Steel barriers lined deserted streets as empty crisp packets scraped along the ground, eventually ending up, muddied and forgotten, in the sodden gutter.
But if the streets of Cork seemed a little abandoned, it was only because the life and soul of the city had congregated on St Patrick’s Street, cheering on the thousands taking part in this year’s Irish Examiner Cork City Marathon.
Braving the wind and the rain, more than 7,000 runners completed the course, clocking up marathons, half-marathons and relay races.
Cillian O’Leary was the big winner on the day, winning the men’s full marathon with a time of two hours, 30 minutes and 41 seconds.
The Corkman, who grew up on Model Farm Rd, said it was great to win “on home turf”.
“I’m absolutely delighted. I’ve been targeting this for about a year, got my training in, was lucky I had no colds or injuries coming up to it.
“It was very wet and windy, there were miles where you were slowed right down by the wind but I knew I’d have the wind on my back the last few miles. I knew the course really well.”
Fellow Cork native Nollaigh Hunter came first in the women’s full marathon with a time of two hours, 57 minutes and 45 seconds.
The fitness instructor and mother of two, who goes running with her husky dogs Meeshka and Chase, is originally from Monkstown but now lives in Passage West.
She came second in the race last year and third the year before and was met at the finish line by her emotional parents, Breda and Declan O’Neill.
“I’m thrilled. I’ve been waiting for this for years. My time is shocking this year but everybody’s time is bad this year because the weather is just atrocious. It’s freezing, I’m frozen!” said Nollaigh.
“But I’m just so happy, I couldn’t be happier.”
Meanwhile, almost 40,000 women were pounding the pavements in Dublin as part of the annual VHI Women’s Mini Marathon.
Maria McCambridge took home the gold this year, running the 10k route in an impressive 34 minutes and three seconds. The Olympian was a mere four minutes off the world record of 30 minutes and 21 minutes set by long distance runner Paula Radcliff in 2003.
More than 80% of the participants in the mini marathon were raising funds for charity, and early estimates indicated the tally will run into the millions. Last year, the event raised around €12m for charitable causes.
About 2,000 entrants ran for the Irish Cancer Society.