Rebel runners: A look back at the Cork City Marathon through the decades 

Rebel runners: A look back at the Cork City Marathon through the decades 

Runners on the South Mall, 1986. 

For the second year in a row the traditional Cork City Marathon has been scuppered by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Instead, the annual event will take place virtually tomorrow.

Back in March, Cork City Council said that every possible option was explored before coming to the decision to go virtual in the interest of runners, spectators, volunteers, medics, and suppliers.

Cork City Marathon, 1986. Pictured is Billy Gallagher.
Cork City Marathon, 1986. Pictured is Billy Gallagher.

Announcing the decision, race director, Adrienne Rodgers, said that it has been the council's “pride and joy” to host thousands of runners from home and abroad on race day since 2007 and that they were “very disappointed not to be in a position to do so again this year”.

Whilst she said the virtual event would not "replace the elation of race day" it was hoped that the event would give people "a focus, to work safely towards a shared date". 

The Cork Examiner captured the second-place finisher Michael Walsh crossing the finishing line at the South Mall in the inaugural 1982 Adidas Cork City Marathon, won by John O’Toole. 
The Cork Examiner captured the second-place finisher Michael Walsh crossing the finishing line at the South Mall in the inaugural 1982 Adidas Cork City Marathon, won by John O’Toole. 

The Cork City Marathon was revived by Cork City Council in 2007 after a break of 21 years. 

It reflected a growing interest or a rekindling of interest in road running that had peaked in the mid-1980s but had waned in the intervening years.

Cathal Lombard, team Captain of the 'Spirit of Cork' relay team, making his way down the Jack Lynch tunnel. Cork City Marathon, 2007. Picture: Richard Mills
Cathal Lombard, team Captain of the 'Spirit of Cork' relay team, making his way down the Jack Lynch tunnel. Cork City Marathon, 2007. Picture: Richard Mills

One of the innovations in the Cork City Marathon was the inclusion of a Team Relay challenge, with teams of between two and five members combining to cover the 26.2 mile distance. 

In 2013, a Youth Team Relay was introduced, providing an opportunity for young people between the ages of 16 and 18 to participate in what is one of the most challenging and rewarding sporting and personal achievements.

Cork fireman Alex O'Shea running in full gear for the Cork City Marathon 2014. 
Cork fireman Alex O'Shea running in full gear for the Cork City Marathon 2014. 

Rewinding 25 years before Cork City Council recommenced the marathon there was much excitement in Cork ahead of the inaugural sporting event in 1982, as one Echo article highlighted.

"On Easter Monday the big local attraction is the Adidas Cork City Marathon which will be run over a course embracing the city and suburbs.

Pictured crossing the finish line, at the 2013 Cork City Marathon, Rory Mooney, Raheny Shamrock AC, on Patrick Street, Cork. Picture: Jim Coughlan.
Pictured crossing the finish line, at the 2013 Cork City Marathon, Rory Mooney, Raheny Shamrock AC, on Patrick Street, Cork. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

"The popularity of marathon running can be seen by the great success of the Dublin City Marathon in recent years.

"Monday will be the first time that a Cork City marathon will be held.

"The organising committee has been hard at work on the venture for months past and it is certain that it will attract thousands of spectators on to the streets and roads to witness the big cavalcade of hundreds of runners," the article from April 7 stated.

The next Cork City Marathon is scheduled to take place on June 5, 2022.

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