Wheels on Fire!
Naas wheelchair racer in sub-2 hour territory
Last October, Patrick Monahan, a novice racer from Naas in Co Kildare, finished third in the wheelchair race at the SSE Airtricity Dublin Marathon.
A wheelchair user for six years following a car accident, he had sat in a racing chair for the first time the previous August and had only one race - a 10km in Wicklow - to his credit.
Form the start of the Dublin race, he stuck with three times Dublin champion Paul Hannan from Armagh and Jim Corbett from Banbury and was with them when they took a wrong turning at Con Colbert Road in Inchicore. A mile down the N4, they were turned back, adding an extra couple of miles to the 26.2 mile journey.
Hannan breezed on to take his fourth Dublin title in 2 hrs 34 mins 48 secs with Corbett less than three minutes behind for second and Monahan third in 2:38.54.
Fast forward to last May and Monahan was a comprehensive winner at the Belfast Marathon with a time of 2 hrs 6 mins 21 secs - 32 minutes quicker than in Dublin. Behind him came Paul Hannan.
Last Saturday, Monahan produced his most eye-catching result to date when he led home the entire entry at the SSE Dublin Half Marathon in the Phoenix Park. Any course in the Phoenix Park will have a hill or two yet Monahan zipped around in a brilliant time of 53 mins 51 secs - a course record surely?
So are we about to witness a sub-two hour time by an Irish athlete at the Dublin Marathon? Although the course has never been considered fast for wheelchairs, in 2003, Scottish Paralympian Kenny Herriot raced around in 1:45.20, breaking his own course record by over six minutes.
Richie Powell from Wales clocked a time of 1:55.10 in 2006 and was also under two hours a year later. Hannan's best time of 2:11.58 was recorded in 2011.
The stage looks set for an intriguing wheelchair race on Monday, October 27.
One thing is for sure: both Monahan and Hannan will be paying close attention to the course map before they set off. Coming home about 16 minutes after Monahan last Sunday was Clonliffe's Gary O'Hanlon of Clonliffe.
His time of 69 mins 43 secs gave him a two-minute winning margin over Waterford's Trevor Power.
First woman was Patrycja Wlodarczyk, who finished in 82 mins 54 secs and beat her Raheny clubmate Fiona Stack.
A day later, Martin Fagan of Mullingar Harriers won the Charleville International Half Marathon in 63 mins 58 secs. After returning from a two-year doping suspension earlier this year, Fagan has re-established himself as the dominant road runner in the country.
Maria McCambridge of DSD was a clear winner of the women's race in 72 mins 26 secs.