Couple in their 80's hope to finish their final marathon in Cork hand-in-hand

An inspirational couple in their 80s hope to cross the finish line of their last ever marathon hand-in-hand in Cork on Monday.

Couple in their 80's hope to finish their final marathon in Cork hand-in-hand

Kay and Joe O’Regan said age is just a number as they made final preparations for the Irish Examiner Cork City Marathon on Bank Holiday Monday.

The Enniscorthy-based grandparents, who’ve been married for 57 years, have notched up more than 150 marathons between them.

Kay, who has run more than 120 marathons, is the current Irish Women’s Marathon record holder for the 60, 65, 70 and 75 age categories. Joe, who has completed 27 marathons, has in recent years opted to compete in shorter races.

But he has decided to join his wife for their last full marathon on Monday to mark their 57th wedding anniversary.

“All you need is a pair of runners and just put them on,” Kay said.

“You have to make yourself do stuff sometimes. There are days when I say to myself ‘why am I doing this, at this age?’. But that’s just if I’m having a bad day, or a bad run. When you finish it you feel great, you feel good.”

Kay and Joe O’Regan cross the finishing line of the 1986 London Marathon together. They want to cross the finishing line of the Cork City Marathon on Monday, their last ever marathon, hand in hand again
Kay and Joe O’Regan cross the finishing line of the 1986 London Marathon together. They want to cross the finishing line of the Cork City Marathon on Monday, their last ever marathon, hand in hand again

They will be among some 10,000 people, including Damien Coleman, who hopes to set a record for the world’s longest and faster solo run with a sliotar, and Gerard McLean, who will run in full paramedic gear, competing in the 10th anniversary staging of what’s become one of the country’s most inclusive marathons, with runners competing in a full and half marathon, as well as in a team relay, inter-services, and youth challenges.

City Hall will open for bag drops from 8am on Monday before the Lord Mayor, Chris O’Leary, fires the starting gun for the event, which is organised by Cork City Council, on St Patrick’s St at 9am.

The first runners are expected home between 11.22am and 11.30am.

Runners will follow a fast, flat 26.2-mile course north to Blackpool, before swinging west towards the Jack Lynch Tunnel’s southbound bore, through Mahon and Blackrock, up the Marina and through the southern and western suburbs, west along Wilton Rd and Model Farm Rd, before turning east to head city-bound along Carrigrohane Straight to the finish line on St Patrick’s St.

Traffic restrictions will be in place from 8am, with the marathon course closed to traffic until the last participant safely passes through each area within the allowed six-hour course limit.

Gardaí have advised people to use the ring roads and said the Jack Lynch Tunnel will remain open throughout, with a contra-flow system in operation in the southbound bore. The tunnel should be fully operational by 1pm.

Firefighter Alex O’Shea, who set a world record in 2014 by running the marathon in full firefighter gear, urged competitors to study the course, to note the location of water stations and toilets, to make a pre-race and race plan, and to stick to them.

“For runners and supporters, it’s all about the shoes. It’s a long day, so your choice of footwear and clothing is important,” he said.

He also encouraged supporters to choose their viewing spots carefully and to cheer runners in the final stages.

“The finish straight, as you approach the finish line of a marathon, is where the drama unfolds,” he said.

“People put in superhuman efforts to get themselves across that finish line, each step a step closer to realising their goal of accomplishing what they set out to do all those months previous.

“As they look at the finish line, suddenly everything becomes very real again as the clock comes into focus and ticks away for all to see.

“The finish line signifies much more than the end of a race.

“The finish line, to many, can signify such personal achievement, people achieving what they thought was previously nothing more than the impossible dream.”

The fastest Cork Marathon was set by Freddy Kearon of Kenya in 2012 when he completed the course in a time of 2:22:11. The fastest woman to complete the race was Pauline Curley in a time of 2:43:47 in 2014.

You can get more details about the marathon route, as well as pre-race hints and tips, and suggestions on the best vantage points, on the race website at www.corkcitymarathon.ie.

More in this section

Puzzles logo
IE-logo

Puzzles hub

Visit our brain gym where you will find simple and cryptic crosswords, sudoku puzzles and much more. Updated at midnight every day.

Puzzles logo
IE-logo

Puzzles hub

Visit our brain gym where you will find simple and cryptic crosswords, sudoku puzzles and much more. Updated at midnight every day.