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Tuesday 23 October 2018

Mini legends still inspire

Lizzie Lee, of Leevale AC in Cork, on her way to winning the 2018 Vhi Women’s Mini Marathon last Sunday Pic: Sportsfile
Lizzie Lee, of Leevale AC in Cork, on her way to winning the 2018 Vhi Women’s Mini Marathon last Sunday Pic: Sportsfile

So the 36th VHI Women's Mini Marathon has come and gone, with many a heart-warming story and 28,000 women are now in possession of their precious finisher's medal.

At the sharp end of the race, the commitment and talent of club runners from all over the country was equally inspiring. Many, prompted to join their local club after training for the mini marathon, return year after year.

Ambition

For the best of them, winning the largest women's only race in the world is a long held ambition.

Such was the case with Lizzie Lee of the Leevale club, who made the long journey from Cork to run because the race figured high on her "bucket list".

As she was cheered around the 10km course, she was clearly enjoying every minute of her day and can now add her name to an illustrious list of winners that includes Sonia O'Sullivan and Catherina McKiernan and many more of the country's most celebrated women athletes.

Among the previous winners back for more was race regular Siobhan O'Doherty from Borrisoleigh, winner in 2013 and 2016.

There was also Annette Kealy of Raheny Shamrock, winner in 2008 after finishing ninth in 1991 when she was first inspired to run.

Just a fortnight ago, Kealy took Over-50 gold in the 10km at the European Masters Road Running Championships in Alicante, Spain.

In Dublin, she finished 13th in 38 minutes 11 seconds and was first W50 ahead of her Raheny club-mate Orla Gormley. Gormley is another mini marathon regular who finished tenth in 1997 - that's 21 years ago!

Even further back, in 1985, Christine Kennedy of Galway City Harriers finished ninth in the mini-marathon in 35 minutes 17 seconds.

The following year, she finished sixth and then in 1990 - a year in which she also won the Dublin Marathon - she was first home with a time of 34 minutes 17 seconds.

Just behind her that day was Rose Lambe, then of Knockbridge in 34.23. Lambe went on to win the race in in 1993 with a time of 24.25 and would then finish third for the next four years.

Both women were running on Sunday, with Lambe first W55 in 40:52 and Kennedy first W60 in 41:52. Another mini marathon stalwart is Joan Coyle of the host club Dundrum South Dublin. Although recovering from a knee injury, Coyle finished in 54:40 and was probably the first women Over-70.

Clubs put out big teams for the race and although there are no team prizes, pride is always at stake in big races such as the mini marathon. So who would have won the fantasy club competition?

Counted

If you counted only the top three finishers, DSD would have finished top team, with Laura Shaughnessy second, Linda Byrne fifth and Amy Moran 23rd.

However, if you counted the top four, Sportsworld, led by Sinead Tangney in 12th place and with four in the top 30, would have sneaked it on 82 points.

That would have put them six points ahead of Raheny Shamrock with Donore on 121 points and DSD with 142 points.

Here's to next year!

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