Friday 17 January 2020

Marathon effort as 20k celebrate 40th

Hannah Nolan after the race. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Hannah Nolan after the race. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Elizabeth Nyhan and Linda Foley took part in the marathon
Anne O'Brien, Karen Laurence and Anne Curley

They ran for sporting prowess, to defeat personal demons, to pay the ultimate tribute to lost loved ones and for charities in the 40th KBC Dublin City Marathon.

More than 20,000 took part in the event, which was again blessed with beautiful autumnal sunshine, creating the perfect backdrop for professional and amateur athletes, all on their own personal journeys.

The marathon got under way at 8.45am and devoted supporters faithfully lined city streets along the 26.2-mile route.

Morocco's Othmane El Goumri (27) was the winner, finishing with a record time of 2:08:06 after leading competitors from the 20-mile mark.


Stephen Scullion, from Belfast, finished second in a time of 2:12:01, while Ethiopian Mengistu Zelalem was third in 2:12:01. Motu Gedefa, from Ethiopia, gained the women's title with a time of 2:27:48.

Mr Scullion achieved the fastest time ever run by an Irishman at the marathon. He is now the fifth-fastest runner in the Irish all-time list.

However, it was the thousands of amateur runners who created the memories that will last a lifetime.

John Brennan (46), from Templemore, Co Tipperary, was running his fourth Dublin marathon and this time around it was with thoughts of his father Kevin (86).

"My father is in hospital dying of cancer," an emotional John said. "I was thinking of him the whole way round. He'd definitely be proud of me.

"It's helped me to run; it's been a therapy. It's been so good to get out and keep busy but it's very hard right now."

Mr Brennan, who runs with Slaney Olympic Athletic Club in Enniscorthy, Co Wexford, managed to achieve his personal best of 3:06 and though he had been considering making the event his last, he's now tempted to take on one more to raise funds for a cancer charity.

"It's time consuming preparing for a marathon but it's a special thing to be part of," he said. "It was important to be here today for my dad. I think he would be really pleased with how I did."

Though exhausted and heartbroken, the national school principal's strength to run a marathon is testimony to the enduring spirit of many who participated.

Karen Lavelle (49), from Stamullen, Co Meath, was another example of such endurance. She told the Herald she'd been "one of the 221 misdiagnosed" who has suffered cervical cancer.

Ms Lavelle, who runs with Star of the Sea Athletic Club in Co Meath, achieved 3:05 and admitted: "It's not my personal best but I'm happy."

A fox bracelet round her wrist was a touching reminder of the real reason she was running and she touched the bracelet frequently, as though it was a lucky charm of sorts.

"I ran today for my friend, Michelle McKiernan, who died in January from lung cancer," Ms Lavelle said.

"Michelle loved foxes and I'm wearing the bracelet in her memory. I thought about Michelle during the marathon.

"She was a beautiful person, she got me into running."

Ms Lavelle ran with friends Anne O'Brien (42), from Balbriggan, Co Dublin, and Anne Curley (48), from North Central.

"I'm in remission and running was my therapy," she said.

"It's a beautiful day and we're lucky to be able to run a marathon - it's a gift."

The fact that runners like Ms Lavelle had been on such a tough personal journey only added to the emotion of the day.

Ms Curley, who achieved a 3:09 finish, and Ms O'Brien (a personal best 3:07) both praised their friend for being "amazing".

"I just did the Berlin Marathon a month ago," Ms Curley said.

"This is my 23rd marathon. I have had a foot injury so it's been tough, but every marathon is special."

The civil servant was also running in memory of someone special in her life and, as she took time to stretch, the agony of her injury etched across her face.

"I had the injury last month too but I decided to keep going because I know my old coach, Jimmy McNamara, would have wanted me to," she said.

Jim McNamara, who died in 2016, was one of Ireland's legendary long-distance runners. The Dubliner ran in the Olympic marathon at Montreal in 1976 at 37.

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