Runner to put best foot forward for Dementia NI

Suzanne Brennan.
Suzanne Brennan.

A local runner is set to take on an epic 39.3 mile ultra marathon to help support people living with dementia.

Suzanne Brennan (36) from Belfast will be taking on the Connemarathon ‘Ultra’ marathon challenge for Dementia NI on Sunday, April 14.

Galway’s Connemarathon event, will see Suzanne taking part in one of the world’s most scenic running events, comprising of half, full and ultra marathons and set in the beautiful west of Ireland.

Suzanne has decided to push her physical and mental endurance and has signed up to take part in her first ever ultra marathon.

A 39.3 mile marathon which connects up with the 26.2 mile full marathon and the 13.1 mile half marathon.

Suzanne said: “In January 2016, I made a decision to take part in couch to 5k. Then, I decided to do it to lose some weight.

“I was never a runner and couldn’t even run to the end of the street without being out of breath. I completed the nine-week programme and to say it was easy would be a lie, but my determination got me through it.

“When I graduated from couch to 5k in April 2016, I never dreamed of where running would take me, I thought I would do the odd parkrun or 10k.

“In two years, I have run up to a full marathon distance and have been to different places in the UK, Ireland and even Florida to take part in various distances.”

She added: “In 2017, I joined the Mallusk Harriers. This was one of the best things I have ever done. The encouragement and support from my fellow harriers and coaches would have never got me through completing my first marathon in Belfast in May 2017.

“Despite my marathon endeavours I haven’t ran for any charity. This year I have decided to run my first ever ultra-marathon in order to raise awareness of dementia and money to support the fantastic work of local charity Dementia NI.

“In August 2013, I lost my grandmother to dementia and I have decided to run the Connemarthon in memory of my grandmother Kathleen Cunningham.

“This April, I will be pushing myself to run 39.3 miles in one go. It will be tough. But every step I take will be for a great cause and to support even more people diagnosed with dementia.

“This will make the hours of sweat, training, blisters, sores and aches all worthwhile. I would like to thank all my family, friends, colleagues and the members from Mallusk Harriers who have been a great support to me and I am counting on your continued support as I prepare for Connemarathon.

One message I would like to give anyone that puts themselves through any challenge would be believe in yourself and it is possible.”

Fionnuala Savage Income Generation Manager for Dementia NI said: “I’d like to express my admiration to Suzanne for taking on the Ultra marathon challenge.

“I would like to encourage people to show their support by sponsoring Suzanne in the run up to Connemarathon by visiting www.justgiving.com/fundraising/suzanne-brennan4

“Today, it is estimated that there are currently 20,000 people across Northern Ireland living with dementia. Dementia is an individual illness and affects every person differently. Anyone can develop dementia – at any age, from all walks of life.”

Fionnuala added: “Dementia NI is a new charity founded in January 2015 by five people living with dementia. The lives of people are dramatically changed by a dementia diagnosis,

“Dementia NI is here to ensure everyone living with dementia in Northern Ireland will receive an accurate and timely diagnosis, have access to appropriate services and will live well with the right support.

“Your support in this year’s Connemarathon means we can continue to raise awareness, educate the public, challenge the stigma of dementia and support those living with dementia and their families.”

To find out how Dementia NI can help people affected by the condition, visit www.dementiani.org or call 02890686768.