Two friends literally went the extra mile for charity last weekend when they covered 100km over a two-day run between Sligo and Letterkenny.
Deirdre Boyle from Creeslough and Letterkenny native Pauric O’Donnell departed Rathcormack, Co Sligo, on Friday and clocked up 60km over seven hours to take them as far as Donegal Town, before completing the five-hour 40km trek onto Letterkenny on Saturday.
Now the pair will work voluntarily with the Loving Hearts Babies Home in Kampala, the capital of Uganda, travelling on Thursday, July 19. Deirdre will continue her journey onto Kenya, Tanzania and India, before settling in Melbourne in October. Pauric will work in building and maintenance in Kampala for three weeks before returning to Letterkenny.
“I’ve always had an interest in getting involved with some kind of voluntary work and after Christmas I decided to do a Comhlámh Course in Development Education at the Irish Aid Centre,” says Deirdre, who currently works as a solicitor with A&L Goodbody in Dublin.
“This course got me thinking on going abroad and I decided to make contact with a friend of a friend who had previously worked in a small orphanage in Uganda. From there I also got in touch with VSI (Voluntary Service International) and signed up to become involved with a programme that’s aimed at generating awareness on HIV and Aids across Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania.”
Pauric admits he has no prior experience of voluntary work but felt the need to get involved after an opportunity passed him by. He could also combine the project with another of his interests - running.
“I was supposed to go to Uganda initially with a Computers for Schools initiative but that fell through after matters out of my control,” explains Pauric, who teaches maths and computers at St Eunan’s College. “I was still interested in travelling to Uganda, though, and suggested a 100km run.
“I just plucked the distance from my head really. I called Deirdre and we decided to give it a go. The promotion of the event was low-key as we wanted to make sure we had enough training done to make sure we could finish it, hoping to stay injury free.”
With 60 per cent of the run taking place on Friday, Deirdre admitted it was the hardest leg of the journey.
“I found it tough,” she says. “There’s no real way of fully preparing for a distance that far. I’ve done a few marathons in the past but this run was very different. Psychologically it was extremely daunting, especially when it was just the two of us. But it was great to get it done and we couldn’t have done it without the support we received.”
The pair received a lot of support, to whom they expressed their gratitude. Trainer Danny Ryan from Raphoe, who joined the duo for part of the run; others at the Core Training Group from Letterkenny helped Pauric prepare for the run, while John Grant, Damien McGoohan, Eamonn Patton and Terance Boyle acted as the support crew.
Deirdre’s sister Evelyn joined the entourage and ran the full Saturday leg of the run, while cousins Clare, Tara, Amy and Ciara Callaghan from Churchill also helped them keep pace, after another cousin, Catherine Crawford from Ramelton, did the same on Saturday. Brian McMonagle donated the use of the HydroTherapy in Letterkenny’s Aura Leisure Centre for both preparation and recovery.
The Loving Hearts Babies Home houses abandoned babies up to the age of two and their staff provide the basic individual needs as enjoyed by other privileged babies with caring families.
“It was great to get it finished,” Pauric adds. “There was a little worry in case we mightn’t be able to manage it but the support we received - beforehand, on the road and on facebook and Twitter - was brilliant. Thanks to everyone.”
Deirdre and Pauric’s journey had already seen them raise some E3,000 for the Loving Hearts Babies Home and with the job here done, they would love to increase that sum before they make their way to Africa next week. If anyone would like to donate to this worthy cause they can do so by logging onto www.give2go.ie/profile/Deeboyle