Longford Marathon Festival Attracts 1,000 Runners

Local hero Fenelon completes his 200th marathon

CLOSE TO a 1,000 walkers, joggers and runners took part in this year’s Festival of Running in Longford on Sunday, August 30th – a promotion that incorporates a Half-Marathon, a Relay and a full Marathon.

Clonliffe Harriers’ runner Sergiu Ciobanu raced to his second successive victory in the marathon, finishing in 2:25.27.

Ciobanu, a native of Lithuania, raced into an early lead and was never challenged as he coasted to a popular victory in rainy conditions. Wieslaw Sosnowski from the Eagle club in Cork and a former winner of the event, placed second in 2:35.46 and Delfim Pimentel of Portugal was third in 2:40.33.

There was local cheer too from Lucy Brennan of Sligo AC who won her fifth Longford Marathon title in 2:53.42. Brennan led from an early stage and finished comfortably ahead of ultra-distance specialist Helena Crossan of Inishowen AC in 2:56.54. Annabelle Latz, a native of New Zealand but now living in Laois, placed third in 3:14.34.

The biggest cheer of the day was however reserved for marathon organiser Liam Fenelon who completed his 200th marathon on home territory.

Fenelon, who only took up running in1984 at 42, finished in 5 hours and 28 minutes and was very pleased with his effort. “The days when I could run a little over three hours for the marathon are well behind me now, but finishing my 200th marathon on the streets of my home town was something beyond even my wildest dreams,” he said.

“I received great help from my good friend Tony Mangan who stayed with me all the way and I want to thank all those people who supported me on the way to achieving this milestone in my running career.”

Fenelon now wants to create a lasting running legacy in Longford by forming a fully-fledged Longford Athletics Club.

Athletics Ireland President Liam Hennessey has pledged the full support of the Association to make this dream become a reality.

“Liam Fenelon is one of those ordinary runners who are doing extraordinary things,” said Hennessey.

“He has developed a hugely popular event in his hometown with the help of his family and a great team of local volunteers. Completing 200 marathons is also something very special and something that very few can achieve. I have no doubt that Liam and his friends will make a huge success of a new athletic club in Longford town. He is a man of action who things done without any fuss.”

Meanwhile, there was an international dimension to last Sunday’s Half –Marathon event where Kenyan native Joseph Boit, running in the colours of Clonliffe Harriers, won a close contest in 74.03, just ahead of Lorcan Cronin from Dublin who placed second in 74.18, with Ciaran Kennedy from Newport, Tipperary taking third in 75.56.

Newly crowned World Masters Marathon Champion, Pauline Curley of Tullamore Harriers was in a class of her own when winning the women’s race in 80.04 from Susan Mikecz from Barcelona (86.59) and Regina Casey of Galway City Harriers who was third in 87.55.

There was a festive feeling around Longford for what was a superb festival of running and local title sponsor, Kiernan Structural Steel Company, continue to back this popular event which had runners from several countries and most counties in Ireland taking part.

A novel addition to this year’s festival was the relay event between the villages on the course. Mullingar Harriers won the team title ahead of Team Towey from Roscommon, and The Eagles – a team of Polish runners from Athlone.

Full results of the Longford Festival of Running are online at www.longfordmarathon.com