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Doing our bit for charity

Parnell Athletics Club has been going for 42 years. In the last 10 years we've seen a lot of newcomers, but I've really found in the last five years a lot more runners have joined.

At the moment, there is a massive boom in running. Everyone is running! In the past, people would have wanted to walk or run a bit but now they completely want to run. People are really committed to it, I find, more than ever.



I train a lot of runners, but in our club I'd say we have 50 members. This year, I've gained another 20 runners but I haven't put them in the club yet. I want to get them fit and enjoying running first.

I think people are more conscious of their health than ever before. People who join the Meet & Train group want to lose weight or want to be more healthy. Our group is made up of people with different abilities. I've had people who can't run 200 yards and after three or four months they can run a mile. The key to success is to keep at it. It's going to be hard starting off but when your body gets used to it then it comes more easily.

I would have a lot of runners doing the Flora Women's Mini Marathon over the last few years, especially for the Wicklow Hospice and Rathdrum Cancer Support Centre.

This year, we have about 115 women in County Wicklow doing the Flora Women's Mini Marathon for Wicklow Hospice.

You do come across people who have been told by the doctor that they have to lose weight, lower their cholesterol or get fit. When they get running, they'll be addicted after two months.

We've had a few people who have had cancer and other illnesses and have come back to running. One woman, who has joined us in the last six months, had cancer in her 20s. She has four children now and she finds the running really helps her.

I think the Flora Women's Mini Marathon is so popular because people always do it for a charity and they know when they reach the finish line they're not only going to have the achievement of doing the marathon, they're also going to raise money for a great cause.

You get an awful lot of people who think of it as a competition and an awful lot of people who see it as something to be enjoyed and a way to raise money.

At the moment, Ireland is all about charity. If you took away all the money people raise for charities, we'd be in big trouble.