Just as the brake lights of rush-hour traffic began to dwindle last night, thousands more red bulbs suddenly lit up the centres of three Irish cities as thousands of runners took to the streets for a run in the dark.
At 7.30pm in Dublin, Cork, and Belfast, as well as many other cities around the world, 10,000 runners of all ages and abilities set off together for the Life Style Sports Run in the Dark. There were 5,000 participants in Dublin and 2,200 in Cork.
The brainchild of the Mark Pollock Trust, the event went global this year, with events in more than 30 cities beginning as night fell in their location.
It started with Auckland and swept right around the world, through Asia-Pacific, the Middle East and Africa, Europe, and finally the Americas. There was even a small run in the Antarctic.
The aim was to raise money and awareness for paralysed people like Mark Pollock and others.
The Co Down man, who went blind in 1998, became an adventure-racer, undertaking extreme activities to raise money for charity.
However, in 2010 he became paralysed from the waist down following an accident. The first Run in the Dark was held to aid his rehabilitation.
Funded primarily by donations from the Run in the Dark global running community, Mark was the first person in the world to own and regularly walk in an Ekso Bionics robotic suit. He trains in the €150,000 piece of equipment on a daily basis.
However, his main aim is to find cures for debilitating spinal cord injuries. He has joined forces with Wings for Life, the global spinal injury research charity, which will also benefit directly from entry fees for the events.
“I believe that the cure for spinal cord injuries simply requires enough of the right people having the will to make it happen,” said Mark. “It is my mission to find and connect those people around the world to mainstream what is currently on the fringes.”
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