A colourful crowd of more than 3,000 women gathered on the streets of Cork city to run, jog and walk The Echo Women’s Mini-Marathon on Sunday.
Many donned bright T-shirts in support of worthy causes while a few men snuck in among the ranks, wearing tutus and wigs, looking to participate in the very popular event.
Editor of The Echo, Maurice Gubbins, said he was delighted with the turnout after the Covid break. “It was a fantastic comeback after the Covid break when we ran it as a virtual event. The atmosphere was fantastic, everyone really enjoyed it.”
Mr Gubbins also took his hat off to Lord Mayor Deirdre Forde, who joined in the warm-up on the stage at the start line, dancing along with the music and the instructors.
“It’s an event that has become a part of the culture of Cork. It is a vital part of the Cork calendar and year. I’m very proud of it and I can see it going from strength to strength.”
Mr Gubbins highlighted the importance of the elite athletes that take part every year.
“Their level of performance raises the profile of the event. This year they set a new course record and the grace and sportsmanship that they show is incredible.”
The Echo editor also mentioned the wheelchair athletes that take part in the race.
“There was a lot of beauty in the support shown to them at the finish line.”
Finally, Mr Gubbins, who has been editor of the local Cork paper for 20 years, said he wanted to commend the people who walked, ran or jogged the 6km route for charity. “There are so many people who were doing the race for others, for charity and for amazing causes.
“I want to pay tribute to the people who took part because they are the ones that make it every year.”
He also said the craic in Kennedy Park after the race was ‘mighty’.
While the event has a strong focus on fundraising for charity, there is always a competitive element to any race and the athletes outdid themselves on Sunday, breaking the course record previously set by Michelle Finn in 2018.
Leevale athlete Sinéad O’Connor won The Echo Women’s Mini-Marathon setting a new course record of 20.33.
This is the second time Sinead has won the iconic race, taking home the title in 2019 also.
Chatting to The Echo after the race, Sinéad said she hadn’t expected to break the record. “I went off quite comfortably, for the first two miles, so I’m surprised it was a course record, so we obviously picked it up a lot in the last mile. I had Lizzie all the way to push me, so it was a great race.”
The runner was closely followed by her teammate Lizzie Lee, who said she was very comfortable going round the course.
Their new training buddy Hannah Steeds, who is currently transferring from Clonmel to Leevale after a move back to her home county, took third place.
Mary Sweeney, 62, a stalwart participant of The Echo Women’s Mini-Marathon, finished in the top 20.
“I’ve run it every year, except one year, I had a chest infection. I was second three times, I was winning one year, but I ended up second.
“It’s a great day, a pleasure to be here, I meet all my friends, meet older people, young people.”
Mary said she hopes to be back again next year.
“I’m no spring chicken, but I’m doing well and I’m delighted to be running and I’m grateful. I do put in the work.”