Pain worth effort in biggest Dublin Marathon yet

Sense of camaraderie typified by athlete who slowed to help a flagging runner to finish line

Martin and Tara Whelan  at Sunday’s marathon. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Martin and Tara Whelan at Sunday’s marathon. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

 

Under clear and sunny skies some 20,000 runners took to the streets of Dublin for the 38th SSE Airtricity Dublin Marathon on Sunday.

Crowds lined the length of the 26.2 mile course, cheering the runners on with much-needed support. Along the route colourful signs gave much encouragement. “You look ready for a Netflix marathon,” read one. “I bet this seemed like a good idea months ago,” read another.

County colours were out in force as were horns and even a cow bell. In Ballsbridge, not far from the finish line, a piano mounted on a trailer provided music and entertainment for runners and supporters alike.

Ava, Bella and Lila Gumby were waiting patiently nearby for their uncle Colin, who was due past at any moment. They were holding a large home-made sign painted with sparkly words of encouragement and hearts and flowers.

Some of the 20,000 competitors at the start of the Dublin SSE Airtricity marathon. Photograph: Cyril Byrne
Some of the 20,000 competitors at the start of the Dublin SSE Airtricity marathon. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Shortly after 11am, the first of the elite runners approached the finish line, streaking down Mount Street to a cacophony of clacking as the crowd waved blue plastic hands. Coming down the home stretch alone, Bernard Rotich of Kenya took first place with a time of 2 hours 15 minutes.

Close to the finish line Natalie Camavan and her family had been cheering on her sister Gillian. They had cheered her on at Castleknock and then taken the train into the city centre to meet her at the finish line. Natalie’s daughter Gemma was holding a colourful sign: “You’re doing great Gilli, keep it up.”

“She did great,” said Natalie, who was holding baby Fraya.

Pain and determination

Towards the finish line, faces were creased in pain and determination as the runners neared the final 100m stretch. Amid the concentration, there was a sense of camaraderie among them. A male runner slowed to a jog to help a flagging female runner, making their way to the finish line arm in arm.

Members of St John’s Ambulance were keeping a close watch on those crossing the line in case anyone needed assistance. There had been no major injuries to report although a runner was being stretchered away to a nearby ambulance.

The strain was clear on many faces and bodies as they queued to get their much-deserved medals. Many runners flopped to the ground, lining the footpath stretching out their tired limbs.

“There was great support all the way around,” said Declan McCormick from Co Down.

Personal bests

He was running with Hugh Oram – veterans of 14 and 10 marathons respectively – and both achieved personal bests of under 3 hours 30 minutes.

“I’ve done four majors and this is one of the best,” said Oram. “I have held off for 10 years to run it and it’s one of the best for me. The support the whole way around is unbelievable...You should be proud of your city.”

The finish line was a familiar sight for Eddie Coyle from Tallaght who has run more than 100 marathons.

It was the same story for Mark Byrne from Manchester, though it was his first in costume.

Archie Naughton from Roscommon stretches at the end of the marathon with Mark Gilleran, Frank Murphy, Tonya Hand and Sinead Gannon. Photograph: Cyril Byrne
Archie Naughton from Roscommon stretches at the end of the marathon with Mark Gilleran, Frank Murphy, Tonya Hand and Sinead Gannon. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

He was dressed in a traditional German outfit he had brought back from a beer festival.

“It was a bit tougher in the costume,” he said.

Poignant moment

A poignant finishing-line moment involved a team of runners taking turns pushing Archie Naughton in his specially adapted buggy.

The team was made up of Frank Murphy, Mark Gilleran, Adrian Smith, Tonya Hand and Sinead Gannon, all experienced runners from the Roscommon Harriers running club. They covered the route together taking turns to push 11-year-old Archie to raise funds for and awareness of Duchenne muscular dystrophy, which Archie and his twin brothers, Issac and George, have all been diagnosed with.

“I’ve run four marathons but this was the best,” said Frank Murphy. “We all enjoyed it, and the sense of occasion.”