| 7°C Dublin

The streets are ours

THE excitement began to build even on the bus on the way in to town: the cordoned off streets were empty but for the number 7, and one got the feeling that this was going to be the last one through for a while.

Pennants depicting Flora's logo were already affixed to the lampposts, and when the first runners alighted, sporting their numbers, the feeling of good will was palpable. The clutch of runners was stopped by a women sitting near the stair, and their answering smiles clearly spoke to a wish of good luck paid.

Add in the sunshine and the rising temperatures, and it was the picture perfect beginning to a big day. Linda Robinson, Paula McCarey, Gina Hendrick ran their 19th mini marathon for a motor neuron disease charity, and were well prepared for the weather – as well as they could be.


When you're training in Ireland, sunshine and heat don't usually figure into it. They are prepared to hydrate – "but not too much, because you're afraid you'll need to stop," laughed Gina – and had begun lashing on the factor 50 well before they took their places at the line. Their goal at the start was to finish in 70 to 75 minutes. "That's the aim, all going well," said Linda.

Audrey Whelan was running for the Irish Heart Foundation, and for good reason. "I actually had open heart surgery in October. Being here today is part of me closing the book on that," she said. It's eight months to the day that Audrey had the operation, and she was hoping to better last year's time of 1hr 48mins. "I did that with a chronic blockage in my artery, that I didn't know about. If I can beat that time, it'll be lovely."

As the time wound down, and the women took their places, the crowd started to gather at the barriers, holding signs and scanning the assembled runners, looking for loved ones. The colours of the T-shirts and the logos they bore, declaring the women's chosen charities, and the blue, yellow and green arches of balloons, the recognisable colours of the Flora logo, added to the festive atmosphere.

Even as we got closer and closer to the start, the energy rose, not with anxiety, but with anticipation. They'd trained and planned, and then all of a sudden, the flag dropped, the leaders set off, and the cheers rose as the 40,000 women set off, the streets of Dublin all theirs, straight to the finish line.