LIMERICK was at its best on Sunday as tens of thousands of euro was raised for worthy causes from runners taking part in the Great Limerick Run.
Now in its 10th year, the run drew almost 14,000 people, who pounded the city’s streets in six-mile, half-marathon and a grueling full marathon.
For the first time, gold medals were on offer for those who completed the 26-mile course, silver for the half-marathon course, and bronze for the 10km runners.
And while it will be the first finishers who grab the headlines – including Moldovan man Sergiu Ciobanu who crossed the line in just two-hours and 20 minutes – there were many positive stories to tell among those who completed the other races.
Almost 440 people were out running to raise money for the Children’s Grief Centre at the South Circular Road, including cousins of Liam Ryan, who tragically died suddenly aged just four last year.
One of the group, Gerry O’Donoghue said: “It’s an amazing charity that does amazing work. Liam’s older sister Aoife, who is seven, has hugely benefited from the Children’s Grief Centre.”
Running alongside Gerry were Cian, 9, Mark, 7, and Jack O’Neill, aged 11.
Asked where they are from, he said “Newport and Clonlara”.
“In two of the best counties in Ireland”, chimed in Mark!
Elsewhere, Laurence Hogan, Ardnacrusha, helped raise €8,000 for Brain Tumour Ireland, completing the six-mile race in under two hours.
He recovered from a tumour himself to hit the track.
“I am post-op now, about 10 months. There are other people who have brain tumours, and if I can do it, they can do it. Never give up: there is a fighter in everybody, and that goes a long way,” he said.
Helen Flannery, Tournafulla, ran wih her friend Nora Horgan, and Denmark Street barber Brian Garvey to complete the whole 26-miles!
Their aim is to raise enough money to have a life-saving defibrillator installed in the Market Quarter area.
Helen was full of praise for Brian: “It was his idea – he dragged myself and Nora around the course, he was so motivational. He effectively ran the marathon backwards for us! It feels totally amazing, I am so emotional now – it’s great to finish it.”
“ There was another heroic effort from Sean Byrnes, 14, of Pallasgreen. The youngster was born with spina-bifida and hydrocephalus and as a result has no use of his lower limbs. Despite this, he powered his way to the finish line on a specially adapted trike, completing the six-miles in just over an hour.
Another young man to complete the race was TJ McNamara, 11, from Ballysimon, who ran the six-mile course for the first time with his mother Shirley.