A wave of blue is set to run through the Irish Examiner’s greenest ever Cork city marathon this Sunday.
Some 350 people have signed up as Sanctuary Runners to run in the humanitarian movement’s signature blue t-shirts alongside 70 people who live in Direct Provision centres in Cork and Limerick.
They will be joined by Olympians, Olive Loughnane, Rob and Marian Heffernan and Claire Lambe, and GAA legends Tomas Ó Sé and Paul McGrath, as part of a team drawn from 40-different countries who will run together to show solidarity, friendship and respect with, and to, those living in Ireland’s direct provision system.
The Sanctuary Runners initiative, founded in Cork in Jan 2018 by journalist, Graham Clifford, sees Irish residents, asylum seekers and refugees, running together every Saturday.
It has more than 1,000 members in eight locations across Ireland.
Most of the team running in Sunday’s 13th Cork City Marathon will take part in relay teams.
“For many of our runners the journey to the start line for this year’s race has been a very difficult one,” Mr Clifford said.
“Running enables people in very difficult circumstances to taste liberation and 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 and we would be so grateful to the people of Cork if they could cheer us on this Sunday.”
The team will gather on Prince’s Street after the race for a celebration featuring a Brazilian Samba band and Sudanese drummers, with food provided by the team at My Goodness, an award-winning ethical health-focussed food business based in The English market.
The marathon will feature Marathon Motivator, Aidan Hogan, a member of Rising Sun AC and Athletics Ireland’s Ultra Athlete 2019, running along the course to encourage participants and give advice to those who might be struggling.
He runs between 40 and 50 marathons a year and will use the race as training for the 2019 World Championship 24-hour 200km race in Albi, France in October.
He will also take part in tomorrow’s Expo event in City Hall from noon where fitness experts, psychologists, nutritionists and wellness gurus will offer runners some last-minute advice as they arrive for registration from 10am to 8pm for the Full, Half, Team Relay and Youth Challenge events.
There are countless personal stories behind many of the runners:
The event is set to be the most environmentally friendly race to date - medals will not be individually wrapped in plastic; water-station bottles are made of 30% recycled plastic; and runners crossing the finish line will be offered water in reusable tumblers provided by refill.ie.
The Full Marathon, Team Relay and Youth Challenge start on St Patrick’s St at 8.30am. The Half Marathon starts on Albert Rd at 10.15am.
Diversions and rolling road closures will be in place from 5.30am until around 6pm and the Black Ash park-and-ride bus will operate every 10 minutes from 7.30am to 7.15pm to the city.
See the full list of road closures below: