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Belfast Healthy Cities

Our vision is to be a leader in creating
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Healthy Cities 21st Century

'It always seems impossible until it's done'

On Sunday 29 October 2017 I ran the Dublin marathon, which this year had a record 20,000 participants meaning it now ranks as the 4th most popular marathon in Europe.  Although I was very wary of undertaking what is known locally as the 'friendly marathon' it certainly did not disappoint. The crowds lining the route were in their thousands and they were enthusiastic, encouraging the runners with their cheers, home-made water stops and every energy source from gummy bears to sliced oranges.

Preparing for a marathon takes a lot of time and planning. As the long Sunday runs keep getting longer I started to wonder if I would ever see the start line, never mind the finish line! Although I had run a marathon previously it was 5 years ago and I had forgotten how hard the training is and the sacrifices you make along the way. Then as a 20 mile become a normal part of your week, you realise the achievement is in taking part. Each week marked off the training plan is fulfilling in itself. The personal benefits mount up, sleep comes easier, food tastes better than before and running is a great way to shake off the troubles of your day. Running the roads, I saw neighbours, noticed the gardens in bloom and became familiar with every bump in the road.

For many of us who have lost a loved one the marathon gives us a chance to raise funds for organisations like Marie Curie who provide invaluable support. The #TwentyThousandStories of those who took part in Dublin 2017 are an inspiration and a reminder of what is possible when we decide to do it.  

Working in an organisation which is dedicated to promoting health and wellbeing among all sections of the population I personally think that having run the marathon, I can appreciate even more the positive impact on health, physical and mental, that exercise can have. For older people, or those not used to exercise, that may mean walking rather than driving, or walking to the next bus stop instead of the one nearest to you.

So yes, at times the dreaded weekly long run made me question why I took on the marathon challenge and if it was even worth it. However the answer is always YES! The excitement I felt picking up my race pack, the nerves waiting at the start line and finally when I heard my family cheer just before the finish line made it all worth it.

The last 7 miles were tougher than I hoped but worth finishing. A really well organised event, and a great day for the runners and the supporters. For anyone that dreams of doing a marathon but not sure if you can, in the words of Nelson Mandela 'It always seems impossible until it's done'. As a  proud finisher I can say, Dublin I hope to see you again.

Anne McCusker