Tuesday 26 September 2017

Marathons run in the family for race's youngest participant

Gary and Dylan near the finish line after an incredible effort.
Gary and Dylan near the finish line after an incredible effort.
Gary, his wife Maria McCambridge – who also ran the marathon – and Dylan after the race.
Breda Heffernan

Breda Heffernan

RUNNING 26 miles is a pretty spectacular achievement in itself.

Running it while pushing a buggy is a whole other story.

But four-time Irish marathon champion Gary Crossan hardly broke a sweat as he completed the Dublin Marathon with son Dylan in tow.

Little Dylan -- who, at just 17 months old, was the youngest entrant by a mile -- dozed in his buggy most of the way round the course.

The sight of the sleeping infant must have been hard to take for his fellow competitors, who probably felt like a bit of a lie-down themselves as they slogged their way round the streets of the capital yesterday.

"It was a tough marathon, but he enjoyed it," said Gary, who admitted he felt like he was running twice the distance as he pushed his son up the hill at Foster's Avenue toward the end of the race.

"We went the whole way round together. He wanted out after 10 miles but then he fell asleep afterwards."

Explaining why he decided to bring his son out with him, he said: "Too many kids are sitting in front of computers. This is a great way for him to get some fresh air."

Dylan might have been snoozing, but his mum certainly wasn't -- Maria McCambridge was the fastest Irish woman to finish yesterday, making it a real family affair for the Crossan-McCambridge clan.

Ecstasy

It wasn't so easy for the rest of the 14,350 participants, who crossed the finish line in Merrion Square with the agony and ecstacy writ large all over their faces.

Some managed a final push, while many casually strolled home as if it was nothing more arduous than a jog around the park.

However, for others the feat of endurance took its toll. Legs turned to jelly, stomachs heaved and their eyes glazed over with that 26-mile daze. They collapsed in a heap on the green carpet, too exhausted to take another step.

The St John's Ambulance medics were kept busy ferrying the weary and wounded away as the stream of runners poured over the line.

The chilly October temperatures meant the city's course record of two hours, eight minutes and 33 seconds went unbroken, although the man who set it in 2011 -- Kenya's Geoffrey Ndungu -- returned to claim glory again for 2012 in a time of 2:11:09.

Leading home the women was his compatriot Magdalene Mukunza some 22 minutes later.

Representing the Irish, Belfast doctor Paul Pollock finished in ninth overall in his debut Dublin Marathon.

He later admitted he was "winging it" having been in training for a half marathon rather than the full 26.2 miles.

Second Irishman home and another marathon debutante was Sean Hehir from Kilkishen, Co Clare, who is a primary school teacher. He was cheered on by his pupils from the Oblate Primary School in Inchicore.

"I know a lot of guys in the club talk about going to Amsterdam, going to New York, Boston -- the atmosphere out there is second to none," he said.

His mum Cushla Murphy Hehir, a veteran runner who didn't run this marathon, was at the finish line to cheer her son home.

"It's his first marathon and he's been training very hard -- so I'm delighted for him," she said.

Maria McCambridge, as the first Irishwoman to cross the line, shaved one precious second off her personal best to finish in seventh place overall in a time of 2:35:28.

Meanwhile, it was a Welsh one-two in the wheelchair race with Luke Jones finishing first followed by Richie Powell.

Thousands lined the course cheering on their loved ones as well as strangers. Those lining the final mile were amongst the most vocal, willing the weary masses to make one final push.

Two of their number -- sisters Enya (10) and Jane (8) Ghilardi from Ennis, Co Clare -- peeled away from the crowds outside Trinity College to join their father David with all three crossing the line together.

"At that stage he had been walking because he had a pain in his knee, but when he got a hold of us, he started jogging . . . he beat his time by 10 to 20 minutes," said Enya proudly.

"It was tough, my knee went in the last 2km," said David.

He was part of a 119-strong contingent running for the Clare Crusaders Clinic, which provides free services, including physiotherapy and speech therapy, to children with special needs. They raised around €50,000 from running the marathon.

Staking out one of the best vantage points just beside the finish line was the Costello family from Grange in Cork -- mum Majella, and kids Aoife (15), Tara (12) and Mark (9) -- who were there to cheer on their husband and father Derek.

"We've been here since 10.20am and he's not due in until around 1.15pm -- there's love and dedication," joked Majella.

Irish Independent

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