On Your Marks – Herald May 1

LIN_8231Although Dublin and Belfast are only 100 miles apart, the two biggest cities on this island are different worlds when it comes to the road running scene.
Next Monday’s 32nd RiverRun Belfast Marathon had the complete co-operation of Belfast City Council from its start in 1982 and these days, has a solid sponsor. Entry fees started at a bargain €39.
Dublin has the full support of the city council, but it comes at a price. So also do the Gardai, who must approve every course change and are present on the day.  Dublin is into a second year without a sponsor. Result? The starting entry fee for the race is €75 – that’s almost double Belfast.
When it comes to prize money, Belfast offers £3,000 to the first man and woman down to £100 for 14th place, plus £1,000 for the first Northern Irish runner to finish and £400 for the first man and woman over 35. There are voucher prizes for the hugely popular relay race, which works brilliantly well on the Belfast course and attracts up to 12,000 runners.
This year, Dublin will offer “only” €10,000 to the first man and woman, but if Belfast is anything to go by, that won’t make much difference either to the quality of the racing or the numbers signing up for the race.
Next Monday, the defending champion Urga Negewo from Ethiopia returns to Belfast; he aims to improve on the course record of 2 hrs 13 min 41 secs he set last year.
Negewo’s running career started with the support of Running Across Borders (RAB), a charity based in Addis Ababa that helps talented east African athletes earn a living through their running, whether on the international road running scene, or in sports-related jobs. He made his marathon debut in Belfast in 2010.
Also running next Monday is Wosen Zeleka Demse, who has already run two marathons this year, most recently Rome in 2:12.10, and the Kenyan Joel Kiprong Kositany who ran 2:12.56 at the Tiberias Marathon in March. Leading the local entry is US-based Thomas Frazer, who moved up to the marathon in 2011. Last October, Frazer ran 2:18.37 in the Chicago Marathon, becoming the first Northern Irish athlete to break 2 hrs 20 min since 1995.
Leading the women’s entry is Lellem Berbe Yachem aged 21 from Ethiopia, with a marathon best of 2:34.38.
* Scheduled for Sunday September 22 is the inaugural Belfast Half Marathon; entry fee £18/€21.

Time to sign up for the 2013 Dublin Race Series which starts with the Irish Runner 5-Mile on Saturday June 29. Other dates are the Fingal 10km on Sunday July 21, the Frank Duffy 10-mile on Saturday August 24 and the Dublin Half Marathon on Saturday September 21. All take place in the Phoenix Park, except the Fingal 10km; venue for that is Swords.   Entry costs €23 for the 5-mile and 10km and €25 for the 10-mile and half marathon. See www.dublinmarathon.ie.
John Coghlan of MSB led home over 5,600 finishers at the Samsung Dublin by Night 10km. His time of 30 mins 29 secs  saw him the clear winner with Gary O’Hanlon of Clonliffe Harriers finishing 30 seconds adrift. Winning the women’s race by almost a minute was Aoife Talty of Raheny Shamrock in an excellent time of 34:47. Siobhan O’Doherty of Borrisokane was second and Raheny’s Barbara Sanchez third.

Dan Doherty finished 8th in the European 100km in Belves, France with a time of 7 hrs 6 mins  – a frustrating 54 seconds outside the Irish record. Doherty, who won the Anglo Celtic Plate last month, picked up a number of places in the final 30km on a tricky course with a few hilly sections. Keith Whyte was forced to drop out at around 80km. Winner of the race in 6:53.14 was Asier Cuevas of Spain.

Dunshaughlin’s Robbie Matthews made it two victories in two days when he won the Royal County 5km in Kells, Co Meath a day after his victory in the RTE BHAA 5-Mile in Dublin. At the RTE race, Matthews’ time of 25 mins 6 secs gave him a comfortable lead over Brian G Murphy and Eoghan McGinley. Orla Drumm was first in 28 mins 11 secs, with Ilona McElroy second and Maria Dolan third. A popular winner of the BHAA Person of the Year awards was ex-chairman Charlie Cronin of the ESB. Next BHAA race – coincidentally – is the ESB’s  Beach 5km on Tuesday May 7 (7.30pm)

Davey Byrne and Helen O’Connor led home a record 513 finishers at the Malahide Parkrun 5k. A further 374 finished in Marlay Park, where Paddy O’Leary was the winner in 16 mins 29 seconds. That’s almost 900 runners enjoying a free race – and surely a wake-up call for race organisers charging €20 for races over a similar distance.

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