18 Aug 2022

Kilkenny man conquers 'Waterland Marathon' after overcoming every obstacle

Ten years ago Brian (35) was in poor health, had to give up hurling and spent long stints in hospital. Now he’s run a marathon across North Kilkenny


Brian Kavanagh, pictured with his sons Edward (aged three) and John (who turned one last Thursday) at home in Waterland, near Galmoy outside the family bug hotel

A Galmoy man who has grappled with health battles in recent years has shown the power of perseverance and the support of others after completing a marathon across North Kilkenny to raise money for the CF Association and inspire others to take up running.

Brian Kavanagh and his friend, Tom Ryan, completed their 26.2 mile run in just over 4.5 hours on a local route that took in the roads and lanes of Galmoy and Crosspatrick.  The two lads had signed up for the Tralee Marathon, which, due to the pandemic, this year allowed participants to complete the iconic distance close to home and to then submit the record of their run, as recorded on their fitness trackers.   

Exercise is critical to maintain health for suffers of cystic fibrosis, a chronic disease, which affects the body’s organs, primarily the lungs and digestive system.  Managing the condition requires a cocktail of medication daily, physical therapy and exercise. 

Ten years ago Brian (35) was in poor health and spent several long stints in St Vincent’s Hospital in Dublin. He stopped hurling as his health at the time meant the longest he could run without stopping to catch his breath was 100 yards, or the length of a hurling field.

But despite the setbacks, Brian persisted with sport and worked hard to improve his health. He joined Macra in Kilkenny and played indoor soccer, basketball and tag rugby. When a league was established in Galmoy, he took up squash and racquetball.

Just over three years ago, Brian took up running and started training to compete in 5km races. He gradually built up his running distance to 10 miles, then in 2019 he completed his first half marathon. Running a full marathon this year is a huge achievement, especially given the health battles Brian has faced throughout his life.

“I could never have believed five years ago that I would one day run a marathon, but I now can see how far perseverance, hard work and supportive family and friends can take you,” said Brian, who is married to Mary (Carroll), originally from Cloghala, Kilkenny.    

“I want to really thank everyone who has sponsored me to date for their generosity which means so much to me and to others with cystic fibrosis.”

Scientists continue to develop new medication to treat and manage the condition and therefore support for organisation such as the CF Association is important to promote advocacy and support for those living with the disease.

Thanks to the generous sponsorship of family, friends and neighbours, the ‘Waterland Marathon’ has raised over €2,500 to fund vital work by the CF Association to date. Anyone who wishes to donate can do so on the Just Giving website, Brian’s page is called Brian’s Waterland Marathon and you can find it here.

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