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Dublin Mini Marathon





The Dublin Mini Marathon was on over the June bank holiday weekend and Fiona ran in it.  It originally started as a demonstration of empowerment - to prove that the streets belonged just as much to the women of the city as it did to the hoodie-wearing youths that would hang around street corners.  Then the Irish discovered the benefits of keeping healthy - cutting down on the Guinness, finding a brand of cigarettes other than untipped Capstan, maybe not having deep-fried fish and chips every night, and the whole thing kinda took off.

The race involves closing off a fair portion of south central Dublin over the June Bank Holiday and a 10 kilometer course is laid out.  Now Fiona jogs to keep fit and is by no means a hardcore runner - in fact she had never run 10k before, in anger or in practice, but it's a nice distance and is eminently do-able if you're reasonably fit.  Furthermore while it is a race there's no pressure if you're not up to international standard.  Entrants class themselves as Runners, Joggers and Walkers.  Walkers join furthest back from the start, Joggers go in front of them and Runners line up at the top. There's a fourth category of elite runners that aren't widely advertised.  These have race numbers in the range 1-100 and line up at the tape.  I don't think anybody would have an argument with that.  You wouldn't want your potential Olympic qualifying time ruined by a bunch of especially wide middle-aged matrons from Blackrock just out for a day in the sun and to raise a little money for breast cancer research.  Mind you, the elite runners are so hardcore, they run in to the starting line from home base.  Fiona signed up as a Runner on the basis that she reckoned that the Jogger category was for those who wanted to give it a go but weren't especially hopeful they would still be bounding along once they got past the first corner at Holles Street. Turns out she was right. Signing up on the day it opened for entries (this girl plans ahead) as a Runner, produced a wonderful unexpected bonus in that she got into the number sequence immediately after the Elites - her three digit race number (or gang colours as I insisted on referring to it) really freaked out some of the less confident later entries whose numbers were in the 30,000plus range.


Some (such as those pictured right hydrating with pints of cider from O'Donoghues) were probably never going to trouble the finishing tape.  The winner of the race typically comes in about 35 minutes from the off, at which stage some of the Walkers are still considering if they should shuffle round to the starting line or get another round in.

So far, so commendable.  The reason I'm writing this column is because the organisers have sounded a warning about action to be taken about inappropriate attire worn by participants. Now, those of you accustomed to my company will know that I'm generally in favour of inappropriately attired women as a concept, but that's not what is being warned against here.  No what is being warned against is encroaching tides of men!


Now the Women's Mini Marathon is, as you might guess from the title for women.  In reality, some of them have male running partners, some men like the idea of running a 10k and some men just like the idea of gatecrashing something they're supposedly barred from. An Irish solution to an Irish problem was arrived at. A blind eye has historically been turned to men in drag.  If you're fool enough to run 10k in the heat of midsummer dressed in a gingham dress and a Judy Garland wig, the organisers were prepared to overlook your hairy legs. I mean these are Irish women - you couldn't question the female credentials of all participants with hairy legs and a moustache, otherwise you would be there all week.

Now it is felt that men are unfairly encroaching on the women's event and that there will be stricter vetting next year.  I mean do the guys pictured left really strike you as diminishing the event as a serious race? Any more so than the armies of middle class mothers walking their way to the Merrion Centre and back? Wearing matching pink t-shirts to smugly signal that the hospice movement wouldn't be able to keep going without their fundraising efforts?...Disgusted, it used to be about the running!

In case you were wondering, Fiona completed the race and got her medal.  She ran all the way and finished in the top 4%.


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