Sprains and blisters but all for a good cause


THE START line of yesterday’s women’s mini-marathon in Dublin city centre was a mesmerising sight. As the 40,057 women taking part awaited the 3pm start, they swayed to Molly Malone, punched the air to Jedward’s Lipstick and psyched themselves up for the challenge ahead to the Rocky theme tune.

RTÉ DJ Ruth Scott got the participants, who lined Fitzwilliam Street spilling out on to Leeson Street, to do a Mexican wave – an amazing sight on a street that was a blaze of brightly coloured T-shirts, representing about 620 charities.

Some would argue that at 10km, it’s more of a fun run than a marathon, but the elites who were positioned at the front were taking it very seriously, limbering up and looking detached and focused, while largely ignoring Scott’s calls to the crowd to do jazz hands.

It was perfect mini-marathon weather for the runners, if not for some of the spectators who were shivering on the sidelines in the brisk but dry conditions. Unlike last year when runners were slipping in wet conditions, or 2009 when soaring temperatures saw people drop like flies from dehydration, the initial feedback from the Order of Malta was that the bulk of injuries treated were minor sprains and blisters.

One 55-strong group from Bagenalstown in Carlow were walking and jogging to raise money for cystic fibrosis in memory of Paul Minchin who died last month aged just 22 and whose sister Sinead was taking part in the marathon.

“He was the first double lung and heart transplant,” said Josephine Nolan, one of the group. “He’s gone but we’re raising money for other cystic fibrosis sufferers in his memory.”

One of oldest participants 76-year-old Betty Hand from Blanchardstown, Dublin, was walking and jogging with her daughter Martina to raise funds for Temple Street. This was her 29th mini-marathon and her reason for choosing the hospital is simply that it was her first port of call when her children were young.

“I would always run there if they needed to be looked at and I always found the staff there great. I don’t take the marathon seriously, I enjoy it. It’s a great bit of craic, and I love all the cheering and clapping and the music along the way.”

Cecelia Zaragoza who lives in Rathangan, Co Kildare, was raising money for SIDs Ireland, a charity very close to her heart. Her son died of the Sudden Infant Death syndrome when only four months old in 2005 and she found the charity a great source of support. She and her sister-in-law Sheila Wall and friend Michelle Gallagher, were taking part in the marathon for first time.

Lord mayor Gerry Breen, threw himself into the spirit of the event and was overheard singing the mini-marathon theme tune There’s a Whole Lot of Loving as he boarded the VIP bus to the finish line on St Stephen’s Green.

A keen runner, he did a 5km run for RTÉ’s Operation Transformation, which involved having to fasten his mayoral chain in place with safety pins, and says he runs in St Anne’s Park, Raheny, five times a week.

This year’s winner was Caitríona Jennings from Donegal, who lives in Chapelizod, Dublin, in a time of 35.29. She pipped Siobhán O’Doherty from Nenagh, Co Tipperary, whose time was 35.31.

About 15 minutes or so later Rosanna Davison, glided past the finish post with hardly a hair out of place.

The mood was generally happy as people passed the finish line and drifted onto the surrounding streets, discussing the great atmosphere and how well organised the event was.