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Belfast's marathon effort: the runners hitting the streets to help charities

By Helen Carson

Published 02/05/2015

Chloe McIllwaine
Chloe McIllwaine
A treasured childhood picture of her on the farm with her grandfather who died in an accident
Adrian Moat has running in the blood
Mum-of-three Jeannie Watkins (right) with a running friend

More than 17,500 runners will take to the streets on Bank Holiday Monday for this year's Belfast City Marathon.

Everyone from professional athletes to fun runners will don trainers as well as weird and wonderful costumes to pound the city streets to raise money for worthy causes or set a personal best time.

Hundreds of thousands of pounds will be raised for a variety of worthy causes which have a special significance to the runners.

Two local women have chosen to run in this year's event in a bid to raise cash for charities close to their hearts.

Twenty-year-old Chloe McIlwaine, from Ballynure, has been training hard for months, following the tragic death of her grandfather Usher McIlwaine in a farm accident three years ago, aged 80.

Chloe, a student teacher at Larne Grammar School, says: "Granda was herding the cows on a quad, and when he turned out onto the road and he was hit and killed by a car.

"I'm not a runner but I play hockey so I have a good general level of fitness.

"I wanted to do something useful to highlight the dangers on farms, so I'm raising money for the Farm Safety Foundation which formed last year. My target is £1,000, but we have raised over £700 to date with more donations to come.

"I'm the first person to raise money for the charity and have been supported by Gleno Valley Young Farmers Club and the Ulster Young Farmers' Association.

"I had no idea how to prepare for a marathon so I began by just running as far as I could, then building it up from there."

Chloe's goal is to complete the marathon in under six hours, so she will qualify for a medal.

Also running the Belfast Marathon for the first time is Belfast-born mum-of-three Jeannie Watkins (40), who now lives in Surrey.

She will be raising money for Kidney Research after losing her beloved mum, Lillian Murdock, four years ago to renal failure.

"I ran the London Marathon with a friend of mine who did it in memory of her late father - that was nine years ago. Now I want to run the marathon in my home town on behalf of my mum."

Rather than raising money, Belfast man Adrian Moat (42) is using the race as an opportunity to publicise the Blood Transfusion Service. A regular blood donor, Adrian and his running buddy Dale Hooks, also from Belfast, have been behind a Facebook campaign to promote giving blood.

"I started running five years ago, and Dale and I have run the last three Belfast Marathons together raising a combined total of £35,000 for different charities."

Adrian has nearly achieved his goal of getting 100 people to donate a pint of their blood to the Transfusion Service.

"We have a Facebook page and have asked anyone giving blood to do a check in, then post a picture of themselves donating blood with the hashtag #bloodselfie to spread the word."

Meanwhile, English runner Martin Hall (58), from Guildford in Surrey, has chosen the Belfast Marathon to help him complete a hat-trick of races beginning with the letter 'B'.

"I have just completed marathons in Brighton and Boston, so I just have Belfast to do."


  • Belfast will host the 2015 event on Bank Holiday Monday, May 4
  • More than 17,500 runners are expected to hit the streets of north, south, east and west of the city
  • The official nominated charity for the 2015 event is Marie Curie Cancer Care
  •  The route will remain the same as the 2014 event; starting at the City Hall and finishing at Ormeau Park
  •  Spectators line the route throughout the city as the colourful event winds through the streets to the finishing line

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