Banbridge man is Aware of challenges in 32 county 5k runs

Barbara Boyd

Reporter:

Barbara Boyd

Email:

barbara.boyd@outlooknews.co.uk

A BANBRIDGE man has set himself the ultimate challenge of running 5km in every county in Ireland over seven days.

Father-of-three, Simon McEvoy who is married to Mairead, is also raising awareness and funds for the Aware charities in the process.

Simon came up with the unique challenge that allows him to visit all 32 counties in Ireland in seven days to do a short run in some of the most beautiful settings.

Aware and AWARE NI are two charities that do fantastic work in Northern Ireland and Ireland’s local communities and their services are in demand more than ever in the current challenging environment.

The charities share a common mission to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health, while promoting the importance of looking after your mental health and well-being.

Simon will set off on his challenge this Sunday, 30 August and will start in Co Antrim. Over the course of a week he will traverse the country, driving on average four hours a day to visit and run in up to five counties before completing his 32 county challenge on his home turf.

He will then run the final leg of his personal challenge on Saturday, 5 September in Castlewellan Park.

Simon said: “I am quite new to running, having run my first 5k in 2019 when I took part in a Born2Run race in Castlewellan.

“Since then I have been interested in getting a bit faster and going a bit further, but I didn’t have any real goals, until recently when running the Atlantic Drive in Donegal I had the idea to run in every county in Ireland.”

Before having the opportunity to think it through or back out, the Banbridge man discussed the challenge with his family who were very supportive.

He continued: “I decided that I would do it before the end of this summer whilst raising money for a worthy cause in the process.

“I have previously taken part in fundraising events for AWARE, so it was important for me to raise funds for both AWARE NI and AWARE Ireland.

“This year has put a strain on the mental health of many across the island. The respective AWARE charities carry out amazing work in the mental health sector and their support is so vital at the moment with the current Covid-19 pandemic.”

Simon will raise funds and awareness and funds for the Aware charities in the process of his seven-day county running challenge

Simon says he has been through quite an intense few weeks training and organising the logistics of the 1,800km drive, but it has kept him focused.

“It is going to be a tough but achievable challenge, scaling up from an average of 25km a week to 160km. I am confident that I can complete the challenge as I am so enthused and appreciative of how generous everyone has been, and I really want to repay of all the support,” he added.

Meanwhile, Karen Collins, CEO of AWARE NI said: “Simon’s challenge is a brilliant idea and is so unique.

“We’ll be following Simon’s journey throughout the week and will be with him in spirit and cheering him on every step of the way.

“As a charity, the money that people fundraise is vitally important to allow us to continue delivering our services in schools, communities and workplaces across Northern Ireland.”

Drew Flood, Fundraising Executive at Aware added: “Since the emergence of Covid-19, Aware has seen a dramatic increase in demand for our services as society adjusts to the reality of living with Covid-19 and related socio-economic impacts.

“We are very grateful to Simon for choosing Aware and AWARE NI to benefit from his innovative challenge. His efforts will not only bring awareness to the importance of mental health, but every single euro raised will make a difference. We wish him the very best and look forward to tracking his progress through the 32 counties!”

Simon has so far raised over €6,000 and to tie in with the 32 county challenge has been in contact with all the provincial rugby and county GAA boards and sponsors.

He now has enough tops to run in and hopefully plans to get them signed by players after so that the charities can auction to raise further funds.

Progress of his challenge will be shared on social media over the course of the week and Simon has lined up fellow runners to do a 5k in over 20 international cities from Amsterdam to Washington.

To find out more, how you can participate or make a donation in support of Simon’s challenge for the two AWARE charities go to: https://give.everydayhero.com/ie/32by3-2

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