A DRUMQUIN man has just 36 hours to run from Belfast to Dublin to raise funds for a cause that is close to his heart.
This Friday, Neil McSorley will run from the Europa Hotel in Belfast to Arthur’s Bar in Dublin – a total of 107 miles (172km) inside a 36 hour time limit – in an event organised by Atlas Running to raise funds for Special Olympics Ireland.
Neil said he had never heard of the Special Olympics until the company he works for, Kerry, became involved as a corporate sponsor, but he is now heavily involved in volunteering with the organisation.
Neil was the only employee on site in Omagh who volunteered for the Ireland Games in Dublin in 2018, and in March 2019, he volunteered at the World Games in Abu Dhabi.
He is already a keen runner and has ran over 100 marathons in the past four years, is hoping to raise over £1,500 for the organisation, and if he hits his target, he has promised to shave off his beloved beard.
Neil said, “I decided to take on this challenge as I had been a keen runner for quite some time, although since lockdown I did tend to push the running to one side.
“I thought if I can get my love of running back and raise money for a cause close to my heart then that should get me out the door clocking up the miles.
“My initial target for the fundraising was set at £1,000 and I said to myself that I’d shave the beard, which I have been growing for almost two years, if I reached £1,500.
“I thought I’d never reach this and my beard would be safe!
“My entire family have been asking me to shave it off for ages, I think the fact it annoyed them made me grow it even longer.
“I will be sad to see the beard go, but it will be worth it when I get to give the money over to Special Olympics so help them in all that they do.”
Neil said he decided to take on the challenge to raise money for the Special Olympics after the events changed his perception of life. He continued, “Special Olympics Ireland is a sports organisation for people with an intellectual disability, transforming their lives through sport.
“The Ireland Games really did change my perception of life.
“Seeing first hand the athletes, talking to them and their families and realising how much Special Olympics had changed their lives for the better.
“Everyone was so different, going through many challenges every day of every week, every minute of every day, but they all had the same goal, to compete and enjoy themselves.
“Inspirational was probably the best word I could use to describe them all,” said Neil.
• To donate to Neil’s fundraiser, visit, www.gofundme.com/f/neil039s-107-mile-ultra-to-help-special-olympics