The Vhi Women's Mini Marathon is one of the biggest all women's event of its kind in the world. It has grown from its humble beginnings in 1983 with almost 9,000 participants to a staggering 41,006 women participating in 2014.
It is difficult to understand the significance of this event without remembering what it was like in 1983. At this time it was virtually unknown for women to train in public in the towns and cities of Ireland. The Women's Mini Marathon changed all that. Though women competed in marathons in various cities, the World and Olympic governing bodies frowned on distance running by women. Up to 1980 the longest distance women ran in the Olympics was 1,500 metres (1 mile approx).
It all began when a number of visionaries noticed an increasing number of women entering the Marathon. An idea was born and at a meeting in the Millhouse Pub the details of an All Women's 10k were discussed. Brooks Shoes and the Evening Press were the first sponsors and Dundrum Athletic Club (now DSD) were invited to get involved as organisers. When the idea was first discussed it was thought that maybe 3,000 women would take part. Nobody could believe when entry for the first Evening Press Women's Mini Marathon was almost 9,000!
Since then nearly 992,000 women have entered the event - and the Vhi Women's Mini Marathon had a record field of 41,006 in 2014. This event has grown as women’s interest in their own health and vitality has developed over the last three decades.
Indeed, it is not only women who have benefited from the event, but the charities are also the big winners. In 2016 it was estimated that almost €6m was raised by the participants bringing the total since the race started in 1983 close to €203m. All charities benefit as it is the women themselves who decide who they will support and many local causes gain vital revenue from the event. It is now the biggest single day charity event in the country.
The event has no equals in its appeal. Women of all ages representing every county and every walk of life take part in this great Festival of Women. No pressure is put on anyone - all the participants have to do is get fit enough to walk, jog or run the 10k. It is up to each individual to set her own target. Every finisher is a winner - and receives a commemorative medal and ribbon to mark the achievement.
It is thus easy to see why the Vhi Women’s Mini Marathon is the champion of women, health, charity and fun in the Irish Events Calendar each year!