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My Running Hero by Johanna C. Leahy

Johanna C. Leahy

3 Aug 2021

My Running Hero

Photo from @diversinead on Twitter

Like soon to be Olympian, Sinéad Diver, I’m Irish. Like Sinéad, I moved to Australia as an adult with my husband and children. And, just like Sinéad, I took up running relatively late in life. I was a late starter at 40. Sinead was 33. Unfortunately, unlike Sinéad, I did not discover any sort of exceptional talent but I did find a passion which, now at age 50, shows no sign of abating. I ran Melbourne Marathon in 2017, only managing to coax myself to the finish line in 3:55 by promising over and over in my head, like a mantra, that I’d never again run a marathon. And so far, I’ve proved to be better at keeping promises than at running.

While I was trudging through the streets of Melbourne, wondering if I might die before I got to the MCG, Sinéad was proving to be an extraordinary runner. In 2018, aged 41, she actually won Melbourne Marathon in 2:25. Yes, this late starter was the first women to cross the finish line in the MCG. Not only that, but her time was the fastest ever by an Australian woman on home soil (Sinéad was by that time a dual citizen of Ireland and Australia). Only three other Australian women had run faster overseas. Since that record-breaking win, Sinéad has represented Australia on the world stage. In 2019 alone, she finished seventh at London Marathon and fifth at New York Marathon. This week, at the age of 44, she will represent Australia at Tokyo Olympics in the women’s marathon.

I could not be more excited to see, not only an Irish woman represent Australia, but one in her early forties, an age when many mere mortals start to become more and more attracted to their sofas. Which is where I’ll be on the morning of Saturday, August 8, watching the race, cheering on a runner who may actually inspire me to break my promise to myself, and attempt another marathon. Some day. Maybe.

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