Everyone’s a winner as 35,000 hit streets
Downpour fails to dampen spirits at mini-marathon, writes Ciara Treacy
A rainbow of colour flooded the streets of Dublin as sprinters, runners and walkers arrived at the starting line for the VHI Women's Mini Marathon.
Some 35,000 ladies - and a few appropriately attired gents - took part in the annual 10k run winding through Dublin's city centre and beyond yesterday.
Amid the stretches and protein shakes, it appeared a heavy shower of rain was the best preparation for the day.
"It's actually good so we can cool down a bit and it's not too cold," Katie Griffin (23) from Drumcondra, Dublin, said during the downpour, which thankfully cleared before the starting whistle blew.
It was also welcomed by Maureen Armstrong (91), from Thurles, Co Tipperary, who was walking the course for the 22nd time.
"I've been doing it in aid of cancer all the time and have a lot of money raised," she said. "I love the attitude here and all the singing.
"I won't be tired at all afterwards. Sure I might be able to come back again tomorrow and do it again," she added defiantly.
In its 34th year, the mini-marathon is an important date in the calendars of many Irish women (and some extravagantly-clad men), and raises millions of euro for over 800 charities.
In a summer marked by the Euros and the Olympics, it is one sporting event which never focuses on taking home gold.
Rather, every participant is victorious from the moment they fasten their laces.
One group of 27 women from Co Roscommon were raising funds for the Irish Cancer Society - a fitting tribute for their late friend Mary Kelly-Higgins (41), a mother-of-three who died from the disease in February.
"Mary died at home - that's how she wanted to die and the Irish Cancer Society provided palliative care for her at home," said friend Linda McNally.
"She would be delighted to give something back. Her mam and sister-in-law are doing it with us and her husband is meeting us at the finish line."
Maria Costigan from Balbriggan, Dublin, was doing her seventh mini-marathon, this year to raise monies for Cystic Fibrosis Ireland. She wanted to support the charity's effort to legalise the drug Orkambi for sufferers of the condition.
"Don't think about it, just do it," was her advice for the day. "And plenty of cocktails and sweeties afterwards."
The first past the finish line, Siobhan O'Doherty (31, inset left), said it was an emotional day for all who took part.
The Tipperary woman, who works as a physiotherapist in St Luke's Hospital in Kilkenny, finished with a time of 34min 30sec. It was her second win at the mini-marathon.
"I didn't think I was going to win so it's always good to get a win when you don't expect it," she said.
While many relaxed with cool packs and complimentary massages, this runner had a different form of post-race therapy in mind. "I'm going to go shopping. There is no Topshop in Kilkenny so it is my first port of call anyway.
"My mammy Agnes always comes with me to this race.
"It's a really emotional race because everyone is doing it for a reason."