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Tony's not the retiring kind over another Maracycle

By Patrice Dougan

He may have cycled in some of the world's most exotic places, but there's one bike challenge he won't be missing.

The Dublin to Belfast Maracycle is top of Tony Kennedy's list as he makes good use of his retirement cycling around the world.

Since stepping down as chief executive of Co-operation Ireland three years ago, Tony has kept himself busy, taking on cycling challenges in countries like South Africa, Nepal, Vietnam and Cambodia. He also plans to take part in a cycling trip to Cuba next year.

But he says he will always return to take part in the Maracycle.

"I always come back to the Maracycle. It's the original one," he said. "It has the great advantage of being a long enough cycle to be a challenge but a challenge that you're able to do. It's not an impossible challenge."

The 200-mile cycle from Dublin to Belfast and back - taking place this year on June 25 and 26 - also has a close connection with him as it's organised by his former employers.

"I only started doing them since I retired so this will be my third," he said. "I used to say it was more strenuous having to organise them, but now I know I was completely wrong about that."

Tony said he was inspired to take part in the Maracycle after his retirement as a way to stay connected to Co-operation Ireland's cross-border work.

Other countries may have the lure of bring exotic, he said, but the Maracycle is a "very important symbol of the Dublin-Belfast link".

"The money goes towards cross-border programmes, particularly the youth programmes which continue to be very important."

But while he knows it is for a good cause he admits to only "sort of" looking forward to actually doing it.

"I always fear I haven't done enough practice but I have always managed to do it," he said. "Part of me is naturally looking forward to it but there's a degree of apprehension too.

"I'm hoping it won't rain."

Fingers crossed he gets his wish.

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