Going for Glory- A Marathon Feat

Almost 13,000 people gathered together, under a clear blue sky, on Fitzwilliam’s Street Upper early Monday morning. United by what lay ahead of them each stood in solemn pride. The economic situation, politics, unemployment and debt all lay forgotten that day, well for a few hours at least.
October 1980 saw in the very first Dublin City Marathon and 31 years later it’s still going strong. The Dublin Marathon’s official website states how Dublin holds ‘one of the major Marathons worldwide’ and a cold, glorious Monday morning proved this.
People from all over the world took part, from Russia’s, Aleksey Sokolov to the Ukraine’s Kateryna Stetsenko, who was the first woman over the line at a time of 2:26:13. Crowds came from far and wide; Australian and New Zealand accents could be heard cheering among the Irish.
Just before the starting gun athletes psyched themselves up, under a beautiful blue sky, for a scenic run that would take them up to the Phoenix Park, down along South Circular Road, hitting the half way mark at Walkinstown, past Clonskeagh, around UCD, up Merrion Road, along the final mile at Pearse Street before racing over the 26.2 mile finish line at Merrion Square North.
What makes nearly 13,000 people, not only voluntarily run 26.2 miles, but spend the best part of the year preparing for it.? Is it the sheer accomplishment and sense of pride? Is it for glory, to break world records or personal records? Or is it simply because as Richard Byrne, an Irish runner says, ‘it seemed like a good idea at the time’.
Last year saw in the 30th anniversary of the Dublin City Marathon and hundreds of runners ran the route on Monday, proudly displaying their 30th anniversary finishing t-shirts. Representing the fact that they had suffered along the streets of Dublin once before and had come back for more.
Looking at hundreds of faces standing at the start, all were bracing themselves for the mammoth journey ahead. Some candidly displayed inner feelings; a few runners laughed and joked, while others just stood still, a nervous expression on their face.
The starting klaxon went and they were off. It was like a giant burst of air as around 13,000 competitors began pounding the streets. The noise was incredible. The crowd erupted in euphoria. Cheers, clapping and music all boded well for an unforgettable send off.
As the last runner left Fitzwilliam Street the sense of silence was overcoming. The street, which only minutes before had been thronged with competitors, stood deserted. In the distance, balloons dotted the blue sky and the faint cry of cheers and clapping could be heard as the runners raced up towards the beautiful surroundings of Phoenix Park.
The marathon weekend started off at the RDS with the Marathon Expo, where an archived area showcased previous Marathons via old yellowed newspapers and vibrant photos. The RDS became the central hotspot for registering competitors and supporters alike.
A giant white board spectacularly stood at the entrance to the Expo uniting words from both supporters and competitors. ‘Impossible is Nothing’ was strikingly written in the centre of the board. Words like ‘C’MON MUM’ and ‘Pain will go, Glory is forever’ represented the powerful support , while words like, ‘In memory of Robin’, and ‘Just for you Mum’ were important in recognising why people were doing it.
The support for the participants was incredible. Walking around part of the route, soaking up the atmosphere, I was witness to incredible support from friends and family. One particular lady in the crowd clapped and chanted words of encouragement for nearly an hour “My voice will be gone before he (husband) comes around”.
Crowds marked the entire route from Fitzwilliam Street to Merrion Street. Cyclists followed the runners, in some way trying to experience a bit of what the runner was experiencing. John McEvoy, who has over 40 Marathons from all over the world under his belt, was unable to participate so cycled the route as his way to feel a part of it. Cheers of ‘Come on, you can do it’, ‘Just another mile’ and ‘It’s just around the corner’ drifted throughout the streets.
People banging against the barriers, Jamaican drums and Bodhran’s, cheers and whoops all added to the atmosphere. The Spar cheering zones, dotted throughout the route, maximised the support for the runners. One runner, when recollecting his marathon feat, vividly remembered the Spar Spartans.
Moses Kangogo Kibet of Kenya raced over the finish line to an adulation of cheers and clapping as he broke a Dublin Marathon record by 11 seconds, which had been held since 2007, at a time of 2:08:58. The crowd was immense as it waited for Kibet to come into view, glancing at the clock, pushing him on, hoping he would be in time to break the record.
The finishing line was a mixture of relief and exhaustion. The commentator put names and hometowns to faces as they passed under the digital clock. Fists punched the air while heads rested in hands, a runner was rushed past in a stretcher, exhaustion etched all over his face. Pictures of pride were carved in the finisher’s faces.
The runners had made it look so easy, but the Marathon was and always will be a test of endurance. At the 26 mile mark a sign defiantly symbolised this with the words ‘If it wasn’t hard everyone would do it’.

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