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40,000 thank yous

HORDES of bank holiday revellers turned out in Dublin to watch Dundrum runner Linda Byrne lead over 40,000 women through the capital in the Flora Women's Mini Marathon.

The streets were packed as spectators watched their mums, friends and daughters jog the famous 10k event in blistering sunshine.

Ireland's Olympic hopeful Linda stormed to victory for the second year in a row, after crossing the finish line in 33 minutes and 29 seconds.

After her win, Linda, who says she runs best when keeping an "even pace" throughout a race, said she was happy with her performance.

"That's part of my build-up for the Olympics ... so all is going well ... maybe there's a little bit of pressure there, but I'm glad I could live up to the expectations ... It feels just as good (now) to win this big event.

"Towards the end I felt good and with 1k to go I decided to push the pace on and get under 33 minutes and 20 seconds."

It was a family occasion for the athletics star also as her mum Beatrice Byrne was also among the participants.

Linda encouraged more women to follow her lead.

"I'd definitely encourage women to get out running, it's what I've been doing all my life and I love it. I just want to say well done to them all for taking part and keep it up. It's great to have a focus."

While Linda's win gives her a fantastic boost going over to the London Games, it was the thousands of other participants who took part in the day that made it a special occasion.

The competitors showed fantastic spirit as they banded together for the 3pm start at Fitzwilliam Square, while helping raise funds and awareness for their dedicated charities.

Millions will be raised for their organisations, which raked in €14m last year. Blackrock teen Aoife D'Arcy chose to run for the Irish Cancer Society in memory of her mum, who passed away in 2009.

"This was my third time running for my mum and the Irish Cancer Society. I raised about €800 and hopefully that'll go to the upkeep of the facilities and to the families as well. My family were so supportive of me."

It was the first time that Dundalk friends Tanya Rice and Caroline McEvoy had competed alongside each other. They said that while the heat made the challenge a bit more difficult, it was worth it.

"We did it for Cystic Fibrosis and we've raised roughly €15,000 so far, which is wonderful. It was a group effort, we're very pleased."

The event, which has been going since 1983, saw enthusiasts arrive from all around the country. Castleblayney's Ann-Marie Campbell and a group of 11 ran it for Glen McGarrell, who died of cancer at the age of 35 last year. "We did the mini-marathon last year for him too when he was still alive and we promised we'd do it this year in his memory."

Rose Healy, from Co Meath, enjoyed her 29th mini- marathon experience and decided this time around to run for Crumlin Hospital. "They're in dire straits, so this year I decided to do it for them."

She clocked in at 55 minutes and 40 seconds and is looking forward to the next big day out.

"This will be my last year in one category, next time I'll be in the over-65s category ... I usually do it in 54 minutes, but it's nice to get around on two legs and enjoy it."