Here is some heart-warming news on a chilly winter’s day with snow covering the Mayo hills, and hailstone flurries bouncing on roads and patios. We have been following the exciting athletics story of Sinéad Diver recently and especially since October 12th. As you will read this is a significant date in the Mayo woman’s journey that began just a few years ago in Melbourne. Sinéad has been in contact with the club and told us about her athletics experience and success to date. This is what she says:
I grew up in Belmullet and was always pretty sporty as a child but never did any running. I moved to Australia in 2002 and after settling in Melbourne I joined a touch rugby team and a basketball team and did a little bit of running on the treadmill in a gym close to work to keep fit.
I had my first child in 2009 and it was really after that, in an effort to get fit and lose some of the baby weight that I started running more regularly. A couple of months after Eddie was born I joined a running group called the Crosbie Crew and that’s where I met my current coach and training partners. When I joined the group I had a pretty good fitness base and was an ok runner but I had no experience with proper training or racing. I had never heard of speed sessions or tempo’s runs etc. I used to just go out and run as hard as I could for as long as I could and that was it. So running with the group and under the guidance of a coach made a massive difference.
After a few months of training with the crew I entered a couple of fun runs and did pretty well in those so I signed up to my local athletics club at the end of 2011 – a week later I placed second at the Victorian 5000m championships. That’s really when my mindset started to change a little and I thought that maybe I did have a bit of a talent for this! 2012 was a great year for me and I placed 2nd at the National XC championships and won the Australian half marathon championships. By then I was 35 & my son Eddie was almost 3 and both my husband and I were keen to have another child so I decided to put running on hold for a while and I fell pregnant in January of 2013. My second son was born in September. I didn’t run at all while I was pregnant due to an injury but I kept pretty fit with walking and swimming.
I recommenced training at the start of 2014 and raced my first major race at the Gold Coast (half marathon) and came second in a PB of 1:14:25. After that, I raced in the Athletics Victoria Cross Country season and won the overall XCR championship title. I also placed 2nd at the National XC champs again this year. I made my marathon debut at the Melbourne marathon in October and came second in a time of 2:34:15.
Marathon: 2:32:15 (2014)
Half Marathon: 1:14:25 (2014)
10 km Road: 33:57 (2014)
10,000m: 33:56 (2012)
5000m: 16:24 (2012)
3000m: 9:48 (2012)
Mile: 4:55 (2012)
1500m: 4:32 (2012)
Hopes for the future
I’d love to improve my times for a lot of the shorter distances but really my main focus over the next while will be on the longer stuff. After my experience at the Melbourne marathon I’m really keen to race another marathon and get my time below the Olympic A qualifying standard of 2:32. Hopefully I can fit in a few 10k’s and half marathons along the way and improve on those times too. ”
I’m sure you’ll agree that’s a wonderful story. We’ve documented many of our members achievements after similar short introductions to running, particularly women balancing life and training in masters categories, and are delighted to add Sinéad’s story. Congratulations to Sinéad on her achievements and especially a fantastic first marathon performance. As we now know her 2:34:15 finish time in Melbourne on October 12th was four seconds faster than Maria McCambridge’s personal best Irish Marathon winning time on October 27th in Dublin. Fionnuala Britton, who leads the Irish team in the European Cross Country Championships next week clocked 2:31:46 in her first marathon August and is 4th on the all time Irish women’s marathon list. Sinéad’s Melbourne time puts her in 8th. It’s also the second fastest marathon time by a Mayo woman, Regina Joyce ran 2:32:56 in the US in 1982 and her sister Monica ran 2:34:49 also in the uS in 1984, making it three Mayo women in the Irish all time top ten. As Sinead’s amazing PB list indicates, her other distance times rate highly in both Australian and Irish lists.
It gets better. Following her recent success Sinéad says “It was really lovely to feel the support from home and it encouraged me to join up with an Irish club as I had been thinking about it for quite some time” We can confirm that she is now registered with Mayo AC as her Irish club and we are happy to welcome her and are very proud to have her as a member. This dual registration is common as we have quite a few members in the same position. As we know, Sonia O’Sullivan continues to run with Ballymore Cobh AC in Ireland and Glenhuntly AC in the same state of Australia, Victoria. This wonderful news comes at a very appropriate time as club registration for 2015 is imminent, and it is an inspirational boost for all of us. We will be following Sinéad’s progress in Victoria with great interest, and keeping you up to date.