Athenry Womens’ Dublin Mini Marathon 2004

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This is the story of 100 women from Athenry and the surrounding area who walked, jogged or ran the Womens’ Mini-marathon in Dublin on the June bank holiday.

Although it’s the biggest women’s event in the world, that alone was not enough to draw this motley crew together. These women walked for one reason – to support Athenry Cancer Care.

From the comfort of your armchair, ten kilometres (6.2 miles) may not seem like much of a walk. May l remind you of that old Indian proverb, the essence of which is, don’t judge until you have walked a mile in my moccasins!

As word spread that Athenry Cancer Care needed women for the marathon, the response exceeded all expectation. Application forms were collected from the Evening Herald and dispatched with the entry fee. Pleas were made to accommodate late applications. Official registration was important, since on crossing the finishing line, medals (proof for the sceptics at home) would be presented only to those who were officially registered.

With two months to go, the Athenry Womens’ Group took the lead and set up a walking group. No by-way was safe! Others, like wayward students, took a more casual attitude, did the minimum of training, hoping ‘it will be alright on the day’ – and with a bit of luck it was!

Many opted to travel to Dublin in small groups. Some made it a week-end event while 55 set off by bus from Athenry in great glee. We all met up in the Shelbourne Hotel for refreshments, to exchange survival hints and to savour the atmosphere on St. Stephens Green before the starting time at 3.00p.m.

100 women with Athenry Cancer Care logo emblazoned across their tee shirts was a heartening sight. The 22 ladies from Carrabane who were part of our group had turned their shirts into designer creations with nips and tucks strategically placed.

Various lotions and potions were dispensed. Arnica and wintergreen were in plentiful supply. One – Mary – freely dispensed a brew that came with a guarantee of ache-free walking. Don’t know for sure what it was but there was some reference to good greyhounds! We wondered if it might be a banned substance? What if —- ?

The age profile of the gallant women was interesting – from early twenties to the seventieth year. The walking abilities and fitness levels were also diverse. The enthusiastic, well primed walkers headed out early to be near the starting post. They wanted to compete seriously.

Others of us who were less fit hung back and enjoyed the fun. Our mere ambition was to complete the course without being air-lifted to the nearest hospital. With our bird’s eye view from the first floor of the Shelbourne we enjoyed the hilarity of the street below.

We headed towards the start with full knowledge that there was no “Kenyan ability” in our group. It took us fifteen minutes to get past the starting post – we won’t mention how long it took to get to the finishing post – but we got there. The serious walkers in our Athenry group completed the course in little over an hour. l congratulate them – with a tinge of envy!

The atmosphere and tone on the day was invigorating. The organisers made every effort to keep the spirits up. Entertainers lined the route and spectators shouted words of encouragement as we jogged, walked or trundled along.

Men couldn’t possibly miss out on the chance to be with 40,000 women so they dressed up to get in on the action! Their outrageous attire was a spectacle. After the walk we headed to the bus to get out of town before the big rush. We stopped for food in Enfield, traded stories and unwound. We had the feeling of a job well done.

But back to the beginning. What was the job? The job was to fundraise for Athenry Cancer Care Centre. This Centre opened at Easter 2003 and provides a support service for people who are on a cancer journey. It offers a free, complementary, holistic service, based on mutual support, relaxation therapies, counselling, tea and chat. The focus is on self-help and quality of life. To run this service costs money, principally for the payment of therapists.

Conscious that there are many worthy causes we decided to make the mini-marathon our sole fundraising event for the year and we went for it! We got enormous support and €35,000 was raised. We were overwhelmed by the good-will towards us.

A million thanks to all who sponsored. We hope you will never need the service of our Centre but if you do, this service will support you. (June 6th 2005 – here we come!)

From all of us in the Centre, we wish you a joyful Christmas and a New Year of peace and good health.

Nuala King is a founder member of Athenry Cancer Care

Click on her name below for more of her articles!

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About this record

Written by Nuala King

Published here 23 Dec 2023 and originally published Christmas 2004

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