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12 marathon days of Christmas

December 15, 2014

Newry City Runner Kevin Gallagher is giving a very special gift to six deserving charities this Christmas. While most of us are counting down the shopping days left until Christmas, the Warrenpoint man has embarked on a festive fundraiser that takes the traditional “12 days of Christmas” to a whole new level.

Amazingly, Kevin will run a marathon every day for 12 days on a treadmill in Buttercrane Shopping Centre to raise money for Friends of St. Dallan’s, The Patrick Dinsmore Memorial Trust, PIPS Newry and Mourne, Newry and Mourne Autism NI Group, Newry Samaritans and Killowen Fundraising Group Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.

Kevin kicked off his incredible challenge on Saturday (13th December) and will finish on Christmas Eve, having ran over 314 miles!  The daily marathons will take place from 12pm – 5pm on Saturday and Sunday and 4pm to 9pm on weekdays.

Speaking to The Examiner ahead of his marathon challenge, Kevin told us how he came to set himself such an ambitious task.

“I took up running three years ago as I was approaching my fortieth birthday and decided that, instead of watching runners from the couch, I needed to get up and try it.”

Having caught the running “bug”, Kevin completed some 10k runs for charity before progressing to the Belfast and Dublin Marathons.

He explained how he often runs for almost 3 hours on the treadmill at his local gym and began to think that a multiple marathon challenge might be possible.

“I had been thinking for a long time that I wanted to do something different for charity and took inspiration from other local runners like Micheal Dillon and Dermot Mathers, who had both completed massive running fundraisers.”

Kevin had joined Newry man Micheal Dillon for part of his 40 mile run from Belfast to Newry in June this year in aid of the Northern Ireland Cancer Fund for Children and had also been impressed with fellow Newry City Runner, Dermot Mather’s 12 hour treadmill challenge last year.

Taking inspiration from both men and from Cork runner Jo Fearon, who set a world record last year during a similar treadmill challenge, Kevin told us he wanted to try something similar – with the emphasis solely on fundraising.

“I’m certainly not aiming to try to break any records or smash any marathon times,” he said.

“Realistically the longer I’m on the treadmill completing each marathon, the more people will see me and hopefully it will generate more donations.”

Asked how he prepares himself physically and mentally for such a daunting challenge, Kevin says he has received some great advice from his fellow runners and is treating it like the build up to any marathon.

“The main thing is concentration while I’m on the treadmill.  It’s so different from running on the road that I really need to focus and concentrate as one slip could send me off the treadmill!  I’m hoping that there will be plenty of support there throughout the challenge to keep me going and I’ll focus on the different charities I’m running for to keep me going,” said Kevin.

The Warrenpoint man has chosen charities which are close to his heart for various reasons and aimed to ensure that he included those outside of his own local area.

“My two daughters attend St. Dallan’s in Warrenpoint and I want to raise funds for Phase 2 of their playground facility and Killowen Fundraising Group Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy was the first group I raised money for during my very first charity 10k so its always been special to me.”

Kevin hopes to raise awareness for all six charities and is optimistic that choosing a broad range of charities will appeal to everyone who wants to donate, generating more much needed funds for the very deserving causes.

There will be collection buckets throughout the twelve days of the event at The Buttercrane Shopping Centre and everyone is asked to give generously.  If you would like to help in any way contact Kevin at activedownarmagh@gmail.com or via the event’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/12marathondaysofchristmas.

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