#WomenwithImpact - Sorcha McAnespy, Co. Tyrone

The 2019 Vhi Women’s Mini Marathon is celebrating #womenwithimpact - women throughout the country who have made an impact by taking part in this special event.  This week we are featuring Sorcha McAnespy from Omagh, Co. Tyrone.


In May 2011 I first got elected to my local council. I was married with three daughters, mortgage, car and an annual holiday. Life couldn’t be better.  Less than 18 months later, my marriage ended. I was devastated, here I was facing a future as a single parent, but simultaneously I was the local politician.  So I basically decided that I was not going to let circumstances beyond my control dictate the path of my life. I was going to own my own destiny.

I was nominated as my local council diversity champion, and this gave me the opportunity to meet lots of community groups. It was one of these meetings that started me on running journey. It was at the MS Society branch meeting when some members informed me that they were participating in the Belfast City Marathon. I was so inspired that I offered to join them and signed up along with them. I used to play camogie when I was younger and we would have done a bit of running in training but other than that I had zilch experience. Sometimes when you don’t think about things too much they work out just fine, because I was participating to support others I hadn’t time to worry about nerves.

On the day I had no idea how long it would take me to reach the finish line, but all the way the craic was mighty. I felt part of something huge, the buzz was electric and the atmosphere was phenomenal.  I cannot explain the feeling of euphoria as we crossed the finish line. That was me, I had caught the bug.

After that I joined a local gym, and in no time at all I was as fit as a fiddle.  I signed up for every charity 5k in the district, this helped me to get to know people but to also show support for local initiatives. Unfortunately Omagh suffered a number of tragedies over the years and like and in many instances families and friends organised different events to commemorate their loved ones lives, many of the bereaved families also opted to donate organs. I felt that this offered a little bit of solace during very sad times, knowing that their loved ones lived on by giving the gift of life to others was such a comfort to them, therefore my chosen charity is the NI Transplant Association.

I suppose seeing the benefit that running all these 5ks had on me led me to the realisation that it would benefit others, there was quite a sizeable running community in Omagh, with a number of running clubs, however there wasn’t specifically any regular events, apart from the Omagh Half Marathon. I had started hearing about Park Run, and I decided that we could do with a Park run in Omagh, so I researched all I could about it and presented a proposal to the council, which was accepted.  We recruited volunteers and two and a half years later it is going from strength to strength averaging around 200 participants. We also have another in Enniskillen and have recently started a junior park run.

I have had a number of things on my bucket list, running the Vhi Women’s Mini Marathon was one of them. I had considered doing it a number of times but got cold feet. Eventually last year I bit the bullet and signed up. I worked on my strength, fitness and core with my trainer, who helped me with a nutrition plan.

On the day of the Mini Marathon, as soon as I got to where all the people were assembled, I was amazed, there were women everywhere, in groups, serious athletes, people there just for fun, old, young, able bodied and people in wheelchairs. There was so much colour and everyone had a smile on their face, the smiles were infectious. I can honestly say that I smiled the entire way through the race. 30,000 Women I the one place for the greater good of others on a warm day in June is an experience like no other. I’m just sorry I didn’t take the leap years earlier.

I am so honoured to have been selected as Tyrone Ambassador, as it encompasses all my passions, running, empowering women, my county of Tyrone and involvement. I hope many other Tyrone Women join me on this epic adventure.

Tyrone Ladies won the Intermediate All Ireland Final and a woman from Tyrone was on the Irish Hockey Team that got to the World Cup Final. I am so very proud of the achievements of all my county sisters. #womenwithimpact

Sorcha x

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Triona Driscoll