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The long and the short of it in Longford

At last year's Longford Marathon, the biggest cheers of the day went to Liam Fenelon who was completing his 200th marathon.

Fenelon, who only took up running in 1984 at the age of 42, had founded the race so that he could run his 100th marathon in his home town. That was in 2002 and since then the race has become a firm favourite on the calendar, with about 1,000 registering each year to run either the marathon or half marathon and at least that are expected for next Sunday's race (11.0).

Among the hardy annuals are Lucy Brennan from Sligo who was first woman in the inaugural race and won her fifth title last year.

The race, with its cheerful community atmosphere, is also a firm favourite with members of the 100 Marathon Club, who make a weekend of it. Apart from Fenelon, other Irish members of this exclusive club include wheelchair ace Jerry Forde, Jarlath Fitzgerald, who ran his 100th race in Barbados last December, and Michael Haydon, who ran his 100th in Cork this year. Topping them all is Peter Ferris with over 300 marathons and Colette O'Hagan who isn't far behind.


To their great credit, the race organisers keep the event fresh both for visitors and the local community with something different every year. Last year, it was a relay for nearby towns and villages; winners were Mullingar.

This year, those not quite able for the longer distances can line out for a 5k road race tomorrow evening, which offers €150 to the winners and medals to all finishers.

Saturday starts with the traditional 3-mile Breakfast Run from St Christopher's at Battery Road, Longford, with breakfast after. St Christopher's, a day care centre, is a long-time beneficiary of the run.

Action then moves to St Mel's College for race registration, followed by a pasta party. During the afternoon, boys and girls aged from six to 16 are invited to take part in a junior athletics competition, with events in all the usual categories.

On Sunday, the main run starts at 11am, so not too early a start, although walkers set off two hours earlier. Registration is at St Mel's from 8am and is well signposted.

Keeping everyone cheerful will be entertainment courtesy of local musicians.

There's something for everyone in Longford this weekend. If you want to run a marathon or half-marathon, look no further!