Sore-but-happy runners limp to the pubs after gruelling Dublin Marathon

Despite the pain, mood among 20,000 runners was euphoric as they crossed finish line

 Runners taking part in the SSE Airtricity Dublin Marathon in Dublin’s city centre on Sunday. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

Runners taking part in the SSE Airtricity Dublin Marathon in Dublin’s city centre on Sunday. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

 

The centre of Dublin was full of walking wounded by lunchtime on Sunday, but, as the thousands limped and grimaced and even struggled to bend down to put on tracksuit bottoms after running 26-and-a-bit gruelling miles around the city, the mood was largely euphoric.

As athletes who had just completed Dublin’s 38th marathon under cloudless blue skies high-fived each other and spoke in hushed tones about personal bests and hitting the wall, family members raced towards them with comfort blankets, warm hugs and coffee.

Some of the more hardcore runners eschewed all offers of energy drinks and bars and made beelines for bars of quite another kind, with Toner’s and O’Donoghue’s wedged with pint-sipping marathon men and women by lunchtime.

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The elite runners crossed the starting line shortly before 9am and many were home and hosed before 11:30am, but the marathon was far from over: for hours after the race was won, thousands were streaming across the finish line to the cheers of even more thousands of spectators waving supportive banners and balloons.

Black nylon mountains

With a chill in the early morning air, many of the runners who set off were wearing gloves to guard against the cold, but, by the time they had reached the Phoenix Park no more than five kilometres from the city centre starting-point, most had been discarded and were forming little mountains of black nylon along the North Circular Road.

The number of women running the race has increased dramatically, from just 70 in the first year to 7,000 today

The route took the 20,000 runners from the city centre, through the Phoenix Park and around to University College Dublin, before finishing back at Merrion Square where the runners collected heavy metal medals embossed with the formidable figure of Constance Markievicz.

While the marathon has grown tenfold from just over 2,000 runners in 1980 to 20,000 today, the number of women running the race has increased even more dramatically, from just 70 in the first year to 7,000 today, which is why the organisers decided to go with the Countess on the medal this year.

Asefa Bekele from Ethiopia went two places better than his two successive third-place finishes to win the men’s race in a time of 2:13:24, while his fellow countrywoman Mesera Dubiso did the honours in the women’s race in a time of 2:33:49, with both taking home €12,000 for their not-inconsiderable efforts.

But while they will be recorded as the winners, all of those who crossed the finish line will consider themselves winners once the ecstasy has replaced the agony.