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How 27 years of marathon running saved Trish's life in heart-op scare

A DUBLIN woman who has taken part in the Flora Women's Mini Marathon for the past 27 years has said that the competition saved her life.

Trish Horgan (57), from Collins Avenue in Drumcondra, underwent a serious health scare two years ago while on holiday in Spain, and the avid runner has since been fitted with a pacemaker.

But she credited her speedy recovery to taking part in the mini marathon for the past 27 years.

"Last year, the marathon was particularly significant for me. In 2008, I was on holiday in Spain as usual. I felt a little ill one day and then I wound up spending the next four weeks in intensive care undergoing a series of operations," Trish told the Herald.

"I spent seven weeks in hospital there, but I kept going. I was fitted with a pacemaker but it actually ripped the top of my lung and the tubes weren't working properly.

"I know it was because I was so fit from doing the marathon all these years that I was able to recover so quickly -- even my husband said so."

The Dubliner added that she kept motivated by thinking about how important the marathon was to her.

"I couldn't fly for several days afterwards. This all happened in September 2008, but I knew I had the marathon ahead of me in June.

"I wasn't going to miss it. I thought to myself, 'I'm going to cross that finishing line, even if I have to walk it'. You have to be positive. I could be a cardiac cripple, but you have to fight," she said.

Joining Trish in the 2010 marathon for their 28th consecutive year are fellow Dubliners Ria Stewart, (60), Margaret Goodwin (54) and Betty Hand (70).

All four women have been running the marathon since it was established in 1983 and have watched it grow from 9,000 participants to 40,000.

Having raised nearly €14m last year, the women's mini marathon has become one of the single biggest charity events of its kind throughout the world.

At the official launch yesterday, organisers called for all women to register to take part in the June event.

However, this year marks the introduction of a new campaign to highlight the heroic day-to- day efforts of women.

A spokesperson explained: "Our big initiative this year is to search for the Flora Heart Hero. Most of the women who participate in the marathon have such inspirational stories and this gives them the opportunity to share it. And it's also an excuse for us to give more money for charity."

An expert judging panel will review the stories submitted by participants and whittle them down to the top three.

They will then be voted on and €1,000 will be donated to charity in honour of the winner, with €500 each for the runners up.

See pages 64 - 68 in Sport