Perfect conditions for 'Connemarathon'


OVER 3,000 athletes enjoyed near perfect conditions for one of the most scenic running events in Europe with the 11th staging of the Connemara International Marathon yesterday.

The “Connemarathon”, as it has become known, featured athletes from 30 countries who participated in the three categories which included a half-marathon, a traditional 26.2-mile marathon and an ultra event of 39.3 miles.

As expected, world 100km champion Giorgio Calcaterra won the ultra event in a time of 3:56.

Two Italian television companies covered the event, with Calcaterra maintaining the form which saw him win the world championship in the Netherlands last September.

Galway city native Ray O’Connor, the race director whose brainchild it was to organise the event for the first time in 2002, said that having Calcaterra participate was “a dream come through”.

“The man is a legend, and he was confident of breaking four hours,” said O’Connor.

He paid tribute to the 200 volunteers who marshal the race through its rugged terrain.

The ultra race started at Maam Cross with 200 runners, while there were 800 participants in the marathon which began in the Inagh Valley, before picking up the start of half marathon in the village of Leenane, and then all 3,200 athletes finished back in Maam Cross.

Two Galway athletes, Eileen O’Donoghie and Bridget Ann Walsh, have participated in all 11 Connemarathons and said the weather was superb yesterday for running.

A convoy of over 60 buses took the athletes and supporters from their bases in Galway city and in Clifden to the race start.

Registration has already opened for the 2013 event which will take place on April 7th, with places again expected to fill out long in advance.