Thousands put on their running shoes for spinal injury research
Thousands of people are expected to take part in a night-time run in Belfast's Stormont estate – and other locations across the world – on November 13 to raise money for spinal injury research.
The Life Style Sports Run in the Dark, which is now it its third year, is the brainchild of Mark Pollock, a Co Down man who has been blind since the age of 22.
His disability did not hold him back – instead, he competed in ultra endurance races across deserts, mountains, and the polar ice caps.
But Mark suffered a major set back in 2010 when he fell from a second storey window, with his injuries leaving him paralysed.
He is now undergoing aggressive physical therapy and is employing robotic technology to help him regain some mobility.
Run in the Dark, which will take place in five official locations around the UK and Ireland with runners able to choose between 5km and 10km events, is one of the ways in which Mark has been raising awareness of spinal injury.
Mark said: "I believe that the cure for spinal cord injuries simply requires enough of the right people having the will to make it happen. It is my mission to find and connect those people around the world to mainstream what is currently on the fringes."
Piers White, head of fundraising for Mark Pollock Trust, said: "Our vision was to create a global running series to provide a sustainable source of funding. And we are delighted to announce Life Style Sports as our new Run in the Dark partner to help us continue to make it happen."
Mark Stafford, chief executive of Life Style Sports, said: "Life Style Sports is all about inspiration, fearlessness and collaboration, which fits perfectly with Mark Pollock's incredible response to his own personal challenges.
"We are extremely excited about the ambitious growth plans for the Life Style Sports Run in the Dark race over the next three years."
Official Run in the Dark events are also taking place in Dublin, Cork, Manchester and London.
The help of the Run in the Dark global running community enabled Mark to become the first person to own and regularly walk in an Ekso Bionics robotic suit and he trains in this £135,000 piece of equipment on a daily basis.
Through Mark's role as a charity ambassador, the team at Life Style Sports Run in the Dark have joined forces with Wings for Life, the global spinal injury research charity, who will also benefit directly from entry fees alongside Mark Pollock Trust.
However, runners can also use the event to raise money for the charity of their choice.