Amongst the ambassadors for the recently launched An Post cycle series in Ireland is former international athlete Marian Heffernan. The 400 metre runner competed for Ireland in the 4 x 400m relay at the London Olympics in 2012. She is also a former national women’s 400m champion.
Since retirement, Marian has been involved in coaching her husband Rob, who won the 50km walk at the World Championships in Moscow in 2013, which followed on from his fourth place finish in the same event at the London Olympics.In addition to working with Rob, Marian has also taken up cycling since she stopped running. We caught up with her to talk about her interest in cycling.
2015 will be her second year as a Cycle Series Ambassador, having been involved with the An Post Cycle Series last year. “I took part in the Rebel Tour last year,” she says, “and it was first time taking part in an event like that. The weather was unbelievable, and the atmosphere was fantastic. I took part in the 60k option and I just paced myself.”
Prior to taking part in last year’s series, Marian didn’t have much experience cycling, and she had decided to take up the bike as an alternative from going to the gym. “I initially took up cycling to maintain fitness, but I just caught the bug. I’ve been really enjoying it.”
Training for this year’s event in September won’t be as easy as last year as she’s currently expecting her third child, due in a couple of months time. Her pregnancy coupled with looking after a family, as well as helping with Rob’s training means her time for training is limited. “I just try and get out for an hour or an hour and a half when I can.”
When Marian does manage to get out on the bike, she has a regular route that she covers. “It’s an 8 1/2 km loop in Cork city. I usually do 2 or 3 laps of that. It’s flat and safe. It goes past Pairc Ui Chaoimh and Blackrock Castle.”
She’s hopeful of getting out a bit more in the summer after the baby is born. “We’re going to an altitude camp in Spain in July. It’s in the Sierra Nevada. There’ll be a group of triathletes there, so I hope to get out on the bike there. We’ll base ourselves there for the summer.”
Another former athlete and fellow Corkonian, Sonia O’Sullivan, also took up cycling after retirement, and she even took part in the biggest women’s race in the country, Rás na mBan. Would racing ever interest Marian? “Not for the moment,” she responds. “I just don’t have the time, but maybe when Rob retires.”
Over 16,870 people took part in last year’s An Post Cycle Series, which has options for various different levels. You can find out more information here: