Epic marathon schedule starts for local couple

Grace Gilmour pictured after competing in the Carlingford Half Marathon. INNT 10-807CON
Grace Gilmour pictured after competing in the Carlingford Half Marathon. INNT 10-807CON

A couple who have previously raised a substantial amount of funding for charity, have embarked on a gruelling running schedule to raise more money.

Grace Gilmour from Newtownabbey and her fiancée, Belfast man Sean Gough, have set their sights on completing the New York Marathon on Sunday, November 6, and the Rock n Roll Marathon Series Las Vegas Marathon on Sunday, November 13, all for two very worthy causes.

The couple will be raising funds for Cancer Focus NI and Brainwaves NI, a charity based in Whitehead.

Grace, who is an employee at NI Water, and Sean, have started a tiring training programme in the build-up to competing in the Stateside events. As part of the training regime, they will compete in a number of half marathons as well as taking part in a number of team events. The first of their half marathons was held in Carlingford on Saturday, March 5.

Commenting after this first race, Grace said: “The race went great. I had a goal in mind of anything under two hours, as my personal best for a half marathon was 2.03. I made it strong to the finish in 1.54.33 and I am so pleased. All of my training must be paying off.”

The other training events that the couple are scheduled to compete in are the Larne Half Marathon on Saturday, March 19, the Mourne Half Marathon on Saturday, June 11 and the Energia24hr race on Saturday, June 25. Some of Grace’s colleagues have also banded together to form a team to compete with them in the Belfast Marathon relay event in May.

The couple have previously taken part in charity cycle rides in the US for Cancer Focus, raising almost £16,000 in the process, but have never competed in a marathon.

Grace said: “Neither Sean or I have ever run a marathon. I used to do some running about six years ago and did one half marathon, but I have never run more than 13 miles. We have done two cycles in the last two years together and I’ve done three cycles in total.”

The pair decided to also raise funds for Brainwaves NI, after a close friend was diagnosed with a brain tumour last year. They have set the target of raising £2,800 each for Cancer Focus as well as £1,000 for Brainwaves.

Grace is successfully fitting in her training regime around family and work life. She explained: “I was always a regular gym goer, but only ever weight-trained. I’ve cut my weight training sessions down to three days a week and I run four times a week. I fit in all seven sessions Monday to Friday, so I get two days full rest and recovery at the weekend.”

They’re travelling to compete in the New York marathon as part of a Cancer Focus NI team. Grace is urging more local people to get involved. She said: “I think it will be a fantastic trip and would urge anyone, runner or not to sign up and have a challenge and trip of a lifetime. Contact emmamcardle@cancerfocusni.org to enrol.”

If you wish to make a donation, go to their JustGiving pages at www.justgiving.com/Grace-Sean1 or ww.justgiving.com/Grace-Sean4.