Why one woman is doing the mini-marathon in full combat gear

Soldier Aoife Curran is running – carrying 13kg - to fundraise for Crumlin children’s hospital

Aoife Curran, with son Oliver (3)

Aoife Curran, with son Oliver (3)


Every charity in Ireland fundraises. No matter how large, established, or worthy. Surviving on official grants is simply not possible. Public financial support matters – and it can make or break many organisations.

This makes large events such as the annual VHI Women’s Mini-Marathon crucially important – an annual financial windfall for charities across the country.

And, as fundraising bonanzas go, it doesn’t come any bigger than the June 3rd walk/jog/run. Last year, more than €9 million was raised on the day of the race for Irish charities.

There will be a dazzling list of charities supported by participants on the day, and several of these charities – such as Cystic Fibrosis Ireland, Temple Street Children’s Hospital and the Children’s Medical & Research Foundation (CMRF) Crumlin – have reacted to the growing popularity of running events, and particularly the mini-marathon in Dublin, by actively recruiting willing fundraisers for their organisation.

Next month’s road race, which will start from Upper Fitzwilliam Street, is already established as the biggest women’s event of its kind in the world, but, for some, a 10km run is just not difficult enough.

One of the entrants is Aoife Curran, a member of the Irish Defence Forces. “My plan is to run the mini-marathon wearing full combat equipment, carrying a weight equivalent to a young child on my back. I weighed my little boy and he’s 2½ stone [15.8kg], so I’m going to carry 30lb [13.6kg] on my back,” says the 32 year-old.

The Tallaght woman is running for CMRF Crumlin, which provides funding for Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital and The National Children’s Research Centre. “As a mother to a three-year-old son, Oliver, the first name for medical care that always comes to mind is Crumlin,” says Curran. “It’s absolutely horrible when your child is sick. You try to stay positive but it’s terrifying because it’s out of your control.

Oliver has been helping me in my training by cheering me on and sometimes looking for piggy backs!

“I’ve visited Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital with Oliver in the past, thankfully for nothing serious, and the care he received was second to none. I didn’t think twice about who I would run the mini-marathon for, because I believe every sick child deserves a diagnosis and the best possible outcome.”


Curran is currently in the middle of a seven-week training programme to prepare for the race. “Each week, I do a run varying in distance and intensity, with Wednesday normally being the day I run in combat gear. Tuesdays and Thursdays are a strength workout in the gym and Saturdays are used as a recovery session. Oliver has been helping me in my training by cheering me on and sometimes looking for piggy backs!

“As a parent you always want your child to be happy and when they are sick you always want to make them better and would happily take the illness yourself. I can only imagine the frustration of having a very unwell child who requires a prolonged stay in hospital, especially while waiting on a diagnosis of their child’s illness. Research definitely brings hope to people. Research creates understanding of how disease works and if we understand it, we can learn how to fight and cure it.

“Children should be given the best possible opportunity for a healthy and happy life and breakthroughs in research can be a real shining light for children and parents. If I can even contribute in a small way towards making this a reality for just one child or family then the small amount of work I am putting in will be well worth it.”

Curran – whose fundraising page is cmrf.org/user/aoife-9 – joined the Defence Forces 13 years ago. “After completing my recruit training with the 27th Infantry Battalion in Dundalk, I was posted to the Army Equitation school in McKee barracks [in Cabra, Dublin]. I served there for 12 years and, in June 2017, I transferred to Ordnance Group in the Defence Forces training centre in the Curragh Camp.

The extra load on race day will be significant, but Curran is not fazed by the challenge. “The increased load puts extra stress on the body and the full equipment and boots combined restrict my range of movement. As a member of the Defence Forces, I am required to undergo a 10km loaded march as part of my annual fitness test.

“So, while this is nothing new to me, it still does take a lot of training to maintain a level of fitness which allows the body to undergo the additional stresses placed on it while carrying any load for extended periods of time.”

Sign up for one of The Irish Times' Get Running programmes (it is free!). 
First, pick the programme that suits you.
- Beginner Course: This programme is an eight-week course that will take you from inactivity to being able to run 30 minutes non-stop.
- Stay On Track: The second programme is an eight-week course for those of you who can squeeze in a 30- to 40-minute run three times a week.
- 10km Course: This is an eight-week course designed for those who can comfortably run for 30 minutes and want to move up to the 10km mark.
Best of luck!