Runners go for distance
Just 59 days remain until the SSE Airtricity Dublin Marathon and the race calendar is clogged with longer races all aimed at the 20,000 or so men and women who have set their sights on the Sunday October 29 startline.
Last weekend, for instance, a total of 14 races over 10 miles or longer took place on this island. Attracting the biggest numbers was the Frank Duffy 10-Mile in Dublin's Phoenix Park, which is the second round of the SSE Airtricity Race Series, designed as a build-up to the marathon.
Over 4,000 finished the race with Northern Irish athlete Stephen Scullion, who runs in Clonliffe colours, the clear winner.
His time of 50 mins 37 secs saw him finish almost a minute and a half clear of Tallaght's Tomás Fitzpatrick with Valdas Dopolskas of Balbriggan third. Current Irish marathon champion Laura Graham of Mourne Runners came home first of the women in 58 mins 51 secs.
Not too far behind was Gemma Rankin of Kilbarchan in 59 minutes exactly. Caitrona Jennings of Letterkenny was third.
An hour or so down the road, Martin Hoare of Celbridge AC and local woman Pauline Curley were the winners at the Tullamore Half Marathon, which had over 600 finishers.
Hoare finished in 71 mins 40 secs, with Curley coming home in 83 mins 1 secs.
These were the fastest times for the distance over the weekend. Second of the menin 72 mins 17 secs was local man Pauric Ennis.
Next morning, Curley was back in action at the Pat the Baker Longford Marathon where she finished first woman in just over three hours. Overall winner was Clonliffe's Gary O'Hanlon with previous winner Freddy Sittuk of Raheny six minutes adrift. Over 200 finished the marathon with close to 900 in action in a series of races.
Attracting the biggest number was the half marathon where James Doran came home first and Adele Walsh of St Senan's proved fastest of the women.
Smaller numbers turned out for other races. Winners at the Oylegate Half Marathon in Co Wexford were Tom Nolan and Leona Cranny. At the Clonakility 10-Mile, David Barrett of Togher AC and Clonmel's Keely Tideswell came out on top.
Off-roaders headed to Sligo for the 33rd annual Warriors' Run, a tough 15km race which features a 2.5km climb up Knocknarea from Strandhill and has an entry limit of 1,000.
Winners were current international mountain runners Bryan McMahon of Clonliffe Harriers and Sarah McCormack who finished eighth overall.
Finishing a fighting second was Donore's John Travers.