Stags, hens and runaway brides take on top racers
With serious athletes, chubby physiques, silly costumes, famous faces and even stag and hen parties, the Lifestyle Sports-adidas Irish Runner five-mile race drew all sorts to a rainy Phoenix Park.
Dominika Wanat stood out from the crowd as she crossed the finish line, despite jostling with a pack of friends for most of the race. Instead of a sweat band to keep her dark curls up, the Polish native wore a pristine white veil.
And the sash around her running vest, usually the colours of a club or county, instead bore the slogan 'Bride to Be'.
The 30-year-old giggled as less energetic members of the hen party cheered her on from the sidelines, just after 10am on Saturday at the race in the Dublin city centre park.
"I am getting married in four weeks, I thought I'd do something healthy," she said as her husband-to-be Szymon Badura (29) trotted into view.
"We do a lot of running -- it's something we like doing together," said Szymon.
"We hope to be back for the 10-mile race in August -- only next time we'll be married," Szymon laughed.
After posting a respectable time of around 36 minutes for the run, Dominika disappeared into a sea of ruddy, and quite relieved, faces at the finish line.
"We will be having a proper hen night later -- lots and lots of partying," Dominika promised.
The couple were part of a torrent of 6,000 runners flowing through the park's leafy canopy, which tapered out into a trickle of athletes -- and wannabe athletes -- crossing the finish line in ones and twos shortly after 10.24am.
It was the tightest finish ever for the annual race as John Coghlan, son of former 5,000m World Champion, Eamon, vied for first place with Kilkenny's Brian Maher.
Both runners crossed the line in a time of 23.49, with Coghlan just getting his foot to the line in front of Maher.
The Metro AC man, who recently spent eight weeks in a cast with a stress fracture, was surprised by his victory.
"I'm only getting back into my training now, with light jogging, and I'm nowhere near track fitness," he claimed.
The leading woman on the day was Maria McCambridge of Letterkenny AC, Co Donegal, finishing with an impressive time of 27.08.
Every single county in Ireland was represented as the pack filtered through -- some admirably upright and energetic, others gasping for breath until the restorative bananas and power drinks were administered.
Darren Fitzpatrick was one of several runners from Metro St Brigid's Athletic Club to post impressive times of under 27 minutes for the distance.
"The wind was in our faces most of the way," he said afterwards. "At least it was nice and cool."
At the finish line, runners were flanked by familiar faces as family and friends cheered them on. Proud mother Aine Barnes was in familiar territory, standing next to daughter Bronagh (9) and cheering son Fergal (19), who is a seasoned runner, in yet another race.
As the grey clouds finally burst overhead, the rearguard appeared on the horizon -- some jogging, some walking, but all equally determined to finish the course.
Many of the first-timers will no doubt be back for the next race in the series, the Frank Duffy 10-Mile in the Phoenix Park on August 21.