Saturday 17 March 2018

Are you all set? More than 20,000 runners get set for Dublin Marathon

Runners start the Dublin City Marathon last year. Photo: Damien Eagers
Runners start the Dublin City Marathon last year. Photo: Damien Eagers

Laura Lynott

When it first started almost four decades ago the Dublin Marathon attracted a mere 2,100 runners, but come tomorrow more than 20,000 runners will make the event the fifth biggest of its kind in Europe.

The brainchild of Noel Carroll, the deceased former European 880 yards record holder, the marathon has come a long way since its bumpy 1980 launch.

Only 1,420 runners completed the event that year. But 20,000 participants, from all backgrounds and fitness levels, are expected to take part tomorrow, proving how far the marathon has progressed.

Along with its growth has come high precision organisation. This year, friends and family will be able to track runners online at the SSE Airtricity Dublin Marathon website while live streams of the race will be hosted on the website.

Some 40,000 bottles of water will be available for runners, more than 1,000 volunteers will be on hand and 372 toilets will be available along the route.

Mary Nolan Hickey (65) was among the runners who took part in 1980 and along with 12 other male runners she has participated every single year.

"The first marathon was like going into a war zone," Ms Hickey, from Arklow, Co Wicklow, said.

"I had been doing track and field for 12 years beforehand and a marathon hadn't even been thought of when I was running.

"There were 40 women running the first year and less than 2,000 people. There were no schedules, no Facebook information, it was mostly athletic clubs and it was disorganised.

"But back then it wasn't mass participation and it was great but scary because I hadn't done more than an 18 miler before.

"I was 27 and I didn't know what would happen beyond 18 miles but it went well and I got round in three hours, 38 minutes."

Paul Ward, who runs Paulie's Boot Camp in Carlow, will be hoping to raise more than €10,000 with his group of 27 non-athletes, to help the town's Wheelchair Association build a new gym. "It's about being part of something huge. It's a special event like no other," 39-year-old Mr Ward said. "It's about uniting together and being a community. It's fantastic to be able to raise money for good causes but running is great for all of us too."

Irish Independent

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