High spirits as 10,000 hot foot it in the park
IT was high spirits and high temperatures yesterday as more than 10,000 runners, joggers and walkers took part in the Spar Great Ireland Run in the Phoenix Park, Dublin.
There was a jamboree atmosphere as they tackled the 10km distance in unseasonably warm weather. And while there were many personal victories, the real winners were the hundreds of charities which benefited.
TV 'Dragon' Sean Gallagher and 'Fair City' star Maclean Burke were among about 100 running for the Baby Max Wings of Love Fund which provides equipment for children's hospitals. The pair ran shoulder to shoulder and were happy to see the finishing line.
"I never ran 10km in my life before. It's a bit like life, it's more about determination than talent," Sean said.
Gillian Quinn, wife of footballer Niall, was running for the Marie Keating Foundation. She said she had run it a few years ago and had been hoping for a decent time but she hurt her shoulder in a fall from a horse recently. "Now I just want to finish," she added.
Former rugby international Shane Byrne was "wrecked" as he crossed the finish line. "It was so, so hot. You hope that you will have a spurt at the end but I was just happy to finish," he wheezed.
Shane usually runs with his wife Caroline but she had chaperoned their twin girls Alex and Kerry in the Great Junior 2.5km race earlier.
A record 1,000 people ran in the event for runners aged 8-15 and organisers are considering a mini-junior event for 3-8 year olds next year.
Other well-known faces included Georgina Ahern, daughter of former Taoiseach Bertie and wife of pop star Nicky Byrne, and TV3 fashionista Lisa Fitzpatrick.
John Michie, who plays DI Ross in TV drama 'Taggart', and 'Coron-ation Street' star Craig Gazey ran to raise funds for leukaemia and lymphoma research.
Everyone suffered in the blazing sunshine and a number required medical assistance as they finished the race.
The organisers issued regular warnings to the runners to drink plenty of fluids and not to go out too hard.
Charlotte Purdue, from Britain, led the women home, ahead of her countrywoman Gemma Steele and Nadie Ejjafini of Italy.
Jesus Espana from Spain took the male honours, ahead of Jussi Utriainen of Finland and Martin Fagan, from Mullingar.