Plan for October’s Dublin Marathon set to be announced on Friday

Organisers remain hopeful that a limited entry of runners will be allowed for race

D-Day – and with exactly four months still to go, organisers of the KBC Dublin Marathon are now set to announce details of what exact shape and form the 2021 event may take on the October Bank Holiday weekend.

It was agreed back in early May that by this Friday (June 25th) a decision needed to be reached in order to satisfy the concluding planning stages for both the organisers and runners: while unlikely to be the full 25,000 sell-out entry of runners originally signed up in advance of the 2020 edition, postponed in May of last year due to Covid-19, there is the expectation a more limited entry will get the go ahead.

With several other big-city marathons already declaring revised race plans from the spring to this coming autumn, Dublin’s date of Sunday, October 24th is also sufficiently far ahead to assume the near full vaccination of the population. However, there are still likely to be some restrictions around social distancing, even at outdoor events, and the number of overseas runners, which were set to make up around 20 per cent of the original 25,000 runners.

Speaking on the matter last month, race director Jim Aughney said he was "cautiously optimistic" it would proceed: the 41st running of the event, originally set for last October 25th, was a 25,000 sell-out, the organisers announcing that capacity back in January of 2020 after introducing a new part-lottery entry system. Such is the ever-pressing interest for race entries they received just over 35,000 applications in all.


“We are still working towards holding the 2021 KBC Dublin Marathon in October,” said Aughney. “The detailed planning by the organising committee is ongoing and we continue to engage with the relevant authorities. We wanted to be transparent with runners to let them know the date we will make the final decision while also offering runners who have not secured a place, an option to enter our virtual marathon.

“We are making the final decision as late as possible so we can review the state of play while also ensuring we can start the critical event management needed to provide the quality of race for runners that we pride ourselves on delivering.”

That decision to postpone the 2020 event, announced in May of that year, allowed for all entries to be carried over to this October, or the option of a refund: with just 10 per cent taking up that refund option there will only be limited additional entries, if any.

Aughney also added: “We will have four months to prepare, runners will have four months to prepare, and we’re working away in the background on Plan B, and probably Plan C and Plan D, with different combinations of what might be possible.”

The postponement of the 2020 Dublin Marathon also meant there was no National Marathon Championship last year, scheduled to take place within the event, all those entries also transferred to this October.

Other major outdoors events for later this year include the Electric Picnic festival, already moved to September 24th-26th instead of the original dates of September 3rd-5th.

Earlier this month, a statement from the organisers said: “Given the great progress the HSE is making on the vaccine rollout so far, and the recently announced target of having at least 70 per cent of the country fully vaccinated by the end of July, we are still confident that the festival can take place this year.

Organisers Festival Republic have applied for a licence to stage the Stradbally event for a maximum of 70,000 people; however the deadline for objections and submissions on the controversial application to Laois County Council is June 30th, and there has already been local opposition.

The Boston Marathon, typically held in April and with over 30,000 runners from all over the world, announced plans for a limited 20,000-entry race on October 11th, as has New York (November 7th), Chicago (October 10th), Berlin (September 26th) and Tokyo (October 17th). The London Marathon, also traditionally held in April, is now set for October 3rd, the organisers there opening up 50,000 entries, most of which were decided by lottery, an increase of more than 7,000 on the previous finisher record.

Ian O'Riordan

Ian O'Riordan

Ian O'Riordan is an Irish Times sports journalist writing on athletics