Everyone’s a winner as 12,000 people take part in the Great Limerick Run

Toddlers, teenagers, pram-pushers and pensioners rub shoulders with elites


Run, walk or crawl, everyone was a winner in Limerick this May bank holiday weekend when 12,000 people took part in the Great Limerick Run.

Toddlers to teenagers, pram-pushers to pensioners rubbed shoulders with elite athletes for the marathon, half-marathon and six-mile (10km) race. Some 2,000 children took part in the Kids’ Run at UL on Saturday. This is the biggest such children’s event in the country, catering for four-to 12-year-olds.

“They all think they won here today and that is so important, because children’s sport can often be far too competitive,” said Ciara Griffin-Murphy, whose three children, Erica (8) Cian (7) and Rhea (5) took part. “We can’t be a nation of healthy adults if we don’t have healthy kids,” she said.

Younger wheelchair users also got to take part in the “First Wave” of the children’s event, which was started by Ireland and Munster rugby legend David Wallace.

While all 2,000 children got a medal on crossing the finish line, Cormac Downey (5) who has cerebral palsy and comes from Shanagolden, Co Limerick, was extra-happy when he came in first in the wheelchair race. “We are so proud of him for competing. He loves sport and wants to be just like his cousin James Downey, who plays rugby for Munster,” said Cormac’s mother, Catherine Downey. Cormac’s twin, Seán and his older brothers, Jim (8) and Páraic (10), also took part in the run on Saturday.

For many of the 6,500 people who participated in the largest supported 10km road race, there was an extra-special reason to cross the finish line.

Husband and wife team Marie and Eamonn Quaid, of Ballykeefe, Dooradoyle, Limerick, were running in memory of their six-year-old daughter and only child, Aishlinn, who died last year after battling a brain tumour.

The Quaids were joined by 100 Gardaí from Limerick and around the country in raising funds for the BUMBLEance charity, which helped make their little girl smile on several journeys to hospital in Dublin.

“Aishlinn helped launch the BUMBLeance last September with Tony and Mary Heffernan from the Bees for Battens Foundation. The Heffernans set up the charity for families affected by Battens disease, and their own two children, who had Battens,” explained Quaid, who works as a civilian support staff member at Henry Street Garda Station.

The Heffernans’ second child, five-year-old Liam, died of Battens disease on Sunday, three years after his sister, Saoirse, died of the same disease.

Mother of two Lorraine Fanneran, who has already raised €14,000 for the National Breast Cancer Research Unit in Galway with her “More than a Boob” fundraising campaign, ran the 10km race with 20 family and friends.

Dressed in a bright pink “Boobs on the Run” T-shirt, the 38-year-old was hoping to raise even more money for cancer research. She was diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer last October. “Anybody can get cancer and the best thing is to catch it early and then be positive . . . I was a bit teary this morning because I have put so much into running since January . . . I flew through recovery with a positive mind but it’s probably through running as well.”

Families and local residents came out in their thousands to line the race route, which featured some of Limerick’s most iconic landmarks including the Treaty Stone, Thomond Park, the People’s Park and Georgian Limerick.

The winner of the marathon, Lezan Kimutai from Kenya, said he was “very relaxed” after he won the 26-mile road race just seconds ahead of Gary O’Hanlon from Dundalk. Phillip Harty from Dungarvan finished in third place.

Tullamore’s Pauline Curley, who is 45, was the first woman home, finishing in two hours 44 minutes, just six minutes off her personal best. The mother of one, who ran for Ireland in the Beijing Olympics in 2008, has been running since she was 18 and thinks it’s hugely beneficial to get children enjoying running from an early age.

“For health reasons it’s great to get children running and particularly to make sure they enjoy it, and not to make it too serious for them because I think we do have a tendency to be too serious about young people taking up athletics.”