Sunday is definitely up there as one of the best days of my life, but it was also one of the toughest, writes Sheena Jackson.
I ran (and walked a bit of) the Walled City Marathon, finishing at Guildhall Square in 5 hours, 49 minutes and 33 seconds. I know it was on slow side but I think I deserve the biggest cheer as I was on my feet for so long!
Training for the maratjon started back in January, through some absolutely awful weather. The one thing that kept me going though was a Dungiven teenager I met before the Olympics - Ryan O’Connor. He finally got a heart transplant last year, but tragically lost both legs following complications but he hasn’t let it get the better of him. Remarkably, he is back walking, and an inspiration to many so I decided to run the 26-2 miles for him.
While the course was brutal, with tortuous hills, I am so happy I ran the marathon, and finished. I saw stunning areas of Derry I’d never normally see, like ‘out the line’. I discovered a mental strength I never knewpossible but, best of all I saw just how amazing the people of Derry are. They made Sunday a fantastic experience and without them it wouldn’t have been half the day it was.
From the girl who handed me a melted ‘Penguin’ bar in Waterfoot Park, to men, women and children telling me ‘well done’ and ‘you’re fantastic’ - you showed what Derry is all about and that’s something that can’t be found on a billboard or in a swanky advertising campaign. The impression left with runners from all arts and part is priceless.
Thanks must also go to volunteers at water stops, making sure we were on course and stayed hydrated.
Thanks too to the PSNI, not just in keeping runners safe but for their words of encouragement, like the bicycle officer who encouraged me to keep going as I slogged my way up King Street.
The best moment of the marathon was sprinting over the finish line with an old school friend I hadn’t seen since I was 16, Paschal McKenna from Limavady, and the cheers from people.
Ryan, I hope I did you proud and as for Fahan Street - next time I see you will be from inside a car!