Marathon's record field brings city to its feet
"Ernesto Antonio (44) from Galway also broke a few records. Nine years ago yesterday, he was on an operating table in the Mater Hospital, undergoing a heart transplant. He had heart failure and had been given hours to live before he received a donated heart. Yesterday he finished the marathon in three hours 45 minutes..."
The runners limped home, they fell into wheelchairs, they vomited as they crossed the finish line. A woman in a Clapham Chasers vest cried in agony as she walked from the finish line to collect her medal.
But it was still worth it, said veteran runner Brian Hamilton (60) from Downpatrick. "Of course it's worth it now, isn't it? That's what it's all about, enjoying it afterwards." He had just taken part in the biggest-ever Dublin Marathon, with more than 11,700 competitors.
Not many couples can boast of coming in the first 40 in a field that size but Maria McCambridge (33) and her husband Gary Crossan (37) did just that.
She was the first Irish woman home in a time of just over two hours 36 minutes in what was a first marathon for the Olympian.
"My legs are wrecked," she laughed as her husband hugged and kissed her. "I really enjoyed it but my feet are on fire. That was the only problem I had."
Gary Crossan was the eighth Irish finisher but it wasn't such a good race for the man who has four national marathon titles. "That's me retired now," he said. "My body's breaking down all the time." Perhaps he will change his mind because the marathon does funny things to a man. The first Irish man home, Michael O'Connor (35), immediately told everyone it was his last marathon.
"I'm retired today. It's my last run," the father-of-two declared. "I've arthritis in both feet and I'm sick of it. It's time to go playing football with the young lad I think, and drink a few pints."
However, moments later he was reminiscing about previous marathons and talking about London saying: "I might talk the wife into doing another one."
For the first Irish man home, he was a modest winner. "The national title is a great thing. Someone of my ability shouldn't be getting it that handy but to be honest it's quite a feeling."
It was a day for breaking records. Limerick-based Simon Baker set a new world record for the fastest marathon on crutches when he crossed the finish line after six hours 47 minutes. He lost his right leg below the knee four years ago and when his prosthetic limb got damaged, he decided to do the 42km (26.2 miles) on crutches.
Ernesto Antonio (44) from Galway also broke a few records. Nine years ago yesterday, he was on an operating table in the Mater Hospital, undergoing a heart transplant. He had heart failure and had been given hours to live before he received a donated heart. Yesterday he finished the marathon in three hours 45 minutes, eight minutes faster than his personal best. "As far as we are aware, it's a world record for a heart transplant recipient," he said. "I'm ecstatic actually."
Since the transplant, he has taken part in a relay swim across the English Channel and finished five Olympic-distance triathlons.
He would have approved of the Killorglin Happy Hearts Group who ran, walked and hobbled to raise funds for the Irish Heart Foundation. More than 50 family, friends and colleagues of the late Kevin Melia competed to remember the 44-year-old who died of a heart attack last year.
Charity was also on the mind of Australian Trent Morrow. He is in the middle of a "five marathons in five weeks" charity challenge. Melbourne and Amsterdam preceded Dublin and he will now take on New York and Athens.
But for sheer bravado, it would be hard to beat Lord Iveagh, better known as Ned Guinness to his friends. He ran the race in support of the Iveagh Trust and the Diageo Water for Life programme. But instead of opting for the traditional vest and shorts, he dressed as the trademark Guinness toucan, alongside his friend Grant Muskett who dressed as a pint. They made it home in a respectable 6:04.
A marathon spokeswoman said their costumes remained intact and no beer was spilt in the completion of the marathon.
© 2008 The Irish Times
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