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Tuesday 23 April 2019

Unstoppable Mary is off on her second lap

Mary Nolan Hickey fundraising in the Bridgewater Shopping Centre last weekend before she sets off around Ireland again, this time on her bike, this coming Sunday
Mary Nolan Hickey fundraising in the Bridgewater Shopping Centre last weekend before she sets off around Ireland again, this time on her bike, this coming Sunday

Niamh O'Connor

Trailblazer Mary Nolan Hickey, who ran the entire coast of Ireland to fundraise for the RNLI last year, is embarking on a new adventure.

The 66-and-a-half year old, who raised €73,000 on her 'Lap of the Map', hopes to bring the total up to €100,000 by raising another €27,000 - this time on her bike.

'I'm leaving Arklow at 10 a.m. on Sunday, April 14,' Mary said. 'I'll do 14 days in a row, and then come back for a break because of family commitments. I'll continue in two week blocks and I won't finish until I've hit the €100,000 mark. I'm appealing to people to give whatever they can so we can do this together.'

The only woman to have run every single Dublin City Marathon since its inception in 1980 decided to set herself a new challenge out of sheer admiration for the heroic volunteers who save lives at sea and because of the reception she got first time around.

'Oh my God, people were so wonderful to me. I was gobsmacked. Right from the start, they took me under their wing and looked after me. It was such an honour to get the kind of welcome I got. The communities really were incredible.'

Mary says cycling around Ireland will be even harder than running on the body. 'I've been involved in athletics for 50 years. If I was a car, I'd have been scrapped by now. But it will take its toll. I'm not at the same level of fitness as I was last year, especially since breaking my shoulder. It will definitely be harder than running.'

Training for the event has involved deconditioning, she explained.

'You can't really train for a run or a cycle like this or you'd be too exhausted when the time came to do it. So, I've approached the cycle from the same standpoint as I did the run - by deconditioning. After the first few weeks on the road, I will be back in condition. Technically, I think you could probably complete the journey in a month, if you put the head down, but I don't want to stop until I've hit the €100,000 mark.'

One issue Mary admitted to being slightly worried about is traffic. 'I had to jump off the road because of traffic so many times when I was doing the run that I'd say I spent a week in a ditch in total.'

The plan is to start each day at 9 a.m. with a bowl of porridge and then hit the road. Mary hopes to cover a distance 40-50 miles a day, but she has to carry two bags on the bike which will contain two spare sets of tyres, clothes, her phone and a small laptop.

Last year's run took 109 days, stretching from January to April by which time Mary had covered 1,500 miles.

'People came out with tea and sandwiches, playing pipes, even garda escorts. The welcome was extraordinary and I can't wait to do it again,' she said.

The woman who opened The Lake Coffee Shop in a former storeroom in the Arklow Leisure Centre when she found herself out of a job at 60 after the pharmaceutical giant Allergan relocated is still unstoppable.

Wicklow People

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