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Electric atmosphere pushes runners to the limit for charity

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Shane Byrne with wife Caroline and twins Kerry and Alex (9) on completion of the Spar Mini Great Ireland Run.

Shane Byrne with wife Caroline and twins Kerry and Alex (9) on completion of the Spar Mini Great Ireland Run.

Rosanna Davison at the Great Ireland Run at Phoenix Park

Rosanna Davison at the Great Ireland Run at Phoenix Park

Edel Kennedy

Edel Kennedy

Diarmuid Gavin and Shane Byrne tool part in the event

Diarmuid Gavin and Shane Byrne tool part in the event

Some of the 10,500 competitors in action during the Spar Great Ireland Run 2012, which took place in the Phoenix Park, Dublin yesterday.

Some of the 10,500 competitors in action during the Spar Great Ireland Run 2012, which took place in the Phoenix Park, Dublin yesterday.

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Shane Byrne with wife Caroline and twins Kerry and Alex (9) on completion of the Spar Mini Great Ireland Run.

IF sheer enthusiasm can help kick a recession then we'll have this mess licked in no time at all.

Yesterday there wasn't a pint, politician on a soapbox, or an ageing rock band in sight when 10,500 people came together and pushed themselves to their limits.

It was the kind of crowd that the organisers of protests can only dream about in this era of apathy.

But yesterday, myself and a motley crew of runners were in the Phoenix Park to conquer one thing -- the Great Ireland Run.

Ethiopian champion Kenenisa Bekele finished the 10km route before most of us had even started the run, but that didn't matter.

It's not a challenging route but the atmosphere was electric because everyone was there to raise money for a good cause, to beat their personal best, and to just have a good time.

Those running were of all shapes and sizes and levels of fitness. While many ran -- and even more, like me, jogged -- some walked the route.

And because the run was for charity, there was no one to beat -- except yourself.

I'm a better swimmer than I am a runner, and a year ago I wouldn't have even run for 10 minutes let alone 10km.

But yesterday I joined a group of friends and we all donned our county colours (up Cavan!) and set off around the park.

There were people pushing their children in buggies, others pushing their children in wheelchairs, and friends pushing each other on.

I ignored the waves of people running past me near the start because I know my own pace and am only rewarded with a stitch if I go any faster.

My only aim was to run the entire thing and to beat my previous time -- and the only other 10km run I have ever done -- of one hour and six minutes.

I managed to do both, although I won't know my final time until I read today's newspaper.

My next challenge will be to run it in less than an hour -- and hopefully without turning tomato red by the end of it.

Irish Independent