independent

Monday 21 April 2014

Dublin marathon at risk over lack of title sponsor

DESPITE another record entry of 14,350 runners, the organisers of Monday's Dublin City Marathon are still struggling to find a title sponsor in time for next year's edition.

The hugely popular event was hit financially when the the National Lottery ended its sponsorship of the race in May.

Finding a replacement for this season's event was always going to be a long shot, given the time scale, but now race director Jim Aughney (right) has revealed that restoring a title sponsor for 2013 is also proving difficult.

"You'd be nervous," he admitted, ahead of the 33rd running of the race.

"We've gone through many (sponsorship) presentations and had lots of people saying how much they'd like to get involved and where they would like to take the event.

"But when it comes down to it, the bottom line seems to be economics and we still haven't secured sponsorship for next year.

"We always knew this year would be a problem as we lost the Lottery so late and it was an Olympic year, with so many sports budgets already committed elsewhere," he said. "But, hopefully, things will turn around soon."

Only once before -- in 1992 -- was this marquee event held without a title sponsor.

Over the years it has attracted a variety of big-name companies, starting out with 2FM and including a 10-year involvement with adidas.

The National Lottery was expected to stay involved for three years, but terms could not be agreed after their initial involvement, despite the fact that participation is at an all-time high.

The most tangible effect of the sponsorship loss is the absence of any television coverage this year -- a big blow, considering that live TV was restored last October on the strength of the Lottery's involvement.

This year's race has attracted record numbers, with around 10,000 of the field from Ireland. That represents a massive reversal from the early days of the race when it was dominated by athletes from abroad.

Aughney still remains confident that all of Monday's participants -- the elites start at 9.0 -- will be unaffected by the lack of a title sponsor.

"We've had to make some changes behind the scenes and dropped one or two aspects organisationally, but we have done everything we can to ensure that the runners don't notice any difference and are hopeful that their experience will be as good as ever," he said.

Elsewhere, Athletics Ireland have released the nominations for the national awards, in association with Woodie's DIY and Tipperary Crystal, which will take place on November 17.

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