Women’s Mini Marathon multitudes raise spirits and lots of cash
More than 30,000 participants brave the wind and rain for 10k race
Waiting to start the Women’s Mini Marathon in Dublin. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill
The rain teemed down in Dublin and the city centre streets were also awash with the multitudes trooping towards Merrion Square for the start of the annual VHI Women’s Mini Marathon.
A status orange weather warning may have been in place, but that didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of more than 37,000 women – and a few men – who created a cacophony of colour in advance of the 10km event, which remains the largest of its kind in the world.
The participants’ enthusiasm was matched by seven- time mini-marathon veteran Ann Connolly, as she reached over the railings and rattled her distinctive set of cowbells while urging her daughter Jane to the nearby finish line.
“My daughter’s doing it for the first time. She’s sponsoring the Alzheimer’s Society, her grandmother has Alzheimer’s so it’s for a really good cause,” she said, surrounded by hundreds of other spectators on the finishing strait.
That said, the race is less about elite athletes and more about the endeavours of ordinary women who forfeit their bank holiday in favour of raising funds for charitable causes.
“I’ve done it nearly 20 times at this stage. I’ve been there from the start, and always for the Irish Society for Mucopolysaccharide Disease. The only reason I’m in it is for that,” said 62-year-old Mary Bushel.
She helped found that organisation – which helps people suffering from a rare lysosomal disease often causing severe mental and physical difficulties – nearly three decades ago, and was left undeterred by a bit of precipitation.
“I don’t like the wet, but there was seven of us doing it there and we did it in just over 90 minutes so it’s not bad. There was a good crowd. On the wet day we didn’t think there’d be anybody out,” she remarked.
As the finishers paused for a well-earned break at a musical warm-down session which looked more like an impromptu rave, the conspicuous six foot-plus frame of Donal O’Sullivan stood out like a sore thumb, not least because of his unusual attire.
“It’s Conchita from the Eurovision!” he exclaimed, respendent in a dress, black wig and impeccable makeup.
Last year’s event raised more than €12 million for different causes, and organiser Cathy Enderson believes the mini-marathon’s ethos makes it a unique occasion.
“The planning starts in September,” she said. “It’s fantastic, especially the charity aspect, as 80 per cent of our participants raise money for charity.”