This week's Belfast Telegraph Runher Titanic 2014 is attracting some of the most colourful and courageous ladies one could ever hope to meet, including the four we have interviewed. The 10k run and walk event starts on Titanic Quarter Slipways, runs around Titanic Quarter, takes in a road beside Harland and Wolff (close to the iconic cranes) and – as a super new addition for any event in this area – the route will head into Victoria Park via the new Sam Wallace bridge. The finish will be close to the stunning Titanic building – unmissable fun for runners and spectators alike.
Alanna Audley-Murphy (28) – the 2014 Commonwealth Games boxing bronze medallist – boxes with Eastside Boxing Club in Belfast and works with the Armed Forces in England. Her English partner Chez (27) is a fellow member of the Armed Forces and a CSBA (Combined Services) champion boxer. Alanna started boxing aged 12 at the Sandy Row Club in Belfast. She and a friend decided to take up the sport when not many females were involved in it, and had to push their way in. She inspired her brother Lewis (17) to take up boxing at age 11. He's currently an All-Ireland champion and trains at Holy Trinity Club in Belfast. Alanna is making her Runher debut at this year's Titanic 10k, following a very successful Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games. She says:
I don't take on a lot of serious running but I jumped at the chance to do Runher. My fitness levels are pretty good, with both my boxing training and my job within the Armed Forces, and my partner Chez (27) and I run for fun and to keep fit.
Aside from boxing, I'm really more of a swimmer than a runner but taking part in Runher will help me. Chez and I are also planning to compete in the 2015 Belfast Marathon, all of which is good preparation for Rio 2016.
In the meantime, I'm more than happy to support Runher – in fact, I can't wait for it! Hopefully it will be a good day but it will be good craic whatever the weather.
I'm running to raise funds for Help For Heroes, a charity supporting members of the Armed Forces who have been wounded in combat.
I'm doing it with some of my family and the girls I grew up with and we're all going to have a big Sunday roast afterwards. I've been out doing a few runs over the last couple of weeks to get ready for it but I'd get a stitch in the ring quicker than I would running.
I've no fancy running shoes – I'll just throw on the Adidas trainers I wear for boxing. Chez would have liked to come too but it's an all-girl event. I'm really looking forward to seeing some of my old friends there.
It will also be great to be running around the Titanic Quarter – the centre there is a credit to Belfast and a fantastic tourist attraction we can be proud of.'
Comedienne Jane Duffus (36) lives in Bristol with her Belfast-born husband Paul (37), a financial analyst, and their black Labrador Rachel, who has been her running partner and "unofficial coach" since she started running last July. Jane has lost two stone through her efforts and recently ran naked for a Streak For Tigers event at London Zoo. She says:
When I turned 36 in February, I decided to run 37 races in my 37th year, to lose a bit of weight and get fit. Within that year I decided to make sure I included races in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland – Paul's family still live on the Castlereagh Road.
Northern Ireland is the only country left to tick off that list, so Runher Titanic is playing a very important part in my challenge! The Belfast race will also be the 26th race in my challenge, so I'm getting there.
My initial goal had been to train for the Bristol 10k in May, but then I worried that I might think I'd done it all and stop running, so I set myself this challenge to make me keep going.
The Bristol 10k was my first big city race, with about 10,000 runners, and that was an amazing experience and I was buzzing for days afterwards.
If I've learned anything in my year of running it's that I'm capable of a lot more than I thought I was. Running has boosted my confidence no end – I even ran in the nude for the Streak For Tigers at London Zoo in August. I would never have had the confidence to run completely naked (apart from trainers) this time last year. But after losing nearly two stone since January through running, and also getting a bit older and more relaxed about things, I'm more up for new experiences.
I debated for a really long time about doing it, and considered bottling it in the days before, but am so glad I didn't. When you're surrounded by a few hundred people who are also naked, being naked yourself doesn't seem like such a big deal. It was only a few laps around the enclosures at London Zoo, but I found that by the time we'd finished and were going back to the changing rooms, I felt ready to really go for it and run a naked 5k.
I'm really looking forward to Runher Titanic. It looks like it will be a nice flat loop through some interesting and historic parts of Belfast – plus it's always nice to run beside water.
The Runher people promise it's a nice flat course and I hope they're right. It will take in some parts of Belfast I haven't seen yet, like Victoria Park, so I'm looking forward to getting to know the city better. I love running beside water: it's much more relaxing and interesting than just plodding along roads."
Torrie Tennant (24) has been blind since birth, having been starved of oxygen when she was born three months prematurely. She will be walking the Runher Titanic route with her guide dog Ushi, who is four. Torrie lives in Ballymena with her parents Jacinta and Shea, her twin sister Chris, and her brothers David (11) and Alex (5). She says:
I spend much of my time working as a volunteer for Guidedogs For The Blind. It was through them I got Ushi, who's a Labrador retriever.
I also help at a charity called Angel Eyes, that raises awareness and helps parents who have kids who are visually impaired.
It was to raise money for these two organisations that got me into Runher.
I decided to join my local Park Run back at the beginning of March, as I wanted to walk the eight miles in the Belfast marathon.
I walk all the time but wanted to make sure that Ushi could do it, too.
I'd heard a lot about Runher and thought it would be a good event. I don't run, although many visually impaired people do.
After the marathon I thought I wouldn't go back to Park Run, but I decided that I would because the craic was brilliant and they are so welcoming.
Every Saturday morning, I do the Ecos Park Run in Ballymena with Ushi. I have a guide who walks round with me because it is very open, so it would be hard to find the right turns and so on, as I have to be the one who directs Ushi.
I had wanted to do the Runher event in June in Carnfunnock but when I got to the railway station in Larne I wasn't able to get any further because there were no taxis.
I was very disappointed but the Runher organisers have said they will get me a guide to make sure Ushi and I get to the start and round the course in the Titanic Quarter.
I'm really looking forward to doing the whole 10k – Ushi had better be up to it, though!"
Nicola McGoldrick (40) had to learn to walk again after a horrific car crash left her in a wheelchair, but 19 years on, she's gearing up to run the full 10k in Runher Titanic. Nicola is a full-time mum, from Newtownabbey where she lives with her businessman husband Colm (37), and children Aine (8) and Ronan (6). She says:
I had a very bad road traffic accident in 1995, when I was 21 – I had a compound fracture to my left leg, a broken pelvis and numerous lacerations to my legs and arms, which were badly mushed up, but I tried to stay positive because I had survived.
I recovered slowly and learned to walk again, with continuous physiotherapy and lots of support. I found walking was a great way of keeping me from getting sore and stiff.
Over the years since, I walked and walked, even during my pregnancies, as I was worried the pelvic injury could have affected my ability to have a normal delivery.
If I took a break or stopped for a short while, aches and pains would start to reappear, so walking regularly became part of my life.
Then when I was 36, having thought I could never run because of all my old injuries, I started to jog a little while staying at my mum's with the kids for a few weeks in Fermanagh. I am now 40 and I haven't looked back. I run as often as I can – sometimes four times a week.
I have taken part in numerous 5km and 10 km runs, including the relay in the Belfast Marathon a few years back, and am hoping to achieve a half marath-on in a few weeks.
It's very scary when I think back to when I couldn't physically walk and had to spend some time in a wheelchair, and it's such a personal achievement every time I throw on my running shoes and head off for a run. I am a very lucky girl. Walking for me back then, and running now, is great therapy; it helps clear my mind and sort out how I'm feeling.
Running helps me through the tough challenges we all get at some stage in our lives.
I know that one day I could have it taken away from me again through injury or – let's face it – old age, but I do really hope I have a few hundred miles left in me yet.
If I can take part in Runher, anyone can and I'd love to help motivate anyone thinking of doing it. Just go for it."
Friends and family are welcome to come along and walk or run with the runners, and to enjoy our special Runher Village side activities. This 10k event is for women aged 15 years and above, under UK Athletics and Athletics Northern Ireland rules.
Online entry is open until midnight tomorrow, September 30, and Pack Collection/Event Registration will take place at Pure Running on the days listed below:
Thursday, October 2 – 10am to 8pm
Friday, October 3 – 9am to 6pm
Saturday, October 4 – 9am to 5pm
Sunday, October 5 – Race Day, 9am to 1pm sharp at Runher Village,Titanic Slipway,Titanic Quarter.
A PayPal confirmation receipt (as a printout or on phone/tablet) is required to register. Packs include race entry for Belfast Telegraph Runher 10k (walk/jog/run), championship timing, a Runher technical run T-shirt and a Runher goody bag.
Late entry will be possible on the above days (£20) but due to high demand, late entrants will not receive a Runher goody bag and T-shirt. Earlybird prices of £12 and £15 are now sold out, so entry for this event is now £18.
If you want to walk or run our first ever Belfast Telegraph 10k event in the Titanic Quarter – and to be guaranteed an event T-shirt – we recommend online entry as soon as possible.
Find further information from Facebook, Twitter and via www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/-woman/runher