Louth Sanctuary Runners calling on locals to join in the world’s most culturally diverse relay team

Michelle O'Keeffe

Reporter:

Michelle O'Keeffe

Email:

michelle.okeeffe@dundalkdemocrat.ie

Louth Sanctuary Runners calling on locals to join in the world’s most culturally diverse relay team

Sanctuary Runners

The Louth Sanctuary Runners are calling on local people to help them to hit the ambitious marathon target of a thousand sign-ups.

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

On June 6th 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 eight kilometres in distance.

And Sarah Nic Lochlainn of the Louth Sanctuary Runners is hoping that people in Louth 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.

The aim of the group is to show solidarity, friendship and respect to all – especially to those living in Direct Provision centres in the county.

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.

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.

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’, its 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 Louth 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