Party atmosphere as 40,000 women take to the streets
Feather boas and bin liners create a buzz
THEY came: some ran, some walked, but they all conquered.
'Gonna Fly Now', the unmistakable theme tune from 'Rocky', provided the perfect soundtrack for more than 40,000 women who took part in the 29th Women's Mini Marathon in Dublin yesterday.
Some sported feather boas, others bin liners, but for the majority the attire of choice was a brightly coloured T-shirts emblazoned with their chosen charities.
Minutes before the starting gun was fired, scores of nervous women ran, stretched and jogged on the spot around Fitzwilliam Square North as they prepared to set out on the biggest all-women event of its kind in the world.
There was a carnival atmosphere at the start line as all 45,000 sang 'Happy birthday' to their fellow competitors and performed a massive Mexican wave before setting off on the 10km course.
Among the competitors was 76-year-old Betty Hand from Blanchardstown, Co Dublin, running her 29th marathon for Temple Street Children's Hospital.
"I've never missed a marathon and I am really looking forward to next year as it will be my 30th," she said.
"I train three times a week and I think it is a fantastic event for women and so good for your health and wellbeing. Temple Street was always where we ran to whenever the children took ill so it is a natural choice for me."
Also among the competitors was wheelchair-bound Triosha McLaughlin, from Co Athlone, who was last month given the all-clear after being treated for lymphoma cancer.
Triosha was being wheeled along the course by four of her five children and family and friends lined the street to support her.
"I was just told on May 17 that I am now in remission," she said.
"I am a mother and a grandmother and I am just so happy to be alive and to be here today and to be able to raise money for the Irish Cancer Society which has been such a help to me."
The usual groups of men inveigled their way into the race, with hairy legs the typical giveaway and there were also a number of recognisable faces among the sea of runners.
Model Rosanna Davison -- who finished in 51 minutes -- model and presenter Glenda Gilson and actress Amy Huberman were spotted sweating and puffing along with the rest of the competitors.
In a last-ditch bid for donations, Ms Huberman had promised to "run like Phoebe" from 'Friends' if the public sponsored her to run.
The actress later tweeted on the social networking site Twitter that she spotted a man holding up a marriage proposal sign for his girlfriend on the steps of University College Dublin.
It is understood the woman accepted.
While most of the fun runners were waiting to cross the starting line, Caitriona Jennings (30) had charged over the finishing line on St Stephen's Green in a winning time of 35 minutes, 28 seconds.
Originally from Letterkenny in Co Donegal, Caitriona, a tax adviser with PricewaterhouseCoopers in Dublin, said she was thrilled to have taken top spot.
"I sustained an Achilles injury last January which lingered on until March, so I really didn't think I would have enough training to win, but I knew I was feeling very comfortable today so I am delighted," she said
Ms Jennings, who is a member of Sports World running club in Terenure, Co Dublin, said she is now setting her sights on the Dublin City marathon later this year.
She was closely followed by Siobhan O'Doherty, from Nenagh, Co Tipperary, in a time of 35 minutes and 31 seconds.
"I would be lying if I said I'm not disappointed that I did not win after coming so close," said the physiotherapist from St Luke's Hospital in Co Kilkenny.
"It is a race I would love to win, but I am still delighted with my result."
Third across the line was first-timer Aoife Talty (26) from Raheny, Dublin, who finished in 35 minutes and 54 seconds.
Aoife, whose father Brian is the current manager of Dublin GAA club Parnell's, said: "I am absolutely delighted to come third on my first attempt.
"It was quite tough during the first five kilometres, but once we got in to the second stage it got easier. It was such a fantastic experience."
Last year the event raised more than €14m for Irish charities.