740 & Counting: Collette O’Hagan, Marathon Woman

‘740 & Counting: Collette O’Hagan, Marathon Woman’, a one-hour radio documentary funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland under the Sound & Vision scheme, broadcast at 12noon on Monday Oct 26th  2020 on LMFM.

The documentary was shortlisted for an IMRO Radio Award in 2021.

Since October 2017, Collette O’Hagan from Dundalk has held the title of becoming the first woman in Ireland to complete 500 marathons. 3 years later in October 2020, she has now hit an amazing total of 740 marathons.

The mother of five, grandmother and foster parent of over eighty children was encouraged by her husband Larry to take up running at the age of 40, after she had been hospitalised due to illness.  She admitted that she initially hated it but persevered and ended up getting the ‘bug’ to keep on running.

Collette went on to complete her first race, the Women’s Mini Marathon in 1990. That year Collette also completed the Dublin Marathon for the first time. Over the past 30 years, Collette has now completed an astonishing 740 marathons all over the world, including the ‘Big Five’ of New York, London, Chicago, Berlin and Boston, and doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon.

Despite her 740 marathons, Collette has only ever been injured once when she suffered a stress fracture in her foot, but that didn’t stop her from running and in August 2015 she completed the Quad Marathon in Donegal while wearing a protective boot.

She believes that you are ‘never too old to start’ and that that running keeps her mentally strong, gives her a goal and helps keep her motivated in life.  She also decided to help set up a marathon in her hometown and was one of the main organisers of the first marathon in Dundalk which took place in September 2016.

As if running marathons and ultra-marathons didn’t take up enough of her time, Collette has also fostered over eighty children as well as raising five children of her own. She has also raised money for charity, including an orphanage in Romania.  Collette first came in contact with the Aurelia Trust, an Irish charity that helps children in Romanian orphanages at a conference about fostering in 1994. Shortly after that, Colette travelled to Romania to help the children at the Negru Voda Orphanage.  The North Louth Hospice is also a charity very close to her heart for whom she often fundraises.

This one-hour radio documentary explores the powerful motivations behind the woman who says that ‘you’re never too old to start’, and who is an inspiration to us all for so many reasons.

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