Granny goes distance to keep marathon spirit alive, alive-o
A path has been quite literally worn around Lough Gill in Co Sligo by one grandmother who is about to collect her 27th medal from the Dublin Women's Mini-Marathon.
Angela McLoughlin (66), from Crossboy, Co Sligo, along with a battalion of other runners and walkers, hasn't missed a marathon since it began in 1983. Now she's looking forward to lining out alongside 40,373 others at 3pm today at Fitzwilliam Square in Dublin.
More than €11m was raised last year, with €123m gathered over the past two decades, making it the biggest single-day fundraising event in the country, according to the organisers.
"It's great to see thousands of people from all over the world," said Mrs McLoughlin, whose marathon anthem will be 'Molly Malone'.
And the keen voluntary worker, who is running to raise money for stroke patients, should have little trouble completing the 10km distance, as she walks 10km "every other day", as well being out on the campaign trail canvassing for candidates ahead of the local and European elections.
Another hoping to stage a comeback on foot this year to claim her 27th medal is Mary Butler, from Dun Laoghaire, Co Dublin.
Last year, the RTE television editor was so determined to complete the mini-marathon despite a sports injury that she was pushed around in a wheelchair by RTE newsreader Eileen Dunne and news editor Pat Brennan.
Just a few days before last year's event, Ms Butler, who is raising money for the Crumlin Children's Hospital, was left in a plaster cast after chipping a bone in her ankle.
"They were very good-humoured about it," the Blackrock AC member said. "I've been running since my teens and I've done all of them in varying states of fitness and decrepitude," she quipped.
"I'd like to do it in under 50 minutes; but I'd be happy to get around, time is less important. The old age and wonky knees catch up eventually," Ms Butler said.
Event spokeswoman Jackie Wright said they were forced to turn down thousands of applicants due to space availability.
"No pressure is put on anyone -- all the participants have to do is get fit enough to walk, jog or run the 10km. It is up to each individual to set her own target," the organisers said.
More than half a million women have taken part since the race was first run in 1983. About 200,000 cups will be laid out at the water stations on the day, with 2,500 crash barriers lining the route. Some 2,000 stewards and about 90 gardai will be on duty at the race.
A number of traffic diversions will also be in place in the south city centre, with many streets closed off to traffic, including St Stephen's Green, Fitzwilliam Street and Merrion Square.