On Your Marks – Herald April 18

After the explosions in Boston, thoughts are now turning to next Sunday’s London Marathon, where 36,000 runners will spent between two and eight hours on the open streets of one of the largest cities of the world.
A group of 252 runners along with 70 supporters are travelling from Ireland with Sports Travel International, the Dublin-based company that also had 26 Irish and British runners competing in Boston.
“Although people have a right to be worried, we have no drop-outs so far. Indeed one man who is carrying an injury had decided to pull out and then rang us to say that he had changed his mind and would run on Sunday in memory of those who died in Boston,” says Colette Cowlard of Sports Travel International.
She has no doubt that every effort will be made to make the streets of London safe next weekend. “It’s a long course, with thousands running and thousands lining the streets, so policing it is difficult. It’s not like a stadium. We know that the authorities will do everything they can. Plus they have had the experience of policing the London Olympics and a lot of background intelligence.”
In Boston, the Irish group was looked after by Eugene Coppinger and Gerry Carr from the Dublin Marathon, who always have a stand at the Boston marathon expo. Carr opted to run and came home in 4 hours 7 minutes – just two minutes before the blast. “We were very relieved to hear that he was OK, although it took quite a few hours before we knew everyone was safe.”
Just behind Carr was Fintan Stack who heard the very loud blast following by the sound of breaking glass as it showered down. Another Irish finisher was right on the line at the time of the first explosion.
While 81 of the group of 100 Irish starters made it to the finish line, the 19 who were still out on the course and were aiming for five hour finishes were stopped when the race was abandoned. “They were brought to local churches and halls and well looked after,” says Cowlard.
Of the 23,336 who started the race, a remarkable 17,580 finished.
Let’s hope for a peaceful and safe day next Sunday in London to honour the dead and injured from Boston and to reinforce the spirit of friendship and co-operation that is at the heart of marathon running.
* Finishing second over 55 in Boston with a time of 2:55.01 was former Irish International Christine Kennedy, now an American citizen.

A blazing hot day put paid to the ambitions of most of the Marathon Mission squad running the Rotterdam Marathon. Brian Maher, Maria McCambridge and Ailish Malone were all forced to drop out. Tom Hogan of SBR in Co Wexford was first home of the Irish in 2 hrs 28 mins 38 secs, with Raheny’s Barbara Sanchez ninth overall and best of the Irish women and Claire McCarthy of St Finbarr’s first over 35 in 2:43.15. Irish marathon champion Paul Pollock along with Gladys Ganiel and Breege Connolly run London on Sunday.

On a blustery day in the Phoenix Park, Linda Byrne of DSD won the Woodie’s DIY National 10km title in a time of 34 mins 24 secs. She was followed home Raheny’s Elish Kelly and Teresa McGloin from Finn Valley. Taking the men’s Irish title was Stephen Scullion in 30 mins 16 secs, with Clonliffe’s Sergiu Ciobanu second and Annadale’s Eddie McGinley third.
A day after his heroic second in the 10,00m at the Irish Universities Track and Field Championships in Cork, Paul Robinson of St Coca’s won the Spar Mile that took place as part of the Spar Great Ireland Run.His time of 4 mins 14 secs put him two seconds clear of Kilkenny’s Eoin Everard with 17-year-old David Harper from Sligo third in 4:18.
Ethiopia’s Kenenise Bekele and Britain’s  Lauren Haworth won the men and women’s international invitational races.

David Hynes of Waterford IT just beat DCU’s Steven Colvert to win the men’s 100m at the Irish University Athletics Championships in Cork, with both men timed at 10.66 seconds. Colvert got his revenge when he won his specialist 200m. DCU’s Stephanie Creaner won both the women’s 100m and 200m. UCD’s Mark English  stepped down a distance to win the 400m in 47.30 seconds, with his next race the Penn Relays in the USA at the end of the month, where he will run in a medley team with Brian Gregan, Paul Robinson and Ciaran O Lionaird.
Over the longer distances, John Coghlan of DCU comfortably won the 5000m and John Travers the 10,000m. Una Britton of UL won the women’s 5000m in 17 mins 45 secs, while Becky Woods of Trinity won both the 1500m and steeplechase.
In the field events, Clare Fitzpatrick of UCC set a new universities record of 14.08 in the shot and also won the discus and 8kg weight events.

Just a week after he had crashed out of the Auckland Triathlon, Bryan Keane finished second in the World Cup Triathlon in Ishigaki, Japan, this time recovering after another crash on the cycle stage. Keane’s time of 1 hour 53 mins 50 secs put him just over a minute behind the winner Ryan Fisher of Australia and 12 seconds clear of another Aussie, Dan Wilson.

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