Wednesday 16 October 2019

Running into history

Competitors at the start-line to begin yesterday’s SSE Airtricity Dublin marathon
Competitors at the start-line to begin yesterday’s SSE Airtricity Dublin marathon

Cliona Foley

A move to Sunday next year means the SSE Airtricity Dublin Marathon may no longer have that special 'Bank Holiday Monday' feeling but that will surely not diminish its scale and spirit.

In its 36th year, and despite wet and windy conditions, it attracted another record entry of 15,216 yesterday.

The first man and woman across the line were Africans but two local female veterans stole the show.

The first Irishwoman across the line, in two hours and 49 minutes, was Pauline Curley, no stranger to national titles and an Olympian in 2008.

But to win another Irish title at 46 years of age, just a couple of months after having cartilage knee surgery, shocked even the fabled Offaly woman.

"I'm just speechless," she said. "Blind as I am I couldn't see my watch but I ran the way I felt and came through the second half a little stronger, I think.

"When I started passing people around the 18-mile patch I couldn't believe it; an aul' one beating all these younger girls?

"Age is just a number to me," added the chef, after becoming the oldest Irish marathon champion in 143 years, a record previously held by Donegal's Danny McDaid who was 42 when he won the title in 1983.

Curley said she hoped she had inspired older women to stay active.

Behind her, finishing in 3:03, was the even more inspiring figure of Sonia O'Sullivan, just a year younger.

The Olympic silver medallist had last run, and won, Dublin 15 years ago.

She just ran the race to raise awareness for Guide Dogs Ireland so was "really delighted" with her time.

"That was 12 minutes ahead of schedule," O'Sullivan said. "I was holding back but you just get involved with a few fellas out there and like to keep up with them!

"I've never been in a race where there were so many people cheering. It lives up to its reputation as the 'Friendly Marathon'.

"When I ran it last they were working on the Luas, the course seemed even nicer today. The Phoenix Park, with the leaves, was absolutely fantastic. It was a beautiful day for it and I had a lot of help out there.

"That gave me the inspiration to give it a lash and try to get under three hours one more time."

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