By now everyone is aware of the Waterford Viking Marathon on the 24th of June, but maybe not everyone is aware of the extent of Council support offered to the event.
This year as many as 3,000 athletes will start on The Mall and the crowd will be one of the largest ever at the starting line!
For 2017 a completely new route was chosen for the Viking Marathon. By including some major landmarks and iconic structures in Waterford it was hoped to reach at least 3,000 registrations and deliver an enjoyable, safe and spectacular event for all.
Celtic Roads Group (CRG) are responsible for the operation and maintenance of the N25 Toll Bridge over the River Suir. This is currently the longest single span Bridge in Ireland (230m) which was opened in 2009 and is named after Thomas Francis Meagher.
CRG were approached with the idea of using this bridge as part of the route for 2017. They were enthusiastic from the start and once this was officially agreed the new route quickly took shape. The new Waterford Greenway could be used, Rice Bridge would be used and the WIT Area was an ideal location for the finish. It was important to continue to use The Mall as the start of the race and keep some familiarity to the race from previous years.
The next challenge was to find a route which could include the quarter, half and full marathon distances. Many days were spent tracing routes on maps and cycling sections to get the required route lengths. Also the Greenway was to be used, so the difficulty was getting from the N25 onto the Greenway.
The roadside embankment could not be removed so some sort of structure had to be designed to get over the embankment and onto the Greenway. This was a complex problem and one which would require careful design and approvals to be granted from Transport Infrastructure Ireland. There was also the issue of the Suir Valley railway which had to be crossed to get runners onto the footpath. After several weeks of negotiations a design was fixed on and the proposed structure was approved.
The next challenge faced was one of our own making.
Improvement works to the City centre would be ongoing through 2017 and finding a route through the City centre was not possible. This required some planning as traffic flow around the City still had to be maintained. We also still had to get the required route distances. Traffic management plans were drawn up by Council Technicians and reviewed and revised by Engineers and Gardaí.
The result is a loop around Parnell Street, Waterside and Catherine Street and back onto The Mall. Great for spectators, but very difficult when you have to get 3,000 participants across a 3 metre wide start line and keep half The Mall free for the fast runners to get to the Quay.
On the day of the Marathon, the roads section will start work at 4am. There will be a total of 34 staff on the day putting in place the traffic management along the route. There will be more than 2,500 cones used, as many as 800 barriers and at least 500 signs. Several Roads in and around the City will be closed on the day and diversions put in place.
There will also be staff from the Cleansing section of the Council assisting on the day with preparation works and the cleanup. Restrictions on traffic movements will be in place on roads adjacent to the route. The priority is to keep everyone safe and that the event is enjoyed by all. This will have an impact on traffic across the City on the day and all road users are asked to be patient. The runners will be showered and changed and most will be gone home before the roads crew finish dismantling the traffic management.
We wish best of luck to all competitors on the day – run well !