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26 May 2020   |   Blog   |   

Sports Travel Lockdown Stories: Alma McClorey & The Marathon Majors

Alma and her sister Petrina have been on a most unique and inspiring running journey, as part of their efforts to fundraise for the Children’s Health Foundation Crumlin ( formerly CMRF Crumlin). The Children’s Health Foundation Crumlin are a charity whose purpose is to fight the causes and effects of childhood illness, until all children can live healthy lives and reach their full potential. The charity challenges invite people to join with the community of doctors, care teams, scientists, and health professionals who will do #whateverittakes for sick children.

At Tokyo and Boston respectively, Petrina and Alma were due to achieve something incredible. They were on course to become the first set of sisters from Ireland ever to finish the six prestigious Abbott World Marathon Majors. Unfortunately, the COVID- 19 pandemic threw a spanner in the works for their plan. But, as restrictions slowly ease, both us, at Sports Travel International, and the Children’s Health Foundation, are looking forward to witnessing more inspiring sporting achievements and fundraising efforts. As for Alma and Petrina’s goal? That is something we are hoping to witness next year!

We caught up with Alma, who was happy to talk to us all about her running history, her love for the sport, and how COVID-19 has affected her running schedule.

Like many amateur runners, who are just starting out in the digital age, Alma’s journey began thanks to one of the many popular fitness apps that are sweeping the market:

 “I started running about 6 years ago when I downloaded the couch to 5k app – had never run up to that.”

It was the beginning of an exciting fitness journey for Alma, and it wouldn’t be long before she felt confident enough to take on her first official marathon challenge, and began to learn all about the global running community:

“My first marathon was Dublin in 2015 – it was great fun!   My sister Petrina also ran the marathon that year. It was her first time too, so we both got hooked.  We went to Chicago for the marathon, and we’d never even had heard about the World Majors until then, but once we learned about it, well, it was a challenge we embraced.”

As time went on Alma would compete in even more incredible running events, including runs in some of the most iconic locations on Earth! Specifically in ‘The Big Apple’ with her sister, which she admits is one of her most memorable running highlights:

“I really enjoyed the NYC marathon, as I went with Petrina and a great group from Crumlin Children’s Hospital. It was amazing!  I’ve never forgotten turning onto 1st Avenue; the crowds were with us all the way, it was a brilliant experience.

Not only this, but Alma also braved one of the hottest marathons on record when she ran the London Marathon in the middle of a heatwave… Memorable for a totally different reason, but still an astounding achievement:

 “We also ran the London Marathon 2 years ago. It was 27 degrees.  That was very memorable as well, as the support was unbelievable that day.”

 These challenges were nothing compared to what Alma has described as the most difficult moment(s) of her running career, though, which came in the form of back-to-back marathons. An unbelievably difficult task, even for the most road-hardened runner:

“Last year I ran Berlin and Chicago within 2 weeks of each other.  I got a PB in Berlin and took it very handy in Chicago. Looking back, I don’t think it was the best idea doing 2 so close together but they were 2 great marathons, and I’ve so many good memories from them both.”

But through any and all running challenges Alma has faced, what always shines through is her love of the sport. There are so many aspects of training regularly that Alma gravitates towards:

“I have a fantastic bunch of friends that I go running with and marathon training.  Some Saturday mornings there could be 10 of us out running. We always have a good laugh!  I like to make sure I get some photos on our runs.  Then, I like to make a movie style photo collage, before the marathons, for my friends. It means we can look back on all the great fun we had.”

Alma is also very thankful to Sports Travel International and our fantastic team, for making all her runs truly memorable experiences that will last a lifetime.  Thank you Alma!

“I also really enjoy the marathons abroad with the Sports Travel team. There is always a great bunch of people doing the marathon, and it’s always a brilliant medal party after!  You come home then with a new group of  friends that you bump into at various races. I love it!”

Like everyone in the running community, COVID-19 has thrown a very unwelcome spanner in the works of our running plans. Whether this be every-day exercise or running events as a whole, we’ve all been forced to shift our expectations to something on a much smaller scale, Alama included:

“I was due to do Tokyo and Boston this year. It was obviously very disappointing. I would have got my 6th star in Boston, but you have to think of the bigger picture and be grateful that I’m still healthy and I’ve something to look forward to in the future now instead. There was 8 of us going to Tokyo and 3 were getting their 6th star there. It was cancelled only 2 weeks from departure, so I really was devastated for the girls. Covid was only just starting then, so we didn’t know what was ahead of us.”

None of us truly knew what was ahead of us. But, since the lockdown began, perspective for Alma has shifted. She no longer thinks about ‘what we’re missing out on’, rather ‘what we can look forward to.’ A positive mindset that’s sure to help everyone, as we slowly emerge from lockdown. Early on in the COVID-19 crisis she told us:

“I’m originally from the West of Ireland, and I can’t wait to get back home to Sligo, see my sisters and parents. It’ll be great to go for a walk on the beach, and feel the sea breeze again!  I miss it so much. I’m going to hold off on starting the training just yet!”

As for what runners can be doing during lockdown, Alma has some top tips that might come as a surprise to the most dedicated of you:

“Enjoy the break! I haven’t done much running lately. I think my body needed a rest.  I bought a bike instead and I’m really enjoying going out cycling with my kids.”

A Note From the Children’s Health Foundation Crumlin 

The Children’s Health Foundation Crumlin has been involved in taking fundraisers to the New York marathon for 27 years; first brought over with Eamonn Coghlan as Team lead.

The Children’s Health Foundation Crumlin is delighted to have Alma McClorey take on the Abbot World Marathon Majors as a charity runner; having started her journey in New York in 2018, and getting the marathon bug alongside her sister Petrina. She has continued the journey with the charity by running in London and Berlin in 2019.Next, she aims to continue her charity participation in Tokyo and Boston in 2022. The funds raised support Crumlin Children’s Hospital and the National Children Research Centre. We can really see the impact that our charity challenge runners have.

We are looking forward to seeing Alma and Petrina complete their goal of the Six Majors Medal in 2022, and continuing their support of the hospital and research centre.

… And from everyone here at Sports Travel International, we certainly hope to see Alma, and the rest of our extended running family, back in major competition very soon!

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