Karl Fenlon interviews Aoife Cahill Mannion about raising funds for CMRF in the mini marathon.

Aoife Cahill Mannion from Dun Laoghaire is calling on women to join team CMRF Crumlin in the VHI Women’s Mini Marathon 2019. CMRF Crumlin raises vital funds for CHI, Crumlin (formerly Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital) and the National Children’s Research Centre (NCRC).
“My fourth and youngest son, Jasper, is my inspiration and reason for taking part in the Mini Marathon in aid of Crumlin,” Aoife said. “In 2010, when he was 10 months of age he was diagnosed with a very rare and aggressive form of cancer. It was an Extra Renal Rabdoid Sarcoma, Stage IV. He was given a 17% chance of survival. We were living in the US at the time and so far away from family and friends, albeit wonderfully supportive friends, Stateside.
“That June, when the Mini Marathon came around, a fabulous bunch of gorgeous women in my life fundraised and participated in support. They had t-shirts printed with his gorgeous cheeky face and while we couldn’t be there to join them, we all wore the same t-shirts they had sent us, on that day, in the US. It was so emotional for all of us and the effort, love, support and care that went into that day on our behalf resonated so strongly with me.”
Aoife promised herself that when she returned home she would do the mini marathon every year. 2012 was the first year that she participated after moving back to Ireland, and she has been involved every year since then with a gang of her closest friends. They always organise a coffee morning in St Joseph’s Parish Hall, in Glasthule, a few weeks before the mini marathon in order to raise more funds. Each year Aoife and her friends are amazed at the generosity and support from The Harold School parents, local retailers and the general neighbourhood. Everyone comes together as a community.
“My coffee morning pals and I get the Dart into town and that’s where we part! There are champion runners amongst us and then there’s me! I don’t do it in a competitive way, or to finish the run under a certain time. I do it for the fun, for the experience and to give back. It’s amazing to see thousands of women every year running for different causes and united by compassion and comradery. We all meet up afterwards for a celebratory drink!”
Aoife says it is always a very personal and emotional day for her – “As the years have created distance from Jasper’s illness, it has become less emotionally overwhelming but nonetheless deeply important and personal. I treat it like an homage to him and a time of reflection on all we went through. I play the same experiences through in my mind. I’m still having new thoughts on his illness.
“I should add that this is all done under severe running pressure and huffing and puffing! I am not a natural runner, despite my gazelle-like desires, but what keeps me motivated and going is the unrivalled atmosphere and sheer determination of so many women, many with similar thought processes as mine, I’m sure. There are lifetimes of pain, heartbreak and suffering behind the amazingly strong women who turn out to participate in a day so filled with love, fun, support, determination and togetherness.