Team Porter will run seven marathons for Wickow Hospice
The Wicklow running scene is still new to me, yet anyone who knows it will know Billy Porter: for years the irrepressible spirit and force behind Parnell Athletic Club, Billy also runs Avondale Sports in Rathdrum, and you will not meet a man more enthusiastic about the sport.
He’s also one of the forces behind the Wicklow Hospice Foundation, fully alert to the absurdity that the county remains without a hospice facility of any sort.
Billy’s run for important causes before, including his personal crusade against cancer, but the Wicklow Hospice seems closest to the heart, and he’s not alone.
For the past three years they’ve been on a fund-raising blitz, targeting €3m to build the facility, on agreement the HSE will then run it. They’ve now got a site at Magheramore, got the St John of Gods to operate it, got their planning application in, and about €65m in the bank.
A large chunk of that has just been lodged, some €250,000, thanks to Parnell’s club member and now three-time Oscar winner Daniel Day-Lewis, who brought the premiere of Lincoln to Dublin back in January as his own modest way of contributing, equally alert to the fact his adopted county can’t offer one of the basic rights of life.
Now, Billy and his team of Hospice runners are out to complete the final leg. They’ve raised €30,000 already in the last three Dublin marathons, and wanted to finish with something different: so, they’re running seven marathons, over seven successive days, starting on July 7th, at 7.07am.
They announced this in the Glenview Hotel last Friday, and Billy kept repeating was they don’t expect everyone to run all seven, just take on whatever they want.
They’ve designed it that way, staging the first marathon on the Sunday in Bray on a roughly six-mile loop of the town (for the 26.2-mile total), then moving to the safe confines of Avondale Forest Park, from the Monday to the Friday, on a similar six-mile loop, before returning to Bray on the Saturday, July 13th, for the sweet finale.
“Do a six-mile loop, or 10km, then that’s great,” he said. “Add another loop then better again. Two more and you’ve done a marathon. We just want as many people out over the seven days.”
Already signed up for all seven is Ciarán Byrne, from Ballinaclash, and the hope is he won’t be alone. July seems a long way off when there's still snow on the sides of Luggala, but I’m off for another training run, if only to get warm. See www.wicklowhospice.ie