On the day of the Flora Women's Mini Marathon, two packed buses will arrive in the Fitzwilliam Street area of Dublin packed with women from Arklow.
Most belong to the training group run by Mary Nolan Hickey – not only a well-respected coach and gym instructor for many years but also the only woman to have run all Dublin Marathons to date.
These days, Mary is based at the Arklow Bay Hotel Leisure Centre, which believes in looking after its valued running and walking group.
“On the day, we all have breakfast before setting out and then when we get back, everyone who comes to Dublin with us – even if they aren't members of the gym – can have a shower and doll themselves up before a celebration dinner in the hotel,” says Mary.
She’s delighted with her group, which includes men as well as women, many going on to train for other races, including the Dublin marathon next October.
“Last year, Betty Byrne, who is a nurse, won a team bronze in the marathon – and she only started running a few years ago.”
Oldest – but fittest – member of the group is Catherine Kinsella. Then there’s
Elizabeth and Agnes Kavanagh, a remarkable mother and daughter who will both walk the mini marathon for Cappagh after undergoing hip replacements. Juggling a busy schedule to find time for regular training is Martina Ozonyia, who has four children aged between two and eight.
A woman who has travelled the world to run is Margaret Farrell. Since she started training in 1989, she's only missed one mini marathon and has a best time of 42 minutes for the 10k distance. She's also gone on to run eight Dublin marathons, plus one in Boston, and competed in South Africa with the Irish masters athletics team.
Anne-Marie Tobin is relatively new to running. “I was a smoker and started walking in an effort to get fit again. My husband and I walk a lot but I wanted to make the next step and run, so we'll see how it goes,” she says.
Keeping her company is her 15-year-old daughter Connie. Both hope to raise money for breast cancer, a disease which hit the group personally when Anne Marie O'Sullivan, veteran of four marathons and a racquetball enthusiast was struck down by the disease.
Anne Marie is back in top shape and will run the mini marathon.
Every member of the group has her story to tell – like every woman who will be running or walking the Flora Women's Mini Marathon on June 1. Here's to you all!