We spent last weekend in Dingle where Eamon was doing his second marathon and son-in-law Rossa Mc Mahon was doing the half marathon.
The route for the Dingle marathon is around Slea Head, one of the most spectacular roads in the world with views (on a good day!) of incredible beauty. The run starts in Dingle town and then travels though Ventry past the Bee Hive Huts and on to Dunquin where the half marathon finishes.
Photo of Rossa (1963) legging it past the church near Paudi O Se’s pub in Ventry
On the way the runners, assuming that they have sufficient energy levels, will experience truly magnificent views in the distance of Skellig Michael, and closer to shore, the majestic Blasket Islands. As they leave Dunquin and head for Ballyferriter, Coumeenoole Beach made famous by the film Ryan’s Daughter can be seen below. Yes it is a truly wonderful and historic place.
The runners then go through Ballyferriter up quite a severe climb at about mile 21 which takes them to a straight gentle downward straight stretch of at least a mile in length. This bit of straight road is also demanding and daunting and must seem never ending to the majority of the, by now, totally exhausted marathon runners. Then it’s over the bridge and into Dingle Town to the finish line.
Never have I seen so many runners so happy just to finish, whatever about the time they did. Glad to be finished and looking forward to some well-earned food and a few drinks in the splendid restaurants and pubs that make Dingle so loved by visitors from all around the world.
Photo of Eamon enjoying the last 100 yards with his family, so pleased to have them with him at the finish and so so pleased to have done it.
By all accounts it is one of the toughest marathons with two severe climbs and all along the route the runners are exposed to the winds coming off the Atlantic Ocean. For the runners, it is a unique and wonderful place to be allowed to run with the road closed from the time the run starts at 9am to 3 pm to allow the runners a safe road to run on.
If I have a gripe it would be that the spectators like me who are trying to give support and encouragement and liquid and other refreshments to the runners, that we found it difficult to get to suitable vantage points.
The evening before the marathon Eamon and I did a bit of cross country reconnoitering to try to find a few spots we could access along the way. The road was closing at 8:45am on the morning of the marathon so we would have to leave Dingle before then. The first spot we selected was just past the church in Ventry pear Paudi O Se’s pub which is about 6 miles along the way.
Then we went cross country to Dunquin which was a very important spot as it was just past mile 13 where the half marathon finished and we wanted to see Rossa and the other half marathon runners finishing there. From Dunquin we travelled to Ballyferriter about mile 18 where Eamon reckoned he would need some gels and more water and maybe some food even though he knew there would be plenty of water spots along the way. From there we would then make our way back to the finish in Dingle.
The morning of the race however proved problematical as despite confirmation beforehand that the back road to Dunquin would be accessible, the organisers had in fact blocked the road some two miles from Dunquin so we had to go directly to Ballyferriter and so we missed the finish of the half marathon which was very disappointing and had to wait a long time in Ballyferriter before the marathon runners eventually reached us.
My suggestion to the organisers is that more consideration should be given to accommodate the families and supporters of the runners as the runners really need all the help and encouragement they can get, to help them complete this most wonderful but very demanding of marathons.
When entries are made clear instructions should be given to the runners as to where and when the supporters can get to certain spots to be close to the runners along the way. The obvious places would appear to be Ventry, Dunquin and Ballyferriter and this could all be done cross country so that the main road can remain closed for the safety of the runners.
In fact as the majority of runners were doing the half marathon only, the road from Dunquin onwards and back to Dingle could probably be opened with cars and the buses bringing the half marathon runners back to Dingle, allowed on one side of the road, and the runners on the other.
Ted Dwyer Family Business