MarathonRoad Running

Dublin debate: to be a domestic marathon or not to be…

The Airtricity Dublin Marathon on bank holiday Monday was a huge success with some exciting races up front – in particular  the duel between Sean Hehir and Joe  Sweeney.   Jumping the Gun got a ringside seat to the race in the media van.

Dick Hooper described it as “a once in a lifetime  opportunity” and  Sean Hehir echoed those words after  the  race  but the real question is where does the Dublin City Marathon go from here…

They decided to focus on a  domest field due to a lack of a title sponsor until June and it seems to have generated great interest having Irish winners – certainly Maria McCambridge and Sean Hehir were worthy winners. It was also welcoming to see them on the front of all the national newspapers including our favourite  – The Irish Examiner.

So should Dublin remain as a domestic event or return to its previous international set  up… We put it out on our twitter handle @jumpingthegunie, ‘ to be a domestic marathon or not to be..’, and it seems a lot  of people are in favour of an Irish focused field.

The feeling on the roads of Dublin is that it creates a profile for the local runners and will increase competition. Also the lack of genuine international stars in previous years results in no connection with the public as our homegrown talent languish behind the  labelled “second rate kips” and it is hard to argue with those sentiments.

It is vital to have an international field  though. The last  two Irish winners prior to Monday were John Treacy and Sonia O’Sullivan – world class athletes. The mini marathon is one mass participation race already in Ireland with a lack of  international flavour  and it doesn’t help drive the standards of  elite athletics. It is great to have more and more  people pounding the streets but the standards are still off international standard – let alone world  class. No athlete ran a qualifying standard for the European Championships  in Zurich this summer.

The Competitor group, which includes the RocknRoll series, has withdrawn its budget for  elite athletes  as  they see it brings no added value. This is surely a blinkered vision.

The Marathon Mission has helped in raising the standards but there is still a  way to go.  The right blend of internationals would surely stoke some improvement. Otherwise it  could become a parochial event. The novelty will soon wear off with Irish winners every year. It could also lead to stunting the ambition of the athletes with them just being content to win in the Fair City.

The international elite field of previous years  hasn’t dragged Irish athletes to faster times but that is as much down to the buy in of the Irish athletes themselves. There are a number of Irish athletes who haven’t toed the line.

If the Dublin marathon is going to have an Irish focused field then it  will need the likes of  Fionnuala Britton to compete. That would spark genuine public interest with a true international standard.

Imagine having the likes of Collis Birmingham, Sergiy Lebid, Sara Moreira and some top British athletes competing alongside the best  Ireland has to offer – Fionnuala Britton, Mary Cullen, Mark Christie, Mark Kenneally and Alistair  Cragg. Now that would surely warm the cockles as the runners pass Molly Malone on their way to the finish line.


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Feidhlim Kelly

Feidhlim Kelly

Con Houlihan once told me that tomorrow is now. In taking on this venture I’ve started to try and put his words into action.

I worked for Con from 2007 till his passing in 2012 taking down his copy and a whole lot more. I have a Con Houlihan section which will go in to more depth on that.

I’m a long-time contributor to the Irish Runner magazine and am also working for the Irish Examiner.

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