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ISCP Sponsorship of the 2015 VHI Women's Mini Marathon

2015 marked the ISCP’s 3rd year of sponsorship of the Women’s Mini Marathon. The society’s involvement with the race was met with positive feedback from participants, organisers, and vendors alike. The society was represented both before and at the event by 23 student and Chartered Physiotherapist volunteers.

The ISCP provided blog posts and information on injury prevention and exercise advice on the event’s website. At the expo, event participants were greeted by ISCP volunteers after collecting their race numbers, and Chartered Physiotherapists were available for quick pre-race assessment and advice. At the finish line area, the ISCP tent was well equipped to provide post-race massages and assessments to race participants. A cool down session with dynamic stretching designed to keep participants moving after the race was a bit of a misnomer considering the unseasonably cold and wet weather, but was well received by participants trying to keep warm while waiting to attend the post-race stalls.

This year, the ISCP focused on using its presence at the VHI Womens Mini Marathon to promote the Chartered Physiotherapist’s role in supporting women’s health. The aim was to increase public awareness of the specialty of Women’s Health Physiotherapy, and to create a positive image of Chartered Physiotherapists as champions of healthy lifestyles for women. In addition to leaflets on post-race cool down strategies, pamphlets with information on women’s health promotion and available physiotherapy services were disseminated.  With the help of volunteers, 8800 leaflets were distributed at the pre-race VHI Women’s Expo.  

The highlight of the ISCP’s sponsorship activities was the provision of post-race cool down exercises and a massage and treatment tent. 12 plinths were set up to provide 5 to 10 minute sport massages to very enthusiastic runners and walkers, many of whom braved long rainy lines to secure a spot. Quick calf massages were also available for the participant who didn’t have the time to wait. The cool down exercise stage was in operation for 2 hours, with over 25 thousand race participants taking part. It was an impressive service provided, especially considering the dire weather on the day. The day before the event, the race organisers were worried about the stages and tents set up, as a possible warning for gale-force winds on the day was in effect. The ISCP tent gave out more foil blankets after the 2015 VHI Women’s Mini Marathon than any year of the Dublin Marathon in October.

Many participants expressed gratitude for the service, but it was well deserved. Many of the women who took part on June 1 raised funds and awareness for a wide range of charities, including Irish Cancer Society, Down Syndrome Ireland and Aware. During her calf massage, one runner told her story for wanting to raise money for her chosen charity, the Irish Heart Foundation. One of her best friends, a 36 year old mother of 3, had just had her youngest child 3 months prior to the race. After giving birth, the participant’s friend suffered a fatal heart attack. The participant ran the race in her friend’s honour and to raise money for the IHF. Stories like these are a great reminder that sponsoring an event like the VHI Women’s Mini Marathon serves a dual purpose of promoting the ISCP and also providing support to the women undertaking very personal and worthy causes.

Not only did the ISCP’s involvement at the mini marathon serve to promote the profession and engage with participants, the volunteers also had a positive experience on race day. Many of the volunteers at the ISCP tent were physiotherapy students or had only just qualified as Chartered Physiotherapists, enthusiastic about the opportunity for hands on experience and involvement with their professional body. One volunteer, Ellen Garneys, said that “Despite the rainy weather, the participants of the Women's Mini Marathon were full of smiles and positive attitudes when they entered the massage tent. It was an incredibly rewarding opportunity to work with these wonderful women and to here all of their stories. Being able to practice massage techniques is a very beneficial learning opportunity, but having the privilege of interacting with so many incredible participants made the experience one of a kind.”Keith Kane, a newly qualified Physiotherapist just finished at RCSI, said of the experience “I thought the tent was well organised and the section for sitting down with calf massage really helped people who just wanted to relax quickly after the race, and just have a seat out of the cold. It also meant more people could avail of our service. It was good to have the warm down on a stage too as it provided a much needed necessity for post-training recovery. On a personal note, it was very nice of the ISCP to have sandwiches and tea/coffee on tap for us on such a miserable day!”

The success of the ISCP’s sponsorship was thanks to a well organised event supported by enthusiastic volunteers, and attended by positive participants.