Did you know that DSD (when it was Dundrum AC) started the Flora Women’s Mini Marathon in 1983? And we’ve been involved in the event ever since! It is now the biggest all women’s event in the world - in its first year it attracted almost 9000 participants, and had its maximum in 2013 when a staggering 40,717 took part! The idea has been copied in several European cities, with Liverpool, Oslo and London now putting on all-women events.
Now with VHI as the main sponsor, this year’s event was another phenomenal success, with nearly 33,000 women from all over Ireland, the UK and Europe taking to the streets to run, walk and jog the 10Km route, raising much needed funds for hundreds of charities around the country. The Mini Marathon has become an important part of Irish culture and a celebration of Irish women aged 14 to 70 plus. Last year there were 380 participants over 70 years of age!
DSD volunteers, along with their family and friends, were out in force both on the days leading up to the event, at number collection points, and on the day itself - situated at water stations, baggage area, medal distribution and as junction stewards. Well done to you all! A special word of congratulations has to go to Rob Corbally for his Trojan work in drumming up volunteers to ensure the smooth running of the event. No enviable task! Well done Rob!! Hope you’ve recovered by now!!
Many people, however, are unaware of the fact that there is a Mini Marathon team working behind the scenes for months, some of them year round, before the big event. The Mini Marathon team comprises up to 10 office and marketing staff and a larger operations team of up to 15 people who manage the race on the day. The office staff are present in the Sandyford office for most of the year with the Operations and Marketing staff coming on board in October. The team is led by Kathy Endersen who took over as Mini Marathon CEO in 2016 from her predecessor Pat Coyle. Up until that point, Pat Coyle had given an incredible 25 years of his life to supporting the event voluntarily, in all administrative aspects. Two of Kathy’s children are members of DSD and previously her three children trained with DSD in Irishtown where she helped with coaching during that time. From March to May each year the Mini Marathon team promote the event through various channels, but in particular they run as a team in 6 different Parkruns wearing special promotional T-shirts. Hearty congrats to Kathy and her team on rolling out another successful event this year!
The Mini Marathon is special in that it attracts such a range of fitness standards, from elite athletes to women who have barely walked more than a couple of kilometres before they started preparing for the event. This year our own Laura Shaughnessy ran a superb 34:27 second only to Letterkenny athlete Ann Marie McGlynn. DSD were well represented in the top 10 finishers with Linda Byrne in 8th place (36:47) and Niamh Devlin in 10th (37:08).
But what about the women on the other side of the running spectrum? Those who have done little, or no running ever, or who maybe have just lost their fitness over the years, for a variety of reasons?
DSD began a new initiative several years ago to encourage such women to improve their fitness and to take on the mini-marathon challenge. Read on to hear more about the programme and DSD Meet & Train member and newly-minted coach, Rachel Riordan’s experience in delivering the 2017 programme. In April, Rachel took on the challenge of delivering a comprehensive training programme to prepare participants for the Women’s Mini Marathon.
Here she shares her memories with us:
"The DSD Women’s Mini Marathon Training Programme began in Marlay on Tuesday, 4th April. This is a 9-week coached training plan designed to get participants ready to run the 10km Women’s Mini Marathon. This year there were about 15 ladies who signed up. Most of these had previously walked the Mini Marathon and had set themselves the goal of running it for the first time. A lot had previously completed DSD’s Couch to 5K programme and were keen to progress further with their fitness goals. Many participants had only begun running in January of this year and marvelled at their progress as they racked up more running experience (and more kilometres!) as the weeks went by. Confidence in their ability grew as new milestones were achieved (i.e. longest time running without stopping, greater distance run etc.)
The excitement was palpable on the day of the Mini Marathon itself. The ladies surpassed their expectations and many surprised themselves with their running achievements during the race. At the finish line there were hugs galore and exclamations of “I never thought I had it in me to run 10km!” and “now officially I consider myself a proper runner!” Although to be honest, my favourite thing to hear from a number of the ladies was “I've caught the running bug!”
Keep on running ladies. Well done all!"
* * * * * * * *
We’ll second that! And a big Thank You to Rachel for generously giving of her time for this programme.
You can see how DSD women got on in the 2017 Mini Marathon with this short video.