I suppose the real story of the Limerick marathon is not so much about the great course, nice weather, or PB's but the injuries. It all started for most of us in January/ February as we set out on the long road to Limerick on those cold dark evening following our training plans: longs runs, tempo, speed sessions, and all the usual stuff.

It started when Maeve collided with a dog and had a bad fall off her bike on her way to race in Tuam and was out of training for a number of weeks. Then Noel Fox was struck down with a particularly bad virus which brought a halt to his training for so long that he was forced to abandon his plan for the Limerick marathon and go for the half instead.

Next it was Maeve up again she tripped while out on a long run one Sunday and broke her arm; this would end Maeve's involvement in the race as a participant although herself and Deirdre Quinn were a great support crew on the day.

As time progressed Aoife Callan, Frances Leahy, and Fiona Doughan all fell victim to injury or illness and their training was badly hampered; happy to say all are back in training again. With only a few weeks to go, news was breaking that Frank Burke’s attempt at a sub 3 may be over before he even gets started as he has a leg injury, but he's tough and decides to go.


Finally it’s race day: all the weeks of training had lead us to this point as we assemble at the baggage drop point and make our way to the start line, some more confident of making it to the finish line than others.

The race started without to much drama for me anyway and I quickly settled into my running, keeping myself busy chatting with another runner and wondering how my fellow Athenry member were getting on. I was soon to find out. As I passed through UCL about five miles into the race I come upon Frank walking away from the course: this was terrible, to see someone who has spent months training pulled up unable to continue.

As I continued on, the course loops up and down the same road for a few miles so I was able to check on how everybody was doing. Hi-fiveing Aoife, Martin, and Kieran was great and a wave from Bridget, Ed, Fiona, Frances, and Orla things weren’t going to bad there was still a good gang of us still going well.

The course — which is nice and reasonable flat for a marathon course — winds it way back from the east side of Limerick city through the centre of town where our support were offering encouragement and anything else we needed out to the west and back through the centre of town again.

We are at about 17 miles at this point and there are big crowds clapping and cheering and I am loving it when I hear a couple of voices I recognize shout encouragement at me I look around and there in the middle of the crowd is Aoife and Kieran. This almost stopped me in my tracks. I was stunned. They had to tell me to keep running, my head was a mess: what had happened? They looked so good earlier and all the long winter nights of training just like Frank gone up in smoke.

I had to get my head together at this stage. I was wondering was I the only Athenry runner left, it was carnage all these fine athletes out with one problem or another. I eventfully made it to the finish line but not without further incident at mile 24; another competitor collapsed on the road about 20 meters in front me. This put the heart cross ways in me. I taught he had a heart attack but he assured me it was just his legs, my own weren’t great at this point an’ I was wondering would I make it.

All that were left standing eventfully made it home, some with PB`s, other just happy to get home. This was a real race of attrition for our club but I know all these fine athletes will have better races and their day in the sun.