Marathon No.14 in Dublin…

It was a privilege to run my 14th road race marathon on Sunday during the 40th edition of the KBC Dublin Marathon.

The atmosphere in the Irish capital was superb and it is little wonder why the event has won numerous awards in recent years and is recognised as the “Friendly Marathon”.

So, here is a breakdown of the event:

THE EXPO

The event’s registration and Expo, held at Royal Dublin Society (RDS), was ideally situated in the heart of the city.

And, unsurprisingly, was absolutely packed when I arrived on Saturday afternoon.

Like any good Expo, it had virtually everything you might need need one day before race day — from energy bars to clothing.

The registration process was really seamless, with a fast-moving line allowing participants to quickly pick-up their bib number and then collect the rest of their goodie bag contents.

The venue, however, was quite small and actually made it really difficult to check out the range of different stalls, businesses and products easily. It was all rather hectic and didn’t especially make for an all-round enjoyable experience.

CROWD SUPPORT

Well, what can you say?

People turned out in their droves to cheer on loved ones and total strangers, in what was really emblematic of how warm and welcoming the city is.

Throughout virtually every second of the route — bar a few sections of the Phoenix Park stretch (miles five to nine) — spectators lined the entire course.

Indeed, many were on hand to offer extra liquids, sweets and bananas to runners.

It was an absolutely faultless and selfless effort by all who came out to support — so a big thank you.

THE ROUTE 

Starting in well-known Fitzwilliam Street Upper — and for a Dubliner novice (second visit) like myself — it was interesting to experience a variety of streets, twists, turns and taste the unique flavour of what Dublin has to offer.

Check out Strava to look at the route in all its glory:

IMG_C66A2D99B3F4-1

VOLUNTEERS

Volunteers helped to marshal — if my calculations are correct — 10 water stations, four Lucozade stops and two High 5 Gel stations.

And, when you add in the fact there were ample toilet facilities, first aid stations, dropout points and numerous cheering zones, all runners were well looked after.

Once again, a great effort by all.

NUMBER OF RUNNERS

22,500 runners were due to run on a briskly cold Sunday — but only close to 18,000 runners started and finished.

Of course, drop-outs happen, unfortunately, before any marathon — still — it seems on the surface like a high volume of missing runners.

Could there have been a way to open some extra, last-minute places to others?

LOTTERY SYSTEM

On Tuesday, KBC Dublin Marathon organisers announced that registration for the 2020 version of the event will take place through a lottery system — due to an increase in demand for entries.

The lottery — which is effectively a ballot and runs from 1st November to 30th November — will replace the first-come, first-served system which had been in place at the event for the past 40 years.

The official website states:

There will be a registration fee of €15 per lottery entry which will be fully refundable if the applicant is not successful and fully redeemable against entry fee if the applicant is successful. Registrants will learn their entry status via SMS and email between 3rd January to 10th January. Successful entrants will have until 31st January 2020 to redeem the offer.

Any initial places not redeemed by 31st January 2020 will be re-allocated by lottery to entrants who were not successful. The applicants will learn their entry status via SMS and email between the 4th February to 7th February 2020. These offers must be redeemed by 14th February 2020.

This is disappointing news, and for a variety for reasons — as many people have already voiced on social media.

It does indeed beg a few questions.

Are loyal runners, who have previously participated, being rewarded fairly? Could a greater emphasis be placed on the transfer of places, given — again, there were thousands of runners that had registered but didn’t run on the day? How will this news affect the event’s local/Irish heritage?

The decision — just days after Organisers promoted the fact that only 13 runners had completed each one of the previous 39 editions of the event (and were due to run No.40)— raises another question: will their entry be guaranteed for 2020?

PLASTIC

Quite simply, there was a tremendous amount of single-use plastic used throughout at water stations and lots of plastic blue-hand clappers, given to spectators.

Tournament organisers, via their website, state that:

 About 10% of the bottles deployed on race day are recycled, and the remainder are used as a fuel for power stations.

This year, extra clean-up teams will be in place to collect bottles from the course in a timely manner, with support from the relevant local authorities, this will result in 0% of the of bottles from the event ending up in landfill.

That, is all well and good, to a degree — but could it make sense to look at other alternatives for water storage in 2020?

At the event, Lucozade Sport trialled compostable cups — and that seemed to work well — so, perhaps, that is the way forward?

It should also be said that water, in a small cup, is generally enough liquid for a single stop and a bottle isn’t really needed.

BAGGAGE

The event was cleverly divided up into waves — based on previous finishing times — so, with staggered starts for thousands of runners, it was a quick and easy process to store items in baggage and pick-up post-race.

For the first time — this year — organisers used bags made from oxo-degradableplastic — representing another environmentally-friendly stride forward.

POST-RACE

The city, as expected, was pretty lively and each participant was given another goodie bag.

Included in every bag was an impressive finishers’ long-sleeve tee-shirt and numerous energy boosters.

The medals, too, were extremely eye-catching (see lead image).

CONCLUSION

Ireland’s capital city is rich in history, culture and all-round vibrancy — and the marathon truly reflects this.

As such, it is an event which is well worth doing — though it does remain to be seen how the new lottery system will affect supply and demand moving forward.

Priced at €83 for a 2019 entry — the KBC Dublin Marathon is not cheap and when you factor in sky-rocket accommodation costs over the course of Bank Holiday Weekend for those travelling from afar — it can end up being a pretty expensive trip.

Event Rank: 8/10

TO FOLLOW…

Keep your eyes peeled for an in-depth review of my marathon running performance from this event.

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