AROUND 2500 entrants yesterday completed the 8km course for the Limerick Women’s Mini-Marathon, with local charities now set to reap the benefits from the hundreds of thousands raised.
While the overall field for the 2011 run was slightly down on previous years, those who took to the course around the UL campus did not lack for enthusiasm, including over 100 men in drag.
One of the occasional cross-dressers was Ballinacurra’s Sean Downes, who along with sister Aoife was among 15 Vistakon staff running for Rape Crisis Mid-West.
“I put it together myself. I’m not supposed to be anybody in particular, just a busty young woman,” said Sean.
Rape Crisis Mid-West director Miriam Duffy said over 100 runners and walkers had chosen to support the charity for one of its most important fundraising events of the year.
“Like a lot of charities, we are faced with the challenge of dealing with shortfalls in our funding (from government) but we took the decision last year that we would not be reducing our services and we wouldn’t let the credit crunch beat us. We realise that we are asking people for help at a time when they are facing cuts in their own budgets but they have been extraordinarily generous again this year,” Ms Duffy said.
Georgina Lubeck, Corbally, and Nicola Dore, Kilcornan, said it was their first time to take part. But the two friends, who both graduated from LIT last year, are anything but inexperienced athletes. They were on the Irish Wheelchair Association team to win the Cerebral Palsy Ireland National Boccia League finals in Dublin this year.
Ronnie Long, Limerick Athletic Club, said the club was delighted with its 14-year association with the mini-marathon.
“It is a great vehicle for all our local charities and voluntary groups and for many, it is by far their biggest moneyspinner of the year. A lot of charities are struggling at the moment and what you find in times of recession is there are a lot more fundraisers. There’s so many events now that in fact our numbers are down a little bit. But we expected that and we’re delighted with the turnout,” Mr Long said.
Edel O’Shea, also of Limerick AC, said this was the first year athletes had been fitted with chips on their race numbers. The agreement with Clare company Precision Timing “means that everybody is timed professionally and it raises the profile of the race to a new level”.
At the business end of the race, Cappamore’s Rosemary Ryan crossed the line first for her third mini-marathon win. In second place was Dubliner Annette Kealy, who went to college in Limerick. Last year’s winner Orla Drumm, from Ballyclough, finished third.
*For a complete list of the finishers, see the weekend edition of the Limerick Leader