Sunday run and beautiful scenery hailed as key to growing success of great Limerick event

Nick Rabbitts

Reporter:

Nick Rabbitts

And they’re off: Thousands of athletes are set for Great Limerick Run this weekend

And they’re off: Thousands of athletes are set for Great Limerick Run this weekend

MORE than 13,000 people are expected to pound Limerick’s pavements at the ninth annual Bon Secours Great Limerick Run this Sunday.

People will come from across the country to enjoy Limerick’s sights and sounds, and put their bodies on the line for what is the country’s fastest growing participator sport.

The majority of those taking part in the Bon Secours sponsored event – more than 6,000 – will be taking part in the six-mile race, with a further 3,000 doing the half marathon, and 1,500 hardy souls taking part in the 26 mile marathon.

There will also be a relay marathon, drawing 100 teams.

Many will also be competing to win the fittest company challenge – again sponsored by Limerick law firm Holmes O’Malley Sexton – at the UL Arena on Saturday.

Councillor Joe Leddin, a member of the Great Limerick Run committee, said: “I expected the numbers to be down, because of the weather, but fortunately the numbers have stayed pretty much in line with last year.”

To the city alone, the run is estimated to be worth in the region of €4m.

“When you talk to people in the service industry, such as bar owners, hoteliers and restaurateurs, they will tell you, particularly from a hotels point of view, you can’t get a bed in the city. Fifty per cent of the people doing the run come from Limerick which is a fantastic statistic. Invariably, they will bring a partner or spouse. So it’s a double hit in that sense,” Cllr Leddin said.

As well as the four races on the Sunday, a kid’s fun run will take place on Saturday at the UL Arena alongside the fittest company challenge, with 3,500 primary school students racing.

Over 700 volunteers will be involved on race day, as the city is virtually shut down to traffic, while around 40,000 spectators will cheer the athletes on.

Among this number will be DJs, a gospel choir and bands.

“Apart from Munster Rugby, it’s the biggest event in the city,” Cllr Leddin added.

He believes the Great Limerick Run – now in its ninth year – has grown so quickly because of the fact the organisers have kept it on the Sunday, allowing the athletes some down time on the Bank Holiday Monday.

“You can have a good weekend, as opposed to doing the run on the Monday, and having to go back into work the following day. The other thing is, and we have done this consistently, we are cognisant of the nature of the routes.

“You’re bringing runners through residential areas, through bridges, down by the river, past the Hunt Museum and starting off in the historic Georgian quarter near Pery Square.

“You’re showcasing the city in the best possible way you can,” he said.

This is different to other races globally, which people might do once, but never again, Cllr Leddin added.

To get involved, telephone 061 609627.