DINGLE'S waterfront was thronged on Saturday morning as some 2,600 competitors lined the streets in readiness for the start of the 2012 Kerryman Dingle Marathon. At 9am a shotgun blast fired by Micheal Begley got the event underway and a sea of bodies spilled out the road towards Milltown.
Two hours earlier in Camp runners set off in the 50-mile ultra marathon that followed a torturous route over the Conor Pass before the competitors joined the marathon route around Slea Head.
The first winners of the day crossed the half marathon finishing line at Kruger's pub in Dun Chaoin in what seemed like no time at all. John Meade was first to finish at Kruger's, winning the Dingle Half Marathon for the third time with a time of 1:14:38, followed closely by Gary Hynes (1:15:19) and Donal White (1:19:16). The first woman home in the half marathon was Gillian Cotter (1:31:16) followed by Fiona Devane (1:31:27) and Catriona Barry (1:36:30).
Back in Dingle, people waited to see who would cross the finish line in first place in the Dingle Full Marathon. They didn't have long to wait as Cork's Eoin Sugrue claimed the premier spot in a net time of 2:48:13. He declared afterwards that he was looking forward to "a beer and a rest" and that he'd be back next year if they "flatten the hills".
A slightly tired looking Roman Solty from the Ukraine followed minutes later with a net time of 2:50:26, followed by Jeremy Curran, Dubai, with a time of 2:52:11.
Nora Barry from Lisselton was the first woman home in a time of 3:22:21 followed by Aisling O'Donnell ( 3: 22: 18) and Marion Buechner (3:26:21).
The 60 or so supremely fit athletes who undertook the 50-mile Ultra Marathon perspired and inspired in equal measure. The first ultra athlete home was Keith Whyte completing the course in 5:59:25, followed by Raymond Lanigan (6:11:57) and Ivan Slovak (6:23:07). The first lady home in the Ultra Marathon was Amy Masner who completed the course in 14th overall in a time of 7:36:33.
It proved to be another spectacular day with many commenting that it was one of the best marathons they have every participated in.
Tributes were paid to race director Ken Dunne and also to the many volunteers who lined the streets and roads, including Gardai, ambulance and Civil Defence personnel.
"The Kerryman Dingle Marathon is now firmly established around the world and one of the biggest events of the year," said Risteard Mac Liam of the Dingle Business Chamber who acted as master of ceremonies at the finish line in Dingle while his son Ciarán did the honours at the half marathon finish line in Dún Chaoin.
"It is a very inspirational event and provides a major boost for the local economy. Overall it was another day to remember," he added.