A young Stranorlar woman is set to compete in the biggest Strongwoman competition in Ireland this weekend.

Megan Jennings will be one of 22 women pushing their limits lifting, throwing and carrying immense weights in Galway on Saturday.

The 29-year-old’s journey to strongwoman is particularly remarkable because of the challenges she’s overcome in other areas of her life.

“It’s a big deal for me because I have three chronic illnesses,” Megan said.

“So I’m in constant pain, but have to push through daily to even work, never mind strength train.”

Megan Jennings. Photo: Tony Farrell

Megan lives with Endometriosis, interstitial cystitis, pelvic congestion syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease. She was regularly bedridden with pain and illness and had to take a year out of college.

Six years ago, Megan was struggling with her weight after having her baby boy, Antaine.

“I was getting separation anxiety and decided I needed to do something for myself,” she said. “I went to a Zumba class and fell in love with it, and with that came my love again for fitness and movement.”

The exercise endorphins became Megan’s natural pain reliever, and she was hooked. She trained as a Zumba instructor and can now be found bouncing about as a Kangoo instructor.

Megan attends Uforea gym in Letterkenny and it was this community that inspired her to try her hand at competing.

“I used to watch the lads in awe flinging about weights and thought to myself how bloody awesome would it be as a woman to be able to do something like that,” she said.

Megan Jennings. Photo: Tony Farrell

Megan’s strength coach is Cameron Friel, who has been training her for the past 10 months to get competition-ready. She recently placed third in the 73kg category at the Natural Ireland’s Strongest Man and Woman contest.

This Strongwoman competition marks Megan’s debut. While she is proud to be representing Donegal, she says she’s more focused on the experience than the podium.

The event promises an incredible display of strength, with challenges like deadlifts, log presses, yoke carries, sandbag throws, frame carries, and Atlas stone lifts.

Megan Jennings. Photo: Tony Farrell

While she continues to deal with constant pain, Megan is grateful to have found relief in fitness – both physically and mentally.

“I could be buckled over in pain while training but the lads will check in on me with words of encouragement. I realised I had to push through the pain to feel fantastic afterwards.

“When you’re in a gym, you don’t have an option to just sit and give up.

“I push through the wall and once you get over that wall that’s when the relief comes and the endorphins kick in. Then you get all the benefits from it.

“The gym can be like an antidepressant, especially when you train with great people around you. Moving the weights and hitting PBs, dancing to the music between sets and having a laugh with the guys is what has gotten me through some very tough and dark times mentally too. They don’t realise what the laughs and support do for my heart.”

Megan Jennings. Photo: Tony Farrell