CLOSE to 10,000 walkers, joggers and runners will pound the streets of Limerick today for the fourth annual Great Limerick Run.
This year’s staging, sponsored by Barringtons Hospital, will see a record number of entrants for an event which is still in its infancy, but hopes to grow to 15,000 entrants by 2015.
In addition to the traditional six-mile event, half-marathon and full marathon, there will also be a relay marathon this year, with up to four people on a team.
Competitors from 25 countries and every county in Ireland will be taking part - providing hotels across the city with a major boost.
The Great Limerick run is estimated to be worth in the region of €2.4m to the local economy and by 2015 it is expected to have an economic impact of €4.5m, growing to €5.36m in 2017.
While hundreds of people may be hoping to set their own personal best on the day, others are hoping their qualifying time could see them make it to the record books.
A pilot with the Air Corps is aiming to set a new world record this weekend for the fastest time in a marathon while carrying a 20-pound backpack.
Lieutenant Gearoid Ó Briain, a military pilot, is taking part in the Limerick marathon for the first time this year in memory of two of his colleagues who were killed in an air crash four years ago. “Whether I’m successful or not I’ll be dedicating this run to their memory. I just want to highlight the work that people in the Defence Forces do every day, particularly the Air Corps,” said 25-year-old from Rathdrum, Co Wicklow.
Limerickman Mark Quinn, who is the youngest person born in the Republic to conquer Everest, the highest mountain in the world, is also limbering up for his second Limerick marathon.
He’s doing the race in preparation for his next challenge, as he aims to become the first Irishman to climb K4 and K5, the 11th and 13th highest mountains in the world, in one single expedition this June.
Neil Cusack, 61, who is the only Irishman to ever win the Boston marathon, is doing the 10km walk with his wife nearly 40 years on from his most famous marathon win.
Richard Costello, owner of the Locke bar, is to run the 10k in this year’s Great Limerick Run just eight months after receiving a kidney transplant from his wife Anna.
Gardai are warning motorists that traffic restrictions will be in place along the route of the Great Limerick Run for most of the day.
For more information, log onto greatlimerickrun.com