AMERICAN flags fluttered and Phoenix Park briefly became Central Park as the Irish version of the New York City Marathon got under way in Dublin last Sunday morning.
This was a wonderful consolation event staged by the Dublin marathon organisers and made possible by services provided free gratis by the regular suppliers for Dublin City Marathon events.
Many of the runners were keen to honour their commitment to running 26.2 miles, having pledged it as part of their fund-raising efforts. Stewarding was done by volunteers from local athletic clubs and Dunboyne scouts and a cheery 'Welcome to Central Park' sign was planted at the 12-mile mark.
In all, 147 athletes took part, all of whom had entered the original New York event, which was cancelled exactly two weeks previously, in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy.
Leading the Drogheda & District duo was Enda Collins who crossed the line in a fine personal best time of 3:05:40 and ninth place overall. He thanked his supporters who travelled to watch, including local businessman Joe Stafford who has more than one NYC marathon of his own under his belt. Enda also complimented the support given by clubmate Gerry Mullins, who ran strongly too to record 3:22:52. All participants received their New York Marathon finisher's medal.
Sunday saw the 40th staging of the Noel McGuill/Sandra Floyd Memorial Cross Counry races at Darver.
Having poached the 4 mile road race title back in August Fiona Roche from Raheny returned to become runaway winner in the women's 3k event in a time of 10:55, while Marion Doherty of Drogheda & District shook off her post Dublin Marathon aches and powered her way to third place in 12:13.
Nuala Reilly was well up the field too, finishing a strong ninth in 13:12 and Mary McGreehan was in close contact in 12th place. Emerging talent Jennifer Gregory was also close to the frontrunners. She recorded a 13:59 finish and joined Marion, Nuala and Mary to scoop silver for the ladies team. Third ladies team spot also went to Drogheda & District AC thanks to the combined efforts of Yvonne McMahon, Fiona Murphy, Pauline Lannon and Margaret McAuley. Clubmates were particularly pleased to see Fiona Murphy rewarded on her return to competitive running, following a bout of flu.
The men's side of the club was represented by 15 hardy individuals. The winner was Rathfarnham's Sean Hehir in 18:57 and fastest on the day for DDAC was a hirsute Paul Smith who completed the 6k course in 21:22. Patrick O'Grady came through next for DDAC in 21:24, followed by Paddy Moore in 22:05 and Niall Magill in 23:12. These four also collected the silver team prize for the club for the second year in a row.
Female age group prizes were awarded to Mary McGreehan and Pauline Lannon for W40 and also to Nuala Reilly, Margaret McAuley and Mary Toner for W50. In the men's, Aonghus O'Connor and Ian Donagh were second and third M40s and Patrick O'Grady was second placed M50.
Serial marathoner Oliver Clare attempted a double-dose of marathon running at the weekend in Sixmilebridge, Co Clare. Unfortunately at mile 46, after a sodden start in driving rain and strong winds, he was forced to withdraw with hypothermia. He has since recovered well and vows to complete the double challenge ' some other time'.
Liam Farrell, meanwhile, took seventh place overall in the MoRun Dublin 5k on Saturday last, crossing the line in 22:27.