Sun shines on half marathon

Dnal Nolan

STUNNING views of the north Kerry and Clare coasts bathed in glorious sunshine helped take the pain out of the challenging Ballybunion half-marathon and 10km run for the 1,000 participating athletes on Saturday.

Effectively marking the start of the summer season in the resort, the event provided a considerable boost for local business as the guesthouses, pubs, bed and breakfasts came alive over the weekend. It also proved that when it comes to fitness tourism Ballybunion is more than holding its own.

"We were concerned about the turnout this year with the Tralee marathon and other events up country, but we fought back in promoting the half-marathon and are delighted to say we held our own," organiser Joan O'Connor said.

"It was fantastic and the weather could not have been better. This event is all about promoting Ballybunion and generating much-needed tourism and it did exactly that. The runners were treated to fantastic views and local businesses were hopping with the influx of visitors all weekend," she added.

The best views of all were reserved for the hardy souls who tackled the half-marathon event, taking them out to Asdee and over north Kerry's highest point of Cnoc an Fhómhair.

High praise was reserved for 16-ytear-old Ballyduff native Daragh Browne. Despite his tender age, Daragh came first in the 10km event, which he completed in just 36 minutes and 52 seconds.

"Daragh trains with us in Ballybunion at the Community Centre so we were absolutely delighted for him. It was the big local news story of the whole event as far as Ballybunion and Ballyduff was concerned!" Joan said.

It wasn't just the adults who were tested as 200 children took part in the kiddies' run around the town - all of whom received an Easter egg each at the finishing line.