All by myself... oh and 8,000 women

People took part in Sunday’s Evening Echo Women’s Mini Marathon for all sorts of reasons, ELAINE DUGGAN explains why she signed up
All by myself... oh and 8,000 women
Faces in the crowd, at the start of the 36th Evening Echo Women's Mini Marathon, Cork. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

BREATHLESS, sweating, aching legs... that’s how I ended my Evening Echo Women’s Mini Marathon.

Myself and my two best friends had planned on running the 4 mile race, to mark our 40th birthdays. It was a far cry from how we spent our 30th. Rewind ten years and we were sipping cocktails in one of New York’s famous skyscraper five-star hotels, shopping until we dropped at Tiffanys, enjoying the Sex And The City tour and all the cliche things a group of young women do when they visit the Big Apple. The highlight being asked for ID entering a bar — ‘yes sir, we are over 21’... just by nine years, thank you very much!

Ten years on, seven children later (between us, not each!) we had pledged to do Route 66 to Vegas to mark our 40th birthdays, but Centre Park Road to Monahan Road had to do instead. Leaving two little babies, the most recent addition to our broods, wasn’t going to happen, so us trio could engage in a bit of Thelma and Louise style escapade Stateside.

We were given plenty of notice, to be fair. Before the summer one friend told us she wanted to run the Mini Marathon this month — as she turns the big 4-0 next week, and asked if we would come on board.

Needless to say, as with life, in general, these days, nothing ever goes smoothly. Training had been non-existent, as we grappled day in, day out, with juggling the never-ending multi-tasking role that is motherhood, as well as jobs outside the home, recovering from a C-section, sciatica and husbands missing in action abroad...

One of us was struck down with tonsillitis in the past week, while my youngest had chicken pox (cue sleepless nights) and the third friend had the unenviable task of organising a five hour round trip from West Cork to get family to mind the kids, in a bid to fulfil our four mile run.

Motherhood results in there being very little time left for yourself, and even less for your friendships… so it was the perfect plan to enjoy some uninterrupted catch-up time with the besties.

We even planned to lift a glass of bubbly at the end of it all — but the champagne had to be put on ice! We were falling apart before we even got to the start line.

And so it wasn’t meant to be… Three became two… then two became one and before I knew it I was billy-no-mates taking part in the mini marathon among a sea of 8,000 women — and a few men too! Cue Bridget Jones style music… “All by myself…

Mini Marathon Elaine Duggan
Mini Marathon Elaine Duggan

I did it in a trot, rather than a fast sprint — some running, a lot of walking. But hey, it’s not about the winning, they say, it’s about the taking part.... And if I am honest, well I didn’t really feel alone at all! How could I among a sea of such positivity, energy and charity. The feeling after completing the race was simply amazing and I was so glad to be part of it!

The odd little chat with a friendly face along the way made the path easier, as did the groups of locals and members of the public and race stewards who stood along the road side and cheered us all on with cries of “Well done!”, “You can do it!”, and “You are nearly there!”

Among me were women with incredible stories — I met a former work colleague and mum who was running the marathon with her daughter, who was battling cancer; I overheard another woman say she was undergoing chemo. Another lady who ran past me wore a T-shirt with a little boy’s name emblazoned on her back — she was running for Feileacain, which supports parents who suffer pregnancy loss. My heart really dropped when I saw a little girl who was running for Marymount, who had what appeared to be a photo of her brother with her dad on her back.

We reported on some amazing stories in WOW! in the past few weeks. There was the family who lost their 40-year-old sister to a brain tumour, who had signed up. The mum who said running the marathon over the past few years has helped her through miscarriage, endometriosis and other life challenges. There were parents running to raise funds for the Down Syndrome Centre Cork. Meanwhile, the Wibbly Wobbly Wonders running group were out in force again, lending their support to local charities and a little girl who needs ongoing medical care. There were sisters in law who have done the marathon together for over a decade, having lost loved ones to cancer.

Everyone was taking part for so many different reasons — for charity, or to set a personal goal… for me it was going to be a time to celebrate friendship.

Maybe next year my besties and I will run it together… or maybe we’ll just escape to Vegas!

Don’t miss our Mini Marathon results special this Saturday.

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