Flora Women's Mini-Marathon: €14m bonanza for charities

Tens of thousands of women braved rainy conditions yesterday to participate in the 28th Flora Women's Mini-Marathon.

Organisers are hoping charities will benefit from a €14m cash bonanza as many of the entrants have been motivated by personal experiences to take part in the biggest all-women's event of its kind in the world.

A number of celebrities joined an estimated 40,000 runners who took off from Fitzwilliam Square at 3pm for the 10km run which finished at St Stephen's Green. Among them was Sports Minister Mary Hanafin, RTE presenters Maura Derrane and Sheana Keane, TV3 presenter Aisling O'Loughlin and 2FM DJ Ruth Scott.

Michelle Quigley (30), from Co Westmeath, took part in the 10km race to raise money for the Irish Heart Foundation (IHF).

Ms Quigley only learned she had heart trouble in 2005 after she underwent a medical as part of a life assurance policy.

Now, the young mother who has already had a heart valve repaired will have to undergo a valve replacement operation in a few years.

"I want to show people heart trouble is not only an old person's issue as an awful lot of people think it is," she said.

"I'm urging people to stop and get it checked out if they are having breathlessness or pins and needles."

Close to 300 people are due to run the mini marathon for the IHF which last year benefited from a €50,000 fundraising bonanza.

Noreen Maher, from Clonsilla, Dublin, ran for the Irish Cancer Society (ICS) to mark the 20th anniversary of the death of her mother Nancy Maher from cancer.

Noreen said she was also motivated to take part after three people close to her were diagnosed with cancer last year -- including two with breast cancer.

Since the first women's mini-marathon took place in 1983 more than 740,000 women have taken part and close to €137m has been raised for charity.

( Sources: Irish Independent/Irish Times)