Pride for Derry GAA’s Ashleen at Walled City marathon

Ashleen McCaul crosses the line with daughter Ellie.
Ashleen McCaul crosses the line with daughter Ellie.

When Derry GAA’s Ashleen McCaul headed towards Guildhall Square for the last few hundred metres of the Walled City Marathon there was a special surprise waiting to help her cross the finish line.

Ashleen’s eldest child had been lifted over the barrier to run the last few steps with her mum.

“My husband, Peter lifted my daughter, Ellie over the barrier to meet me at the finish line. When I saw Ellie it gave me such a ‘lift’. I think Ellie got more of a cheer than me, but Ellie and me crossing the finish line together was worth all the pain and suffering,” said Ashleen, Gaelic games development administrator with Derry GAA.

Well used to putting in the miles having coached in the schools within the city for seven years, training for last Sunday’s marathon was a completely different experience.

“I decided to do the marathon as it has always been in the back if my mind and, I suppose, it was a personal goal as well. I did all my training around Dungiven, laps upon laps, just to make up the miles,” she explained.

On race day, the gruelling 26.2 miles proved challenging, but worthwhile.

“This was my first and probably last marathon,” said Ashleen, who is also mum to 17-month old Jack. “The hardest bit was when I crossed the Peace Bridge and hit the 21-mile mark. I had only trained to the 20-mile mark, so anything after 20 miles was unknown territory for me! I doubt if I will ever do another marathon. I knew it would be tough, but it was a lot harder than I expected.”