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Dublin: 9 °C Wednesday 16 October, 2019

Opinion: Running is one of the best ways to make a city your own

Sean Dunne joined 25,000 people last weekend to participate in the Brooklyn Half-Marathon, and was touched by the camaraderie amongst his fellow runners.

Sean Dunne

MORE THAN 25,000 runners made their way on the New York underground early Saturday morning to participate in the Brooklyn Half-Marathon: the atmosphere was electric from start to finish, with a huge emphasis on community at this year’s marathon.

The subway system was alive from 5am with florescent yellow and pink running gear being worn by some of the more enthusiastic runners and even a superwoman costume on show – as one woman said “I’m doing it for charity.”

One thing that struck me as I waited to catch a subway to Brooklyn was the abundance of adrenaline already filling the station and a great sense of camaraderie amongst the runners. As some revellers made their way home from the night before, the subway I boarded was packed to capacity with runners eager to put their best foot forward on the course.

Friendly faces

Arriving on Franklin Avenue in Brooklyn, the past few months’ training in Central Park in harsh winters conditions was making me even more excited to get out and pound the pavements.

As I walked along the thousands of other runners, a friendly face greeted me in the crowd; a fellow Irishman and runner from the running club I had joined in New York.

Jerry McDonnell, a native of Co Carlow, has spent the past 19 years living in America. Being a more experienced runner than myself, I asked Jerry what running Brooklyn 2014 meant to him.

“I haven’t raced the Brooklyn Half since 2009, but have a great affection for it as it was the very first half-marathon I ever tried.”

He added: “Brooklyn was the first place I lived in in NYC; I lived there for over ten years and began my career in running by doing loops of Prospect Park – so very much looking forward to returning to my old stomping ground.”

One of the best ways to make a city your own

Both myself and Jerry are members of Front Runners New York (FRNY) – joining a running club in New York is probably one of the best ways to make the city your own and to make new friends.

Jerry took up running in the early 1990s and wanted to get better at it, and so he stuck to it and soon began competing at race events across New York.

“Now it’s my therapy, I wouldn’t be the runner – or person – I am today without FRNY; the club gave me the opportunity to improve as an athlete and create friendships that are invaluable,

“Being part of the club is fun – often there is a misconception that people that run are health conscious and take it all very seriously and don’t know how to have a good time; well, FRNY definitely dispels that myth.”

Running for a cause

The race kicked off in perfect weather conditions outside the Brooklyn Museum. The crowd stood in silence as we listened to the American National Anthem before taking off down the Brooklyn streets with the sun shining down.

My own Brooklyn Marathon experience was extra special as I was running the race for The Rory Staunton Foundation. In April 2012 12-year-old Rory Staunton became sick after cutting himself while playing basketball. Within days he had passed away from his undiagnosed sepsis.

Since Rory’s tragic, untimely death his parents, Ciaran and Orlaith Staunton, have worked tirelessly to raise public awareness about this killer inflammation, which kills 550 people every day in the United States alone and affects at least 750,000 people every year.

Remembering the spirit of young Rory Staunton

Another Irishman I met at the end of the event was Kieran O’Mahony another avid runner who competes regularly in American races. Speaking of this race he said “This is my fifth Brooklyn Half, it’s a fun race though I’m not a fan of having to be in Prospect park by 6am on a day off work,”

“I think the most enjoyable part is by 9am one has run 13.1 miles and you are on the Coney Island boardwalk looking out at the water.”

Powering up the final hill on Coney Island was empowering, knowing that I was one of 25,000 runners who had competed in spectacular New York weather conditions, and I remembered the spirit of young Rory Staunton who never had the chance to race in his home city of New York.

Sean Dunne is freelance multimedia journalist. He has worked across a wide spectrum of print, online and broadcast journalism in Ireland, including RTÉ, TV3, Newstalk, IrishCentral and The Irish Voice.

Read: 18 of the best pics from today’s Great Limerick Run as Kenyan runner emerges triumphant

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