Northern Ireland

Electrical technician training to run in Antarctica to raise money for charity

Damien Cunningham, who is training to run a marathon in the Antarctic (PA)
Damien Cunningham, who is training to run a marathon in the Antarctic (PA) Damien Cunningham, who is training to run a marathon in the Antarctic (PA)

An electrical technician from Kilkeel is aiming to run a marathon on all seven continents to raise money for the charity Cancer Fund for Children.

Damien Cunningham, an electrical engineering test technician at Collins Aerospace, set himself the goal of running a marathon on every continent – and has to date completed 52 marathons across Europe, North America, South America, Africa and Asia.

With two more continents to conquer in 2023, Australia and Antarctica, Mr Cunningham committed to completing the final two continents to coincide with his 40-year career anniversary at Collins Aerospace.

To cover Australia, he completed the Sydney Marathon in September of this year, and is aiming to complete the Antarctica Ice Marathon this month.

To train for the Antarctic run, Mr Cunningham has been training on various terrains across Northern Ireland, including in Tollymore Forest Park and the Mournes Mountains, as well as taking regular ice baths and training stints in a commercial freezer.

As he prepares for his final continent challenge, Mr Cunningham said it was an honour to raise money for the Cancer Fund for Children.

“I have taken part in quite a few marathons now and thought what better way to mark forty years of employment at Collins Aerospace in Kilkeel than combining my love of running with the opportunity to explore more of the world,” he said.

“Running and working at Collins Aerospace in Kilkeel goes hand in hand for me, as in 2004 I got the opportunity to run with a group of colleagues and we took part in a relay for the Belfast Marathon.

“From this, I was hooked, and decided to take it to the next level and set challenging goals for myself.

“My colleagues and the whole on site team have been very supportive, and I would like to thank them for their generosity.

“Cancer Fund for Children is an amazing charity, and I am honoured to be helping raise funds for it.

“I was inspired to take on the marathon challenge to help highlight the fantastic work that the charity does and how it is supporting children, young people and their families affected by cancer.”

To complete his run in Antarctica, Mr Cunningham will travel to the Ellsworth Mountains, Union Glacier.

The Union Glacier is only accessible by air, with the final leg of the journey involving a four-hour flight from Punta Arenas, Chile.

When Mr Cunningham disembarks from his outgoing flight, he will be taking his very first steps in Antarctica, on a naturally occurring blue-ice runway.

Managing director of Collins Aerospace Alan Henning said Mr Cunningham’s colleagues were all behind him as he aims to complete the marathon commitment that has taken him across the globe.

“This is a fantastic achievement by Damien who is an incredibly valued member of our team,” he said.

“We are truly in awe of his commitment to complete a marathon in every continent, and we are very proud of him and his dedication in raising funds for our charity of the year, Cancer Fund for Children.”