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Tuesday 16 September 2014

Pain and gain on day at the races

Published 03/06/2014 | 02:30

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Some of the 40,000 participants in the annual Flora Women's Mini-Marathon in Dublin. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Some of the 40,000 participants in the annual Flora Women's Mini-Marathon in Dublin. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Sinead Dollery married at the finish line of the Cork City Marathon. Photo: Darragh Kane
**** NO REPRODUCTION FEE **** 2/06/2014 : DUBLIN : Pictured (l-r) was Mary Clark and her daughter Brookyln Stwart from Sligo (charity of choice the Irish Kidney Association) taking part in the The Flora Women's Mini Marathon. Picture Conor McCabe Photography.
Mary Clark and her daughter Brookyln from Sligo, who ran for the Irish Kidney Association. Photo: Conor McCabe Photography.

IT was a day when 40,000 descended on the streets of the capital united in gruelling physical endeavour and their desire to change things for the better.

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The capital was literally humming with an explosion of positive energy as the Flora Mini Marathon got under way amid a rainbow of colours. Participants of all speeds, ages, creeds and fitness levels got together for what is still the world's largest all-female sporting event.

This spectacular display of goodwill was oddly emotional to watch – all the more since many were running in glorious defiance of tragedy and daily struggles affecting, if not themselves, then someone close to them.

The most fashionable participant was undoubtedly 'Conchita' lookalike Donal O'Sullivan from Enniscorthy, Co Wexford, who nailed it in his luxuriant wig, beard and lurex cat suit.

Running in the memory of uncle, Andy Monaghan, who passed away from liver cancer last February, Donal and sister Josephine O'Sullivan took part to raise money for the Oncology Unit at Wexford General Hospital.

"I think the wind in my hair will probably keep me upright," joked Donal.

In their wake, participants had left a flurry of frazzled dads to wrestle buggies through the crowds, keep junior spirits aloft and deal with such administrative queries as: "Dad, you said we might get ice-cream."

Probably the most disheartening line of the day for women towards the back of the crowd was the cry: "Ladies, you're nearly at the starting line." It was intended to be encouraging – but flocks of runners were only taking off by the time winner, Barbara Cleary, from the Donore Harriers Club crossed the finishing line in just 34 minutes and seven seconds.

Barbara last ran the Mini Marathon three years ago, finishing third.

The course had changed slightly this year, with a new start and finish line because of Luas works.

The slight alteration in scenery meant nothing "because you're not really looking around you anyway", she said.

Second place went to well-known athlete Maria McCambridge from Dublin, with a time of 34 minutes and 29 seconds.

Catherina McKiernan came third, in 34 minutes and 38 seconds.

Lauren Colgan from Cavan, running for Aware, was gamely supported by friends Sinead Donegan and Louise McCabe brandishing the sign: "If Britney Spears can make it through 2007, you can make it through this mini marathon."

Visually-impaired runner Imelda Walsh from Waterford ran her fifth mini marathon, along with guide Trish Quinn – who took part for the first time.

Midwife Helena Gorman from Craughwell, Co Galway ran the marathon for Feileacain, the Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Association in memory of her stillborn son, Matthew, who died in 2011.

Meanwhile, 11 women were running for Supporting Ovarian Cancer Knowledge (SOCK) set up by Jane Keating from Blanchardstown, who passed away from the disease two-and-a-half years ago at the age of 30.

Her mother Imelda and sister Philomena said Jane was the youngest in the family, "a lovely bubbly girl who was full of fun. She was marvellous".

They raised €20,000 for Waterford Regional Hospital's research into ovarian cancer.

Maggie Whelan from Kildare was running with others from My Canine Companion – a charity set up to provide helper dogs for children with autism.

Each dog costs €10,000 to train, and they receive nofunding.

* IT HAS never been done before but one man is attempting to run 12 marathons in as many days all the way from Dublin to Dingle.

Shane Finn (22) begins the challenge in Dublin's Phoenix Park this morning and expects to be back in his hometown by June 14, after running 26.2 miles each day for 12 days.

Shane's route will also take in a number of towns along the way, and he will veer off the main traffic route, so that he clocks up the required length of 314.4 miles.

And the fitness fanatic, who runs his own business WK Fitness with his cousin Mark Evans, has taken it upon himself to attempt the feat to raise money for Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus Ireland (SBHI).

Shane's cousin Mary suffers from the condition and he wants to support the work of the charity.

He says he's inspired by his cousin, who is now in her early 30s, and the challenges she has to overcome everyday.

“It will definitely be the hardest thing I've ever done but it will be the most exciting too,” he told the Irish Independent.

“People ask me why I'm doing something that's going to be so hard on the body but I don't know how lucky I am.”

He's hoping to raise over €20,000 for SBHI.

* FIREFIGHTER Alex O’Shea set a new world record when he crossed the finish line of the Cork city marathon fully dressed in his uniform after three hours, 41 minutes and 10 seconds.

Although he was some way by the winner, O’Shea did have the disadvantage of wearing steel-toed boots, fire retardant pants and his work helmet.

He shaved 58 minutes off the current Guinness World Record for completing 26.2 miles in full firefighter gear.

Mr O'Shea said his race plan was to set off quickly and lessen the pace as the marathon went on.

“The world record was very much achievable but I wanted to run as best a race I could for me. I am absolutely delighted. Every single person cheered me on. It was phenonomenal.”

He was running to raise funds for his charities, the Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind and a playground development.

Irish Independent

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