Thursday, April 07, 2022

We are now less than a month away from the 2022 Western People West of Ireland Women’s Mini-Marathon, which takes place in-person in Castlebar and virtually around the world on the Bank Holiday Sunday, May 1.

Preparations are ongoing and registrations for the event are filling up fast, with participants still able to avail of the chance to enter a draw for the special Early Bird offer of stay for two people for two nights with the Westport Hotel Group. Anyone who enters the race before April 16 will be included in the draw.

The Teens Target 30 initiative has been a key component of the Mini-Marathon in recent years and 2022 will be no exception. The initiative is aimed at secondary school-aged girls around Mayo, who are being encouraged to engage in 30 minutes of physical exercise every day in preparation for the Mini-Marathon.

Highlighting the importance of women in sport has been a key goal of the Mini-Marathon since its inauguration over ten years ago. This is a particularly significant issue for teenage girls, amongst whom the fall-off rate from competitive sport can often be extremely high.

The Mini-Marathon is a non-competitive event: the focus is on participation and on promoting the physical and mental benefits that regular exercise can provide. Mini-Marathon organisers are reaching out to schools across the county who may wish to introduce the Teens Target 30 training plan amongst their own students and to sign up as many willing participants as possible for the Mini-Marathon on May 1.

One such school is Sacred Heart Westport, whose students have a long association with the Mini-Marathon and are looking forward to taking part once again this year as the event returns to its spiritual home at the Mall in Castlebar for the first time since 2019.

Olivia Kelly is a teacher in Sacred Heart who has been leading the organising of the Mini-Marathon training amongst the student body.

“We’ve been doing the training as part of our PE programme and encouraging the girls to get involved,” said Olivia this week.

“It’s just a great opportunity to go out running or walking in the locality. It’s great to have it in Mayo so we wanted to get involved. The student council is organising the numbers and there’s a good amount of interest so far. We should have a good few teachers and students in Castlebar on the day.

“We always enjoy it, it’s a great day out. The girls look forward to it,” continued Olivia, who is a member of Westport Athletic Club herself.

As a teacher, Olivia is conscious of the importance for young people of having a goal to work towards, and of the benefits of exercise in coping with the stresses of teenage life. Girls from first year up to Leaving Cert in Sacred Heart have already signed up to take part.

“If you have a goal, you’re more inclined to keep up the training, that’s really important,” she said.

“Hopefully now we’ll have good numbers on the day, we’re hoping to increase numbers from last year. It’s a great initiative which we really enjoy.”

The Sacred Heart girls have combined their Mini-Marathon training with their fundraising efforts for Trocaire’s Lenten campaign, which is being coordinated by religion teacher Maria Lane. The girls were walking a kilometre a day for Lent as part of that fundraiser and their Mini-Marathon training has followed on from that.

“They’re not all going to run it, it’s not a race from that point of view,” said Olivia. “Some of them are quite athletic, some are involved in different sports. But most of them will be doing it for the walk and to enjoy the day out.”

Students participating in the Mini-Marathon as part Teens Target 30 can sign up for the event for the discounted price of €10 per student. Every student who registers will receive a specially-commissioned tee-shirt and a medal from the race.

To sign up for the Mini-Marathon or to find out more, visit

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