It was the weekend for putting the time back by one hour but trust the Dubliners to outdo the rest of us by putting the day back too writes Joe Quinn. For the first time ever the Dublin City Marathon was held on Sunday, bringing it into line with most of the other big city marathons – and a popular move it proved to be with the race limit of 19500 entries reached loan ago.
NOT USER FRIENDLY?
Billed over the years as the Friendly Marathon, based on the tremendous all the way round crowd support, it saddens me to say that the friendly description certainly doesn’t apply to the organisers. It could well be that my love affair with this great event could well be coming to an end, Why you may ask?
Well with entry fess ranging from 60 to 90 euros, depending on when you enter, it is one of the most expensive races of its kind and I’ve had occasion to ask what exactly runners get for their money. What they don’t get is any sort of reasonable or understanding approach to those who, through illness or injury or any other reason cannot run as intended. The reaction to the questions do I get a refund or deferment or can I transfer my number to someone else if I cannot run, receive the blunt reply
“Entry fees are NON – REFUNDABLE and entries are NON-TRANSFERABLE
Once we receive and accept your entry you will not receive a refund if you cannot participate” and “You may not give or sell your number to anyone else. You may not transfer your application to the following year or another …… event”
Certainly most events operate a non refund policy and I can understand that given the overhead which processing refunds would entail, but deferments and transfers are quite a different matter. In popular races when the limit is often reached well in advance of the event itself, many of those who would love to participate find that they have left it too late, or that the places are simply filled by the time they apply. And yet it is known that up to 10% of entrants will not turn up on the day, for whatever reason, thus leaving capacity in the field.
DEFER OR TRANSFER
So what is wrong with someone with a race entry, knowing their friend or a clubmate would love to run the race, offering that place to them? Whether they want to exchange the entry fees is a matter for them but surely there is no difficulty in the organisers simply changing the details on their system. In this day and age a few seconds on the keyboard can amend everything to the satisfaction of everyone concerned. The absence of this facility simply means that runners exchange numbers clandestinely and run under the original entrants name, which in itself can lead to problems in the event of illness or injury on the day. How do I know? Well I’ve done it dozens of times in much lower profile events than the Dublin Marathon and when the fees were just a fraction of those charged by them. The London Marathon operates a deferment policy too whereby an entrant who contacts them in advance to report their inability to run due to injury or illness can have his/her much cherished entry deferred to the following year.
IS DUBLIN VALUE FOR MONEY?
The question arises also as to what do the organisers do with the “unused entry” fees? Do they make a donation to a local or national charity or do they simply keep it in the kitty? After all they save by not giving out T-shirts or finishers medals, or indeed goody bags etc. at Registration. So what do you think? Do you think Dublin represents value for money? Or do you think their policy on transfers/deferments is reasonable/stupid? Do you reckon that they are taking advantage of the race being oversubscribed and simply don’t care that people are being ripped off. I’ll be sending a letter raising these issues to the Race organisers but if you feel the way I do perhaps you would make you feelings known to them too. The bottom line is that unless runners vote with their feet, no pun intended, and boycott this sort of cavalier behaviour, they will continue to do it.
THE RACE ITSELF
East Down had 23 runners this year and I think I spotted them all except for one, even though some of them try to make life difficult for us old “train spotters” by not wearing club vests!
MARK LEADS THE WAY
Former top junior member Mark Milligan who now resides in Luxembourg DID run in the East Down colours for the first time in many years and certainly gave them a prominent airing. His time of 2.48 gave him 23rd place in the M40 category and overall 115th position. Pity he’s not available for some of our upcoming Cross Country League fixtures and championship races.
Declan Teague performed heroically on the day, having spent the last few weeks in pain both on and off the physio’s couch but used his experience to good effect to nurse himself to a commendable 3.10, one minute quicker than last year. He does not recommend, however, tendonitis and sciatica as training partners in the weeks before running a marathon.
DAVID IS BEST IN THE CLASS
However apart from Mark’s performance the run of the day was David Smith’s 3.16, which was 24 minutes better than last year’s – a tremendous performance by any standard.
The table below shows how everyone got on, though it cannot hope to reflect the ups and downs of a marathon and there were stories galore for everyone who ran. Phillip Vint expertly guided his protege, Gareth Kelly, to another pb and it was great to see Stephen McCartan back on the road again, even if he was still recovering from a dose of the ‘flu. Mickey Cunningham continues to eat into his previous times and Raymond Milligan also had his best outing for quite a while
NIAMH NAILS IT
Niamh Kellett was running her first marathon and had concerns about her getting the pace right, a crucial factor in how well anyone copes with the vagaries of the 26.2 miles. She clearly did so excellently for not only did she clock 3.17 to take 32nd place overall in her category, but she looked in control all the way through and enjoyed the whole experience. Undoubtedly the ladies performance of the day.
Another to rise to the occasion from her sick bed was Cheryl Denvir and she astounded everyone with a vintage pb performance, making it look easy as she sped to 3.36.
And then there was Clare Carson who also enjoyed the experience thoroughly, clocking 3.52 and looking like she could go round again. A super first effort from her.
So while times differ from last year’s achievements, some faster, some slower, everyone deserves the highest praise for completing the course.
Well done also to Newcastle’s Patrick Higgins who clocked a fantastic 2.44, taking 5 minutes off his 2015 time and Jack O’Hare who broke the 3 hour barrier with a splendid 2.58.
Saturday saw the 2nd round of the Cross Country League at the splendid Billy Neill Sports centre outside Dundonald. A great afternoon’s racing saw closely fought battles in most of the races with the highlights being Laura Madine’s superbly calculated victory in the Primary School race, when she outran every other person in the field, boys as well as the girls and Kirsti Foster’s battling 3rd place in the Under 13 Girls race.
The Senior Men fielded a pretty good team of seven, led home by Barrie Atkinson, though unfortunaely the Ladies only had two runners, Joanne Foster and Janine Murray both of whom performed well.
This weekend the cross country League action comes in the Mc Connell Shield fixture in Sixmilewater Park Ballyclare on Saturday beginning at 1.30pm and the uneven Age Group Championships in Stranorlar on Sunday.