Mary O’Colmain is one of an exclusive group of seventeen women to have participated in all 32 Women’s Mini Marathons. The Kilkenny native, who recently welcomed her third grandchild, has no intention of interrupting this unbroken streak any time soon and plans to line up this June 1st to add a 33rd medal to her collection (yes, she has kept all the medals!).
In 1983, the year of the inaugural Women’s Mini Marathon, Mary, along with husband Diarmuid and their young family, had just moved to Dublin and she remembers feeling somewhat isolated in a new city. With three children under five, she had limited opportunity to socialise, so when a friend, Anne Little, suggested getting together to train for this new event, she jumped at the chance. Although fit from hiking and horse-riding, Mary was new to running and 10K represented a significant challenge. The pair set out two or three evenings a week gradually building up the (photo by www.actionphotography.ie)
distance covered with a jog/walk method. Mary recalls the time she returned home after a training session and announced, almost in shock, that she had just ‘ran three miles!’
Mary gives a lot of credit to her family for their support in helping to maintain her impressive record. The Women’s Mini Marathon was always an important event in the O’Colmain family calendar with Diarmuid bringing the kids into town every year to support their mum. Her children understood from a very young age that ‘mum’s run’ would take precedent over other activities. Mary recollects fondly that her youngest child assumed all mums did the Mini Marathon!
She says that initially it didn’t occur to her or her friends to aim for a faster time every year. “Just doing it”, Mary says, was satisfaction enough as she describes the positive impact participating in the WMM had on women’s lives at the time. Eventually, Mary joined Diarmuid at Crusaders A.C. and began to train in a structured way for the first time. With an impressive personal best time of 52 minutes, Mary still completes the 10K in under sixty minutes.
Her personal highlights include the 25th and 30th anniversary celebrations, the wonderful camaraderie on the day itself and friendships made over the years.
A number of different charities have benefited from Mary’s participation in the event including the Irish Kidney Association, NRH, Irish Cancer Society and Aware.