‘My passion for the police’

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It took her eight attempts to pass the rigorous training assessment, but Clodagh Dunlop finally achieved her dream of being a policewoman, and enjoyed every aspect of an eight-year career as a response officer based in Londonderry.

She was even named Personal Police Officer of the Year in 2012, something which is uncommon, given the fact that the duties of a response officer mainly involve responding to 999 calls and so on.

And it was whilst she was a new recruit in the PSNI that she developed a passion for fitness and running, so determined was she to prove herself as an effective and competent policewoman.

But she admits that her parents were “very apprehensive” about their oldest daughter joining the force to begin with.

“They steered me towards university, and so I went and got a degree from Queen’s University Belfast in History and Politics, but I still wanted to join the police. I suppose I romanticised the idea of it - I liked the idea that I would be there for victims of crime and help them.

“I got a job in retail whilst considering going into teaching. Then I bought a round the world ticket and went travelling. When I returned after a year, I still wanted to join.”

Clodagh applied - and failed - for the PSNI seven times, and was finally successful on her eighth try, proving to everyone around her that nothing would put her off pursing this career.

“I was so determined to succeed, so I really excelled at police training college. It was there that I found I had a real love for running. Fitness is a big stage of the early stages of training, and I would regularly run three or four miles just to get mine at the right level. Running became my life. I was always determined to improve on my pace, get down to a six minute mile. There was a unit that was very specialised and required a high level of fitness, and to date there have been no successful female applicants. I was quite determined to be the first.”