THE ESTABLISHMENT of a hospice in the memory of Susie Long has been a marathon effort. In the wake of her death in 2007, volunteers began fund-raising to build a 12 bed unit to provide the highest possible quality end-of-life care for patients and their families in Kilkenny. Now Irene Henebry and a group of other fit4life runners are planning on running three marathons around Kilkenny in three days in a fund raising challenge over the June bank holiday weekend - called Run Kilkenny.
The original idea had been to try to run the border of the county but it was decided that it would have been too much to undertake. “Initially we were going to run the border of the county, but that would have involved running up through dykes and off road so that would have been crazy. Then I think it was over a bottle of wine we decided on the three marathons over three days,” said Ms Henebry who is hoping to make the 100 marathon club.
The three marathons are covering most of the county and taking in all of the main towns. The routes have been planned and measured to be official marathon distance as Ms Henebry is hoping to use them to count towards her 100 marathons. “We’re trying to hit all the main villages in Kilkenny and It’s kind of spooky they all come in at about the marathon distance. Practically on the nail, because it was very important to us that it would come in at the marathon distance. We’re trying to push the 100 marathon club. There is now one established in Ireland. A couple of crazy people out there who try to get over 100 marathons in their life, but they have to be measured precisely, they can’t be above 26.99 and they can’t below 26.2. We have the runs here ordinance surveyed and Garmined, but we might have to get an official measurement, we have them measured so it actually comes in around 26.3, so one of these routes will end up becoming the Kilkenny marathon. The yearly marathon that we are going to set up. We’re not so sure which is the best route yet,” said Ms Henebry.
On Saturday, June 4 the first marathon will kick off on the Parade, heading out to Cuffesgrange, on to Callan, Kells, Stoneyford, before heading back to the Parade via Danesfort. The following day June 5 runners will leave the Parade and head for Threecastles, then on to Freshford, Ballyragget and back through Conahy and finishing again on the Parade. The final marathon will leave the Parade on June 6 head out to Bennetsbridge, Thomastown, Dungarvan, Gowran, Clara and finally back to the Parade. Despite the huge challenge Ms Henebry doesn’t foresee any major issues with completing the challenge. “We don’t foresee much (trouble) ourselves because we are doing them slowly. You wouldn’t race three marathons in three days. It’ll be over five and a half six hours because we want to pick up different people at different points. So we are giving ourselves plenty of time to get to a half,” said Ms Henebry.
For those people who haven’t yet reached the marathon distance, each of the races will also include a half marathon and a 10k course. “There is going to be a core group that are going to aim to run three marathons in three days. The idea is that they will start from the Parade and they’ll work their way out around the course and when they get to the half-marathon mark, we’re hoping that the half marathon group will then join in. The group will get bigger as you progress around the course and by the time you get to the 10k, the 10k group will join in. The idea is that effectively everybody should run in together and run home together through the Parade and finish on the Parade together on each of the three days which should make for a great atmosphere given everything else that is going on in Kilkenny that weekend with the sheep shearing and the Cats Laughs,” said Ms Henebry.
With the increased popularity of running and marathons in recent years, Run Kilkenny is hoping to attract about 200 people to take part in some of the event. They hope that each participant will raise €100 or €200 for a team of four, contributing about €20,000 to the Susie Long hospice fund. Sponsorship cards and entry forms are available from the Watershed or from www.susielonghospice.com
“The main thing is to get people to give it a go and join in and be part of the event really, because you can run as little or as much as you want. You could do it miles each day and do a marathon over the three days,” added Ms Henebry.