Marathon runners of all shapes, sizes and ages united by one goal
Dublin’s streets had it all - from no-nonsense elite athletes to gleeful runners in elaborate costumes
The Dublin Marathon means a lot to people. Paddy and Joan Flannery are cheering on runners for the Clare Crusaders, a charity for children with special needs, established by their son Howard. Howard died tragically while cycling for the charity in 2007. Shortly before that, Paddy ran the Dublin Marathon with Howard and his other son, Gordon. “Well, I walked it . . . The two lads were runners and they came back after finishing to the 25 mile mark to finish with me. We have a lovely photo. It was like they carried their dad home.”
Howard’s son Cathal (14) also wants to run a marathon someday. “I have no choice!” he says. It’s something of a family business.
The finish line
Soon runners begin arriving at the finish line. First there are the no-nonsense elite runners, a handful of whom, the show-offs, continue running after their race is over. Seán Hehir, the first Irish winner since 1993, is greeted by his mother, Cushla Murphy-Hehir. A resourceful woman, she managed to get herself behind the finish line despite obstructive security guards. Seán’s evening, she tells me, might begin with a trip to see his girlfriend in hospital. She has a suspected fracture after trying to keep up with the race on her bike. “She went over the handlebars,” she says. “So when Seán’s done here, he’s off to the hospital. Then we’re hoping to have a meal.”
After the elite runners, the body shapes and ages get more diverse and the attitudes more ebullient. Runners high-five members of the crowd and friends physically support each other as they cross the line. A few seem like they’ve just been for a brisk walk. Others lean against railing and collapse exhausted at the side of the road. But they all seem quite happy about it. Only at the finish line of the Dublin Marathon have I ever seen people vomit with joy.
Monaghan woman Breda Caulfield rubs down the sore legs of her daughter Sinéad. “Ah I’m very proud of her.” It’s Sinéad’s second marathon in a few months. But that’s nothing, says Breda. They have a friend called Shane McCarville who’s on his 61st marathon of the year.
John Barrett is pushing a pram festooned with banners for the aid agency Concern. “Never again,” he says. He’s 61 and has run 20 marathons. This is the second one he’s done with a pram. “If someone would push me in it it’d be fine,” he says. “Is going in the pram an option?” I’m not sure. If it is I’ll do the marathon next year.