28th Christmas Day Run for MS in Longford

Michael Flood

Reporter:

Michael Flood

Email:

newsroom@longfordleader.ie

The annual Christmas Day Run from Newtowncashel to Lanesboro in aid of the Longford branch of Multiple Sclerosis Society is taking place for the 28th year this Christmas.

The run was set up in 1991 by Ger Flood, who was running health and fitness classes in the locality at that time.

That first year some of the funds were also raised for Our Lady’s Hospital in Crumlin but since the first year the event has exclusively raised funds for Longford MS.

This was due to local people being connected to the Longford MS branch at that time, in particular John Joe Whitlow and the late Frank Slevin.

Over the course of those 28 years the event has ebbed and flowed with some tough years early on when the amount of participants and sponsorship was quite low to the highs of the Celtic Tiger years.

In recent years the numbers have consistently been around 150 participants and we hope to have a similar turn out again this year.

We have liaised with Longford MS and they have confirmed that approximately €137,000 has been raised for Longford MS in the 27 years that the event has taken place.

This has been a huge benefit to the Longford branch of the MS Society.

Due to the fact that this event takes place on Christmas day it has always had to be organised with a small team of committed volunteers who give up their time on Christmas morning to make sure it takes place.

Thanks to the generous sponsorship received over the years from local businesses and in particular the continued sponsorship by Peter Hanley Motors; every cent of sponsorship raised by participants goes directly to Longford MS.

The event caters for people of all ages and fitness levels and in conjunction with the run there is also the option of walking and as a result there have been participants under 10 years of age and over 70 who have enjoyed the day over the years.

The Christmas run has a real community feel to it and it is a great way to work up an appetite for Christmas dinner. Everyone who takes part receives a t-shirt sponsored by Peter Hanley Motors and there are refreshments available in the Hall in Lanesboro afterwards.

Last year’s winner was a local, Martin Gillen from Lanesboro and the first lady was Martina Gibbons from Strokestown. The distance is approximately 11 km and the challenge has been set for any of the serious runners out there to beat the time of 36 minutes which was achieved by Pierce Hickey in 2002 and the late David Casey in 1998.

Walkers start from the Hill in Newtowncashel at 11.45am and runners start at 12.15pm. Sponsorship cards available from the Local, Newtowncashel, Brigid Mullooly, Lanesboro or O’Brien’s Corner Shop, Lanesboro. We thank everyone who has taken part or assisted in any way over the years to make this event so special every Christmas.