Newry City Marathon - the best yet?
Tuesday, 20 May 2014
THE seventh Newry City Marathon promises to be the best yet. There's a new fast, flat route and this course, when added to the huge influx of new runners taking to the roads, will undoubtedly ensure a great event for all.
For the past six years the Newry Marathon has taken place on the Tandragee Road and the Towpath, which, especially for the 26.2 mile athletes, was often lonely and barren.
Not so this year. Race directors Jackie Malone and Damian McStay, and their hard-working committee, have been beavering away for the past number of months to make next Sunday (May 25) a memorable one for the athletes.
The new course and the new starting times will bring the marathon runners and the half-marathon runners together for at least half of the race. The full marathon runners will start at 9am from outside the Hill Street offices of the main sponsors Newry Credit Union and head down the Warrenpoint Road to the seaside town. There they will run around the promenade to the Swimming Baths before heading back to Newry. However, they will not go back all the way into the city but will turn at the Shamrocks' roundabout - the halfway point in the race.
And here we have a touch of genius. The Half Marathon will start at the same roundabout at 10.30am, one and a half hours after the first start. By that stage many of the faster marathon runners (and most certainly those intending to break the magic three-hour barrier) will be on their way back to Warrenpoint for their second lap.
Then it's the same route to Warrenpoint and back to Newry with both the full and half men and women sharing the Dual Carriageway and everyone finishing at the Credit Union offices.
Joint race director Jackie Malone told the Democrat: "There's lots of interest in the races because of the new fast route. We are expecting over 200 for the marathon and up to 1000 for the half marathon. Incidentally we would like to thank all our sponsors, including our main sponsor Newry Credit Union as well as Newry and Mourne Council, Auto Line Insurance, The Canal Court, Crilco Confections, Bunzel Rafferty, Newry and Mourne Enterprise Agency and Ingenuity Ireland."
Jackie continued: "We would like to wish everyone lots of luck and hopefully the runners' fundraising, a vital part of the event, is going well. We would ask spectators to come out and cheer on the athletes. Also we would appeal to motorists to leave a little more time than normal for their journeys as inevitably there will be delays. Please have a little patience and obey the race marshals and PSNI."
There's a great atmosphere building for the marathon with Don Harte going for his third win. Last year Gary O'Hanlon edged the popular Rathfriland man into second spot. But on Sunday The Don is hoping to snap up his third victory.
Another Don who has unfinished business in the Newry City Marathon is Don Harte. Last year he was well on target for a sub-three-hour race but faded over the closing miles. From all accounts the wee man is going great guns at present and if he controls his pace at the start, he should achieve his sub-three-hour ambition.
Other fast men who (as we go to press who have registered for the event) will be in contention for top places are Marty Gorman, Damian Mulholland and Cathal McGreevy.
But as well as the full and half marathons there will be a 10-mile walk starting at 10am at Pairc Esler. The route follows the Dual Carriageway to Narrow Water and back before finishing at Newry Credit Union in Hill Street.
Also there's a one-mile Fun Run starting at 11am from outside the Credit Union offices in Hill Street and taking in Kildare Street, the Mall, Mary Street and back to the Credit Union.
And if you haven't already done so, there's still time to register for any of the four events at the WIN Industry Estate from 10am to 6pm on Friday and Saturday.
Incidentally as an added carrot for the top runners Newry's fastest ever marathon runner Willie McCracken (2.23 in the 1982 Dublin Marathon), incredible as it may seem, is putting up £100 of his own money (£50 each) to the first male from the Newry City Running Club to break 2.34 and the first female City Runner to duck under 3.35. He's hoping however, that half of it will stay in the McCracken family as his daughter Eimear will be there or thereabouts on Sunday.
Anyway the Newry Democrat wishes Eimear, and indeed all the competitors, the best of luck on Sunday.
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