NI runners set to take on epic 24-hour challenge in aid of Children's Hospice

Fifteen members of Mallusk Harriers will take on the 24-hour parkrun challenge in support of NI Children's Hospice. Pics: Stephen Hamilton, Press Eye
Fifteen members of Mallusk Harriers will take on the 24-hour parkrun challenge in support of NI Children's Hospice. Pics: Stephen Hamilton, Press Eye

A group of runners are set to take on 24 parkruns in one day in a bid to raise £10,000 for the Northern Ireland Children's Hospice.

Fifteen members of the Mallusk Harriers club in Newtownabbey, Co Antrim will push themselves to the limit during the epic challenge on June 29.

Sharon Dunn and Neil Campbell (chairman) will be among the Mallusk Harriers runners seeking to raise 10,000 for the Northern Ireland Children's Hospice by completing 24 parkuns in 24 hours.

Sharon Dunn and Neil Campbell (chairman) will be among the Mallusk Harriers runners seeking to raise 10,000 for the Northern Ireland Children's Hospice by completing 24 parkuns in 24 hours.

Starting out from East Strand Beach at Portrush on the north coast, the team will tackle 5km courses across Northern Ireland before finishing 24 hours later in Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh.

Their exhausting, round-the-clock itinerary works out at the equivalent of completing three marathons.

Two years ago the Mallusk Harriers devised and undertook the 24 parkruns in 24 hours endurance test for the first time.

Inspired by the memory of club member Alan Ladd's late mother, their efforts then were in aid of Action Cancer.

The Mallusk Harriers runners have been training hard for their epic charity challenge.

The Mallusk Harriers runners have been training hard for their epic charity challenge.

The team battled exhaustion in body and mind, scaling park gates in the dead of night and racing past strangers huddled round fires to ensure they reached their goal.

Now they are ready to do it once again - this time to try to help the Children's Hospice.

With the charity's Horizon House centre located in Newtownabbey, club members regularly pass by on training runs.

They have also been briefed on the work it does in providing services to youngsters with life-limiting and life-threatening illnesses.

Mallusk Harriers' chairman, Neil Campbell, said: "It was an easy decision for us to raise much needed funds for them."

The 15-strong group of men and women have been through a gruelling programme of preparation.

Runs on the Mournes, Divis and the Black Mountain, Cavehill overlooking Belfast and the hills along the east Antrim coast were completed to build the necessary strength and stamina.

Mr Campbell, who was part of the 2017 team, explained: "I know first hand how much this takes out of you, not only physically but mentally as well.

"We have all been training very hard to make sure we've the best chance of making it all the way to the end of this massive challenge."

The sleep-deprived runners will be transported by coach throughout the route, while support cars will also be on hand for any eventualities.

"We are very lucky to have a fantastic team of organisers, volunteers and sponsors that have made this event possible," Mr Campbell acknowledged.

Confirming the £10,000 goal, he added: "We'd love everyone's support by running with us at any of our runs, and of course by donating to the Northern Ireland Children's Hospice."

To donate visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/mallusk-harriers24in242019