800 take part in Longford Marathon

Dromard native Michelle McGee was the first lady to cross the finish line in the half marathon event at the 14th annual Pat the Baker Longford Marathon last Sunday. She is pictured with Longford Rose Daphne Howard. See page 61 for more photographs. Photo: Michelle Ghee. www.gphotos.ie
The 14th annual Pat the Baker Longford Marathon took place last Sunday and it has been hailed as the ‘best ever’ by one of its organisers.

The 14th annual Pat the Baker Longford Marathon took place last Sunday and it has been hailed as the ‘best ever’ by one of its organisers.

“It was definitely our best marathon yet,” said Fiona Fenelon. “There was a great buzz around town and we had fantastic weather. We haven’t had one negative comment from the runners; it has all been positive.”

Approximately 800 entrants took part in this year’s marathon events, with no less than 15 countries represented.

“The number of overseas participants is increasing every year,” Fiona continued. “This year, there were seven people from the Philippines, and there were runners from the UK, Singapore, Japan, and from all over Europe, including Italy, France, and Germany.

“We also had runners from the USA. One couple from Florida had never been to Europe before. They were planning a trip, and as the wife runs marathons they searched on Google to see what events were happening around the time they were coming over, and Longford popped up! She liked the association with St Christopher’s as she works with special needs people.

“While she was running, her husband spent the day stewarding, handing out drinks and medals.”

Kenyan Freddy Sittuk won the men’s marathon with a time of 2.37.44, while a local woman - Siobhan McHugh from Aughadegnan - was the first woman across the line with a time of 3.23.27.

Interest in the ultra marathon category has increased significantly, with twice the number of runners taking part in 2015 than had entered last year. The event was eventually won by John Reynolds, a native of Clonard now living in Edinburgh, who was competing in his first ultra marathon event. He crossed the finish line with a time of 4.46.32

Other Longfordians to clock impressive times included Michelle McGee from Dromard, who won the women’s half marathon for the third year in a row with a time of 1.18.37, Kevin Ward from Cloontirm who finished fourth in the marathon, and Barry Shiels and Patrick Sharkey who finished second and third respectively in the half marathon.