Just look at the pictures. They tell some story. It begins with excitement and determination at the starting line as first-timers kick off alongside elite athletes aiming for a top ten finish, or better. There’s a mix of determined concentration and sheer elation that this event is under way at last, after all the hard training and all those hard miles.
BY COLIN LACEY
- and all the runners know it. They’re in it together. You can see it.
Later, the top athletes disappeared out of sight, racking up finishing times unimaginable by hundreds and hundreds behind them - the ones out just to say they’ve crossed the line in a marathon or half marathon. They had to be hurting with ten or twenty miles behind them. And they were surely in pain as they raced down Denny Street with the finishing line in sight at last.
But you’d never know from the photos. All you can see is joy and passion - and more smiles.
Mostly the pictures tell a story of how all these runners are out to enjoy the day for what it is - a running party in the streets with hundreds of like-minded friends, cheered on by the entire community.
At the finish, you can read in the faces of the runners what crossing the line means to them - the pride and sense of achievement in running a distance many of them would never have imagined they were capable of completing.
There are delighted fathers with proud daughters and sons. Moms with their medals and their families, like completing the marathon or half marathon is something they’ve all achieved together - which they have, really.
And there are congratulations and smiles everywhere, even 13.1 or 26.2 miles of pain and effort later.
The photos only tell a small part of the full story, of course. The story continued out on the streets in and around Tralee, out to Ardfert and Fenit, and all the way back in to town. That’s were the local communities embraced yet again the Kerry’s Eye Tralee International Marathon and Half Marathon. Just like last year, supporters were out in force all along the route to cheer on the runners. Just like last year, this was a classic community event.
This year’s winner was Dublin-based Gary O’Hanlon, who’s one of the most experienced marathon runners in the country. Tralee was his first marathon of 2014 - and was the perfect preparation for the Rotterdam Marathon in April, ahead of his main target race this year, the World 50k Championships in Italy in May.
The first woman to cross the line in the full was Ann Marie Holland from Cork - making it two wins out of two in Tralee. In the half marathon, the first woman home was Maria McCarthy from Farranfore Maine Valley - also her second-in-a-row.
They’re serious votes of confidence in an event that’s still at the toddler stage.
But it’s already growing up. The event is marketed around the world and will get bigger in years to come. We’ll have more runners from throughout Ireland and more international athletes too.
But we’ll also have more runners like the ones in the photos, crossing the line hand-in-hand and greeted with their medals by their families. In Tralee, this will always be something special for the whole community to embrace. It’ll always be the People’s Marathon.
Congratulations to the runners, volunteers, and supporters who helped make it happen.