Catch me if you Cam: Man inspired by jogging pal’s son, to run Camino de Santiago pilgrim trail’s 500 miles for autism charity
A Co Armagh man is running the 500 miles of the famous Camino de Santiago from France to Spain in just two weeks to raise funds for charity.
Ivan Stringer (50), from Lurgan, will cover the equivalent of a marathon and a half every day in aid of ABC Autism Support.
Providing moral support will be his mate Paul Silcock (32), whose son Noah (5) was supported by the charity during the pandemic.
In preparation for the challenge, Ivan and Paul are running non-stop from Dublin to Belfast on April 1, hoping to complete the 107-mile trek in under 30 hours.
Ten days later, Paul will run from Manchester to Liverpool for the charity, while Ivan sets off for France in early May.
Both men are members of Craigavon Lakers running club.
In his nine years of running, Ivan, a pharmaceutical worker with Almac, has completed 75 marathons and a number of ultra marathons.
He fell in love with the idea of running the Camino de Santiago after watching the 2010 movie The Way, starring Jimmy Nesbitt.
Running the route is virtually unheard of, as is aiming to complete it in one go. Most people are happy to merely walk a section.
Ivan, who is funding the trip himself so that 100% of donations go to charity, is prepared for blisters and physical pain as he pushes his body to the limit.
“I love the idea of running somewhere where it doesn’t rain all the time,” he joked.
“I had planned to do it for my 50th birthday last year, but it had to be cancelled because of Covid.
“It will be a challenge, but I like to do something different in life. Life doesn’t end at 50.
“I’m not a good runner — I’m a very slow runner — but I run for the joy of it and the company.
“The Camino route is full of hostels and bed and breakfasts, so every few nights I will book in somewhere and soak in the bath for an hour to help with the pain. I will be aiming to get eight hours’ sleep every night.
“I run to work from Lurgan to Portadown and back every day, so I am used to getting up and being active straight away. I will be running at around 5mph for 10 hours every day.”
Ivan is delighted to be able to combine his dream of running the Camino with doing something for a pal.
“It’s for a good cause. Paul is a good friend and a running mate,” he said.
“His son Noah is autistic and I’ve seen the hard work and love that is needed for him.
“ABC Autism Support has been a great support to the family and we want to give them something back.”
Ivan is due to set off from Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port in France, in the foothills of the Pyrenees, on May 3.
He is hoping to finish in Santiago de Compostela in Spain on May 17.
Before then, both men are running 107 miles non-stop from the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin to the Crown Bar in Belfast within 30 hours.
Paul, who has been running since 2016, said he had Ivan to thank for getting him interested in taking on the toughest running events.
His track record is just as impressive as his pal’s — he has clocked up 42 marathons and 12 ultra marathons.
The Lurgan father-of-three, who works in Asda, said he was delighted to be doing something for the charity.
“I suppose that there are easier ways to raise funds, but I like a challenge,” Paul added.
“Lockdown was tough for all children and Noah really struggled too. ABC Autism Support helped a lot by sending activities through Zoom for Noah.
“Noah would have involuntary movements in his body, and those got really bad during lockdown.
“His speech was also affected. Words that he could pronounce before, suddenly he couldn’t say anymore.
“We reached out to the charity and they were fantastic.
“At Christmas, Noah was too frightened to meet Santa, but the charity arranged a party and worked with Noah. Not only did he go in to meet Santa, but he sat beside him and talked to him.
“It is a local charity set up by parents for the Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon council area.
“They don’t get a lot of support, so we are delighted to be able to help.”
- To donate to the fundraiser, visit https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/paul-silcock-5