Athletes from all over the world will descend on Longford this weekend for the 15th annual Pat the Baker Longford Marathon.
Since its inaugural event in 2002, the marathon has grown in strength, and organisers have continued to adapt the event to cater for all.
This year is no different, with the introduction of the 'Streets of Longford' 5k race as well as a jam-packed line-up of family entertainment.
“We strive to ensure that every single runner has the best possible experience when they come to Longford,” said a spokesperson for the organising committee. “This is a fantastic opportunity to display all that is positive and fabulous about Longford - the number one thing being the people - hence the reason we are known as ‘the friendly marathon in the heart of Ireland'.”
The weekend gets underway on Saturday, August 26 with a complimentary warm-up Park Run at 9.20am in the Mall. From 1pm until 5pm, participants are invited to register at the Longford Arms Hotel before the pasta party at 5pm.
On Sunday morning, August 28, athletes can collect their numbers at the Longford Arms from 7am before the ultra runners and marathon walkers set off from Main Street at 8.30am.
At 10am, participants in the marathon, half marathon, wheelchair marathon and marathon relay will begin the race, followed at 10.10am by those taking on the new 5k route.
The finishers in the 5km are expected over the finish line at 10.30am, followed by other competitors. From 11am – 4pm, as the athletes continue to cross the finish line, there will be plenty to see and do for all the family.
“This year we plan to have a festival atmosphere in the town with face painting, spot prizes and busking to entertain the supporters as they cheer on the runners at the finish line,” the spokesperson revealed.
“Our three musketeers, Joe Flaherty, Benny O’Brien and Paul Gurney will be on hand to keep us posted on the results and announce the runners as they finish their races. As usual there will be witty comments galore!
“Shannonside radio are broadcasting all day from the finish line. Pat the Pan from Pat the Baker, our main sponsor, will be mingling with crowds and I believe there are some nice hampers up for grabs!
“All we need is the weather as everything else is organised,” the spokesperson laughed, before urging locals to “come out and cheer on the runners or, better again, come and partake in the event”.
The weekend will be rounded off at 8.30pm on Sunday in the Longford Arms Hotel with a trad session, followed by music with Paschal and Sean. Live entertainment can also be enjoyed throughout the weekend in The Market Bar, The Tally Ho, Andy's and Begley's.
Entry for all the races remains open online until midnight on Friday, August 26. You can also register in person at The Computer Clinic, Main Street, Longford and in The Longford Arms Hotel on Saturday from 1pm to 5pm.
Anyone interested in volunteering at the event is asked to get in touch via www.longfordmarathon.com or on 043 33 49682.