Google+ Running in Cork, Ireland: July 2020

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Government announces €160,000 grant to investigate new Mallow to Dungarvan Greenway

Some good news!! For a long while, we've speculated on the blog about the possibility of a Greenway from Mallow to Dungarvan. It now looks as if that might become a real possibility.

(Updates below)

On Wednesday the 29th of July 2020, Minister Eamon Ryan, T.D. Minister for Climate Change, Communications Networks and Transport, announced funding of €4.5m to 26 Greenway Projects. The funding was allocated under the Carbon Tax Fund 2020 and provides support for feasibility, planning and design for Greenways around the country.

As part of this funding, the Government have allocated €80,000 to Cork County Council to "Scope, Pre- Appraisal, Concept, Feasibility and Options Selection for a 39.15km section from Mallow / Youghal to Ballyduff / on the Waterford border."

The announcement refers to this as the "Mallow to Dungarvan Greenway". In a separate statement, Cork County Council refer to it as the North Cork Greenway and say that it will be.... "running along the former Mallow to Dungarvan Railway line and passing through a number of towns and villages."

The Cork Mayor of the County of Cork, Cllr Mary Linehan Foley commented, “We recently had a very productive meeting with Minister Eamon Ryan looking specifically at a number of Cork County Council’s active travel measures across the county; urban pedestrianisation, cycle paths, projects such as the Youghal Eco Boardwalk and our grenways, Midleton to Youghal, the Cork Harbour Greenway, the Carrigaline to Crosshaven greenway and now a potential new greenway for North Cork.  This funding is exciting news for the North Cork area. Greenways are a fantastic resource and the examination of options in North Cork has the potential to open up significant opportunities for the broader Cork region.”

The Government is also allocating a matching €80,000 to Waterford County Council to investigate a route from Dungarvan to Ballyduff.

The map above shows the old railway line from Mallow to Dungarvan. This follows stays north of the River Blackwater from Mallow to Fermoy and then south of it from Fermoy to Ballyduff. Considering the cost of building a cross river bridge, it seems likely that it will follow parts of the old railway route.

Looking at Google Maps, fragments of the old railway line from Mallow to Ballyduff still remain including this spectacular viaduct over the River Blackwater near Fermoy.


Mallow to Ballyduff - I had a closer look at the old railway line from Mallow to the Co.Cork / Co.Waterford border near Ballyduff. I measured it to be 39.6 kms in length.

44% of the old route is still there. An example near Fermoy is shown below...

Other sections of the line have been built on as seen below...

Other sections of the old line have disappeared completely as farmers removed ditches to make larger fields.

With the Waterford Greenway, they put up fencing and screening to protect the privacy of houses where it passes so something similar would probably happen with the new Greenway. Going across open fields might be more of a challenge.

The old railway near Mallow still seems reasonably intact and this would probably the easiest to develop first. This section also includes the Kilcummer Viaduct over the River Awbeg to the south of Castletownroche.

Video showing Kilcummer Viaduct...

A lot of the old rail line around Fermoy has largely disappeared so it may well divert off the old route there.

* * * * *

It was also announced a route from Rosslare port to Waterford was also being investigated. It's not hard to see how at some future date, tourists will get off a ferry in Rosslare and cycle safely from there to Mallow.

It's not hard to see how this Dungarvan to Mallow Greenway could eventually be extended west out along the valley to reach Killarney eventually. In the short term, there is a rail link there to transport the tourists to Killarney to continue their holidays there.

Youghal...As for the Youghal section??? We'll have to wait and see what they come up with. There is the old St.Declan's Way from Ardmore to Cashel so perhaps it might link in with that?

We're still a long way from the first sod being turned but at least we're going in the right direction. If this latest COVID pandemic has taught up anything then it's that there is a huge demand for safe public spaces for walking, running and cycling.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Plans for works to open gate to Tramore Valley Park to be released soon

Back in January of 2020, I had a post up about how the pedestrian entrance at the north-west corner of Tramore Valley Park was likely to remain closed for the foreseeable future.

Gate at the Half-Moon Lane entrance in Dec 2019

This has led to the ironic situation whereby the people that are living closest to the park like in Turners Cross can't get access to it.

The reasons cited were...

a) The volume of traffic going to Christ King Girls Secondary School, a number of commercial premises, including the ESB, a pitch & putt club, one residential property and a large City Council Depot.

b) There is also no public footpath on the laneway, while the junction at the end of the 250m stretch is completely blind in both directions when exiting and does not have traffic lights.

The latest news is that the plans to facilitate the opening of the Half Moon Lane entrance to Tramore Valley Park are set to go on public display in the second week in August.

The new layout when completed will see changes to the junction with the South Douglas Road, changes on the lane itself, and will enable the entrance to the park to be opened to pedestrians and cyclists. The public will be asked for their submissions on the proposals once they go on display.

South Douglas Road / Half-Moon Lane junction

New traffic lights, and a relocation of public lights are also included in the plans, while the laneway itself has to be reconfigured also. There have been repeated calls for the Half Moon Lane entrance to Tramore Valley Park to be opened to the public while hundreds of people signed a petition calling on City Hall to open the gate in May.

Narrow exit for Half-Moon Lane
It’s expected the plans for Half Moon Lane and the junction with the South Douglas road will cost upwards of €200,000.

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Ciara Mageean becomes first Irish woman to break the 2 minute barrier for 800m

For decades, the top female Irish middle distance athletes have been trying to break the two minute barrier for 800m. On Friday the 23rd of July 2020, Ciara Mageean became the first Irish woman to run under two minutes at a race in Bern, Switzerland.

The City of Lisburn AC athlete and Portaferry native broke the time barrier in 1:59.69 to claim first place in the 800m final, a full second ahead of Norway’s Hynne Hedda.

Ciara also broke her own previous time of 2:00.79, set in Dublin in 2016 and the Irish record of 2:00.58 which was set in 2013 by Rose-Anne Galligan at the London Anniversary Games.

In a recent interview before the event Ciara stated “It’s my first competition in five months and I can’t wait. I think this is the fittest I’ve ever been. The past few months have made me hungry again for the thrill of racing. In the past I often got so nervous and put so much pressure on myself that I didn’t enjoy racing very much. I’d step on the line with fear, worried how it might go. But now I have a different mindset: I’m excited to see what I can do.”

Top 10 Irish Female 800m Times...

1 NR 1:59.69 Ciara Mageean, Bern 23 Jul 2020
2 2:00.58 NR Rose-Anne Galligan, London 26 Jul 2013
3 2:00.69 NR Sonia O'Sullivan, Sankt Peterburg 28 Jul 1994
4 2:00.70 Caroline O'Shea, Cork 3 Jul 1984
5 2:00.93 Laura Crowe, Rieti 8 Sep 2013
6 2:01.14 Aisling Molloy, EC Split 27 Aug 1990
7 2:01.21 Ciara Everard, Oordegem 23 May 2015
8 2:01.61 Claire Mooney, Heusden 21 Jul 2018
9 2:01.67 Síofra Cléirigh, Büttner Watford 29 Jun 2019
10 2:01.89 NU23R Aoife Byrne, Namur 17 Aug 20

Video of the race...

Thursday, July 23, 2020



Fifty years ago this month the track and field events of the Commonwealth Games took place at the newly-built Meadowbank Stadium in Edinburgh. It had been the first time the Games had taken place in Scotland and they provided a feast of athletics, especially in the distance running events.

Amongst the large Irish contingent who travelled to Scotland and who marvelled at the superb performances witnessed at the Games were St Finbarr’s enthusiasts, Fergus O’Donovan, Flor O’Leary and Jack O’Leary.

Flor O'Leary and Fergus O'Donovan - who witnessed Ron Hill’s Edinburgh victory 50 years ago - pictured with the great man at John Buckley Sports during Ron's trip to the Ballycotton '10' in 2009.
Thursday July 23rd 1970 saw once such performance which still ranks amongst the all-time great championship victories when Ron Hill took the marathon title in a time of 2:09:28. At that point, it was the second fastest marathon in history, behind Derek Clayton’s 2:08:34 set the previous year in Antwerp.  

Ron Hill had been a dominant force over all surfaces since the early 1960s and although having competed in both the 1962 European Championships and 1964 Tokyo Olympics, he had failed to perform to his own high standards. Part of his problem may have been his relentless racing schedule and high training mileage which led to burnout when it mattered most.

An example of his obsession with races was a hectic treble over the Easter weekend of 1965. On Good Friday – despite running in bare feet after forgetting his racing shoes – he won the Salford 7½ road race in a course record of 35:01. The following day, in cold wind and rain, he was 100 yards behind the leader at the summit of the classic Rivington Pike fell race but descended rapidly to win in 17:08. Two days later, on Easter Monday, he travelled across to Yorkshire where in high winds, hail, sleet and snow showers, he added another first at the Beverley Marathon in a time of 2:26:33.

By 1968, after including specified rest periods into his demanding schedule, Hill was finally perfecting the art of peaking. At that October’s high altitude Mexico Olympics, he claimed a brilliant seventh place in the 10,000m. A few weeks later, on a cold November Saturday, he set a world best of 46:44 for 10 miles on the track, improving on his previous time of 47:02.2.

Then came a purple period which saw him win the European Marathon in Athens (2:16:48) in September 1969, followed by victory at Boston (2:10:30) in April 1970 and then, three months later, came the crowning glory of his career in Edinburgh.

In that Boston victory - a course record by three minutes - on a wet, cold and windy day Hill was attired in just a string vest, minimalist Freedom Shorts (which he designed himself) and a pair of Reebok shoes. He didn’t even wear a watch, not that it would have been of any benefit as Boston back then didn’t have actual distance markers at each mile.

Compared to the $150,000 in prize money, plus bonuses and expenses, the winner in Boston now receives, all Hill got was a medal, a laurel wreath and a bowl of stew. “My airfare wasn’t even paid,” he recalled at the time, “the money for the flight came from a fund set up by the Road Runners Club, just ordinary runners putting in their few shillings.”

After a short break, he then began his build-up to Edinburgh which consisted of 100 to 140 miles a week for the 10 weeks. Unusually, the race was on a Thursday and in his acclaimed and incredibly detailed autobiography ‘The Long Hard Road’, Hill states: “The night before I went to bed at 10pm, read a book until 11pm, then slept well. I got up at 8am. Looked through the curtains, it was raining. I got my kit and tracksuit on and ran two miles.”

By the time of the race start at 3.50pm, the rain was starting to clear with the corresponding rise in temperature. As the 30 runners lined up on track, Hill recalled: “There was no time to dwell on the effort ahead. It was like the start of a 1500m track race, no leisurely jog which sometimes precedes the serious part of a marathon but a fast drive for the inside lane of the track.”  

Derek Clayton, representing Australia, immediately set a fast pace, along with Jerome Drayton from Canada. The time at five miles was 23:31 and shortly after, not surprisingly, Clayton was dropped. Around eight miles, Hill decided to make his effort and slowly began to pull away. Ten miles was called in 47:45. “That wasn’t bad, I felt all right but I didn’t look back.”

As he turned for home on the out-back-course, Hill was able to gauge the extent of his lead. “Drayton looked fairly close; I gave him the thumbs-up as we went past and said ‘Keep it going, Jerry’. Now I knew the real race was ahead.”

The roads had now dried, the clouds were breaking and summer sun was shining through. Fifteen miles came up in 72:18 and shortly after 17 miles, Hill took his first sponge. The time at 20 miles was still phenomenally fast, 1:37:30, but as Hill said: “It didn’t frighten me, I’d been there before, faster in fact with my 1:36:28 Pembroke ‘20’. There was a feed station at 20½ miles, I ran straight past; I took nothing, my eyes down, searching the road ahead.”

He took a plastic cup of water after 23 miles and poured it over his head. “There were crowds of people about now but I don’t remember hearing them, my concentration was so intense on moving my limbs and getting myself to the finish.” Finally, came the relief of the soft red track and the packed stadium with just a full lap to run.

“There was such a loud cheer that I looked around a couple of times to make sure that I was still safe, then on the back straight I risked a couple of waves at the crowd; down the home straight and on to the tape with my fist raised high.”

The time of 2:09:28 gave him a winning margin of two minutes and 36 seconds over defending champion Jim Alder. Fifty years later, it still places Hill in the top dozen on the British all-time list.

Special 50th anniversary T-shirt

Many years later, Derek Clayton’s world record time was brought into question with doubts raised about the accuracy of the Antwerp course, with Hill claiming that his time that day in Edinburgh was the real world best.

This year, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of both the Boston and Commonwealth victories, Mike Deegan, owner of the Yorkshire Runner store and a business partner of Hill’s in the 1980s, produced a limited edition of two commemorative T-shirts.

The logo on the Edinburgh T-shirt shows the classic pose of Hill crossing the finish line in a packed Meadowbank Stadium, number 108 pinned to his string vest, and underneath ‘World record 2:09:28’.

Beyond doubt, it aptly sums up Ron Hill’s perfect day of days.  

Q&A session with Ron Hill from UKFast in 2016...

A list of John Walshes previous guest posts can be viewed HERE

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Local councillor calls for pathway in Blackway to be cleared

If you live in the countryside then you probably have a wide choice of routes to run on but if you live near the centre of a city like Cork then it's a different matter. Any pathway or walkway that can take you away from the noise and traffic is welcome for runners and walkers alike and these must be maintained and protected.

Local councillor Fiona Ryan put a video up on Twitter this week highlighting how a public walkway from Spring Land to the North Ring Road was now almost completely overgrown due to a lack of maintenance by Cork City Council.

This is the video....

The pathway in question is about 190 metres in length and runs parallel to the railway track running north out of the city towards Mallow.

It's obviously suffering from years of neglect as the entrance on Spring Lane doesn't look very inviting...

I wonder has anyone used this path for training runs in the past??

Looking at the map, it does offer a shortcut for residents in Blackpool or Fair Hill to access the Glen River Park. The exit on the North Ring Road is just across from the western entrance to the Glen.

At some stage, the 5k parkrun in the Glen will return on Saturday mornings and anything that makes it easier for people to get there must be welcome.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Progress on the Greenway from Dublin to Athlone...

A good while ago, I had a post up about how a new Greenway was in the process of being established from Dublin to Galway. While it might take some time before the Athlone to Galway section is built, there has been plenty of work completed on the Athlone to Dublin section.

There was a good review of this 100km section from Maynooth to Athlone recently on IrishCycle dot Com >> LINK

These new pathways are for cyclists, pedestrians and of course runners. If you find yourself up around that area then try it out.

Friday, July 17, 2020

New walkway at Dunkettle Interchange promises to open up new routes

Update: July 2020 - I first posted about this new pathway at the Dunkettle Interchange back in September of 2019. While the plans have changed slightly, work has been proceeding on it in the meantime.

This week, they installed a new pedestrian bridge over the railway line...

 This will connect into the new Greenway which will go from here to Carrigtwohill and it will also connect to Little Island.

In running terms, this will open up a lot more safe routes for people living in Mayfield, Glanmire and Little Island.

More info below....

Much has been written in the local press recently about the new proposed Dunkettle Interchange and how it has gone back out to tender. The suggested completion date for this project is now 2023.

However in all the fuss about the delay, one part of the project that didn't get much attention is a new slip road and pathway. This is going ahead straight away and it will have a positive impact for many pedestrians, runners and cyclists in the area. It will also probably have a bearing on the annual Cork to Cobh 15 mile road race.

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Notice: Dublin Virtual Marathon 2020 - October Bank Holiday Weekend

A few weeks back, the 2020 Dublin City Marathon was cancelled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. They have now announced that there will be a virtual marathon instead on the October Bank Holiday weekend.

Update 16th July 2020: You can enter online HERE until the 24th of July.


Summary of the statement from the organisers...

Dublin Marathon organisers have today announced details of the official KBC Virtual Dublin Marathon. There are also options to sign up the KBC Virtual Race Series distances; 4 Mile, 10km and Half Marathon. Runners, participating with their smartphone, can complete the distances safely in their local area and will be supported by the Dublin Marathon app, which will record their distance and upload their time automatically.

Jim Aughney race director said: “The KBC Virtual Dublin Marathon will allow runners to feel a sense of togetherness while they run in their own cities, town and villages around Ireland and worldwide. We are urging all those who sign up to be responsible and safe in adhering to Covid-19 restrictions.”

Olympic Marathon runner Lizzie Lee said: “While nothing can beat the atmosphere and support on the streets of Dublin of the friendly marathon, the KBC Virtual Dublin Marathon will be a close second. I am delighted for runners that they can stay motivated by having a goal to aim towards.”

Finishers of the KBC Virtual Dublin Marathon and Race Series will receive the official commemorative medal, with the much sought-after beanie hat the bonus for all those who complete the marathon distance.

Marathon organisers have also worked to develop an app to support runners completing the marathon distance. The app has a built-in GPS tracking feature which automatically records your distance and time with results uploaded automatically when runners have completed their race.

Existing runners in the database for the KBC Dublin Marathon and Race Series will receive an email today (Monday the 13th of July) with an opportunity to sign-up. While entries for the public will be open on Wednesday 15th of July at noon on Entry closes on Friday 24th of July.)


What day can I run the virtual races? Entrants can run the events on the October bank holiday weekend, Saturday 24th, Sunday 25th and Monday 26th October.

I have entered the 2020 KBC Dublin Marathon/Race Series why do I have to pay for the virtual run? ...An entry fee is charged for the virtual races as all entries for the 2020 KBC Dublin Marathon, and the Race Series are valid for the 2021 races.

What is the entry fee? ...The KBC Virtual Dublin Marathon entry fee is €15 plus postage for beanie plus medal.  The KBC Virtual Race Series: Half Marathon, 10km and 4 Mile entry fee is €12 plus postage for the medal.

Entries: ...Existing runners in the database for the KBC Dublin Marathon and Race Series will receive an email Monday 13th July with an opportunity to sign-up. While entries for the public will be open on Wednesday 15th July at noon on Entry closes on midnight Friday 24th July.

How is my distance tracked? ...You need to download the KBC Virtual Dublin Marathon app, which has a built-in GPS tracking feature that will automatically record your distance, pace and time. You must run with your phone to have your results uploaded automatically to the results.

How does the App work? ...Entrants can run the events over the following days, Saturday 24th, Sunday 25th and Monday 26th October. Runners must download the Dublin Marathon app to your Android or iPhone device to record the time and distance.

Do I have to run with my phone? ...Yes, you firstly need to download the Dublin Marathon app which has a built-in GPS tracking feature that will automatically map and record your distance, pace and time. Then you must run with your phone to have your results uploaded automatically.

I do not live in Ireland; can I still register for an event? ...Of course! We encourage everyone to register.

Can I run the races on a treadmill? ...No, you need to complete the distance outdoors for the GPS tracker to be activated

Why are there only 2 weeks to enter? ...This is to ensure we have medals ordered in time for all runners who have entered.

Full update here...

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Notice: Clashmore Virtual 5k - Fri 17th July 2020

Another virtual race but this one is free. Complete a 5k anytime this week and send your time to the organisers before midnight on Friday 17th of July.

From West Waterford AC...  INTERSPORT ELVERYS/ASICS SUMMER SERIES 2020 -The 18th Annual Old Still bar Clashmore 5k.

The final race in our virtual summer series!

This year would have seen the running of the 18th annual Clashmore 5k. In recent years, this race changed from a ‘challenging’ 5-mile race to a flat, fast 5km which has proven to be popular.

As with all our virtual races you can run it on any day or time during race week. We ask that all results are sent by midnight on Friday 17th July.

All are welcome to participate.

Friday, July 10, 2020

Charleville Half-Marathon postponed until 2021

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the organisers of the Charleville Half-Marathon have cancelled the 2020 event.

After much careful deliberation, North Cork AC, today confirms the cancellation of the 2020 Charleville International Half-Marathon.

The health and safety of our participants, our volunteers and our community within Charleville and the surrounding areas is always our highest priority, and this tough decision was made with their well-being foremost in our minds.

We look forward to welcoming all participants back in September 2021 to the 10th anniversary of the Charleville International Half-Marathon.

We wish to take this opportunity to thank all participants, all event sponsors, club members and local volunteers for their ongoing support.

Yours faithfully
North Cork AC committee

Saturday, July 04, 2020

Malin to Mizen Run for Cappagh Kids - Starts 29th June 2020

 Update: Congrats to Barry Sheehan and his team who arrived at Mizen Head on Saturday the 4th of July and have raised over €70,000 for charity in the process.

* * * * *
Barry Sheehan has started out on his journey today the 29th of June to run from Malin Head in Donegal to Mizen Head in Cork.

 Details below...

On June 29th 2020, Barry Sheehan started the challenge to RUN from Malin Head to Mizen Head....600+ km in one week to raise funds for Cappagh Kids.

In 2017, Barry’s son, Michael, was diagnosed with Osteofibrous Dysplasia in his left tibia and so began their journey with the National Orthopaedic (Cappagh) Hospital. Overtime, without intervention, Michael’s shin would break easily and was likely to deform. Surgery was the only option, if any, of fixing the bone.

Over the past four years, Michael has had countless surgeries and related treatments.

Michael's treatment and rehabilitation has taken place at Cappagh under the exceptional expertise and care of Mr Connor Green and his team.

Cappagh, the National Orthopaedic Hospital, is primarily an adult hospital, but with many children travelling from all over Ireland to avail of the unique orthopaedic specialist skills and equipment. Barry, Michael and the rest of their family have seen first-hand how child friendly facilities are crucial but non-existent at present.

Cappagh Hospital Foundation is the charity arm that raises funds for the hospital and the money raised by the run will be used by them for Cappagh Kids, the new child friendly paediatric orthopaedic department at Cappagh.

Michael’s journey, the team who have treated him and the many people they have met at Cappagh along the way have inspired Barry to undertake this HUGE run in an effort to raise these much needed funds.

Any donation to this wonderful cause is greatly appreciated.

Live tracker...

Donation link...

Facebook page...

Friday, July 03, 2020

Notice: Dromana 5 mile Virtual Race - Fri 3rd July 2020

This virtual 5 mile race takes place on Friday the 3rd of July. Just run 5 miles, record your time and send it to the organsiers before midnight.


The next and penultimate race in our virtual summer series is the Dungarvan Leader Dromana 5 mile on Friday 3rd July.

This would have been the 28th year of this extremely popular race run over the famous Dromana Drive from Villerstown to Cappoquin, this race is sponsored by the Dungarvan Leader.

As with all our virtual races you can run it on any day or time during race week. We ask that all results are sent by midnight on Friday 3rd July.

All are welcome to participate.

Wednesday, July 01, 2020

Guest Post: Cork Marathon magic in 1986 as Fair Hill's Marion Lyons was first over the line John Walshe

In this guest post by John Walshe, he looks back at the 1986 Cork City Marathon. Also check out who finished in 9th place with a time of  2:36!

Cork Marathon magic in 1986 as Fair Hill's Marion Lyons was first over the line... by John Walshe

THERE was a most noticeable change for the fifth adidas Cork City Marathon as it took place a month later than normal, on Sunday May 25, 1986.

Easter Monday fell on the last day of March and as BLE had fixed the National Marathon for April 13 in Portlaoise, there was no way that Cork could go ahead two weeks before.

On that Saturday afternoon in Portlaoise, just 90 runners turned out for the BLE championship, the smallest number in 10 years.

It was won by London-based Kingston Mills, a member of Civil Service Harriers, in a time of 2:15:58. For the past three months in his position as Head of Immunology at Trinity College, Professor Kingston Mills has become familiar and reassuring presence on our national media in the battle against the Covid-19 virus.

Good packing by St Finbarr’s which saw Ricky Burke finishing third (2:22:09), John Buckley ninth (2:30:22), Eric Crockett 10th (2:31:50) and Derry O’Driscoll 11th (2:34:30) won for the Cork club the team title.

Of the four, only O’Driscoll would turn out in Cork six weeks later. An even smaller field of just 42 runners assembled for the BLE 10-mile championship at Castlelyons on May 4, an event won by Tony O’Leary of Leevale. In contrast, an average of over 400 runners were taking part in each of the five St Finbarr’s four-mile road leagues held that summer.

The course for the Cork event showed a number of changes from previous years, although the start and finish remained on the South Mall. Due to road works, further alternations had to be made the week before.

“Two o’clock on a Sunday afternoon is not the most appropriate time for a marathon around the streets,” said Michael Dooley, County Board Chairman and race organiser, adding “we owe a great debt of gratitude to the Gardai and to the public for their patience.”

 Sunday May 25 was also the day of the Sport Aid ‘Race Against Time’, a series of world-wide mass-participation 10km runs thought up by Bob Geldof to help alleviate world hunger. On the morning of the marathon, Cork County Board held a run around the Carrigrohane Road/Lee Road circuit which saw around 3,000 taking part.

Of course this was all before the advent of Sunday trading in the city and so, at 2pm, with the rain starting to fall, something in excess of 300 marathon runners assembled on the Mall to begin their 26.2-mile journey.

Amongst them was a woman from Fair Hill who had already carved out her own special niche in women’s athletics and before the day was out would have further cause for celebration.

The career of Marion Lyons (nee Stanton) had already covered the whole spectrum of athletics. She had recorded track times of 2:11 for 800m and 9:16 for 3000m and had represented Ireland at senior level on a number of occasions at cross-country, the highlights being the World Championships in Chepstow and Düsseldorf.

Back in April 1978, along with Elaine Kelly and Dervla Mellerick, the St Finbarr’s athlete had taken part in the Cork to Cobh 15-mile race, the first time in this country that women had competed with men over such a distance.

After finishing third in the 1985 Cork marathon in 3:06:58, the training over the winter months was geared to breaking the three-hour barrier the following year.

Marion Lyons & Joe Murphy
“I used to train a lot with Michael Dunne and Joe Murphy, and they were fantastic to me,” Marion recalled. “Michael Clancy started coaching me and he would come out on a bike and accompany me on my 15-mile run during the week and then we would do our 20 mile runs on a Sunday up into Whitechurch.

“I used to do an awful lot of quality sessions as well and was able to do around 58 minutes for 10 miles. But all my training was geared towards the marathon; I was running about 70 miles a week at the time.”

 Taking control of the race from the start, at six miles reached in 38:40 she was already four minutes ahead of Brigid McCabe from Mullingar. At halfway, the margin had grown to six minutes. However, coming up to 18 miles Lyons appeared to be in some difficulty as the experienced McCabe began to close.

By 20 miles the Mullingar athlete had closed the gap to three minutes but then she suffered cramp, leaving Lyons on course for victory. Crossing the finish line looking remarkably fresh, the clock showed 3:01:05 and Marion Lyons had become the third Cork woman in five years to take the coveted local title.

McCabe was second in 3:09:20 and finishing third, in a time of 3:15:01, was Dublin-based Nora Joyce, a native of Rathcormac.

Marion Lyons’ recollections of those early days training shows how much running, especially for women, had changed: “All my brothers and sisters ran and I used to do a lot of my training up Fair Hill. All the lads would be laughing at us, but as I often said after, a lot of those who were laughing at us then are running themselves nowadays.”

Marion Lyons, the first woman over the line in the 1986 Cork City Marathon.
Marion Lyons, the first woman over the line in the 1986 Cork City Marathon.
She would eventually break the three hours when reducing her personal best to 2:54:57 in Dublin and Marion Lyons also cherishes the sponsorship of running gear she received at the time from Michael O’Connell of Three Stripe International, the distributors of adidas who were also the marathon benefactors.

It was another adidas sponsored athlete, Billy Gallagher, who dominated the men’s race when winning for the second successive year. His time of 2:20:12 was over a minute slower than 12 months before but he never left any doubt about his intentions, running the last 16 miles into the rain on his own.

Tom Brouder, a member of a strong West Limerick team, tried to stay with the Cavan athlete in the early stages and managed to hold on take second in 2:24:29. Michael Carey of Leevale took third for the second year in a row, his time of 2:25:42 exactly a minute faster than in 1985.

Also repeating his fifth spot from the previous year, 48-year-old Derry O’Driscoll easily took the veterans prize when recording another excellent time of 2:34:27.

Just 303 finishers were officially recorded and as the last few wearily made their way to the finish line on the South Mall as 7 o’clock approached, they were unaware that 21 years would elapse before Cork city would again play host to another 26.2-mile marathon race.

MEN: 1 Billy Gallagher 2:20:12 2 Tom Brouder 2:24:39 3 Michael Carey 2:25:42 4 Gerry Mullane 2:29:35 5 Derry O’Driscoll 2:34:27 6 Brendan Domican 2:34:58 7 John O’Driscoll 2:35:40 8 Seamus Cawley 2:35:46 9 John Walshe 2:36:31 10 Thomas Bracken 2:37:34

WOMEN: 1 Marion Lyons 3:01:05 2 Brigid McCabe 3:09:20 3 Nora Joyce 3:15:01 4 Patricia Crangle 3:23:42 5 Marie Morley 3:29:22 Other names amongst the finishers included:

* Flor O’Leary, first M50 in a brilliant time of 2:43:22 which placed the St Finbarr’s man 11th overall * Sean Whelan from Ennis, a regular visitor to Cork races, finished 23rd in 2:52:20.

* George Webb of Rising Sun finished in 2:52:38 with Pat Dempsey (Leevale) close behind on 2:52:46.

* The final runner under three hours was Peter Gaffney from Mallow in 2:59:55.

* The late Barthy O’Sullivan recorded a time 3:23:12 with Donal O’Mahony on 3:28:54 and Joe Hogan from Blackrock on 3:31:02.

* Tony Cooke completed his debut marathon in 3:44:36. “It was my first and I said at the time, my last,” he recalled, a sentiment familiar to all marathon debutants.

* Declan Harrison from Lisgoold had a time of 3:47:46, one place ahead of Tom Houlihan from Midleton who finished in 3:48:17.

* Just behind in 3:49:37 in her first marathon was Bernice Glavin from Wilton, still a regular at the distance throughout the country.

* Cork goalkeeper Billy Morgan recorded 3:51:34; Pat Cadogan from Bishopstown had 4:30:16 and not far behind was Willie Chambers in 4:47:45.

A list of previous guest posts from John Walshe can be seen HERE