UPDATE September 2015: As per the race website, the 2015 Dublin Marathon route has some small changes to the 2014 route described below.
The 2014 Dublin Marathon course map has been published, confirming some changes to the route used in the last few years.
LUAS tramline works on College Green and Nassau Street are the main reason for these changes. And as those tramlines will be permanent, so too will be the course changes, it seems.
No more the optimistic early-race bounce around College Green and up O’Connell Street, the thoroughfare of the nation’s capital. Gone too is your triumphant last lap around Trinity College. And the northside of Dublin has virtually disappeared from the race.
Those changes in full: The start line on Fitzwilliam Square remains the same, but at the bottom of Leeson Street the race now goes across the south of St Stephen’s Green, along Cuffe Street and over to the Coombe before taking Meath Street and Thomas Street towards Christchurch at around mile 2. Just before Dame Street the course follows Parliament Street down to the river, turning left to go upriver on the south quay past the Dublin City Council buildings (former workplace of the late Noel Carroll, the Dublin Marathon founder).
At Heuston Station the race crosses the river to Parkgate Street – the only stretch of northside in this year’s race, if you consider the Phoenix Park to be west or, ahem, neutral territory. It’s a pity to miss out on O’Connell Street and especially Phibsborough’s large crowds and Dubbalin wit.
After tearing up through the Park, we meet another of this year’s innovations – straight out the far side for two miles around Castleknock before re-entering the Park at the Knockmaroon gate (mile 8).
We then re-join the now-traditional route, albeit with the familiar landmarks 2 miles later into the race. For example, the halfway point now comes at the canal bridge at Dolphin’s Barn rather than in Walkinstown. And hillwatchers will note that the dreaded short climb at Milltown is now at mile 20, with the long drag up Clonskeagh and Roebuck now later in the race at miles 21 and 22. Is it more reassuring to know that these hills are closer to the finish? Let’s be positive and say it is.
But the good news for Flat Earth Society runners is that the wall-like bump of Grand Canal Street Bridge is gone. Instead, the 2014 route turns onto Haddington Road, down Mount Street and in to the Merrion Square finish line from the opposite direction than before.
So, will these changes freshen up the Dublin Marathon? One positive point I see: most of the changes come in the first half, and result in the race seeming to finish earlier – Merrion Road, normally a spectator-free suffer-zone, is now closer to the end and that might be a boost. Remember: the marathon is a psychological effort with a bit of running attached.
Watch the tour of the 2014 Dublin Marathon course below, print off the course map and start visualising!