What started as one man’s 100th marathon has since developed into one county’s 10th marathon. Associates from the Longford marathon organising committee, as well as representatives from the St. Christopher’s, gathered earlier this week to resume their annual alliance in the wake of this momentous event.
The proceedings were punctuated by a formal presentation of a cheque with last year’s collected funds to St. Christopher’s and while entry numbers were down last year, they appear to be climbing again.
Vice Chairman John Sheehan confirmed to the Leader that the introduction of a few additional events have proven to be that enticing catalyst.
“Numbers dropped a bit when the recession arrived but they seem to be improving again. The ultra marathon, which is a 39-mile race, seems to be attracting a lot of people which is a new event for us. Admission is €50 but as it gets closer to the starting date, that will increase. You can change the event you are entering until August 1st.”
The conventional marathon, half marathon and relay, in conjunction with a host of other events, are scheduled to be held at various times over the weekend of 26th – 28th August. This allows for all ranges of ability and age to participate and also varies the style of events available.
Saturday will be a day that belongs to the younger generation with events and competitions organised for the kids and this is proving to be a popular feature according to Race Director and architect of the event’s origins Liam Fenelon.
“There were around 120 kids at it last year and that’s great to see. What we’re hoping to achieve is to generate local interest and get people to come out.”
Liam can be accredited with creating the event as it was his 100th marathon that sparked the idea for a Longford marathon.
“There was a time when the Dublin and Belfast marathon were all that was available and if you wanted to run others you had to go abroad. There are a lot more in Ireland now and the Longford one is the cheapest,” he claimed.
Liam also added that runners can enjoy a ‘pasta party’ later that night which is testament to the colossal voluntary effort devoted to the supplying of food for the occasion.
“Pat the Baker are our sponsors and we’re very grateful of them but we also get help free of charge from Ronnie Whelan Bakery, Green Isle, Supervalu and others,” he mentioned.
The hardship of running painful distances won’t go unrewarded. There will be a post-race dance held in the Longford Arms Hotel where renowned performers Mick Foster, Mick Flavin and Declan Nerney will provide the entertainment. There will also be a céili organised for those travelling across the water from England.
The course for the marathon will coincide with its pattern from previous years (Longford-Tarmonbarry-Rooskey-Longford) and the ultra mile will incorporate the towns of Clondra and Killashee which will make participation even more feasible due to the fact that race is central to locals.
“You wouldn’t believe how much the cheering of a local crowd can spur them on,” Liam concluded.