My mini-marathon: Sarah Burns

‘Two women told us they’d been to the pub for two pints before the race’

Sarah Burns at the finish line of the VHI Women’s Mini-Marathon.Photograph: Tom Honan.

Sarah Burns at the finish line of the VHI Women’s Mini-Marathon.Photograph: Tom Honan.

 

A few days before the June bank holiday last year, I stumbled upon a colleague in the canteen asking what was the point of the women’s mini-marathon.

Said colleague joked that many women just walked the race, eating doughnuts along the way (I’ve never seen anyone eating a doughnut doing the mini-marathon). On Sunday as I was warming up alongside my friend to complete the 10km course, two women told us they’d been to the pub for two pints before the race.

“I run better with a pint in me,” laughed one woman. I wondered had my colleague a point.

My thoughts quickly changed as the other woman said this was her first run since having her baby a few months ago.

Who would begrudge her a pint before the race?

Around 20 minutes or so into the run, I was on Stillorgan Road doing my best to keep my feet pounding the pavement despite the sweltering heat. I noticed joggers alongside me were clapping.

I looked around and realised they were cheering on the elite athletes, a good kilometre or so ahead of us, on the other side of the road.

Before I knew it I was clapping too. I’ll admit I’m not that well accustomed to this running malarkey but it has to be unusual for people to clap on their competitors who are ahead of them?

But that’s what makes the women’s mini-marathon so special. Some take it more seriously than others. Some are there trying to beat personal bests. Others are there for the craic, to spend time with family and friends or raise money for a charity close to their heart.

It’s hard not to be struck by the rainbow of T-shirts with messages such as “this is for Jessica”, some with pictures of loved ones they’ve lost.

As I made it over the finish line, a woman who had been jogging beside me burst into tears.

“I thought that would never end,” she said.

“Me neither,” I said, heading off in search of a well-earned doughnut.