It is said politics shouldn’t mix with sport but it certainly put a purposeful pep in the step of many of the participants in the VHI Women’s Mini Marathon as thousands ran to raise funds and awareness for neglected and struggling causes.
Close to 33,000 women took part in the 10k run which is now in its 35th year and remains the biggest all-female sporting event in the world.
They ran to Repeal the Eighth, for the Sustainable Development Goals, for hospitals, hospices, playgroups, support groups, for Sightsavers and life-savers, for family, friends and neighbours in a joyous display of resourcefulness and a reminder that so much of the good work that pulls people through hard times and tough stations is voluntary.
The united effort for one little boy typified the character of the event. Seven-year-old Eoin McStravick Sloan from Lucan, Co Dublin was diagnosed with Metachromatic Leukodystrophy last autumn and, with no known cure, all his family can do is try to make him happy and comfortable for as long as they have him.
Teachers from two local schools, Adamstown Educate Together and St Thomas’s NS, along with colleagues of Eoin’s nurse mum, Avril, and even the staff of the local pharmacy, all ran with his smiling face and the ‘Our Eoin’ logo on their shirts, to raise funds for modification of the family home.
Colette Peoples, resource teacher with Adamstown ET, was emotional crossing the finish. “We just wanted to do something for him, to show support as well as raise some money. I enjoyed the training — I’ve been trying to lose weight for my wedding — so I have so much to look forward to but for this little boy, it’s just a matter of time. It’s why I’m emotional — it puts things into perspective.”
Perspective was essential kit for the run, for while the winner, Ann Marie McGlynn from Strabane, Co Tyrone, was five minutes off the finish line, the last of the pack were still making their way to the start.
And then there was the parallel race — the Dad Dash — which saw fathers and buggies flying through the streets of Dublin trying to get back from the Disney Store or McDonalds in time to catch mammy crossing the line.
“Go Mom” cheered many a homemade banner lovingly plied with crayon and kisses. One father was battling uncooperative sticky tape helping unfurl his daughter’s banner while trying to appease an impatient toddler and preschooler “How’s she getting on?” asked an acquaintance eyeing the giant digital clock and live footage from the finish line. “I don’t know,” came the breathless reply, “but I’m wrecked”.
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