Wednesday 13 November 2019

'Sign up, girls, it's a special race' - former winner Maria

Maria McCambridge and Catherina McKiernan puting the Mount Anville girls through their paces
Maria McCambridge and Catherina McKiernan puting the Mount Anville girls through their paces

Olympian Maria McCambridge was back on her old turf yesterday to encourage young women to sign up for the Vhi Women's Mini Marathon next month.

The long-distance runner, who won the race in 2015, was joined at her old school, Mount Anville, by Cavan's Catherina McKiernan, a four-time winner of the event.

Dubliner Maria said it was a race for people to enjoy rather than a "chore" and winning it for the first time in 2015 was one of her greatest achievements as she had done so in memory of her mum.

"All you need is that pair of runners. Meeting up with friends, the whole park run movement has inspired people and given them somewhere to go at the weekend to run with the community - it doesn't have to be a competition," she told the Herald.

"I think that is important and I love to see people enjoying running. It's not a chore and you all toe the line together."

She said she imagined her mum - who died in 2014 - still cheering her on in the crowd.

"I've run it many times and to actually finally win it was a huge day for me. Basically, it was something that went way back with my mum. We always wanted to win this race.

"I was second and third so many times and my mum would joke I had a love-hate relationship with it - it was one race that I could never win," she said.


"My mum used to stand on the Baggot Street Bridge and shout me on and it was a thing we had.

"Then when she died in 2014, the following year I was in contention to win and I just had this vision of mum standing on Baggot Street Bridge and I finally did it. It was something that we were close about and it actually means more to me than a lot of other races."

"It was years of trying to win this mini marathon and it was a special day."

As the closing date of May 22 approaches, six pupils from Mount Anville have decided to take part.

Ciara Kernan (16), who has run for Ireland, is among them. With this year's theme Women of Impact, she said athlete Ciara Mageean was her inspiration.

Organisers added that, as the longest-running event of its kind, they are delighted to be supporting the 20x20 initiative for women in sport.

Meanwhile, McKiernan said it was an ideal event for younger runners as participants are aged from 14.

"It is not so, so competitive. I know with youngsters running cross-country it can all be about winning and I think at that age the winning mindset can be very pressurising for them.

"I like the idea that in this, 14-year-olds can do it and it is an achievement to complete the 10k," she said.

"The simple thing is to enjoy it and if you are thinking about doing it competitively you have a bit of time now, about three weeks, to get out and do a bit of training. It is a fabulous occasion."

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