Over 500 athletes took to the streets and bye roads of Kilkenny and its surrounding countryside on Sunday last. The occasion was the third annual Kilkenny Half Marathon and 10 km. This event has grown each year and brings a lot of people into the city on the third Sunday in September.
Almost half of the runners are from Kilkenny city and county. This year runners came from 20 of Ireland’s other counties as well as the US, Canada and Switzerland. The Kilkenny Ormonde Hotel, Newpark Hotel and Hibernian Hotel have been supporters of the event since the first year.
Following the heavy showers of late Saturday night, the weather brightened on Sunday morning and allowed the events to get under way in dry but blustery conditions.
Athletes had received their timing chips, race numbers, event T-shirt and goody bag at registrations on Saturday evening and race day morning in the Kilkenny Ormonde Leisure Centre. Flahavans, Kinetica and Berocca had given products to each athlete so they were well fuelled for the races ahead. Kilkenny DJ Brian Hennessey provided music and commentary throughout the event.
The half marathon started outside the Castle shortly after 11am, with the Gardaí providing assistance from the start with traffic control.
Andy Burke of Kilkenny Cycles led the half-marathon runners safely around the course on his motorbike. All athletes had to contend with some strong headwinds at times.
Danish man Torben Dahl took the lead early on. An experienced mountain runner, he proved he’s quick on the roads also and took the win in 1 hour 17 minutes and 37 seconds. Carlow’s Keith Heary had kept the pressure on throughout and finished 16 seconds later with Maurice McMahon only half a minute after, coming in to take third place.
In the women’s race, Rathfarnham runner Eilis Connery won in 1 hour 26 minutes and 49 seconds. Martina O’Dwyer came in second less than a minute later and was shortly followed by Marie Byrne in third place.
Water stations were located around the course and Mikey from Doheny Wheelie bins had left several bins after each station, so that the event left no litter behind.
The Kilkenny 10km race was started an hour later outside Paris Texas on High Street. A big thanks must go to Paris Texas whose toilets proved as popular as those on the Parade for many nervous athletes. St Laurence O’Tooles Brian Kirwan was the winner of the half marathon last year, but this year stepped up to the line of the 10km race. From the start he showed his class and led home in 34 minutes and 2 seconds.
Coolquill runner Ross Alexander came in to take second place and was quickly followed by Shane Mullaney running for Thurles Crokes AC.
The event T-shirts this year were very stylish with many athletes donning their new T-shirt for the races.
Sherwood’s Electrical, Tesco and Runworx were keen supporters of the races and their names are emblazoned onto the T-shirt.
Margaret Danagher took the women’s 10km title in 39:01, but Kilkenny was well represented by Niamh Richardson, who came in second in 39:54. Niamh won the 10km in 2009 so was used to being on the podium at the event. Third place went to Michelle Cox.
Both races finished on the Parade after making their way from up from Rose Inn Street.
Mayor David Fitzpatrick kept up the tradition of the city’s mayor presenting each athlete with the custom made finisher’s medal.
Prize-giving was on the Parade as the last runners finished. Padmore and Barnes and other businesses in the city have been very good supporters of the event from year one and again this year provided some of the prizes.
Three local runners this year had to hold themselves back for the good of others in more ways than one. Yohan Dewberry acted as pace maker for those aiming for a 90-minute finish and the triathlete brothers of Brendan and Seamus Nugent acted as pacers for 1 hour 45 and 2 hour runners. This was an easy run for these two as they will undertake an Ironman distance race in Barcelona in less than two weeks’ time.
The Civil Defence provided the medical presence on the day and many people cheered the runners on to achieve their race goals.
There is a clear appetite for running in Kilkenny at the moment and organisers said it was great to see the Kilkenny Marathon and 10 km proving such a success.
Athletes coming from outside Kilkenny were impressed with the finish backdrop of Kilkenny Castle and many commented on what a great city Kilkenny is.