independent

Friday 18 April 2014

Great and good of all ages take race day in their stride

One of the two junior runs at the 11th Spar Great Ireland Run

FROM the elite runners and Olympic champions to a baby who has yet to take his first step – Dublin's Phoenix Park played host to athletes of all ages and abilities.

Unlike other running events the SPAR Great Ireland Run lets kids get in on the action, too. More than 1,200 junior racers took part in their own dedicated races, with mums and dads alongside them. But one youngster managed to squeeze under the radar and into the adult race.

At just eight-months-old, Charlie Costello from Drogheda, Co Louth, has mastered the art of crawling but has yet to take his first steps. So it fell to his dad, Robert, to push him around the 10km course in his sporty, three-wheeler buggy.

"This is Charlie's second race, he's a pro now," said Robert.

Considering the extra weight he was pushing, Robert's time of 43 minutes was very impressive. Race winner and triple-Olympic gold medallist Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele completed the course in just under 29 minutes. Meanwhile, nine-times European cross country champion, Sergiy Lebid from Ukraine, finished in second 17 seconds later.

"We've just moved back from Australia. We were living in Sydney for the last four-and-a-half years and Charlie did a race with me over there," Robert added.

A host of famous faces donned runners and lycra for the event, among them Galway sisters Grainne and Sile Seoige.

The sisters were both raising money for the Marie Keating Foundation, a cause close to their hearts given Sile's recent battle with thyroid cancer.

Another old hand at races, Transport Minister Leo Varadkar, also took part. "I've a broken toe. If I finish I'll be very happy," he laughed before the race. He is planning to compete in a triathlon having completed 'Ireland's toughest 10k challenge', the 'Hell and Back' event, in February.

Youngsters were catered for with two separate races yesterday – the Mini Run for five- to eight-year-olds and the Junior Run for nine- to 15-year-olds.

Among those taking part were sisters Kate (8) and Ellen O'Neill (6) who were escorted around the 1.5km course by their dad John. "They really enjoyed it and it was great to see such a crowd turn out for it," said their mum Marie.

The family were gathered at the finish line of the main adult event waiting for their dad to complete his own race.

"Their dad was out running with them so that was just his warm-up," said Marie.

Irish Independent

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