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‘If you’re going to run, do it somewhere beautiful’

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She just loves to run: Rose-Anna Hoey crosses the finish line to win the May 24 women’s race in 2013 (Photograph by Mark Tatem)

Rose-Anna Hoey realises she regularly gives Railway Trail users a bit of a fright.

She’s out running every morning at 4am; her footsteps are light, the beam from her tiny torch is often the only signal of her approach.

“Sometimes the walkers don’t hear me coming,” she laughed.

The runs, each between 20 and 30 miles, began nearly three months ago. The regime is part of her preparation for the 40-mile 2018 Causeway Coast Marathon in Country Antrim, Northern Ireland, next month.

Through it, she hopes to raise $5,000 for Pals, Bermuda’s cancer charity.

Originally from Dundalk, a town that sits near the Northern Ireland border, Mrs Hoey came to Bermuda nine years ago to work as an occupational therapist at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital. She signed up for the race knowing she’d be in Ireland for her brother’s wedding. She thought it’d be easier than the gruelling race she ran in Boonsboro, Maryland, last year.

She completed the JFK 50 Mile in 7:52:1, the twelfth woman to cross the finish line.

“This year, I was looking for something a little less taxing,” she said. “Now I feel I should have done my homework more. In this race, when the tide is in you have to run in water up to your knees.”

Mrs Hoey will also have to run along cliffs, up steps and climb stiles. “My mother, Eilish Mc Shane, is acting as crew,” the 36-year-old said. “She’ll be there at certain points, with dry sneakers for me to put on.”

Mrs Hoey is hoping for perfect weather conditions; last year there were gale force winds.

“I don’t weigh that much,” she said. “I wouldn’t want to get blown off my feet.”

She anticipates finishing between 6.5 and 7.5 hours, weather and tide dependent. One of the rewards of doing the race will be the beauty of the area.

It passes alongside the scenic Giant’s Causeway, an area of about 40,000 interlocking basalt columns, the result of an ancient volcanic fissure eruption.

“If you’re going to run far somewhere, you’d better do it somewhere beautiful,” she said. “I am drawn to things that are more trail-based and I like to race in areas that are beautiful, so that I am going to see something different in a different way.”

Her goal is a podium finish.

“It is a small field in this race, but it is quite a deep field in terms of talent,” she said. “Some international talent regularly takes part in this event. I am hoping I could maybe be up there.”

Last year, she raised more than $8,000 for Pals running the JFK 50 Mile race.

Some of her clients at KEMH are cancer patients and need certain equipment that Pals provides. Cancer has also touched her own life; her aunt is a breast cancer survivor.

“She was diagnosed in Ireland in the early stages,” Mrs Hoey said. “She had her mammogram at a centre set up by the Marie Keating Foundation in Ireland.”

She started running in Dundalk, shortly before coming to Bermuda.

“I used to run from village to village,” she said. “I’d stop in one and get a Lucozade and then run to the next one.”

She joined the Mid Atlantic Athletic Club after she moved here with her husband David.

“That was a good way to get to know people in Bermuda,” she said. “I made some of my best friends from running. I think it is so important to have a hobby.”

Two years ago, after winning most of the major road races including the 2013 Bermuda Day Half Marathon Derby, she started long-distance running for a new challenge.

“I just love running,” she said. “Sometimes, I just need 30 minutes without people talking to me. It allows me to have the time to chill out.”

To make a donation to Rose-Anna Hoey’s Pals fundraiser: www.pals.bm, 18 Point Finger Road or 236-7257

For more information on the Causeway Coast Marathon visit bit.ly/1WhbFqt

Looking for a podium finish: Rose-Anna Hoey (File photograph)