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Numbers up for Dublin

For a fifth consecutive year, the Dublin City Marathon, due to take place on Monday October 29, is breaking all records.

FROM 2008, where all previous records were broken with an 11,700 entry, the numbers have steadily increased. This year, registration closed last Monday with the figure standing at 14,350 - up about 300 on last year. The marathon boom has coincided with the current recession. A less happy side-effect of the recession means that the country’s flagship race has no title sponsor this year.

Thanks to the large entry, this won’t matter too much - and in its 32 years, the Dublin Marathon has weathered worse storms.

Also unaffected is the “Marathon Mission”, a training group organised with the backing of Athletics Ireland that aims to reverse the decline in Irish marathon running standards.

Appropriately, the head coach is Dick Hooper, winner of the first ever Dublin Marathon in 1980, when Irish male athletes regularly broke 2 hours 15 minutes for the distance.

Indeed, Jerry Kiernan’s time of 2:13.45 from the 1982 Dublin Marathon remains the best Irish time for the race, while Hooper ran just two seconds slower in 1985.

Last year, Sean Connolly of Tallaght was the first Irishman home in 2:18.52, the best Irish men’s time in some years. On that memorable day, Linda Byrne of Dundrum South Dublin, racing her first ever marathon, booked her place at the London Olympics with a time of 2:36.21.

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Byrne was followed home by Maria McCambridge, Ava Hutchinson and Caitriona Jennings who all achieved the Olympic A standard a few months later.

McCambridge will be back this year and, in recent weeks, has won the Charleville Half Marathon and the Eco2Run 20-mile.

With Sean Connolly keeping a low profile, Clonliffe’s Sergiu Ciobanu, winner in 2009 and 1010, is favourite to take his third national men’s title. Making his marathon debut is Sean Hehir of Rathfarnham WSAF, second behind Ciobanu at the Charleville Half Marathon.


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