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25/09/2021

Longford Sanctuary Runners seek support for ‘Light at the end of the Tunnel’ run

Longford Sanctuary Runners seek support for ‘Light at the end of the Tunnel’ run

Longford Sanctuary Runners are seeking local support for their ‘Light at the end of the Tunnel’ run - the June 6 virtual Cork City Marathon

The Longford Sanctuary Runners, set up in August 2019, to use running, jogging and walking to bring together asylum seekers, refugees and wider Irish society, are calling on the people of Longford to help them with an ambitious bid to build the world’s most diverse relay team on June 6 in what they’re calling their ‘Light at the end of the Tunnel’ run.

On June 6, Sanctuary Runners in Ireland, and across the world, will don their iconic blue running tops to run in the virtual Cork City Marathon.

While some will take on the full or half marathon distance the majority will run, jog, walk or crawl a leg of the relay – just over 8 kilometres in distance.

And Gavin McHugh of the Longford Sanctuary Runners is hoping that people in Longford can do their bit to help an initiative which has been pivotal in breaking down barriers between those in Direct Provision and wider society over the last three years.

“There are now 26 Sanctuary Runner groups across Ireland with well over 3,000 regular participants - about a quarter of those being people currently living in Direct Provision and the rest people from wider Irish society.

“As our group here in Longford grows we really want to throw out a warm welcome for everybody to join us. There is no fundraising involved and while for now we are running, jogging and walking virtually we hope to be able to come together in small pods at least in the weeks to come.”

An Impact study carried out by the Sanctuary Runners in 2020 found that 82% of those in Direct Provision who participated with the local Sanctuary Runner groups felt the evolving experience made them feel more welcome.

And 42% of Sanctuary Runners not living in Direct Provision said the experience was the first in their lives where they’d got to know someone seeking asylum and interact on an equal footing.

“We don’t take ourselves too seriously,” said Gavin McHugh, adding “the running is just a vehicle for the sharing of solidarity, friendship and respect. We run a little, we laugh a lot.”

The Sanctuary Runners was named as one of the leading solidarity-through-sport initiatives in the European Union by the European Commission in 2019. Focussing on ‘solidarity’ rather than ‘charity’ it's only ask of members is their time.

Organisers are hoping running clubs, students, community groups and companies in the local area will support the initiative.

Its founder Graham Clifford said, “We’ve had great support in Longford since we started the Sanctuary Runners there and we’d be so delighted now if people got involved by running, jogging or walking in the Cork City Marathon with us. And perhaps when we can return to exercise together join us for a chat, a coffee and a time of togetherness.”

To find out more visit Sanctuaryrunners.ie or email srcorkmarathon2021@gmail.com

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