THE FIVE-YEAR target to have 10,000 people running for the Great Limerick Run in 2014 is now becoming â€œfirmly achievableâ€, as this yearâ€™s target is close to being realised.
Over 7,000 people have now entered to take part in the Great Limerick Run next weekend - the largest in the history of the event. People from 18 different countries and from every county in Ireland have entered for the series of races on Sunday, May 6 during the May Bank Holiday weekend.
The Mayor of Limerick, councillor Jim Long, said the event is the â€œfastest growing participatory event in Irelandâ€, capturing the interest of thousands of runners from all over the country and abroad.
The weekend, which coincides with the Riverfest celebrations in Limerick, is expected to draw tens of thousands of people to Limerick and provide an economic boost of up to â‚¬4m to local businesses, according to recent students.
John Cleary, organiser of the Great Limerick Run, said he is â€œvery happyâ€ with how the race has grown from year to year, with many entrants again travelling from the United States and United Kingdom again this year, as well as a host of European countries.
â€œWhatever weâ€™re doing, it seems to be working and long may that continue,â€ he told the Limerick Leader.
â€œAll roads lead to Limerick during Riverfest. Limerick really is the place to be that weekend, because of all of those different things on offer, whether youâ€™re in sport or theatre,â€ he said.
A further 1,000 people are expected to sign up for the run in the coming week, but people are advised to book early as entries are capped at 8,000 this year.
To date, the most popular races are the six-mile event and the half marathon, with less than 1,000 people taking part in the marathon. It is hoped 10,000 people will take part by 2014 - getting into the territory of the Dublin marathon which has 13,000 entrants.
Mr Cleary added: â€œIf someone had told me a year ago weâ€™d be up to 8,000 I would have pinched myself. But it looks like a runner.â€
Last year just over 6,500 took part and while 1,500 of those entered the race during the Expo, Mr Cleary said he doesnâ€™t want people to be disappointed if itâ€™s booked out by then. Limerick is also hoping to dance its way into the world record books on the day, with an estimated 4,500 people due to take part in the zumba challenge, which will be held as a warm-up at 12.45 for people taking part in the six-mile event. Among those taking part in the run will be Kayleigh Yeoman, one of the leaders in the RTE show Operation Transformation, who has lost three stone to date, while local man Phonsie Clifford, 81, is expected to be one of the oldest entrants in the race.
People who enter the race without paying will be removed by gardai this year, he warned.