Some 430 people have already signed up for this year’s Run Kildare event, which will take place across the Curragh on Sunday, May 12.
The run, which will see locals, national and international competitors take on a full and a half marathon, or a 10k run, was officially launched at Hotel Keadeen in Newbridge last Friday.
Representatives from the charities who will benefit from this fourth staging of the Run Kildare event - the St Vincent de Paul, the Marie Keating Foundation and Special Olympics Ireland - were present at the launch.
Dr Eddie Murphy, the Laois-based clinical psychologist currently guiding this year’s Operation Transformation leaders, was a guest speaker, as was Celbridge’s Olympic Marathon runner Mark Kenneally.
Organiser Jo Cawley of Donadea Running Club said they hope to have 5,000 participants taking part in this year’s run, which will start and finish at the Curragh Racecourse. Last year, 3,700 people took part in the event.
They project that 2,500 people will sign up for the 10k race, with another 1,700 taking on the half-marathon.
Some 800 hardy participants are expected to take part in the full marathon, and they expect that over 7,000 spectators and cheerleaders will line the route across the plains of the Curragh. The event has a total prize fund of E6,000.
Run Kildare was formally put on a not-for-profit footing last December. In 2012, the three charities received €20,000 from Run Kildare and just over €7,000 was donated to local community and sports groups that helped out with the running of the event.
Money from the run also goes to supporting young athletes in Athletic Clubs in the county, and last year this helped pay for a group of youngsters to compete in Scotland.
Ms Cawley is a founder member of the Donadea Running Club, which organises the annual Donadea 10k run. Between the two events, an estimated E100,000 has been raised for good causes to date, she said.
“With the Gathering 2013, we are going to be focused on bringing international visitors to Kildare this year,” she said.
However, Lilywhites still make up the backbone of Run Kildare, as last year 1,470 people from the county took part.
However, this year the organisers hope to attract around 175 runners from outside Ireland to take part.
The event will bring a significant financial boost to the county, as Kildare Failte figures every attendee from outside the area will spend E15 in Kildare during the event.
The organisers also committed at the launch to dealing with local traders as much as possible while running the event.
Local clubs, including Moorefield and Athgarvan GAA clubs, also receive an annual financial boost via a payment for members who marshall the event.
This year, to mark the gathering an arts and crafts village highlighting the best Kildare has to offer will be run alongside the races.
The event is still looking for a title sponsor, a role which was last year taken by Woodies, but it is expected an announcement will be made on this in the next couple of weeks.
Sponsor Lidl will provide packed lunches and water for all participants.
Officially launching the event, Kildare Mayor Micheal ‘Spike’ Nolan paid tribute to the “behind the scenes” work that goes into organising Run Kildare. “I would like to thank Jo for her dedication and vision.”
Dr Eddie Murphy gave what he called a “punter’s perspective” on the event, having taken part in each of the previous Run Kildares, and mentioned the friendliness of the family-orientated event.
“There are families standing at the gates with cut up oranges all along the routes and little kids running after you saying ‘have a wine gum, have a wine gum’,” he said.
He said that beginners taking on the 10k this year could aim for the half-marathon next year, and that adults who took up running would provide healthy role models in their own families.
Mark Kenneally, who was attending on behalf of the Marie Keating Foundation and as a Kildare runner, said he was delighted to see such an event taking place in the county.
Although he is currently struggling with a knee-injury, the runner with his sights on Rio 2016 said he hopes to make an appearance at the 10k race if his schedule allows.
“I don’t know where I’m at in terms of racing and training, but I would love to support it in that I am a local and it would be great to come down and support it,” he told the Leinster Leader.
“Six or seven years ago I was the only lunatic running around Celbridge, but events like this are making more people run, so it’s great, I’m delighted with it.”
More information on Run Kildare can be found at www.kildaremarathon.ie and entries can be made online.
The cost of entering the full marathon is currently E55, the half-marathon E43 and the 10k E25, but these fees will increase on a sliding scale as the race approaches.
- Laura Coates