Effort and endurance brings 13,000 over finishing line

AS a symbol of the effort required by the nation to get us through dire economic times, the Dublin City Marathon is a fitting metaphor.

The sprint-like nature of any quick-fix solution is no match for the long-term endeavour and endurance required of those hoping to complete the course of 26 miles and 385 yards.

Admittedly such a profound observation might not have been uppermost in the minds of most of the record entry of more than 13,000 runners who took part in yesterday’s race.

However, it might have caused a moment of reflection for the 11 members of the Oireachtas team who took part in an event that rivals a late night Dáil sitting in terms of longevity.

Any discussion of “splits” among this group, who began training for the race almost as early as for the next General Election with laps of Merrion Square last January, were solely of the timing variety.

Led by Fine Gael TD for Kerry North, Jimmy Deenihan, 58, who was competing in his “second and last” marathon, the TDs and senators were hoping to raise thousands of euro for a number of charities including Cuan Mhuire and the Friends of St Luke’s Hospital

“It took more courage to do the marathon than anything to do with playing for Kerry,” said the five-times All-Ireland medal winner who ran the entire race alongside his younger party colleague, Meath TD, Damien English, competing the course in 4 hours and 22 minutes.

Their party colleague, Lucinda Creighton – a woman renowned for setting her own pace in politics – lived up to her reputation by sticking with them for half the race before plugging in her MP3 player and switching to “shuffle” mode.

“It was very sore but exhilarating at the same time,” said Lucinda who came home in a respectable 4 hours and 44 minutes – no doubt helped by running most of the final part of the race through her own constituency.

Fastest of the group was the Minister for Children and marathon veteran, Barry Andrews, who had the additional excuse of running a fast time (3h 43 mins) to ensure he wasn’t late for an important meeting of the Cabinet in Farmleigh to discuss the budget.

His party colleagues, the Donegal Seanad pair of Cecilia Keaveney and Brian O Domhnaill were next home in the political race to Merrion Square.

Elsewhere, the perfect race conditions with little or no wind, despite the chilly temperatures, ensured fast times were the order of the day with new course records set in the men’s and women’s races.

Kenyan athlete, Moses Kibet (with the rather apt middle name of Kangogo) broke the course record of just more than 2 hours and 9 minutes set in 2007 by coming home in a time of 2:08:56. In the female race, Russian runner, Tatiana Aryasova knocked just over a minute off the old record with a winning time of 2:27:22.

However, Dundalk grandmother, Colette O’Hagan, was one of the true heroes of the race dubbed “The Friendly Marathon” as the 61-year-old runner successfully completed her 200th marathon.

As ever, the Dublin City Marathon was marked by the personal triumphs of the individual runners. One typical vignette was the sight of proud parents helping to shoulder the son away from the finishing line after he had completed the race in just over three hours.

Crowds congregated around Merrion Square and along the route to cheer on the athletes which included competitors from more than 70 countries.

Mandy Cooke from Donoughmore, Co Cork and Micheál O’Leary from Rathduff, Co Cork were both thrilled to have recorded their personal bests in their tenth and third marathon respectively.

“I only took up marathons two and a half years ago so you could say I’ve caught the bug,” said Mandy. “I wanted to walk after 25 miles but the crowds are fantastic and they really encourage you to keep on going.”

A total of 27 runners who have competed in every single Dublin City Marathon also took to the line in the 31st staging of the event, while for Tony Mangan, the finish line marked just the start of an epic run which will see the 52-year-old Dubliner run 43,000 km across the globe over the next three years – the equivalent of a marathon a day for the duration of his fundraising endeavours for Aware.

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