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Friday 22 August 2014

Ladies prove they can take the heat

40,000 go the distance to raise €13m for charities

Ciaran Byrne

Published 02/06/2009 | 00:00

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A sea of competitors make their way from the start line at Merrion Square, Dublin
Winner Rosemary Ryan crosses the finish line
'Desperate Housewives' star Dana Delaney chats to Mark Flynn and Richard Cullen, from Wicklow

SHE might be one of TV's 'Desperate Housewives' but she definitely knew better yesterday than to join the 40,000 women and what they were about to endure for charity.

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Dana Delany (51), who plays Katherine Mayfair in the US TV drama, was among the thousands of admiring spectators watching the hordes get ready yesterday for the 27th Flora Women's Mini-Marathon.

She might have posed with some of the competitors, but she was not taking part herself.

They began assembling in the glorious bank holiday sunshine from 9am but, by 3pm, some of them looked like they were regretting that foolish decision, probably made in the cool of winter, to take part.

It wasn't the event itself, it was the sun, and it was roasting hot. By the time the gun went at 3pm in Fitzwilliam Square, the mercury was nudging 25C, but it seemed as if it was twice that.

It would take the winner, Rosemary Ryan, from Limerick, a scarily short 34 minutes and 36 seconds to get around the course. A minute and 24 seconds later, she was followed home by well-known barrister Annette Kealy, from Raheny.

But for some, it took two hours in unbearable heat just to get past the starting line, so great were the numbers gathered for the annual event.

Celebrities

Apart from the presence of genuine Hollywood A-lister Ms Delany, there was a fair old sprinkling of Irish celebrities doing their own bit for charity, including the Sile and Grainne Seoige, model Glenda Gilson and Lorraine Keane, formerly of TV3's 'Xpose' show.

Celebrities aside, the big, big winners each year are the numerous charities represented by the majority of the 40,000 women (and a few disguised men) who run every year.

Yesterday's sweat and tears will result in about €13m being raised for a variety of causes.

Participants swamped Dublin from early morning yesterday as women from all over the island of Ireland converged.

At the Molly Malone statue, the women running for Our Lady's of Lourdes Hospice in Harold's Cross gathered. Outside Trinity, the girls turning out for Sligo Oncology Unit Trust chatted as they waited for other colleagues.

All up Grafton Street, there was a riot of colour. The pink shirts of the Marie Keating Foundation, the red of Art for Africa and the blue of the Irish Cancer Society. Every single charity seemed to be represented as competitors ran for autism, cystic fibrosis, Alzeimher's, the blind, epilepsy, meningitis and cancer, the country's biggest killer.

Exhausted

Just after 3.34pm, Ms Ryan broke the tape at St Stephen's green, exhausted but happy to have won. In victory, she had some sympathy for the rest of the women slogging their way around. "I was at a training camp in Portugal, so I don't mind the heat. But for the others, it is hard," she said.

Friends Sonia Walsh, from Waterford, and Laura Keane, from Kilkenny, crossed the line together just after an hour. "It was very hard . . . but worth it," said a delighted Ms Walsh.

But the biggest cheer of the day came just after 5pm when 85-year-old Maureen Armstrong from Thurles, Co Tipperary, the race's oldest competitor, finished the 10k course.

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