Dublin woman (74) running equivalent of two marathons for charity

The funds raised from running in back garden will go to Purple House Cancer Support

Janet Smith in her back garden as she gets ready to run in aid of Purple House Cancer Support

Janet Smith in her back garden as she gets ready to run in aid of Purple House Cancer Support


A 74-year-old woman is walking and running around her back garden for 4km everyday, with the aim of completing the equivalent of two marathons to raise funds for a cancer support charity.

Janet Smith, who lives in Dublin, said she wanted to do something that would give her a purpose since she cannot leave her house.

“Because I’m 74, I’m cocooning. I like walking and I miss going for a walk in my local Shanganagh Park,” Ms Smith said.

“I started just going around the garden because I was looking for something to do so I decided to challenge myself. I wanted to see if I could do an average of 4km a day and in three weeks’ time, I’ll probably have done the equivalent of two marathons.”

Ms Smith said it has been good for her, too.

“I’ve a challenge now, I’ve a reason to get out and get moving. Yesterday, I did 6.3km in my back garden,” she said. “I walk and I run around the garden, then I do a few steps, then I sit down. Then I might run up and down the stairs a few times. I did a bit of skipping too, but I’m not very good at it.”

She adds that she is grateful that she is in a position to still exercise.

“I’m so happy that I’m healthy and I can get out. Okay, I can’t go out the front and I do miss my friends, I miss not going to Mass, going to the shops. I miss my grandkids so much, but at least I have this.”

Ms Smith is raising the funds for Purple House Cancer Support, because she believes it is important to “give back”.

“My husband William did have cancer nearly 12 years ago so he availed of their services and found them excellent so he is also on their fundraising committee too. It’s just to give back,” she said. “And if we only raise €100 or €200, then so what. It’s €200 we wouldn’t have had.”

Conor O’Leary, general manager at Purple House, said Janet is “such an inspiration” and that fundraising during this difficult period is more important than ever.

“Janet is showing that all you need is one person. One person with a belief and one person with motivation. In this case, her personal experience of cancer is what’s pushing her forward. One to keep herself fit but also to inspire others,” he said.

“Everything we had planned [for fundraising] has been postponed. So really we’re in a very difficult position at the moment. Our main mantra is to keep the doors open first of all and then worry about how we’ll pay for it afterwards.”

The charity provides practical, emotional and psychological support to individuals and families who are going through cancer.

People can donate to support Ms Smith’s efforts on www.idonate.ie/JanetSmith.

The Wheel, the national association of charities and community and voluntary groups, is running a campaign – called #CommunityResponseIRL – which focuses on the good work of organisations during Covid-19.