The VHI women’s mini marathon kicked off on Sunday the 4th of June, on of the biggest annual charity events. As expected the anticipation and excitement as everyone gathered created a lovely buzz. Over 20,000 women took part, that included 13 Sportsworld women. The sunny weather meant that the race drew in crowds of supporters, that were tremendous in lifting the spirits of the runners on nearly every corner. The music, fire brigades, cheers and incredible volunteers added to a seamless event that was truly atmospheric. With the only major downfall being, not enough portaloos (that always seems the case!) There was also no race championship this year, which may have influenced some racers from not partaking. However the standard was still high with the winning woman Nakita Burke clocking 34.27 on a very hot day.

Personally, the week prior was marked with many overheated runs, that did not bode well for the inevitable hot temperatures predicted for Sunday. Electrolytes were purchased and plenty of sunscreen.

The morning of the race was filled with excitement, as crowds of women were milling in from every corner to their race positions. Myself and Maria met and proceeded towards the entrance point on Fitzwilliam square where the bag drop was located. Unfortunately, due to the queue that was only growing in size, we had to leave our bags in after a short warm up. With our racers on quite early, we headed to the warm up area, that was just before the start line, for strides and drills. Here we met with Lorna Quinn and Maura Ginty, both in high spirits. Ginty conceded she was warmed up after a solid two minutes… however, she did squeeze in a few fast strides for good measure. Emily’s friend and former competitor Christina Kennedy doled out some advice; to forget the t-shirts when it’s this hot! (On an important side note, Christina is waiting on a potential world record from the Terenure 5 mile for her age category, in a time of 33.32, fingers crossed it is confirmed!)

Photo by Stephen Collins

Finally it was time to line up, and honestly, as someone who usually gets quite nervous before a race, today was completely different. The nerves dissipated as women chatted and wished each other luck.

When the gun went off Maria and Zoe Quinn went out ahead of the elites, with some excellent pictures from the beginning of the race to prove their guts! We were carried with the group for the first kilometre, which was markedly faster than I would normally do. I fell into a pace beside Caoimhe Kilroy of MSB, but she pushed on after the first water station. Annette Kealy came up beside me soon after, and we ran quite close together. The cohort of women running between sub 36 to sub 40 were more strung out, so I was thankful for having another runner to keep the motivation and pace in check.

I only glanced at my watch on a few occasions, but at the 5km mark, I knew I had to pick up the pace. The last 5km were a bit of a blur, I focused as much as possible on my breath and running posture. To combat the heat, I poured a glass of water over my head and my chest at each water station, except for the final one. This, along with the music, kept the energy flowing. When I saw the 8.5km balloon I gritted my teeth and made the decision to catch the two women in front, just doing so during the last 200 metres. This meant I finished in 10th position behind Edel Gaffney, with a new PB of 37.24, 56 seconds faster than my previous one.

I mustn’t forget to mention Emily on her motorised bike, insuring we were running our hardest for the last stretch!

I was over the moon, and this was doubled when I saw the smiles of friends who had equally great races. Maria ran a PB of 36.54, after a major month of racing. The support, hugs, name swaps and race debriefs are a reminder of the importance of running as a sport that sparks community, support, healthy competition and friendship.

And, of course, the true finish line was in Toners, where plenty of pizza and pints were indulged in. Until next year…

Maria Jones 36.54 PB

Caoimhe Daniels 37.25 PB

Maura Ginty 40.26

Lorna Quinn 44.02

Lucy Darcy 45.52

Shauna O Callaghan 49.22

Bronwyn Murphy White 51.22

Clare Finnegan 54.47

Darina Hynes 54.55

Marta Diaz 1.00.14

Tara Burke 1.04:58 PB

Emily Rossler 1.08.53

Annmarie Clyne 1.31.53