THE LARGEST number of people ever to take part in a running event in Limerick will pound the city’s streets over seven hours this weekend.
Some 8,500 will run distances of between six and 26 miles this weekend during the third annual Great Limerick Run, the largest to date. John Cleary, race director, said due to “phenomenal” demand they extended the number of entrants to 8,500, but could easily have accommodated 9,000 people.
“When we established the event just over two years ago we planned for numbers to exceed 10,000 in five years and we are certainly now on course to achieve that target,” he said.
Last year just over 6,500 took part, and Mr Cleary said their target for 2014 is now “firmly achievable”.
It is now the fastest growing participatory sporting event in Ireland, with three races to cater for everyone from the competitive athlete to the occasional runner, and walker.
The event is set to provide an economic boost of some €2m to the economy, with 30,000 spectators set to line the route and most hotels in the city are now booked up for this May Bank Holiday weekend.
Mr Cleary advised spectators that the best times to view the race on O’Connell Street are after 11.30am, when the marathon winners cross the line, and between 1-3pm when the half-marathon and six-mile participants pass the line.
He said organising the race has been a huge logistical operation, with 40,000 bottles of water ready to hand out, thousands of medals, and with 400 volunteers offering their time on the day. People from every county in Ireland have entered, along with runners from 18 countries, including the US, UK, Germany, Spain, Canada, and Denmark.
This year an earlier start of 8am has been introduced for the ‘walkers’ marathon’ and over 300 people have registered for this race in its inaugural year.
The organisers are still accepting entries for the series of races on Sunday, May 6, and this week have been receiving entries at a rate of nearly 300 per day.
For more see this weekend’s Limerick Leader, print edition