Aces of clubs in Dub marathon
A record number of club athletes will run next Monday's SSE Airtricity Dublin marathon with a massive total of 3,853 entered.
Among the clubs with huge entries are Clonliffe Harriers with 42 runners, Clonmel with 52, Crusaders 61, Mullingar Harriers 42,West Waterford 45 and Slaney Olympic 50. Biggest of the lot is Marathon Club Ireland with 94 entries.
It makes the marathon by far the most popular championship race on the calendar, with team medals much coveted.
Last year, Clonliffe's Sergiu Ciobanu was winning his third national title but it was Rathfarnham WSAF, with Barry Minnock second and Eoin Flynn third, who took the team honours ahead of Clonliffe.
This year, Rathfarnham, with a team including Minnock and the 2013 national champion Seán Hehir, are red-hot favourites to retain the title. With Ciobanu taking a break after his Rio '16 qualifying run in Berlin, the Clonliffe team is led by David Mansfield. Others aiming for individual honours include Raheny's Freddy Keron Sittuk and Eoin Callaghan of Star of the Sea.
Last year's women's team competition produced the closest finish of the day with Tullamore Harriers beating St Finbarr's by 15 seconds to win not just the over 35 team title but to finish fastest of all the women's teams.
Leading Tullamore home was 2008 Olympian Pauline Curley, who was second overall behind Maria McCambridge. Since she won her first Dublin title in 2005, Curley has taken two gold, four silver, and one bronze medals in this race.
McCambridge is reluctantly missing Dublin this year to try for a fast time at the Frankfort Marathon on Sunday. In her absence, Curley, now aged 46, could well take her third national marathon title.
Also entered is Sarah Mulligan of Dundrum South Dublin who ran for Ireland at last year's European Championships. In September, she ran 2:47.55 at the Munster Marathon In Germany hoping to make the Rio qualifying mark of 2 hours 42 minutes.
Joining Mulligan on a strong DSD team is Michelle McGee, who is making her marathon debut. One legendary entrant is the 2000 champion Sonia O'Sullivan, whose top priority is raising funds for the Guide Dogs for the Blind.
World University 400m hurdles champion Thomas Barr is a special guest at this weekend's Marathon Expo in the RDS.
Barr, ranked 14th in the world and already qualified for next year's Olympics, will give a public interview to Irish Runner editor Frank Greally at 2pm on Saturday.
The marathon expo is open on Saturday from 11am-6pm and on Sunday 11am-5pm.