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Mission accomplished

SO how was Monday's Dublin Marathon for you? Up front, Paul Pollock made a brilliant debut when he won the Irish men's title in two hours 16 minutes 30 seconds.

Pollock ran the bravest of races although his supporters anxiously watching their Twitter feeds felt a flutter of fear when he took the lead at around the eight-mile mark.

Although caught soon after by the trio who would fight it out for the top three places, Pollock hung on. He finished a disciplined ninth overall in the fastest time recorded by an Irishman in Dublin since Gerry Healy ran 2:15.37 for second place in 1999.

Maria McCambridge's time of 2:35.28 for seventh place overall was a new Irish record for Dublin, beating Sonia O'Sullivan's winning time of 2:35.42 from 2000. It was also a personal best by a single second.


Most impressive was the maturity of McCambridge's run. From the start, she set her own pace, not panicking when the leaders broke away at 10km and keeping an absolutely even pace through the race.

Based on Monday's results, Dublin Marathon race director Jim Aughney has every reason to be pleased with the success of the Marathon Mission project, organised in conjunction with Athletics Ireland and funded by the marathon surplus.

As well as the wins for Pollock and McCambridge, Sean Hehir of Rathfarnham WSAF ran 2:17.35 in his debut over the distance.

For third place, Barry Minnock, also Rathfarnham, was another to break the 2:20 barrier although his time of 2:18.46 was off his best set in Hannover earlier this year.

Of the women, 2009 champion Barbara Sanchez of Raheny finished second, while for third place, the ageless Pauline Curley beat her old friend and rival Annette Kealy.

On the course, the pavements were packed with supporters, armed with large food containers and foldaway chairs.

Thanks to the absence of a title sponsor, the race was free of branding. The supporters made up for it, with East Down draping their banner over the Belfield bridge and groups from Craughwell in Galway and Slaney Olympic in Wexford particularly visible.

This is a day that wouldn't happen without the help of hundreds of enthusiastic volunteers.

It's no wonder that the people of Ireland have taken it to their hearts.

Long may it flourish!