Record entry in ‘friendly marathon’ despite cold

DUBLIN lived up to its reputation for hosting the “friendly marathon” yesterday as a record entry of more than 11,700 runners took part in the annual race around the streets of the capital in a good-humoured event that was enjoyed by participants and spectators alike.

A cold, crisp morning with some strong breezes and temperatures falling as low as 6C meant race conditions were not exactly ideal, although the weather did little to deter the thousands of spectators who gathered along the 26.2-mile route to cheer on the runners.

Large crowds greeted the athletes at various vantage points around the course, with the ranks of bystanders swelling in the city centre as the runners made their way from Trinity College to the finish line at Merrion Square.

A group of drummers helped encourage the weary athletes to produce a final spurt as they rounded the last bend on Clare Street, while their tireless rhythm also prevented some spectators from developing hypothermia.

The high attendance was also boosted by the fact that Irish runners accounted for the majority of the field for the first time in many years, while a third of participants were female.

Thousands of runners participate with the objective of simply completing the challenge, recording personal triumphs and raising money for charities.

Among them was Catherine O’Regan, a 72-year-old from Enniscorthy, Co Wexford, who completed her 88th marathon in a time of four hours and 19 minutes.

“I enjoy it when I see the finish,” she laughed, while confirming her plans to run her next marathon in either Blackpool or Barcelona with her husband, Joe, to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary.

Ray O’Donoghue from Dillon’s Cross in Cork admitted to being very emotional after breaking his personal target of finishing the race inside three and three-quarter hours.

Crying as he was hugged by his girlfriend, Lesley Wilkins, he observed: “You get a big buzz out of doing it and I don’t think I can stop now.”

It was also a special day for the family of the late Noel Carroll, who was the driving force behind the establishment of the first Dublin City Marathon in 1980. His children, Stephen, Enda, Noel Jnr and Nicola, all ran the race to mark the 10th anniversary of their father’s death as well as raising funds for the Goal Noel Carroll building project in Calcutta, while his widow, Deirdre O’Callaghan, presented the silver trophy named after him to the overall winner, Andriy Naumov.

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