Ireland's biggest ever children’s running event will be part of SPAR Great Ireland Run.
The SPAR Great Ireland Run on Sunday 15th April in the Phoenix Park, Dublin will feature the largest ever children’s running event in Ireland. So far, over 350 children have entered the Mini Run for five to eight year olds and over 750 have entered the Junior Run for nine to fifteen year olds.
Entries for the Mini and Junior Runs are still open at www.greatirelandrun.org. Participants must collect their numbers and Run packs at Lifestyle Sports in Blanchardstown during trading hours between noon on Thursday 12th and 4pm on Saturday 14th April.
The Junior Run starts at 11:15am followed by the Mini Run at 11:30am. The Mini and Junior Runs take place over a flat 2.5km course which uses the same start and finish areas of the adult SPAR Great Ireland Run which starts at 1pm.
Current Olympic champion at 5,000 and 10,000 metres, Kenenisa Bekele of Ethiopia, will lead off the main field in the SPAR Great Ireland Run when up to 10,000 runners, joggers and walkers will enjoy the stunning beauty of the Phoenix Park as it celebrates its 350th birthday this year.
Entries for the SPAR Great Ireland Run remain open at www.greatirelandrun.org until 9am on Tuesday 10th April. Entrants must collect their numbers and Run packs at Lifestyle Sports in Blanchardstown during trading hours between noon on Thursday 12th and 4pm on Saturday 14th April.
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Fionnuala Britton launches SPAR Great Ireland Run 2012
European Cross Country Champion launches Ireland's largest mixed 10k road run
12,000 runners, joggers and walkers in the Phoenix Park on Sunday April 15th
New Mini Run added for 5 to 8 year olds
- Irish national 10km championships and special prize fund part of Run
SPAR Great Ireland Run 2012
The SPAR Great Ireland Run 2012 - on Sunday April 15th in the Phoenix Park, Dublin - was launched by Ireland's European Cross Country champion and 2012 Olympic Games qualifier, FIonnuala Britton.
Fionnuala finished seventh woman in the Run last year, winning the national 10k title on the way. She hopes to compete again in this year's race. She says: "The SPAR Great Ireland Run really is an amazing event which mixes fun, families and top-class athletics in a brilliant atmosphere. The Phoenix Park is a stunning place to run and brings out the best in everyone - from 5 year olds to 75 year olds."
2012 is the tenth anniversary of the event in Dublin which has grown rapidly in popularity since the first Run in 2003. Last year there were almost 11,000 participants and at least 12,000 are expected to take to the roads in the beautiful Phoenix Park which this year celebrates its own 350th birthday.
This year's Run will more than ever be about enjoying a full family running day as a Mini Run for 5 to 8 year olds has been added to the programme alongside a Junior Run for 9 to 15 year olds. The Mini Run and Junior Run will precede the main event over a lap of approximately 2.5 km and an adult can run /walk alongside each child in the Mini Run if they wish.
The Run is the largest mixed 10k race in Ireland and RTÉ Two television will show the Run live in a special programme.
The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), the world governing body of athletics has conferred an IAAF Silver Road Race Label on the SPAR Great Ireland Run, in recognition of the event's high standard of organisation, elite participation and media profile. This is the only Irish event recognised in this way by the IAAF.
A star-studded field of international and national distance runners will compete on the day, including many of Ireland's top male and female distance runners. Last year's winners were Jesus Espana of Spain and Charlotte Purdue of Great Britain in 29:26 and 32:42 respectively.
The 2012 Run will once again incorporate the Irish 10k road championships and will feature most of Ireland's top distance runners. To further incentivise elite Irish athletes and raise the standard of 10k running in the country, a prize fund is being put in place for the first ten Irish men and women.
Participants are being encouraged to raise funds for good causes and the event's nominated charities are the Marie Keating Foundation and the Jack & Jill Children's Foundation. The Baby Max Wings of Love Fund is the nominated charity for the Junior Run and Mini Run.
Almost 1,000 runners have already entered the event. The majority of these are from the UK and their participation will be a big boost to tourism in Dublin as they travel to the city for the weekend with family and friends.
Entrants are asked to identify their preferred county on the entry form and before the event will receive a customised number in their county colours. Every finisher will receive a technical event T shirt, generous goody bag and chip timed results.
The 2012 Run will again feature a County Challenge competition for the Ronnie Delany Perpetual Trophy. Using the power of chip technology the county with the most finishers in a particular time frame are recorded and declared the winner. County Down won the title in 2011.
David Hart, Communications Director of race organisers Nova International said: "As in previous years, the 2012 Run will mix some of the world's top middle distance athletes over the same course with joggers and fun runners. The event is a great day out for families and we expect that this year's event, with the addition of the Mini Run, will attract even more runners, joggers and walkers from every county in Ireland and that all those who take part will enjoy the benefits of getting fit."
Top Spanish runners, Jesus Espana and Ayad Lamdassem, will lead the European challenge against the legendary Kenenisa Bekele in next month's SPAR Great Ireland Run.
The pair will headline the men's race in which top Irish runners Mark Kenneally, Linda Byrne and Ava Hutchinson, who have all achieved the Olympic marathon qualifying standard, will be searching for speed against their more gifted rivals over the 10k distance.
Espana, who will be defending the title he won last year with a decisive breakaway towards the end of the race and Lamdassem, the European Cross Country silver medallist, will be looking to cause another upset against Bekele in the Phoenix Park on 15 April.
Both Spaniards need no reminding that Bekele's appearance in the IAAF Silver Label event will see the Ethiopian intent on restoring his confidence after a poor display at the Bupa Great Edinburgh Cross Country in January.
What should have been a double celebratory occasion for Bekele on his country's equivalent of Christmas Day, saw him thrashed by his international opponents and finish a disappointing 11th in a 3k race he was expected to win.
That prompted his manager Jos Hermens to ask for him to be included in the SPAR Great Ireland Run which will also mark his return Dublin where 10 years ago he became the first and only man ever to win both the IAAF World Cross Country long and short course titles.
While it may be premature to even consider the World's greatest ever cross country and track distance runner's career is at a crossroads, the reigning Olympic 5000m and 10000m gold medallist, with the next Games on the horizon, needs a victory to rebuild his confidence before the summer season gets underway.
"Espana will have the bit between his teeth to retain his title while Lamdassem's form during the winter season has been massively consistent," said Peter Riley, the meeting's elite athletes manager.
"Lamdassem showed with his victory in the Edinburgh long course race that he is the man in form, indeed he followed up that win by taking the European Clubs cross country title, never one of the easiest races to win.
"If there is now a chink in Bekele's armour, I know he and Espana have the experience to find it and of course they are far more experienced road runners than Kenenisa who has less than a handful under his belt.
"You also have to remember Lamdassem gave Bekele's fellow Ethiopian, Haile Gebrselassie, a very tough race at the 2010 Bupa Great Manchester Run which is also over 10k. He lost by only seven seconds and there is no doubt he has improved massively since then."
The appearance of Espana and Lamdassem adds to the recognition of the SPAR Great Ireland Run which this year has been upgraded to IAAF silver medal status.
Entries for the event, which includes runs for Junior and Mini participants, are open at www.greatirelandrun.org
Kenenisa Bekele, the world's greatest ever cross country and track distance runner, will return to the city of one of his greatest achievements when competing at the SPAR Great Ireland Run in Dublin. Bekele is current Olympic 5000m and 10,000m champion and World Record holder at both distances, and will be using the SPAR Great Ireland Run as part of his build up to London 2012.
It is 10 years ago next month when, aged only 19, he became the first and only male athlete ever to lift the IAAF World Cross Country long and short course titles in the same year with two magnificent performances at Leopardstown racecourse.
Now Bekele's appearance in the SPAR Great Ireland Run on 15 April suggests the reigning Olympic 5000m and 10000m champion, after taking part in this summer's London Games, could be taking a preliminary step in the transition of proving himself as equally successful on the roads which would cement his reputation as the world's best ever distance runner.
Former Olympic medallist Brendan Foster is one of many highly respected followers of the sport who has always expected him to follow in the footsteps of fellow Ethiopian Haile Gebrselassie and Kenya's Paul Tergat who, after illustrious cross country and track careers, successfully made the switch and became world marathon record holders.
"I was delighted when Bekele's agent Jos Hermens rang me and asked whether we could find a slot in the SPAR Great Ireland Run for him and of course there was no way I was going to say 'no' to such an outstanding legend,"
said Foster whose company Nova International organise the event.
"We have had some really big names including Tergat and Bekele's own countrywoman Derartu Tulu, arguably the greatest women's distance runner of all time, grace the event since the first Dublin race in 2003.
"Now to have Bekele ask to take part in a race which has grown in stature year on year is a compliment to its reputation and quality and I know from speaking with his manager he is determined to prove his shape after a setback at the Great Edinburgh Cross Country in January."
Bekele, on that occasion visibly carrying a few extra pounds around his waistline, slumped to a lowly position in the Scottish capital and immediately vowed afterwards in a very important Olympic year to quickly get back into mint condition.
Foster insisted: "Everyone, particularly Mo Farah and other Olympic rivals for a gold medal in either the 5000m or 10000m, will be watching closely how he performs in the Phoenix Park after his Edinburgh setback.
"This will be a very important race for Kenenisa and a good field is being pulled together to give him a real test. He's raced sparingly on the roads in the past so I'm certain it will also be important in his plans to move his career into a different direction after the London Games.
Bekele's appearance adds to the recognition of the SPAR Great Ireland Run which this year has been upgraded to IAAF silver medal status.
Entries for the event, which includes runs for Junior and Mini participants, are open at www.greatirelandrun.org