There will be a new name on the road running scene when Fionnuala McCormack bids to become the first overseas winner of the women's title in the Morrisons Great North 10k Gateshead. She will line up for the North East's biggest 10k on Sunday 5 July.
The 30-year-old Irish runner is better known as Fionnuala Britton, the 2011 and 2012 European cross country champion, but has changed her name since marrying long-time boyfriend and fellow athlete Alan McCormack on 6 June.
The new Mrs McCormack has been in the form of her life over 10km on the roads this year and will be seeking a third personal best at the distance in three races when she ventures across the Irish Sea to take part in the 10km next month.
The former Miss Britton showed that she's got talent when she improved her previous lifetime best by 47 seconds with a clocking of 33 minutes 07 seconds as runner-up to Britain's Gemma Steel, the reigning European cross country champion, in the Great Ireland Run on home ground in Dublin in April.
She then knocked off a further 11 seconds when finishing seventh in world class company in the Morrisons Great Manchester Run last month, running 32 minutes 56 seconds.
Whether Ireland's leading female distance runner can make it a hat-trick of PBs in the Great North 10k race this year remains to be seen, but she will line up on Tyneside with hopes of becoming the first overseas winner of the women's section.
The six previous editions have all been won by British women: Kate Reed in 2009, Susan Partridge in 2010, Louise Damen in 2011 and the burgeoning Steel in 2012, 2013 and 2014.
“I suppose it's been going well enough,” said the self-effacing McCormack, who will start her build up for an autumn marathon and a crack at Olympic selection after the Morrrisons Great North 10k.
“I think my run in the Great Ireland Run was probably better than my race in Manchester. It's a tough course in Dublin. To me, road races are a bit like cross country: it's more about racing than the times."
McCormack has already competed in three different events in two Olympic Games. She ran in the heats of the 3,000m steeplechase in Beijing in 2008 and in the 5,000m heats and 10,000m final at London 2012. She now has her sights set on the marathon in Rio de Janeiro next year and is hoping to secure a place on the Irish team with a time close to 2 hours 30 minutes in the 2015 autumn season.
McCormack tested the waters at the 26.2 mile distance at the European Championships in Zurich last August, finishing tenth on a testing course in a highly respectable 2 hours 31 minutes 46 seconds. That put her fourth on the Irish all-time ranking list – behind Catherina McKiernan (2:22:23), Carey May (2:28:07) and Sonia O'Sullivan (2:29:01).
“There was a bit of a monster hill in that course but I'm glad I did it,” she said. “It's all very well people telling you that you'll be a marathon runner one day, but until you actually try and do it you're not sure. I know where I'm starting from now.”
The Morrisons Great North 10k starts behind Gateshead International Stadium and the course takes the runners along Gateshead's picturesque Quayside, past Sage Gateshead concert venue, the Millennium Bridge, BALTIC Centre of Contemporary Art and under the iconic Tyne Bridge.
The finish is inside Gateshead International Stadium, where the participants' family and friends can watch from the stands.
Click here to enter the Morrisons Great North 10k Gateshead