MORE than 2,000 women – along with several men in drag – will take part in the 18th annual Limerick women’s mini marathon this Sunday.
Taking place on the grounds of the University of Limerick campus, the 8km race at 2pm has been a stalwart in the annual racing calendar for nearly two decades.
There will be prizes for the first four people past the finishing line, with €400 for the overall winner, while there will also be a prize for the fastest wheelchair athlete.
“It’s a very special event for Limerick, and a huge amount of charities get behind it. There are not many events where you see a daughter, mother and grand-mother taking part side by side, and that says something about how special it is to people. The fact that it has endured this length of time is a testament to the people who have gotten behind it,” John Cleary, of Focus Events told the Limerick Leader.
Luci Lane, of Limerick Athletics Club, who has been helping the school girls get into their stride for the race, and promote women in sport, agrees.
“It has soul to it. There really is no feeling like taking part in the women’s mini marathon. The first time I ever did the race was in 2007, and I have done it ever since. It’s wonderful to see a group of women coming together to do this collectively, especially seeing the pride on the girls’ faces when they cross the line. It’s very encouraging for them. We want to promote women in sport and women being active,” she said.
For the thousands of women taking part in the Limerick women’s mini- marathon, many will have a personal story close to their hearts.
Among those donning a pink T-shirt will be Rachel Macauley, 17, from Raheen, along with her parents Mike and Mary, and many friends and extended family. Rachel’s sister Becky sadly passed away aged 11 in August 2012, following a battle with brain cancer.
Rachel and up to 100 of her classmates in Laurel Hill school will be walking and running in the mini-marathon in her memory, and to raise donations for the Children’s Oncology Fund.
The fourth-class student who attended St Nessan’s National School was first diagnosed with a brain tumour in April 2011 and had to undergo surgery and chemotherapy. Becky’s account of her time in three different Irish hospitals, in a book entitled The Little Girl with the Big Headache, proved hugely popular and its first print run sold out.
Some 45 transition year students at the school entered the race last year, and this year nearly 100 students across transition year, and fifth and sixth year are taking part.
Tickets are priced at €20. There will be free entry into the Orchard bar/Crush nightclub for those taking part for a post-race celebration.
Meanwhile, Dozens of Limerick people are also preparing to take part in the Dublin Marathon on Monday, including 83 year-old John Collins.