We'd love to hear from you if you can spot yourself in this photo!
Did you participate in the Women's Mini Marathon in June of 1996? You may remember that it was one of the driest months since 1975, according to Met Éireann, and here in Dublin, it was the first month in almost a year that the rainfall was below average. This would have mattered hugely to the 25,000 women who were hitting the streets for the 10K race, given that May of that year had been, to quote our national weather service, 'very disturbed'! On Sunday, 9 June, there was cloud cover, a tiny bit of rain, but enough wind to blow it on its way, and out of the way of the marathon's participants.
Were you one of the 9,000 women who had joined in for the first time? The numbers have steadily increased since the marathon's inception in 1983, and 21 years ago it was no different. One of the most significant things that the event created, and continues to foster, is providing an outlet for women all along the training spectrum — from professional athletes who run as part of their yearly event schedule to the walkers and joggers who are working on their personal fitness and devoted to raising money for the charities close to their hearts.
Perhaps you took some of the advice proffered by the late Grete Waitz . The legendary athlete, a two-time marathon world record holder and five-time world cross country champion, shared words of wisdom with Herald readers. “Think of your experience not as a struggle to get in shape,” she suggested, “but as a new way of feeling and a new way of life.” Wise and inspiring words, indeed! She also had only good to say in regard to Dublin's annual event. “What is important is the solidarity and the camaraderie between them. A race such as your race in Dublin is a celebration of women in sport.”
Did you avail of the top training tips from Eddie McDonagh? As the director of coaching for the Dundrum South Dublin A.C., the club that was involved in the foundation of the event, he devised two schedules that took into consideration the variety of experience that the participants were bringing to the event, one for those who were starting from literally zero, and those whose were more active, whether through aerobics or other cardio-based exercise. He still stands by the advice he offered 21 years ago: “Enjoy the day in the atmosphere of camaraderie for all participants. Run with someone who will be at the same level as yourself, and make sure the first half of the race is well within your compass in terms of pace.”
The women's only race was conceived during the 'jogging boom' of the early 80s. As a competitive runner himself, and as coach to 450 national gold medal winners, Eddie and DSD were a natural fit to be involved with the event which elevated women in the sport. “I am still involved in the day of the race,” he says, “and my wife Elizabeth has worked part time in the mini marathon office from the start of the race.” He adds, “Of course, this could not have succeeded without the backing of The Herald, which puts the race to the forefront of Irish sport and fitness.”
The Vhi Women's Mini Marathon certainly inspires long-term commitment in everyone involved, both on the road and behind the scenes. If you celebrated your finish, and even better, if you see yourself in that image above, we'd love to hear your story of that day: send your story to info@womensminimarathonie.