ACTIVE runner Mary Hoare, from Ballinspittle, aged 82, who lives in The Glen, has been running since her 50s and has no intention of stopping.
Every year for the last 30 years, she has run in The Echo Women’s Mini Marathon. Mary had seen runners take part in the much loved mini marathon one year, and had a desire to take part.
“I remember seeing them in Academy Street, and I thought, I can’t do that, but I just went for it.
I couldn’t believe how I felt when I did it, like I really did it!
Mary has come first every year in her age group in that race.
Throughout the year, she gets lots of training in.
Every Monday morning, Mary walks with her walking group, formed back in 2006 with just three friends, but which has grown to 32 people.
Faith is a big support for Mary in her running. She is a devout Catholic and acts as a Minister for the Eucharist for her local church. Mary wears a miraculous medal that she got from Lourdes during most of her runs. She prays before each run and walk also to grant her the strength to keep going.
Mary was asked to take part in the Cork City Half Marathon relay, which she found daunting. But it was all worthwhile.
"I remember it was a beautiful day. The sense of achievement when I came to the finish line and heard my name being called out was unbelievable,” she recalled.
Mary will be taking part in the Cork City half marathon on Sunday, June 4. She has taken part every year for the past five years, and has come first in her age group each time.
The Ballinspittle woman has also raised money, through her walking and running, for many different worthy causes.
Whenever she participates in The Echo Women’s Mini Marathon, Mary raises money for charities such as Marymount Hospice and Cancer Support.
As part of her charity work, Mary also takes part in the 100 Miles in a Month walk for the Mater Foundation in Dublin and has done so for the past four years.
It’s not just local races that Mary has participated in, she completed the Belfast relay marathon in 2012, and last year, she ran the Killarney 10km run.
“Afterwards, I received such a huge outpouring of support on social media, with thousands of well wishers congratulating me, I couldn’t even read them all!” says Mary.
On Saturday, May 13, she ran the Killarney 10 km for a second year in a row.
Every Saturday, Mary attends a Parkrun, where a group of people will run 5km.
“They are very encouraging and supportive. It is the highlight of my week.” says Mary.
I always feel better after it.
The people who attend the Parkrun are “great for building up your confidence, they are the nicest group of people I have ever met in my life,” said Mary.
The 82-year-old has completed the Parkrun 94 times. When you reach 50 runs, you receive a special t-shirt, and when you reach 100 park runs, which Mary will do in a few weeks, you get another t-shirt.
During one Parkrun, Mary ran with Olympian Sonia O’Sullivan, who is known to appear at the Parkruns regularly.
“When she was nearly finished the race, she came over to me and asked ‘would you finish with me’,” said Mary.
Mary also ran the Sonia O’Sullivan 10km race in Cobh.
She can be nervous before a race, but pushes through her nerves and does not allow them to stop her from achieving her goals.
“Once I make up my mind, I do it,” said Mary.
She is also a regular participant of the Darkness into Light walk and the Run in the Dark run, which is a worldwide fundraising 5km run.
Her passion for running and walking is contagious, so much so that she managed to influence a previous doctor of hers, Dr Sinead Harney, to begin running The Echo Women’s Mini Marathon.
“She used to be absolutely mesmerised at me running marathons,” said Mary. “I’ve met her there a few times”.
Aside from exercising, Mary enjoys reading, dancing and listening to country music such as Derek Ryan and Mike Denver.
Not only is running vital for physical health, but for mental health also. This rings true for Mary as running has helped her through many tough moments in her life.
The more active you can be, the better, it is vital for your mental health.
When considering the future of her running, Mary said: “I’m going to keep going until I can’t go anymore.”
Her advice for anyone who wants to begin running is to just go for it.
“I would advise anyone to start now. I wasted years debating it, you have to try to conquer your fear.”
For more on this year’s Cork City Marathon, see www.corkcitymarathon.ie