Bruno Banfi makes his through Pennywell during last year’s run Picture: Sean Curtin
A VISUALLY impaired runner and record holder will be among the thousands of participants taking part in the Barringtons’ Hospital Great Limerick Run this weekend.
Sinead Kane, who has five per cent vision, made history this year when she became the first visually-impaired athlete to complete the World Marathon Challenge – seven marathons on seven continents in seven days.
Ms Kane, who will be running alongside her guide John O’Regan, is taking part in the eighth annual Limerick race for the charity Cliona’s Foundation, which provides financial assistance to families who have children with a life limiting illness.
She won’t be going for a personal best in this marathon, aiming for a “nice leisurely pace”, having earlier this year completed marathons in Antarctica, Chile, Miami, Madrid, Marrakech, Dubai, Asia and in Sydney.
Also competing for a worthy case is horse racing journalist and broadcaster Kevin Blake, who will undertake his first ever marathon this week to raise funds for the Irish Injured Jockeys Fund.
Now in its eighth year, up to 12,000 people will again take on the run on Sunday, April 30.
The largest contingent – more than 6,000 – will be taking part in the six mile race, with a further 2,500 doing the half-marathon, over 1,000 doing the marathon, along with 100 relay teams.
Many will also be competing to win the fittest company challenge – again sponsored by the Limerick legal firm Holmes O’Malley Sexton.
“As with any running event, it is not just about running - it's about the destination. Limerick has a lot to offer, and over the May Bank Holiday weekend, with Riverfest in full swing, we intend to show what the city has to offer to competitors from all 32 counties, and some 25 countries throughout the world,” said race director John Cleary.
To the city alone, the run is estimated to be worth in the region of over €4m.
The Kids Run for Fun on Saturday, April 29, in the grounds of the University of Limerick, will see up to 3,500 primary school students taking part this year across five races from 2.30pm, beginning with the wheelchair race.
In all, over 1,000 volunteers are required on the day, as the city is virtually shut down to traffic, with up to 40,000 spectators due to line the routes.
More than 20 musical acts will line the routes, from DJs, a gospel choir and bands to boost spirits.
“The Barringtons Hospital Great Limerick Run would not be possible without the hundreds of people who make it possible, and put in hours of unseen work, time and commitment for the benefit of the city and the thousands of people walking, running and jogging each of the courses.
“Special thanks must be paid to our sponsors, Barringtons Hospital, the media, especially the The Irish Times and the Limerick Leader for their promotion of this event, An Garda Siochana, volunteers, statutory bodies, and the local people in particular, who line the routes and cheer competitors on to lift their spirits in those final miles,” said Mr Cleary.
“It is not an easy task to shut down a city for some 12 hours, but we are thankful to all for their co-operation and support on the one day when we are all running to reach a common goal - promoting Limerick.”
Due to demand, the Expo will run at the UL Arena for two days, on Friday and Saturday before the run, on Friday, April 28, from 3-7pm, and on Saturday, April 29, from 10am to 6pm. Booking will remain open online at www.greatlimerickrun.com until April 24.