DERRY MUM, Denise Ward was the first local female across the line in the SSE Airtricity Walled City Marathon - a remarkable achievement in her first ever marathon attempt!
The Waterfoot Park woman, who works at Altnagelvin Hospital, crossed the line in an impressive 3:18:18, less than 13 minutes behind winner, Heather Noone (unattached) and North Belfast Harrier's Louise Smith and she has already set her sights on the London Marathon next year.
Denise has been running for Foyle Valley Athletic Club for the past five years but put off attempting her first 26.2 miler until her daughter, Aoibheann finished her Transfer Test. And so she was 'honoured' and a little surprised to get over the line at a sun-drenched Guildhall Square as the first local representative.
"It's unbelievable," she beamed. "I just went out as I felt it. It was warm but anytime I felt sore I just blocked it out. Whenever it's your first marathon you have that bit of naivety as well. "You're worried about hitting the ball but you're not overly concerned with it and you just take it as it comes. I'm delighted. Everything was great, the support was good but it was a bit on the hot side for the past hour or so.
"I'm first local so it's a great honour. I've been running for the past five or six years with Foyle Valley and I just recently had the courage to go up to a half marathon. I never went for a full marathon.
"But my wee girl went for the transfer test this year and I thought 'once I get her over the transfer test, it's mammy time and I'm going to go for it," she explained. "I did it in 3: 18 and I was aiming for anything between 3:20 or 3:30 so I'm delighted. I've qualified for London with that time so I might try that next."