A BIG "Thank You" to all participants & supporters for making 2016 one to remember.
Saturday June 25th saw Waterford host its 5th Annual Viking Marathon, boasting terrific entertainment all the way along the route as over 2,000 runners wound their way along the roads.
The international appeal won out again this year with many visitors using the event as an excuse to travel to Ireland. Participants travelled from Brazil, Johannesburg, Sweden, Norway, Alaska, all over the rest of the US and from all corners of Ireland. New to the event were a wonderful group of 6 Japanese marathon runners, who between them have completed over 3,300 marathons.
This year’s event took in over 10 miles of the Viking city’s streets before the full marathon runners made their way out to the seaside town of Tramore. It was all about entertainment again this year, with high profile local bands and musicians in abundance over the entire route. The weather played its part too, a light breeze cooling tired legs as they headed for home.
The novel distance of the quarter marathon was the shortest route available for runners and they were the first group to enjoy the stadium finish on the welcoming blue of the Mondo track. The men’s race was well contested with mostly local runners vying for the tops spots. Back with a bang to the running scene was Ferrybank AC’s Ruairi O’ Donnell in a time of 36.21. Next home was Waterford AC’s Brian Swaby 36.57 and 3rd place went to Raivis Zakis in 37.52. Similarly in the lady’s event, first home was Vanessa Bray from Limerick in a time of 43.59, with local athlete Sinead Brannigan finishing in 45.49 and 3rd placed Louise Matthews in 46.17.
The flat half marathon route proved its popularity again with great numbers winding their way back through Waterford’s Eco Park after splitting from the full marathoners before hitting the track. There was a terrific battle for 1st place between Sergiu Ciobano of Clonliffe Harriers, who just recently missed out on selection for the Rio Olympic Irish Marathon team, and Hungary’s own Olympic hopeful Koszar Zsolt, with Sergiu pulling away only over the last mile and the ultimate winner with a time of 1.07.44, only 7 seconds clear. 3rd place honours went to Portlaoise AC’s James Hamm in 1.16.05.
Molly Nunn, from North Carolina in the US, another runner with an Olympic dream of reaching London in 2012, had an easy win in the lady’s race in a time of 1.21.37, well ahead of Lisa Griffin in 1.27.10 and Donna Dunne of Kilkenny City in 1.29.37.
In the main event, battling for top spot out of the 500+ marathon runners, was Cork Marathon winner Philip Harty and inaugural Viking winner Brian Murphy. The crowd at the track were kept well appraised of events as they unfolded on the roads and gave a huge applause to welcome Dungarvan fireman Harty home for an easy victory in 2.37.17, well ahead of Brian who came in second with a time of 2.49.07. Belfast man Luke Izzard took bronze with a time of 2.56.25.
Pauline Curley of Tullamore Harriers held on to her title as the fastest Viking marathon woman for the 4th year in a row, finishing in 2.50.49. Pauline returns year after year because she said “the route is fast and flat and the atmosphere is terrific, especially when the spirits are flagging. Plus the finish is like Beijing all over again!” Local St.Joseph’s AC runner Sally Forristal returned to better last year’s finish and took silver again in a time of 2.59.55. 3rd home was Dolores Duffy of Watergrasshill AC.
In the marathon relay event, team Teva finished with top ahead of 30 other corporate teams.
For the vast majority of participants, the event was not about winning or times. As a non-stop stream of tired but elated runners crossed the line, many had extraordinary and emotional stories to tell.
The amazing assisted running Team Kerr had returned to the South East to complete another family race, with Mom and Dad, Sandra and David Kerr pushing their beloved Aaron around the full marathon course. “Although he might not always show it, and can find it hard to express his feelings, we as parents know that inside, our son is at his happiest with the wind in his hair and the sun on his face”.
So all around a huge success was the overwhelming consensus for most who took part, be it organising, running, stewarding or supporting. An impressive 350 helpers lined the route, with marshals, water stations and medical personnel ensuring the safe return of all runners to the Waterford Regional Sports Centre.
A memorable event created not only by the heroics of the participants but by a sense of Waterford taking the Waterford Viking Marathon to its heart.