Longford Marathon exceeds all expectations

Liam Cosgrove

Reporter:

Liam Cosgrove

Email:

liam.cosgrove@longfordleader.ie

Longford Marathon

A delighted Gary O'Hanlon from Clonliff crosses the finish line and secures first place in the full marathon, amid cheers from the watching crowds

It's perennially billed as 'the friendly marathon in the heart of Ireland' and, true to form, last weekend's 2017 rendition more than lived up to its ever growing notability.

As has been the keystone of its success in its previous 15 stagings, entrants travelled from near and far for an event which has become one of the most eagerly awaited on the local calendar.

There were plenty of highlights from a Longford standpoint too with Kevin Ward the first man home in the full marathon.

Siobhan McHugh was a runner to go down in plenty of spectator's notebooks after being the fourth lady to cross the line in the full marathon.

Results in the half marathon did not go unnoticed either, owing chiefly to Barry Shiels' second placed finish while Adrianna Melia's time of 1:25:11 was enough to ensure she secured the mantle of being the second female home.

They were accomplishments race organisers were quick to eulogise over.

“This year's marathon was a great success, even bigger and better than last year,” said committee member Fiona Fenelon.

“It was an amazing colourful sight with the main street filled with runners from all over Ireland and the globe heading off on their journey through the countryside.”

Ms Fenelon said besides the umpteen 'personal bests' that were set, one particular footnote to stand out only emerged as celebrations began to take hold.

“One good story which was relayed to me last night at our Post race party in the Longford Arms Hotel was that a runner from Boston managed to qualify for the 2018 Boston Marathon,” revealed Fiona.

“Needless to say he was ecstatic.

“This is possible because the Longford marathon is a member of AIMS - the Association of International Marathons and distance races.”

Given the marathon's rising stock, bettering the many successes of last weekend may prove onerous, but you can bet your bottom dollar it won't be for the want of trying.