By Ryanne Gallagher Johnson

Ready your runners and break out your most outrageous pink outfit! A new charity race is making its debut here in Chicago, hosted by Research A Cure NFP, and shepherded by legendary Irish Olympic runner Sonia O’Sullivan.

The Great Pink Run with Glanbia, a family-friendly 5k run, jog, or walk, and CARA-certified 10k challenge, will take place at Diversey Harbor on October 5, 2019, and will raise funds for an international collaborative breast cancer research program between the U.S. and Ireland.

O’Sullivan, Irish former track and field athlete, World Champion gold medalist, and Olympian, will be participating as long-time ambassador to the event, having been attached to the project since its inception in Ireland in 2013.

“This year the Great Pink Run branches out to Chicago, the event exploring new territory in a U.S. city known for its Irish links. There is a 5km and a 10km run set for Diversey Harbor on October 5, women, men, and children running together to highlight the cause while raising funds. One hundred percent of the funds raised will go straight back to breast cancer research and treatment,” she wrote for

The Cobh, County Cork native, who now resides in Australia, discovered her love for running in Primary school as a means to waylay boredom. “There wasn’t really much other activities to do around the place, and it was just a place I would go with my friends. You could go without your parents, and there was trips away, and it was a bit of fun.”

But the “bit of fun” hobby turned into an addiction for O’Sullivan early on, and soon it was her passion. “You go out and run a race, and you win the race, and you say, ‘Oh, this is fun. I want to do that again,’ and then you start to understand times, and you see how fast you run, and you always want to try to run faster. You get a little bit addicted to it.”

O’Sullivan won the gold medal in the 5000m at the 1995 World Championships, and a silver medal in the 5000m at the 2000 Olympic Games. She still holds the world record time in the 2000m outdoor race. She’d wanted to try for an Olympic marathon, but an injury prevented her from doing so in 2008.

Ever since, she’s been running just for fun, coaching high school cross country and track, raising two daughters, and serving as charity events ambassador in order to bring awareness and funding using her love of running as a means to get people’s attention. “There’s no better way of raising funds than by doing something healthy such as running.” (

The Great Pink Run, her most recent project attachment, was launched in Chicago by O’Sullivan herself at the end of June, and she is expected back in Chicago to run with the crowd on October 5! “It’s a different kind of event. It’s not super competitive, but it's great fun,” she explains.

In Ireland, the fundraising initiative has grown to 8,000 participants raising over $600,000 in 2018. Projected participation for the inaugural run in Chicago is expected to be around 1,500 people this year.

Funds raised will go towards a collaborative program for breast cancer research, spearheaded by Research A Cure NFP (, and will support the University of Chicago Ludwig Center for Metastasis Research, as well as the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland.

The event is open to anybody, and people are encouraged to don their best pink gear!

(Pictured: Sonia O'Sullivan and Irish American News publisher, Cliff Carlson, at Theatre on the Lake for the announcement of the inaugural Chicago run, June 2019). photo by Jackie Jasperson Photography.

More information can be found at