IRISH RUNNERS ARE on track for a Dublin Marathon double for the first time since 1993.
More than 14,000 participants are expected at the start line this morning when the 34th running of the race gets underway in Fitzwilliam Square.
But with no invited international elite field, the stage is set for the first Irish double since John Treacy and Cathy Shum 20 years ago.
Here are the main contenders.
Sean Hehir: Clare’s Sean Hehir was second of the Irish finishers in 2012 and 13th overall, coming home in a time of 2:17:35. Trained by former Dublin marathon winner Dick Hooper, his strong showing at the Cardiff half-marathon this season is encouraging form.
Sergiu Ciobanu: The Moldovan, who trains with Clonliffe Harriers in Dublin, was 47th at the World Championships in Moscow earlier this year. He won the Cork Marathon in 2010 and 2011, and set his PB of 2:15:27 at the Rotterdam Marathon in 2012.
Gary O’Hanlon: Ciobanu’s Clonliffe team-mate had a remarkable summer with four marathon wins — Connemara, Limerick, Kildare, and Newry. The 39-year-old was the fourth Irishman home in last year’s Dublin Marathon.
Joe Sweeney: Sweeney’s track record is in cross-country and the middle distances and today marks his marathon debut. Running out of Dundrum South Dublin and coached by Jerry Kiernan, he will be hoping to force his way into the frame.
Alun Evans: The Welsh national champion, who has a PB of 2:20, is the only elite international male runner in the field.
McCambridge: fastest Irish woman in 2012 (INPHO/Lorraine O’Sullivan)
Maria McCambridge: The former Olympian was the first Irish woman home last year in 2:35:28 and is hotly tipped to defend her national title. McCambridge, 38, qualified for the World Championships in Moscow this year but was forced to pull out after seven kilometres through injury.
Claire Gibbons McCarthy: The Leevale runner won the women’s section at the Charleville half-marathon last month in 1:16:09, proving her preparations are on track.
Pauline Curley: Now 44, Curley is best remembered for representing Ireland at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing where she finished 63rd.