Hard work done, just 26.2 miles to run

Hard work done, just 26.2 miles to run
Diarmaid Doherty Sport@donegaldemocrat.com @dgldemocrat

For those taking part, the hard work is all done. From now until race day, it’s all about tapering down and getting the body right ahead of the event.

The countdown is now firmly on until Sunday week, October 30th, when thousands of athletes put their toe to the line for the 2016 SSE Airtricity Dublin Marathon.

This year, probably the largest ever contingent of runners from Donegal will be taking part.

It’s thought well over 150 marathon runners from the county have entered the race which for the first time ever, takes place on the Sunday of the Bank Holiday Weekend, instead of the Monday.

And to mark the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising, a special commemorative medal will be presented to every athlete that takes part.

Athletics, probably more than any other sport, has seen a massive increase in participants in recent years and Donegal hasn’t escaped the rise in the number of people pulling on the runners and getting into shape.

It’s probably no surprise then that so many athletes from the county have entered this year’s Dublin Marathon. Quite a number of them are preparing for their first ever marathon. Some have trained on their own, or in small groups. Others are members of local athletic clubs or Fit for Life groups. All have been in training for a few months at this stage with a view to completing the grueling 26.2 mile challenge.

Eamonn Harvey of Tír Chonaill AC in Donegal town, said the number of people now taking part in marathons is a lot different to when he was running marathons in the ‘80s.

“You see so many people out running and keeping fit these days, it’s absolutely great to see,” he said.

“There are running groups now in almost every town and village in the county, whether it’s Pettigo, Fintown or Glenties, Bruckless, Carrick and Glencolmcille.

“This year we have over 20 club members who’ll be taking part in the marathon. That’s athletes from the Donegal town area, along with Ballyshannon and Bundoran.”

Milford AC has probably some of the highest numbers of members entered in next week’s race. An amazing 41 club members will take part and club chairman and coach, James Gibbons, said they deserve great credit for putting in so much hard work and great training over the last few months.

“It’s a mix of athletes, all with different aims and targets on the day,” he said.

“Some of them are taking part in a marathon for the first time ever. For some it’s about trying to achieve a certain time, for others it’s just about completing the course.”

In recent years, Milford has always entered large numbers in the Dublin Marathon. It’s a club that continues to flourish and James Gibbons was speaking as he watched up to 40 juveniles take part in training, under the watchful eye of coaches James Whoriskey, Eoin Sheehy and Noel Kilpatrick.

“Things are going well for us,” he added. “We achieved our first ever club medal when the men’s team came third recently in the Donegal Novice Cross Country Championships which was a great day for the club.”

Rosses AC is another club that will be well represented in Dublin. 24 club members will be taking part, among them club official Michael Logue.

“We’d a meeting this week where we were able to offer a bit of advice and a few helpful hints for everyone taking part,” he said.

“At this stage, they’ve their training done. It’s about staying focused now and staying relaxed.”

Michael said entering a marathon is one thing, being prepared to put in the effort and commitment for training is another.

“Sometimes an athlete needs to be a bit selfish because so much time is spent clocking up the miles,” he added.

“There are families who have had to sacrifice a lot and buy into the fact that a family member is taking part in the Dublin Marathon.

“We have a good mixture of athletes taking part. Some are experienced and are going for their second or third marathon. I think we have four or five who will be doing it for the first time. For them, there’s probably a great feeling of excitement at this stage.”

Many of the other clubs in the county will be represented in Dublin too with Inishowen AC and Finn Valley AC once again sending a large number of club members.

Once again, Pauric McKinney (Inishowen AC) and Ciaran McGonagle (Rosses AC) are expected to lead home the Donegal runners in the field of an estimated 19,500.