This weekend’s Pat the Baker Longford Marathon is expected to see dozens of athletes take on one of the most gruelling tasks in long distance running-the ultramarathon.
Set over an energy sapping 39 miles, the event is undoubtedly the toughest challenge facing entrants to this year’s 11th staging of the popular fundraiser.
This year, and with thoughts of London 2012 still fresh in the memory, organisers have admitted their surprise at the level of interest which has so far been shown.
“We had in or around 25 people doing the ultra (marathon) last year and this time around we have more or less matched that already,” said a more than contented Liam Fenelon.
One of the marathon’s main instigators, this year also marks the Longford town man’s 242nd 26 mile event.
Yet rather than dwell on his own achievements, Liam is quietly keeping his fingers crossed that the event encounters no hiccups.
“I am looking forward to it, but when you have been involved in it (marathon) from the start you just don’t want anyone to get hurt,” he said.
In a slight change to previous years, organisers have decided to move the finishing line from Ballymahon Street to lie almost adjacent to the Longford Arms Hotel.
“It’s just something that will probably make it more of a viewing prospect for spectators,” added Liam.
“What we would also ask is for as many people as possible to line out and cheer on the runners. It’s a long way (26 miles and 39 miles for the ultra marathon) and it means a lot to have that support there.”
Requests apart, Liam also admitted to holding one further wish, a yearning which could turn out to be aspirational at best.
“The weather,” he replied swiftly. “We don’t want it too hot so the odd shower I’m sure would be appreciated by the runners.”
*The Marathon Weekend kicks off in earnest on Friday with a 5km fun run at 7:30pm with registration at the town’s Computer Clinic Store from 6:30pm. Then on Saturday morning, St. Christophers, Battery Road, Longford, is the starting point for a three-mile breakfast run around Longford town from 10am. This run is open to all entrants in the marathon and breakfast will be served after the run back to St. Christophers. Later that day, the Mall Complex will play host to a novel mile long event for youngsters and parents from 3pm.
All runners can collect their numbers on Saturday for the event proper from 1.00pm to 8.00pm at St. Mel’s College in Longford. New entries will also be accepted at St. Mel’s College on Saturday. At 5.00pm on Saturday evening there will be a pasta party at St. Mels College in Longford. Number collection for the marathon and half-marathon will also open at 7:30am at St. Mel’s College in Longford on Sunday morning.
The first participants to take to the roads of Co Longford will be the marathon walkers and ultra marathon competitors who will set off at 9.30am. Wheelchair entrants, meanwhile, will start at 10.45am from the same location with runners in the full marathon, relay event as well as all participants in the half-marathon starting at 11.00am on Sunday morning. For more information contact (043) 3349682, (087) 3662761 or log onto www.longfordmarathon.com.