Longford's Royal Canal Run ready to kick off for its fourth year running

Jessica Thompson

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Jessica Thompson

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jessica.thompson@longfordleader.ie

Royal Canal Run

On their marks: The participants of a previous Royal Canal Run set off.

Running is the most ancient form of exercise, but it's still the one that gets good results and is taken on with great enthusiasm today.

Local runs like parkrun and the Royal Canal Run are proof of that.

And, the fact that there will be approximately 800 runners taking to the path around the Royal Canal this weekend is even further proof that a love for running is alive and well in the county.

“This is the fourth year of the run,” remarked Brendan Doyle, when he called in to the Longford Leader offices for a chat last week.

“The first year we had about 350 people take part. In year two, that went up to 500. In the third year it was 700. And this year we'll have 800.”

Places on the Royal Canal Run have been completely sold out for three weeks now, though a few people might be lucky enough to get a place if they show up on the day as, with 800 runners, there's bound to be a number of people who drop out.

And, in fact, the popular run has sold out every year so far, thanks to the enthusiasm of Brendan, who organises the event each year.

“We've let it expand year on year and it's gone from strength to strength since it started,” he said.

“But we won't be expanding it again until there's more development on that part of the canal.

“For health and safety reasons, we couldn't put more people on it.”

But, despite having no places left, Brendan was keen to get the word out about the beautiful amenity available to locals - namely the Royal Canal itself and, more specifically, the stretch of the canal in Longford town.

“It's amazing how many people don't know that it's there,” he said, referring to the section of the canal that can be found down by Slashers.

There will be four races taking place on Saturday morning and afternoon, Brendan explained, and runners will be running a 5km loop, so they'll regularly pass water stations and groups of supporters along the way.

The ultra marathon, which will be 53km, will start at 8.30am, with the full marathon and a 10km run starting at 10am, and a half marathon starting at 11.30am.

There will be refreshments and music in a marquee, which will be set up at Slashers on the day, and there will be a medal and t-shirts for everyone to commemorate the event.

And there will be great prizes for first, second and third place winners.

“We'll have bog oak sculptures made by Kevin Casey from Newtowncashel,” said Brendan.

“First, second and third place male and females for the full and half marathons and the 10k run will each get a a sculpture, and there will also be a sculpture for the first male and first female in the ultra marathon.”

And, he added, the Noel McGeeney Perpetual Trophy will be awarded to the first placed local female in the 10k run.

“Noel was huge with the Royal Canal Amenity Group,” Brendan explained.

“After he died, the family gave us a cup and we give it to a different local person every year.”

Brendan, who has himself been running since 1995, has run 50 marathons, including the New York Marathon in 1998 and 1999.

This year, 20 years on from his first New York Marathon, Brendan and his wife Madeline will be among the runners in the Big Apple.

And he has his own running club, which sees up to 150 people running with him weekly. More information can be found via Brendan Doyle's Facebook page.

For now though, the focus is on Saturday's Royal Canal Run, which will be a great day out for anyone who wants to support.

“There will be a great buzz. We'll have the music hopping at Slashers and it will be a great place to hang out for the day,” said Brendan.

“It'll be a day of craic and anyone can come up and support and cheer the runners on.”

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