How a son’s horrifying cardiac arrest has this mum championing the Vhi Women's Mini Marathon (every year!) 5 years ago

How a son’s horrifying cardiac arrest has this mum championing the Vhi Women's Mini Marathon (every year!)

Brought to you by Vhi.

"I’m really not a runner."

The familiar words so many of us tell ourselves are also the words of mum, Naoimh Tuohy. With three little boys (aged seven, six and three), this mama has her hands full. But it was one of her little boys that drove her to start running (age 43), and in the Vhi Women's Mini Marathon last year.

"My son fell very sick in 2014. He was four years-of-age at the time, so had just finished four days of junior infants when he had a cardiac arrest at home," says Naoimh.

"It was in the middle of the night, completely out of the blue, with no flags and no signs of what had caused it.

"Long story short, we ended up in ICU, in Crumlin Hospital, where he stayed for about eight or nine days, and then he was transferred to the heart centre where they fitted him with a defibrillator.

"Essentially, he carries the gene that causes a dangerous cardiac arrhythmia, which can cause a cardiac arrest. You’re sleeping on his bedroom floor each night for I don’t know how long afterwards. You’re petrified, that you’re going to wake up in the middle of the night and it’s going to happen again, you know?

Having gone through one of the most petrifying experiences any parent could imagine, Naoimh decided to run in the Vhi Women's Mini Marathon last year in support of the research fund for Our Ladies Hospital for Sick Children.


"Last year when I ran it for the hospital, a lot of mums ran it with me, and they were so supportive.

"This year we’re running it for the Irish Heart Foundation. My sister in law, a couple of mums from the school, the same two mums from the creche will be running. We’re building a team.

When we ask Naoimh what she'd say to someone who's currently debating if they should join the Vhi Women's Mini Marathon, it's pretty clear where this mama stands.

"Oh god. Do it! It’s really great fun. There’s a great sense of togetherness and women making a difference. There’s no judgement, it’s just a lovely day out."

"You can walk it, you can run it. If I beat my time from last year I’ll be delighted. It’s just such a great day, it’s a real achievement, for me anyway - especially as a non-runner.

"People say you’ll get addicted and you’ll love it. I’m not quite at that stage yet, but I’m going out three or four times a week to try and prep my body which is great. But it’s also a time to just think, and to have time for yourself. It’s good for the boys as well I think, to see their mum crossing the finish line."

A positive ripple effect isn't the only great thing to come from joining the Mini Marathon. Naoimh features as part of the Vhi Women's Mini Marathon campaign too. Her story even inspired an original piece of artwork (by artist Claudine Sullivan) that aims to motivate other women to take part this year - whatever their reason.


Watch the heartwarming clip here

So, Vhi paired four artists with four runners, where each of the women shared their story, and in the most beautiful way, it was portrayed through the art produced.

"I met Claudine first for an hour or two. I have to say, I felt connected with her straight away. I told her the full story of the night, how I felt about it, and how we had to realign to fix it all up.

She had two weeks to come up with the drawing that she did. It was a positive picture, I really liked it."

For now, Naoimh's little boy is back in school and he's “thriving."

"He’s probably safer now than he ever was in the past, it’s just that I didn’t know it. I guess, I know it’s there, it’s in his body. He hasn’t been out of step since. He hasn’t showed any dangerous arrhythmia."

One thing's for sure. The encouragement, the friendships, the feeling of achievement and the opportunity to give back that the Vhi Women's Mini Marathon brings, has everyone wanting to participate this year, especially, for their babas.

See another runner's story here

Brought to you by Vhi.

If you want to take part in the biggest all female event of its kind in the world, make sure to sign up! The Vhi Women’s Mini Marathon takes place on Sunday, June 3. Register online at Registrations close May 18! 

Those who register for the Vhi Women’s Mini Marathon and pay the €23 registration fee will be able to get the full €23 fee reimbursed if they have private medical insurance with Vhi.  Just use the Vhi Snap & Send Claiming tool on the Vhi app.