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Sunday 17 December 2017

Sonya's girl: Sophie (10) beats competition at Farmleigh festival

Sonia O'Sullivan's
daughter Sophie
Sonia O'Sullivan's daughter Sophie

Gareth Naughton

SONIA O’Sullivan’s daughter Sophie (10) was following in her mother’s footsteps when she won a big race at the Family Fitness Festival at Farmleigh, Dublin.

It was deadly serious and great fun at the Phoenix Park.

Athletes ran their hearts out in the 'Irish Runner' 5 Mile race, and budding little athletes had great fun as up to 10,000 took part in the Athletics Ireland Family Fitness Festival at Farmleigh.

More than 4,000 men and women completed the 5 Mile race at the Phoenix Park on Saturday. It was the first in a series of races leading up to the Dublin Marathon in October.

It attracted a wide range of runners from the highly experienced to novices.

Kildare woman Grainne Gorman was one of the first-timers taking part but she was in good company with her fiance Brian Jones running alongside her.


"He did the race series and marathon last year and we are doing it together this time so we can spend more time with each other. And we are getting married next year so I have to fit into the wedding dress," she laughed.

And fittingly enough the couple crossed the finish line at the same time of just under 65 minutes.

One of the oldest competitors, Dubliner Bernard Kelly, was hoping -- and succeeded -- to come in at 50 minutes. The 68-year-old runs four or five times a week.

"I think it's important to try to keep a reasonable level of fitness and to keep the joints moving. It is a no pressure race -- I will be happy if I just get around," he said.

For friends Anne-Marie Downey and Deirdre Seoighe, the race was the starting point in their training regime for the series leading up to the October marathon.

"We haven't done a bit of training," said Anne-Marie, "but we decided to come along and enjoy the day. We are going to take it very easy!"

The inclement weather conditions were no problem for Clonliffe Harriers runner Gary O'Hanlon who sprinted ahead of club mate Brian MacMahon in the final moments of the race to win with a time of 24 minutes and 53 seconds. The women's race was won by Borrisokane's Siobhan O'Doherty who crossed the finishing line at 28 minutes and two seconds.

The serious business of the Irish Runner 5 Mile gave way to fun and excitement yesterday as up to 10,000 took part in the Athletics Ireland Family Fitness Festival at Farmleigh.

Happily, participants in the festival did not have to endure the same tough weather conditions with the rain holding off for the day.

The action-packed day of fun was organised by Athletics Ireland with the support of the Irish Sports Council to promote the importance of regular physical activity.

As well as the traditional egg-and-spoon race and sack races, families took part in Fun Orienteering and the Family Mile Challenge.

Running legend Sonia O'Sullivan -- Chef de Mission for the Team Ireland at the London Olympics -- led by example at the event when she joined her 10-year-old daughter Sophie for the race.

Proving that the apple doesn't fall too far from the tree, Sophie won the first of three one-mile runs held yesterday. Fellow Olympians John Treacy and Catherine McKiernan were also on hand to cheer participants.

Event Organiser Frank Greally said that with the event in its fourth year, it is hoped it will expand next year. "Our hope is that we will bring it to the regions in 2013," he said.

Irish Independent

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