From The Wolfe Tone Club to Mount Congreve: Inside the Waterford Viking Marathon

June 24, 2024

By Enda O'Sullivan

Annual Waterford Viking Marathon: A Unique Blend of History, Scenery and Community Spirit

Yesterday, under glorious sunshine, the annual Waterford Viking full, half and quarter marathon took place, weaving through the streets of Waterford city and the Greenway. With 2,771 finishers, this event is not just a test of endurance but a celebration of community and history.

A Marathon for All

One of the most distinctive features of this marathon is its Autism-friendly approach. Autistic participants are allowed a separate finish away from the sensory-intensive finish line on O’Connell Street, making the event inclusive and welcoming for all.

A Journey Through History

The race began opposite the historic site of The Wolfe Tone Club on the Mall in Waterford City. This location holds great national significance as it was here that Thomas Francis Meagher, son of the first Catholic mayor of Waterford in over 200 years, first flew the Irish Tricolour on 7 March 1848. This flag would later become the national flag of Ireland. Meagher had recently returned from France, where he was part of a delegation wishing the new French government well following the establishment of the Republic there.

Unique Selling Points

This marathon stands out due to its unique route, offering runners the chance to jog through areas typically restricted to walkers and runners. This opportunity makes the race an unforgettable adventure.

The Route

From The Mall, participants jogged alongside the quays before crossing Rice Bridge and heading up towards the ring road. Crossing the River Suir Bridge on foot offered a rare chance to marvel at this spectacular cable bridge's engineering.

Runners then crossed the toll bridge (thankfully, toll-free for the event) before entering the greenway. Quarter marathon participants turned left towards the finish line while half and full marathon participants turned right, passing under the Dan Donovan Bridge. They continued for several kilometres before turning left towards the beautiful Mount Congreve Gardens. This section, with its steady climb, was the toughest part of the race. A fantastic jazz band played at the gardens, distracting runners from their aches before they descended back onto the greenway. Half marathoners returned home from here while full marathoners had more to conquer.

The Greenway Experience

The greenway was a visual feast. Wildflowers, dominated by the Oxeye Daisy, painted a beautiful array of colours and the River Suir looked splendid in the June sunshine. The route was dotted with water stations manned by the Scouts and other volunteers, providing much-needed refreshment.

The Finish Line

The final stretch took runners back to O’Connell Street, where live music, photographers and cheering spectators greeted them. The event was meticulously planned, with fantastic t-shirts and finishers' medals for all participants. Bananas and water were plentiful at the finish line, contributing to the energetic, carnival-like atmosphere.

Images courtesy of Enda O'Sullivan: 

Cover - Enda O'Sullivan Menapians AC, Wexford Town  and Caimen Browne Blackrock AC, Dublin.
End of Article
- Grainne Hayes and Oliver Stack       


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