Flora Women’s Mini-Marathon

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With temperatures set to reach 20 degrees this bank holiday Monday the final countdown is under way for some 40,000 women who will take to the streets in the 31st Flora Women’s Mini-Marathon.

Whether you walk it, jog it or roll it the longest running women’s race in the world dominates the summer calendar as a beacon of positivity and people power for all who take part and for the spectators.

This year the characters from Fame will be making an appearance in the form of Nicola O’Connell and her friends, who will be walking the 10km in aid of the Make A Wish Foundation.

Dream come true

“I just put up a Facebook status asking who wanted to join me and 13 of my friends replied. We’re all mammies and there are so many schedules so we can’t train together but will give it our all on the day,” she says.

Nicola’s son Dylan was granted his dream wish to become a train driver and meet Thomas the Tank Engine through the Make A Wish foundation while undergoing treatment for lymphoblastic leukaemia. The race this Monday marks his one year remission to the day.

“When things are bad, to have something to look forward to helps more than people realise and for me this is about giving back,” she says.

With fluorescent pink leggings, hotpants, legwarmers and pink hoop earrings at the ready for race day, this weekend will be devoted to a fundraiser for the charity in Leitrim. “The weekend training was not planned very well but we’ll do our best on Monday,” she says.

Last year the mini-marathon raised €12 million for over 700 charities. However, 27-year-old youth worker Rebecca Murphy is nervous about her first serious sporting event and sees it as a personal challenge.

The Cork native, who is running for BeLonG To youth services, was inspired to take part when faced with what she calls a post-college mid-20s crisis.

“Everyone in my age group is trying to sort themselves out so I decided to stop the pity party and get fit again,” she says.

Run-in with cake

While staying off the fizzy drinks and running several times a week has gone well, she says, a recent slip this week of devouring some Communion cake threw her off balance.

“I’m going to give it everything on Monday. I’ll probably go for a jog today and rest on Sunday,” she says.

“I don’t know anyone else doing it but I haven’t been fit since school because of health issues so it will be a great personal victory for me.”

T-shirts with the slogan ‘Team Mason’ will be peppered throughout the crowd on Monday as a group runs the race for the 18-month-old boy who has cystic fibrosis. Mason’s mother, 34-year-old Clare Whelan, and some 15 team mates will travel from Wexford to Dublin by coach.

“There was no excitement last year because Mason was in hospital for 4½ months up until two days before the race,” she says.

This year, with training three to four times a week and a team effort, the experience is set to be a better one. “Mason is full time so it’s hard to train but we all support one another and I manage to run two or three times a week. The coach taking us up gave us a discount and so did the woman who made the T-shirts. It’s the kindness of people that has made this experience incredible.”

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