-Milestone Marathons, Cork Wheelchair athlete Jerry Forde, completes his 450th marathon as Mary Murphy crosses the line to take her 200th–
It’s not all about the winning, it’s the taking part that counts. A truer statement could not sum up the scenes at this year’s Irish Examiner Cork City Marathon. As always, there was a field of outstanding athletes that made their way around the course this year in the Marathon, Half Marathon, Team Relay and Youth Challenge. The Irish Examiner Cork City Marathon is more than a marathon, people from Ireland and abroad take part as a way to get fit, to set a new personal best, to raise money for a local charity or as a fun day out with family and friends.
Among the over 8,000 individuals on the streets of Cork today, there were a number of stand-out participants who stole the hearts of the thousands of spectators, family and friends who cheered them over the finish line.
After an accident six years ago in Australia left Tipperary man Shane Delaney quadriplegic, he was determined not to give up or put an end to his sporting career. Shane immersed himself in treatment and rehabilitation and found a new outlet in wheelchair rugby. In 2018 Shane was a key player on the Irish team at the IWRF (International Wheelchair Rugby Federation) Wheelchair Rugby World Championship. Today Shane ticked another challenge off his bucket list, his first full marathon, which he competed in great style in 3:09:27.
In extremely warm conditions 27-year-old Blarney native Craig Sykes, donned his full Irish Defence Forces military uniform with 14kg bag to complete his very first marathon in 5:55:35 for a very worthy cause. Craig took on this mammoth challenge to raise awareness and money for his cousin’s young daughter, Heidi Patterson, who was born in 2017 with cerebral palsy. Heidi has moderate hearing loss, visual impairment and a dislocated hip, meaning she needs constant care and attention. The monies raised by Craig’s amazing performance today, his display of both physical and mental strength and willpower, will help Heidi receive the help she needs. Speaking at the finish line a physically and mentally exhausted Craig commented “My shoulders are sore from the bag but it was my legs that went and made it hard to run the last bit. I hit 30k in four hours and thought I was flying it but then I couldn’t run anymore! I just wanted to finish in 6 hours, and knowing that it was all for Heidi got me through it. ”.
Meath father of three and double lung transplant survivor, David Crosby, wishing to pay tribute to his donor and their family, laced up with his medical team flying the flag for the Irish Lung Fibrosis Association. David and his medical team comprised of Dr. Oisin O’Connell, Respiratory Consultant (Bon Secours), Prof. David Healy, Transplant Surgeon (Mater Hospital Dublin), Lynn Fox, Respirator Nurse (Mater Hospital Dublin) and Nicola Cassidy, Director of Irish Lung Fibrosis Association, ran to raise awareness of lung fibrosis and the gift of life made possible with organ donation. Having been diagnosed with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF), a chronic, debilitating and terminal lung condition, with a worse prognosis than many cancers, David wished to tell the patient story from diagnosis to life-saving surgery and renewed life. When asked how he was feeling at the finish line today, David Crosby said “I’m feeling good! It’s similar to three years ago getting the transplant – these things don’t happen on their own. You need a good team around you! I have one of the best teams of consultants, surgeons, nurses and friends and that shows the positivity of team work and putting your mind to something you want to do”. When asked if he had advice for people who might find themselves in a similar situation to his own, David said “Don’t think anything is impossible because everything is possible! A lot of it is in the mind, the mind conquers everything! Keep positive and just try it! If you don’t try it, you’ll never know!”
David has completed three marathons post-transplant (New York, Berlin and London) to date, with the hope of joining the coveted Super 6 club, but David will hold a special place in his heart for today’s Irish Examiner Cork City Marathon as he was touched to be joined by his medical team who have enabled him to take on these amazing challenges.
Marking his 450th marathon, Cork wheelchair athlete, Jerry Forde crossed the line in 4:42:58. Born with Spina Bifida, Jerry’s love for racing started at an early age. As a small child, due to the size of the wheels, he was unable to move his wheelchair unassisted. During a hospital stay as an older child there were chairs that Jerry could push himself… it was great! There were a few other children who were also wheelchair bound, and the hospital corridors became their racetrack. When he was older the Spina Bifida Association bought Jerry a racing wheelchair and so he left the hospital corridors for roads all over the world.
Speaking in relation to this momentous day for him, a relaxed Jerry commented “I’m feeling grand! I would say to people get out and just do it; there’s no point in sitting at home doing nothing, that’s bad for the mind and body. It’s enjoyable and the craic is good!”
Not wanting to stop there, Jerry is already planning his next marathon which is taking place next Sunday 9th June in Wexford and commented “I might do a couple of 5ks between this and then, but other than that I’ll be taking it easy!’
Another ‘marathon man’ who hit his 840th marathon today was Dave Brady (68), and this man has no plans on hanging up his running shoes anytime soon.
Another lady celebrating a milestone race day was Glasheen native Mary Murphy. After completing her first marathon in 2002, she crossed the line today in 4:56:29, to accomplish her 200th marathon. Mary is an Irish Examiner Cork City Marathon veteran, loving both the course and supporters which has brought her back to race in Cork for the last number of years. Mary said as she crossed the line “I’m feeling shattered, but thrilled!” Mary who also plans to keep on running said “My next marathon will be in East Cork in August, it’s a really nice marathon and I like to support local as well as travelling”. When asked what she would advise runners who might just be starting to run, Mary said, “Enjoy it! Don’t get obsessed with times and listen to your body. It’s really wonderful and especially here in Cork where the crowd really get behind you, it’s fantastic!”
The race route was a sea of blue as over 350 Irish participants proudly wore the familiar Sanctuary Runners t-shirts, running alongside 70 people living in Direct Provisioncentres in Cork and Limerick. This year the Sanctuary Runners were joined by four Irish Olympians; Olive Loughnane, Rob Heffernan, Marian Heffernan and Claire Lambe, along with GAA legends Tomas Ó Sé and Paul McGrath. Today this movement drew a team of runners from 40-different countries who ran together to show solidarity, friendship and respect with, and to, those living in Ireland’s direct provision system.
Taking part this year was the largest number of visually impaired athletes in race history. There were eight visually impaired runners from across Ireland taking part in this year’s Team Relay, each accompanied by a volunteer running guide.
This turnout was thanks to a fantastic group of people involved in the Ballincollig Parkrun and Kildare Optometrist and running enthusiast Joan Ryan. Joan travels across Ireland training people to become guide runners and in April 2018, she paid a visit to the Ballincollig Parkrun. There she met with individuals such as Proinnsias O’ Keeffe, from Ovens, who volunteered to become a guide runner. Their extensive training included running with a blindfold and with glasses that mimicked the eye conditions that visually impaired runners are afflicted with, so guides could literally run a mile in their shoes. By pure coincidence, the following week a Hungarian couple, Nauzike and Peter Habermayer, came to take part in the Ballincollig Parkrun. Nauzike is visually impaired and her husband Peter is her guide. Each week the numbers of visually impaired runners and guides increased, and they built relationships and a community with others around the country.
This inspirational group of visually impaired runners from Hungary, Cork, Carlow, Cavan, Tralee, Castleisland and Dublin, ran today on behalf of the Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind. For most of the runners taking part, it was the first time they took part in a race outside of the Parkrun; let alone a marathon relay!
On a day that saw over 8,000 individuals in action across the various events, Race Director Adrienne Rogers paid tribute to all those who took part in the 13th year of this sporting event, “Congratulations to all of the winners of the 2019 Irish Examiner Cork City Marathon and to each and every one that crossed the finish line,” he said. “This race is more than a marathon, I am delighted that our marathon is recognised for its inclusivity, and we had many first-time athletes on the course. It’s a huge achievement to complete a goal of a first marathon, half or leg of a relay, and something which all participants should take great pride in. Particular thanks to those who ran for charity, raising significant funds for a variety of great causes.”
For a full list of 2019 Irish Examiner Cork City Marathon results in the Marathon, Half Marathon, Team Relay and Youth Challenge, please visit www.corkcitymarathon.ie. For images and video footage from the race day or to share your Irish Examiner Cork City Marathon race day story check out Facebook and Instagram\corkcitymarathon or Twitter @TheCorkMarathon #MoreThanAMarathon