Runner of the Week: Cork City Marathon pacer Paula Wright

Paula Wright said being a pacer in the Irish Examiner Cork City Marathon is an opportunity for her to encourage others towards the finish line, just as she was motivated when she first began to run.

Those who wish to finish the marathon within a certain time — in this case, four hours and 30 minutes — will follow a designated runner, the pacer

“When you are a pacer, you will have a balloon above you. People will ask you about the pace and the route. Often, people come to talk and get to know you during the marathon.

“The main purpose of the role is to keep the pace achievable; you don’t want those following you to burn out,” Paula said.

Mum-of-three Paula, who is from Finland, but living in north Tipperary, said she was honoured to take on the responsibility.

It’s an honour to be asked to be a pacer and to be there as one. Only a few years ago, I started running and I struggled. I was the slow, weak one, who needed motivating.

Paula took up running after having her three children and is now half the size she was when she began.

“My story is pretty similar to others. I had three kids and was twice the size I am now. I was unfit; dangerously unfit. I couldn’t see a way out. I was tired. I was not right.

“I wanted something to do that would only take half an hour and would be easy to keep up with kids. I started jogging, taking it each 50 metres, going lamppost to lamppost.

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“It took me eight months to run eight kilometres without stopping.

“It’s been some journey. I started from humble beginnings, being the big girl at the back.”

On June 2, Paula will cross her 100th marathon finish line.

I’m so happy to have my 100th marathon in Cork. I’m very excited.

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