Saturday 20 July 2019

A race of a thousand magnificent individual stories

Get a complete body programme, including flexibility exercises from a good trainer to work all the small muscle groups.
Get a complete body programme, including flexibility exercises from a good trainer to work all the small muscle groups.

Frank Greally

There will be thousands of examples of great human endeavour within today's SSE Airtricity Dublin Marathon as many ordinary people achieve something extraordinary for themselves by completing the classic distance.

With another record entry bordering on the 15,000 mark, this year's Dublin Marathon will be bigger and better than ever; further proof that the current Irish running boom is still very much alive.

This will be my 34th year covering the Dublin Marathon. Over the years I have met a myriad of great characters who have found expression and fulfilment in completing the distance. Marathon Monday is a day when I remember some great friends past who were so passionate about the great Dublin events - people like Noel Carroll, Ciaran Looney, Josephine Healy to mention but a few who are no longer with us. I think too of another great marathon guru, Noel Henry, who has been ill for the past few years.

Read more: A marathon effort for one super-fit family

It is fitting that the winner of today's race in Dublin will receive the beautifully designed silver Noel Carroll Memorial Trophy, dedicated to the memory of the man who was largely instrumental in bringing the first Dublin Marathon to the streets of the capital in 1980. Without the help and enthusiasm of the then Dublin Corporation and the Gardai, there would never have been a Dublin Marathon and it was Noel who coaxed and cajoled both parties to back the inaugural event.

For well over a decade now Carlow native Jim Aughney has been the man at the helm of the Dublin Marathon and he has huge respect for the race directors and committee members who, over the years, paved the way for what is today a hugely successful event with a great international dimension. Jim is lucky to have surrounded himself with a wonderful team of people who work diligently all year round to make the Dublin Marathon such a brilliant and successful event.

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There will be myriad of wonderful, uplifting and heart-warming stories to be found within today's Dublin event. Collette O'Hagan from Dundalk will be completing an incredible 300th marathon in Dublin and she will be joined in the race by her daughters - Sarah and Jacqueline.

In her lifetime, Collette has fostered over 80 children and she has also founded an orphanage in Romania. Collette's great friend Dave Brady will be completing his 85th marathon of this calendar year and the Kildare man already arrived at a big milestone this summer when he completed his 400th marathon in Donegal; some achievement for this 64-year-old who only took up running in 1986 when Bob Geldof organised the big Live Aid 10K in Phoenix Park.

Read more: It's the final countdown for record 14,000 runners ready for marathon

Last year Team Carrie runner Geraldine Killeen was diagnosed with breast cancer and it was training with David Carrie and his marathon team of 154 runners that greatly helped her on her road to recovery. As Geraldine goes to the start line in Dublin today, she has an important message to pass on: "Don't worry what people think because, after a battle with cancer, you can take anything on," she says.

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