Bus Éireann helps Sanctuary runners as 8,000 take part in Irish Examiner Cork City Marathon

Some of the Sanctuary Runners before the race. Picture: Darragh Kane

Bus Éireann kindly stepped in to provide transport to bring Sanctuary runners from the Direct Provision centre in Kinsale Road in Cork to Patrick Street today for the city marathon.

Over 350 people from accommodation centres nationally and individuals running to support them completed the marathon in the city today.

Olympians Rob Heffernan, Olive Loughnane, Marian Heffernan and Claire Lambe ran the marathon with the Sanctuary runners.

They were also joined by Kerry GAA legend Tomas O'Se and former Cork All Ireland winning Gaelic footballer Paul McGrath.

The majority of the Sanctuary Runners were in relay teams.

Sanctuary Runners founder, Graham Clifford, said running enables people in very difficult circumstances to taste liberation.

"The Sanctuary Runner concept breaks down the barriers which exist between those in Direct Provision and the rest of us in wider Irish society. Ours is a running group of hope, of solidarity and of decency."

The Sanctuary Runners receive funding from Cork City Council and the TOMAR Trust.

They collect used running gear to redistribute and are hoping to grow to include 20-different locations across Ireland over the next twelve-months.

The Sanctuary runners are now gathering on Princes Street in Cork city centre for a celebration which will include a Brazilian Samba band and Sudanese drummers.

Mr Clifford said events such as the marathon assist the integration process in Ireland.

Days like this are so important. Not just for those in Direct Provision but for us as Irish residents too. This is a chance to show the world that Cork, and Ireland, is a tolerant, welcoming and decent place where people are treated with respect and humanity no matter their legal status or nationality.

Meanwhile, wheelchair athlete Jerry Forde (70) completed his 450th marathon in Cork today whilst double lung transplant recipient David Crosby participated in the relay.

They joined 8,000 runners taking part in the annual marathon.

Jerry Forde competing in his 450th Marathon at the 13th annual Cork City Marathon.
Jerry Forde competing in his 450th Marathon at the 13th annual Cork City Marathon.

The marathon, team relay and youth challenge got underway at 8.30am with the half marathon starting at 10.15am.

Gary O'Hanlon of Clonliffe Harriers AC was first over the finish line in a time of 2:21:43 having also triumphed in the event in 2018, Tim O'Donoghue was in second place whilst Sergiu Ciobanu took third place.

Mr O'Hanlon said he was pleased with his time particularly given that for portions of the marathon there was only the width of his vest between him and the other top three runners.

" I am delighted. I knew it was going to be a tough marathon. It was very tight in marathon terms. It's hard to get a fast marathon in Ireland. Last year was calm there wasn't a breath of wind. This year was tough.

Angela McCann, from Clonmel AC in Tipperary, was the first woman over the line having previously won the event in 2011 and 2012. She admitted that it was a tough race.

"It was tough. I wouldn't be as fit as I used to be. I struggled a bit. To win it was a huge achievement for me. I never thought I would be back here to run it let alone win it. I found the last few lines tough. That is marathon running for you. The support on the course was fantastic."

Nollaigh O'Neill and Megan Amritage were second and third over the line.

Gavin Sweeney was the half marathon winner of 2019. He stated that winning was a "bonus' and that achieving his personal best in relation to time was his goal from the start. The ladies half marathon winner was Fiona Santry.

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