The Dingle Marathon

There is nothing quite like lining up for the 9 o’clock start of the Dingle marathon on the first Saturday of September each year. Our trip to Dingle for this event has become an annual pilgrimage, we’ve been doing it for the past seven years. The first Saturday of September marks the end of summer, children have gone back to school, autumn is well and truly beginning.

I absolutely love the camaraderie of the crowd at the starting line, the young and the old, the fat and the thin, the fit and the less fit. That starting line is one of the highlights of the weekend for me. The anticipation, the nerves, the excitement. Everyone is in good humour, I have yet to see an unhappy face in the thousands of people lining up. Each face in the crowd belongs to someone who has chosen to come down to Dingle on this first Saturday in September. Each face in the crowd belongs to someone who has gotten up early to be at the starting line for that loud bang that tells us that this year’s race has begun. Each face in the crowd has a deep understanding of the benefits of exercise. These faces in the crowd are my type of people.

This annual pilgrimage is rich because we share it with a great group of people. Denis and I are always joined by Derek and Mary and usually one or more of their daughters. Atilla and Aniko from Hungary have come a number of years – Atilla has run it a few times and Aniko took part this year for her first time. Tommy and other friends have joined us over the years, Breda came this year for her first time. Running Dingle with this group makes Dingle extra special.

Each year I feel privileged and very appreciative of just being here – another year that I am healthy enough to be among this early morning crowd. It’s not something I take for granted.

It’s usually raining in Dingle. We expect the rain so we hardly notice it. A sunny morning is a huge bonus. This year we were fooled. The day before was an absolutely gorgeous day for driving down from Sligo to Dingle – the countryside, the views were stunning. The great weather continued into Saturday morning though rain was forecast for later in the morning. Within half an hour of the start the rain came, the sleet came, the wind came. At the end, waiting around, I was frozen – my fingers and toes were like blocks of ice. The unusually beautiful start was matched by an equally unusual, awful end. That’s Dingle for you. However no rain, no sleet nor wind could dampen our good humour.

There were eight of us this year and each of us completed our own goal be it run or walk the half-marathon (or run and walk in my case this year). Denis surprised us all by switching to the full marathon and completing it in a great time. Each of us was delighted with how we did. We all took part and we were all personal winners.

Here are some photographs …

Setting off from Benners






Dingle Fuchsia …IMG_7212

and Monbresia – so much part of Dingle.IMG_7215




As well as the stunning scenery, there was plenty of entertainment along the route.



Turning the corner at Slea Head, marked by these statues, the wind was unbelievably strong. It felt like we’d be blown home. Not a bad feeling!

IMG_7261Here in Dingle on a corner of the Iveragh peninsula stuck out in the Atlantic, on the first Saturday in September, I always feel on top of the world. Here I feel I’m walking the walk (or maybe it should be running the run!) of the book Younger Next Year. Here, I always feel hugely optimistic about the next year ahead.


Looking at mementoes of various Dingle marathons, I hope that this pilgrimage continues to be part of our lives for many more years to come.

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9 Responses to The Dingle Marathon

  1. Caroline Brennan says:

    Sitting here on the couch with bathroom catalogues all around me. Trying to decide which ones to order and to me they all look very similar and then my phone pings with a update from Lily. Delighted to see you had a great weekend despite the weather. The photos say it all. Very well done Denis. Now back to ordering ……..

  2. Margaret Fartery says:

    Love the Dingle bells as our children called them on our camping holiday years ago. So much fun and so healthy Well done!!

  3. Maire Buckley says:

    I love it Lily!! All those thoughts and sentiments resonate so strongly with me!! It really is such a wonderful feeling to participate in such an event and to share the simple joy of running and finishing with our fellow humankind and especially with friends!! I sincerely hope I’ll be there next year!!

    Máire xx

    Sent from my iPad


  4. salmonniamh says:

    Listening to this mornings news of a threatened tsunami in Central America following a major earthquake off the coast of Mexico and of the devestation being wrought by hurricane Irma in the Carribean heading for the east cost of the US it is heartwarming to read your account of the beauty of being in the elements with friends, knowing their unpredictability.

  5. lilinator says:

    I hadn’t thought of it like that Niamh but you’re right. Hope all is well after your holiday. It was so great to see you here

  6. lilinator says:

    PS I meant to include that the Dingle Marathon was selected as one of the “52 Best Races in the World” by Runners World Magazine. A nice accolade!

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