'It was my first time taking part and I loved every second of the mini marathon'

EMMA CONNOLLY caught up with the three teachers who were top of the class — placing 1st, 2nd and 3rd — in The Echo Women’s Mini Marathon, last year. Today she talks to Lisa Hegarty, who came second.
'It was my first time taking part and I loved every second of the mini marathon'

 Lisa Hegarty, on Centre Park Road, she came second in The Echo Women's Mini Marathon, Cork, 2019.

IT’S been a tough year for athlete Lisa Hegarty, whose training had ground to a sudden halt even before Covid-19 hit.

The young woman from Ballyclough, outside Mallow, picked up two small fractures in her foot in February which meant she was unable to compete.

The 27-year-old admits she found it very challenging, both in terms of running and life in general.

“It was a struggle to adapt and come to terms with everything. Then Covid hit, which affected everyone, but in a weird way, to me, it was almost like a blessing in disguise as there was nothing happening for a few months with regards to running. I could concentrate fully on healing my foot, and on making the most out of the simple things in life that we usually take for granted. A complete shift in focus, which was no harm.” 

Lisa, a PE and Biology teacher in Glanmire Community College, has been running competitively with Leevale AC since 2016.

“I began training with the club after moving home from Dublin to Cork after studying in DCU for four years. Honestly, joining the club has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

Almost everyone I have met through running is so friendly, encouraging, and goes about life with a positive mindset. Not to mind that the coaches I’m lucky enough to learn from (Donie and John Collins) are top class!

“My preferred race is cross country, and some of the highlights of my running career so far would be the National Novice XC where I finished 9th a few years back, and a trip to Portugal in February, 2018, for the European Clubs Cross Country Championships, where I got to experience what athletes see and do on a European stage.” 

Taking part in The Echo Women’s Mini Marathon had been on her ‘to do’ list for a while: “It was my first time and I loved every second of it. It had been on the bucket list for a few years as I kept missing out on it with little niggles and other bits.

“Apart from soaking up the unreal atmosphere along the route, the icing on the cake was to finish second behind Sinead.

“I think it’s a really important local fixture for athletes as it’s here in Cork in my hometown, and the amount of fundraising that gets done every year as a result of the race is phenomenal and a great thing to be a part of.” For part of lockdown, Lisa was confined to her bike to rebuild her fitness and allow her foot heal. But she’s now back on the road and enjoying it.

“Even in a small group I feel like it’s quite safe, as you’re out in the open in the fresh air and can keep some space between people. Over the past few months, it’s been good to see people out and realising the benefits of running (or walking, cycling, whatever it might be) for their health. Hopefully the numbers keep growing even more.

“Even some of the kids I teach in school got out running and were doing virtual 5K and 3K races during the school closure which is a great achievement for them. Some really fast times too!” 

This month, as well as completing the virtual 6k Your Way, it’s all about getting back to school for Lisa. Teaching remotely, she says, was manageable, but not at all the same as being in the classroom.

“Apart from the obvious challenges to teaching and learning, I actually really missed my students, and the staff. Glanmire Community College is a really dynamic place to work. I’m trying to not worry or stress over any of the challenges that might be ahead for us all, and that’s making me really happy to go back. What will be will be, and it’s the same for everyone so I feel like we need to just make the most of it and do our best.

“It’s been a tough time for the students without school and meeting their friends, etc, and we need to make sure to support them as best as we can.” 

Sign up here: https://theechominimarathon.ie

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