'Their hearts were on the streets of Cork': 1,700 Sanctuary runners take part in Cork City Marathon

Over 1,700 of participants from all over the world ran with the Sanctuary Runner movement as part of the virtual event
'Their hearts were on the streets of Cork': 1,700 Sanctuary runners take part in Cork City Marathon

Running by the Marina in Cork City on Sunday morning: (L-R) Esmeraldo Tavares Ng, from Angola; John Riordan, from Cork; and Joseph from Nigeria

Over half of those who took part in this year's virtual Cork City Marathon were Sanctuary Runners.

The annual event, held over the June bank holiday weekend, could not be held in its traditional form due to Covid-19 but that did not stop thousands of people taking part from all parts of the world.

Over 1,700 of participants ran with the Sanctuary Runner movement. The team stretched from Tokyo to Paris and Cork to San Francisco.

The team wore blue and while some took on the full or half marathon distance, the majority ran, jogged or walked a symbolic relay leg of 8.5km. It was dubbed the 'Light at the end of the (Jack Lynch) Tunnel run'.

The Sanctuary Runners was established in January 2018 to enable Irish residents to run alongside, and in solidarity with, people living in Ireland’s Direct Provision system.

Founder of the Sanctuary Runners Graham Clifford said the response this year was amazing.

"While all are taking part remotely their hearts were on the streets of Cork on Sunday. It was such an outpouring of positivity, soundness and decency.” 

Mr Clifford spoke to the difficulties faced by asylum seekers and refugees in Ireland and around the world during the pandemic.

"Your chances of contracting the virus are greatly increased if you live or work in a congregated setting," he said.

"At least one in ten of those living in Direct Provision have tested positive since February of last year and while, thankfully, the outcomes for those has been okay to date, people live under a constant fear of getting the virus."

People who have been displaced by circumstances outside of their control are at a higher risk because of their status.

Mr Clifford said the sacrifices made by migrants - many who have been working in our society throughout the pandemic - must not be forgotten.

It is hoped this weekend's run will remind people of this and the importance of solidarity, friendship and respect with and to all migrants.

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