Thousands take part in Belfast marathon in memory of loved ones or for charity
FOR many runners yesterday, it wasn't just crossing the finish line of the Belfast City Marathon that mattered - it was taking part in memory of a loved one or raising money for charity.
Numerous good causes were set to benefit from the thousands of competitors pounding the streets of the city yesterday with many dressed in colourful and humourous outfits - ranging from Cruella De Vil accompanied by a plastic Dalmatian dog to an Ali G lookalike.
Among those taking was part was a Belfast mum and daughter, running to help beat one of the biggest cause of blindness.
Patricia Loughran (56) and Claire (25) were competing in their first ever full marathon in honour of their late mother and grandmother, Kathleen, who was diagnosed with an incurable sight condition in her 60s.
The pair had been training for the 26.1-mile challenge since November and raising funds for sight loss charity, the Macular Society.
Patricia, an IT project manager, said: "It's been a tough couple of years with the pandemic so this was a way to get us out and about and get us active again.
"It was my daughter who first signed up for the marathon. I went training with her for company and to help motivate her, but then we decided we would both run the marathon together."
Claire, a trainee solicitor, said they not only were they running in memory of her grandmother, but also raising awareness of the impact the condition has on lives, adding "it’s great we are able to do our part".
South Belfast man Paul Boyle was also running, as part of a challenge to compete in five marathons to raise funds for the hospital unit where the 17-year-old Sean is being treated.
With his unique hurling stick inspired hat, the father-of-four's challenge is inspired by his teenage son who underwent surgery to remove a brain tumour.
He had last night already raised more than £12,000 for the Children’s Cancer and Haematology Unit at the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children.
Also running and walking their way round the marathon course was almost 500 people in memory of Belfast teenager Fionntán McGarvey, who died in January after an incident outside a bar in the south of the city.
Family and friends, including Fionntán's grandfather Harry Goodman, and members of St Brigid’s and Queen’s University GAA - teams that the talented sportsman played for - were among those participating.
They were also raising money needed to start a local group, which will help university students speak to schoolchildren about the importance of making their wishes known.
Other participants yesterday were the Morrow family and friends from Kilrea, who were marking the tenth anniversary of the death of their father Brendan.
His wife Siobhan said some of the group ran the full marathon, while they also had five relay teams - all running in memory of Mr Morrow, who died from prostate cancer in May 2012.
She said they wanted to do something to remember her husband, who was "a quiet man but quite a character", as well as raising funds for Cancer Focus NI.
"We know that most families out there will have had someone who has been affected by cancer," said Mrs Morrow.
"We chose this event because Brendan’s 10 year anniversary is this May and they both coincided with each other."