BY GER McCARTHY
The Clonakilty Waterfront Marathon takes place on Saturday, December 3rd and chief organiser Bob Hilliard is expecting another huge entry.
Now in its seventh year, the popular annual event offers race distances for all levels and age-groups, incorporating 10km, half-marathon and full marathon distances around the town of Clony and surrounding environs.
Seven years on from the inaugural race, Bob Hilliard admits he and his fellow organisers could never have envisaged how popular ‘the Waterfront’ would become.
‘No, I never foresaw the Waterfront becoming so popular as initially all we wanted to do was just get people out running,’ Hilliard admitted.
‘In fairness to a lot of the people in Clonakilty, they have been excellent to us, supported the event right from the word go and the town had certainly benefited. The beauty of the town, the friendliness of the local people and picturesque location has brought a lot of people back year after year as there are very few places with as stunning views as Inchydoney, Dunmore and Ardfield village.
‘The Waterfront had also become an opportunity for participants to hold their Christmas parties as well. A lot of people from up north, from Dublin and the Marathon Runners of Ireland Club keep coming back for the races and then to hold their festive parties in Clonakilty itself.’
This year’s Waterfront event sees the organising committee proudly sponsoring a brand new Team Hoyt Blade Running Chair. The devices are specially designed and manufactured to be state-of-the-art racing chairs for individuals with disabilities. This will offer local families with a physically challenged family member, to be part of ‘inclusion in sports’, something Bob Hilliard is very proud of.
‘I flew to Boston over three years ago and asked Team Hoyt if they would come to Clonakilty and take part in our event,’ Hilliard said.
‘It took a few years but they finally came over and were blown away by the generosity of the locals and the sheer beauty of West Cork. Back home in the US, Dick Hoyt has become a huge name in the running world but remains an incredible human being and unbelievably humble.
‘Dick kindly donated the Team Hoyt chair to the Waterfront Marathon as a thank-you for promoting inclusion. From there, we bought a new chair that Dick has signed for us and the idea is to get the word out there and ask any family who would like to use the device to get in touch with us as soon as possible.’
Finally, Hilliard is hoping this year’s event surpass previous editions with increased entries and a special free event taking place the night before the main attraction.
‘All I want is for anyone taking part to have a great day, enjoy the event and for everyone to get back safely,’ Hilliard commented.
‘There was a certain amount of negativity on social media following last year’s event but that’s the only time it (weather) really affected us in seven years. Ninety percent of the people who took part will be back in 2017 and that’s the most important statistic to me.
‘We are bringing over some very special guests for this year’s event and making them available to talk to the public (for free) at 7pm in the Quality Hotel in Clonakilty the night before the race. Adrianne Haslett’s story of overcoming her loss of limb, Running World magazine editor Amby Burfoot and Boston Marathon (1966) winner Bobbi Gibb are certain to share some amazing stories.
‘It will be a unique opportunity to get to hear from some amazing and inspirational people who have made their mark in the sport of running and are known worldwide. I’m also delighted that the Marathon Running Club of Ireland are returning to Clonakilty to run the 26-mile route for their chosen charities.’