Return of Dublin City Marathon promises windfall for charities

Event is back after a two-year Covid-enforced absence and is likely to attract more runners, donors and spectators than ever

The Irish Life Dublin City Marathon is back and with record numbers running this year it’ll be a boon for charities. Fundraising for a cause has always been a popular reason to take part and after a two-year absence, the event on Sunday, October 30th, will be charged with emotion.

Fundraising for cancer is the most popular cause this year, according to a survey of 2,500 runners who are raising money for a charity. The questionnaire, carried out by the marathon team, found one in five are supporting charities linked to other health conditions, such as the Irish Heart Foundation. Thirteen per cent are fundraising for young people and one in 10 are raising funds for mental-health charities.

UCD economic analysis a few years ago estimated Dublin’s marathon raises €9 million for charity, and this year, with a record 25,000 running – and with friends and families not tapped the previous two years due to Covid cancellations – people may cough up even more.

But it’s not just the money egging runners on – it’s also knowing more attention will be brought to their cause. Around 300,000 spectators usually line the streets, and if the trend for the other events in the race series is continued there will be even more, so thousands see your charity logo, and your sponsors read about your cause via your fundraising page.


‘Maybe people will share my link and pass on Pieta’s details to someone they are worried about. It’s so important to ask others, how are you doing?’

Raising awareness is the main motivator for Dubliner Lisa Bailey, who is taking part in the marathon in memory of her mother, Kim Bailey, who passed away last February. “I want to raise funds for Pieta House, they do such good work, but what I really want is for more people to ask those around them, ‘how are you’,” says the 22-year-old. “Maybe people will share my link and pass on Pieta’s details to someone they are worried about. It’s so important to ask others, ‘how are you doing?’ and to phrase that question in a way people can talk as much as they can.”

The support she has received has spurring her training and this galvanised her to run better than she expected in the other 2022 Irish Life Dublin City Marathon race series events. Lisa set out with a target of €1,000 on her Eventmaster fundraising page but has raised nearly €5,000 to date. “I sent my link to a few people, but then friends of mum asked for it. Any time anyone donates I straight away put on my runners.

“I had planned to do the marathon before mum passed: running is a strong passion I gained from her. Mum did the Dublin virtual marathon last year with two friends, she was an amazing runner, an amazing mum.”

The fundraising survey found that one in three, like Lisa, had an aim to drum up €1,000. Fifteen per cent hoped to rustle up to €500, nearly half say they would like to raise between €2,000 and €5,000, with 7 per cent striving for more than that.

‘Courage for Carmel’

A group hoping to raise €100,000 are running to remember Carmel Murray, who died, aged 49, from cancer last March. Carmel had given a lot of her time and energy to charities, raising €75,000 for them, and one of her last requests was for her family to continue supporting the three she focused on. Which is why Carmel’s husband, Gerry, and 13 of her extended family and friends signed up for the marathon. More joined and now there are 30 running, aged between 25 and 65, under the ”Courage for Carmel” banner. Only a handful have already run a marathon, so keep an eye out and give them a cheer.

Carmel’s brother Dermot is running his first marathon but it will be a fourth for his wife Janette who explains: “Carmel was a great fundraiser for Cancer Ireland. It was her second time to get cancer and she had a long battle. She went through a lot but always shone through it, we are hoping to do the same”.

‘The stories of why people are running for charities are incredible. You can see the emotion as they get close to the finish line, many people openly crying’

Corporate sponsorship helped them raise €50,000 so far – the beneficiaries are St Francis Hospice (where Carmel spent the last months of her life), The Irish Cancer Society and The Mighty Matthew Trust, set up to help Clontarf local Matthew Hayes who has a severe form of autism.

Enniscorthy man Eoin McCarthy, aged 39, is just one of 2.6 per cent of runners fundraising for an overseas aid charity. He decided to support SeeBeyondBorders Ireland, which raises money for education in Cambodia, because he knows some Irish teachers involved and because his sister, wife and mother are teachers and he feels very strongly every child has a right to an education.

“Only around 4 per cent of children in Cambodia reach a basic rate of literacy by the time they reach 15. It’s a small charity, so any money raised goes really far as they are running off zero operating costs,” he said. He has run a trail marathon but never a road race and set up an iDonate page with an initial aim of €1,000. “If I get close to my target I might increase it as apparently if you are close people are less likely to give.”

Runners support a wide variety of charities and veteran commentator Liam Moggan will be back in situ giving as many as possible a decent shout out. According to Jim Aughney, race director of the Dublin Marathon for 25 years, fundraising is at the essence of the race.

“The stories of why people are running for charities are incredible. You can see the emotion as they get close to the finish line, many people openly crying. They have many reasons, there are people with pictures of their relatives on their T-shirts. It encapsulates why so many take on the challenge, to raise funds for a cause close to their hearts.”

- Sign up for one of The Irish Times’s Get Running programmes (it’s free!) First, pick the eight-week programme that suits you.

  • Beginner Course: A course to take you from inactivity to running for 30 minutes.
  • Stay On Track: For those who can squeeze in a run a few times a week
  • 10km Course: Designed for those who want to move up to the 10km mark. Best of luck!