Tuesday 20 March 2018

Marathon runners make it through the pain and the rain

Blood, sweat, tears, and costumes galore

Jim Hickey, from Barna, Co Galway, gets a little help after crossing the finish line in the Dublin marathon yesterday
Jim Hickey, from Barna, Co Galway, gets a little help after crossing the finish line in the Dublin marathon yesterday
Pam McMahon from Boston, USA, is overjoyed after finishing
Happy faces all round were captured by Gareth Chaney as thousands braved the elements to run in yesterday's National Lottery Dublin Marathon

Edel O'Connell

THOUSANDS leapt, limped and crawled over the finish line at a euphoric ending to the 31st Dublin City Marathon yesterday.

THOUSANDS leapt, limped and crawled over the finish line at a euphoric ending to the 31st Dublin City Marathon yesterday.

There were tears of joy, brimming smiles and a palpable sense of relief among the exhausted, but ecstatic, contestants as, one by one, they battled to complete the epic, 26-mile road race.

A record 14,000 people took part this year, cheered on by thousands of spectators who lined the rainy streets of Dublin to support them.

Spectators waiting for family members held up banners, banged drums, and roared words of encouragement at the weary competitors as energy began to flag in the final stages.

For some, running the marathon meant the fulfilment of a lifelong dream, for others it was a bit of fun. But for the professional athletes, it was a very serious competition.

The rainy, humid conditions meant the going was tough but not for 27-year-old Kenyan national Geoffrey Gikuni Ndugu, who was first over the finish line in a record two hours, eight minutes and 31 seconds.


Ndugu broke the old course record of two hours, eight minutes and 58 seconds set by Moses Kibet last year.

Helalia Johannes from Namibia was the first female over the line, while Sean Connolly was the first Irish athlete home -- he finished two minutes outside of the Olympic qualifying time.

The Tallaght AC athlete, who is living in Manchester, said that conditions were not ideal to reach Olympic qualification time but he was proud of the national title.

The first Irish woman to complete the race was Linda Byrne who will now run in the London marathon at the 2012 Olympics.

As the race fell on Halloween, there were quirky costumes galore.

Santa hats, robot outfits and comical mankinis were spotted at the finish line sodden with rain, sweat and blood.

More than 200 gardai and Police Service of Northern Ireland officers who took part wore black ribbons in memory of their colleague, Garda Ciaran Jones.

The garda was swept away by the River Liffey while trying to warn motorists during floods last week.

The first ever Lord Mayor's medal was awarded to Margaret Mullarney (54) from Ballinteer, Co Dublin. Mrs Mullarney, who has Parkinson's disease, walked the full 26 miles.

The inspirational woman was nominated for the medal, which is awarded to people who overcome great adversity to take part in the race, by her daughter Nicky.

Mrs Mullarney was diagnosed with the disease in 2004 when she was 47 years old.

"Through running the marathon, I hope to encourage others with Parkinson's to incorporate exercise in their routines and to recognise how much we can do to support ourselves," she said.

Behind the barriers was Kathleen Connors from Co Waterford who had come to surprise her son at the finish line. James (32) was running his first marathon to raise money for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome Ireland in memory of his late godson Cian.

"I am here today to support James -- he doesn't know I am here at all. I am so proud of him and so looking forward to meeting him at the finish line," said Mrs Connors.

Also among the heaving crowd was Corkwoman Susan O'Sullivan who was there to support her husband Leslie who had just completed his fifth marathon.


Mr O'Sullivan from Glanmire, Co Cork, ran to raise money for Cork University Hospital's Children's Ward as a way of saying thank you for treating his son Craig who suffered a brain tumour.

The excited 10-year-old was at the finish line with his mum and brother Ewan to cheer on his dad.

The only woman to complete all 31 Dublin City Marathons, Mary Hickey Nolan, was delighted to cross the finish line despite carrying injuries in both feet.

Kieran McCarthy (32) from Shannon, Co Clare, completed the marathon in four hours -- however he started his warm-up a little earlier than everybody else.

On Sunday night, he started an epic solo challenge with a 3km swim in Co Clare, followed by a gruelling 223km cycle to Dublin, arriving just in time for the start of the marathon yesterday.

He undertook this endurance test to raise money to help build a Cystic Fibrosis unit at Limerick Hospital as his little girl, Aoibheann, suffers from the life-threatening disease.

"Every stage of the journey had moments when I did not know if I would be able to keep going, but I did and now I feel fantastic, if a little dazed. I want to say thank you to everyone who supported me, the money is still coming in, people have been extremely generous" he said.

Dave Brady from Rathcoole completed his 200th marathon yesterday and at 51 years of age he says he has no intention of stopping yet.

Irish Independent

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