20,000 runners set for Dublin Marathon

A record 20,000 runners will stride out on Merrion Square South tomorrow morning for the SSE Airtricity Dublin Marathon, with club runners from Acorn AC right through to Youghal in search of that coveted finishing medal.

20,000 runners set for Dublin Marathon

A gaggle of B-list East Africans will battle it out for the respective men’s and women’s €12,000 winners’ cheques while Laura Graham (Mourne Runners) and Sergiu Ciobanu (Clonliffe Harriers) will bid to defend their national titles.

There is a nice purse for national glory too with €3,500 for the win which can steadily rise with time bonuses and a top ten overall finish.

Race Director Jim Aughney and his team have been supporting Ireland’s leading marathon runners through the Marathon Mission for quite some time now and it’s something Athletics Ireland are keen to recognise.

As a result, new High Performance Director, Paul McNamara has included the race as an avenue for selection for the European Athletics Championships Marathon Team Cup in Berlin next August.

The first finishing eligible athlete, male and female, will be selected once they have achieved the 2017 Dublin Marathon performance standard of 2:18:00 (men) and 2:39:00 (women) or half marathon standard (65:00/75:00) at any time during the qualification period on, at least, one occasion.

Laura Graham burst onto the running scene a few years ago with a carefree-running spirit that shows no sign of slowing down just yet. The mother of four is favourite to retain the national title but will face stiff competition from Caitriona Jennings (Letterkenny) with the likes of Barbara Sanchez (Clonliffe Harriers).

At the head of the women’s field Ukraine’s Nataliya Lehonkova returns after her victory in 2015 2:31:08 but Ethiopia’s Ashu Kasim looks most likely to top the podium. There should be no looking past a formidable Clonliffe Harriers for the national men’s team and individual placings with Sergiu Ciobanu, Stephen Scullion, the evergreen Gary O’Hanlon, and David Mansfield in their ranks.

It will likely be a duel between Ciobanu and Scullion for the national title.

The pair of both been training at altitude with Scullion, the younger man, making marked improvements the last 12 months. Ciobanu is an experienced campaigner though while O’Hanlon is fresh from a sub 2:20 clocking in Berlin.

Ethiopians Alemu Gemechu and Asefe Bekele will take on Kenya’s Bernard Rotich, Dan Tanui and John Koech for top honours.

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