a remarkable appetite at 43. She is running for Scotland next weekend in the AAA 10-mile championship at Erewash.
''I am slowing up, but it is up to the younger runners to beat me,'' she said. ''I am not running that fast - it is a sad reflection on the young Scots.''
Details and leading Scottish finishers:
Men: 1, J Kibor 61mins 46secs; 2, S Lopuyet 63-33; 3, B Masya (all Kenya) 63-33; 4, I Hudspith (Morpeth) 63-45; 5, L Shvetsov (Russia) 64-04; 12, T Murray (IBM Spango Valley) 66-06; 13, A Russell (Law) 66-20; 17, F McGowan (Mizuno Racing Club, Edinburgh) 67-33; 19, W Coyle (Shettleston) 68-59; 20, A Robertson (Ron Hill Cambuslang) 69-13; 22, I Murphy Clydesdale) 69-36; 23, J Laird (Dumfries RC) 69-48; 24, M Strachan Dundee HH) 70-25; 25 I MacDougall (Kilbarchan) 70-27. Veteran: C McDougall (Cambuslang) 72-53.
Women: 1, C McKiernan (Ireland) 69-00 (20th overall, course record); 2, L Subano (Kenya) 71-03; 3, L Morgunova (Russia) 71-20; 6, S Branney (City of Glasgow) 78-06.
Wheelchair: Men: 1, D Holding 50-26; 2, Dr I Thompson (both England) 52-31; 3, R Low (Red Star, Glasgow) 54-05. Women: 1, T Grey 59-26; 2, N Jarvis (both England) 65-16.
Junior 3000m. Under-18. Boys: A Macdonald (Bannerman HS). 9-00. Girls: C Fagan (St Patrick's HS) 10-37. Under-13. Boys: C McDougall (Braidbar) 10-58. Girls: D Keir (Long Calderwood) 11-44.