This June will be a particularly special month for Nicole Redmond from Dundrum, not only will she mark 22 years of running the Women's Mini Marathon, but Nicole will also be celebrating her 40th birthday.
Nicole is running the Vhi Women's Mini Marathon for St Michael's House, which supports children and adults with intellectual disabilities. Nicole, who has an intellectual disability, has been availing of St Michael's House's services since 1994.
"I enjoy participating in the Mini Marathon," Nicole says. "The feeling of crossing the line is priceless. I run for St Michael's House as the people there are my friends and I appreciate the support it has given me over the years."
Nicole works at the Bank of Ireland in Cabinteely three afternoons a week where she helps manage accounts. In her spare time Nicole is a keen sports follower and will often set herself fitness challenges. So a little over 22 years ago, when she met a group of other women who were training for the Women's Mini Marathon during her first year at the St Michael's House Work Options office, Nicole was eager to join in the effort.
"A few of the girls were doing it and I thought it would be fun to join in," Nicole explains. "For the first few years I trained with them in the park near my day centre. Now I train on my own near my home in Dundrum."
Exercise is now a big part of Nicole's day-to-day lifestyle.
"I enjoy exercise. I like getting out of the house and keeping fit. Although I don't like going out if it's raining!" she says.
Nicole begins her training six weeks before the Vhi Women's Mini Marathon each year, running three to four times a week and building up the intensity of her workouts as the weeks go by.
"I go out training every second day and build up my speed and distance bit by bit, walking and running as much as I can," Nicole explains.
Stretching is paramount according to Nicole and she always takes time to stretch correctly, after each training session.
"I don't put in headphones, instead I chat to my friends from St Michael's House who are also participating," she says.
Nicole plays several sports; she plays basketball in the Irish Special Olympics basketball team, loves swimming and regularly plays 10-pin bowling in her local bowling alley in Stillorgan.
"I have loads of medals. I have 21 medals from the Mini Marathons, but I have other medals from basketball too," Nicole adds.
Nicole also likes taking part in the Marathon each year as she feels it allows her to give something back to St Michael's House, which has helped her throughout her life.
According to Nicole, the St Michael's House Work Option service has provided her with many opportunities that encouraged her to work hard and achieve a lot.
Through St Michael's House Nicole attended computer courses, for example, which helped her to get her job with Bank of Ireland and this year she will celebrate 20 years working for the company.
"Work Options helped me fill my potential," Nicole explains.
"I did my Junior Cert and lots of courses including computer courses. I like working in the Bank of Ireland, the team are very friendly."
And despite picking up a few injuries over the last 21 years of taking part, Nicole has always crossed the finish line on the day.
"It's a great sense of achievement," Nicole explains. "I really enjoy the day, meeting new people and keeping fit. With a bit of training, anyone can do it. I'd encourage everyone to do the Vhi Women's Mini Marathon, it's great."
* The Vhi Women's Mini Marathon takes place June 6. Sign up today at vhiwomensminimarathon.ie