Everyday heroes are Dublin marathon’s real driving force

You know it’s marathon time when a world-class runner takes home gold but a man in his 60s who has clocked up 85 races this year and a man who has literally ran around the globe take the plaudits.

The 35th Dublin marathon brought the capital to a standstill yesterday as over 14,000 runners from 47 nations — with 10,000 Irish entrants — flocked to the annual endurance race.

Kenya’s Eliud Too crossed the line first in two hours 14 minutes and 47 seconds, with fellow Kenyan Esther Wanjiru Macharia (2:34:15) leading the female pack.

But, in keeping with tradition, as much attention was placed on the everyday heroes who ran, crawled, and were dragged over the line in the later hours.

Chief among this year’s inspirational field was 64-year-old Dave Brady.

After speeding through his third marathon of the weekend — he raced in Nottingham on Saturday and Essex on Sunday — and his 85th since December, the Raheny Shamrock’s member now holds the Irish record for most marathons in a year.

“I had 82 last year but the record was 84. I’ve done 437 since 1988, I just get up every day and do them.

“I did 12 in 12 days for Autism Ireland earlier this year. I might need to relax after this, maybe go for a jog,” he joked.

Then there’s Tony Mangan, 57, who has run 50,000km in four years — the equivalent of circumnavigating the globe.

Other competitors included French couple Pierre and Danielle Convert — who raced in full Lycra suits and, ahem, carefully positioned shamrocks — Danish “Viking” Jan Jacobsen who brought a sword “to make the people in front of me keep their pace” and The Flash, who was just a little too quick for us to catch for a chat.

Wearing a T-shirt with the name Peter James Byrne, Louth-born wheelchair user Turlough Cotter said the little boy was what got him through the race.

In April, just weeks after being born, Peter passed away from congenital health issues. Family friend Turlough said his care at Crumlin convinced him to race for others in a similar situation.

“I’ve a picture of Peter here, I brought him with me. Every time it got tough he just got me through it,” he said.

The same private reason was also in the eyes of 33-year-old fire fighter Padraig Thompson, who carried 40kg — the weight of a teenager — to highlight youth suicide, and from brothers Joseph and Ciaran Clifford.

Due to significant intellectual and physical disabilities, Ciaran is unable to walk or communicate fully.

So Joseph did what any brother would do — he ran while pushing his sibling in his wheelchair in aid of Sunbeam House.

“He’s the driver, I’m the engine,” he said.

For marathon runners driven by hidden, personal causes, it couldn’t have been put better if they tried.

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