Thousands of Irish home and abroad do virtual Goal mile on Christmas Day

Participants included soldiers from Lebanon peacekeeping force

Irish running legend and Goal Ambassador, Eamonn Coghlan, and family doing their Christmas Goal Mile in Porterstown, Co Dublin

Irish running legend and Goal Ambassador, Eamonn Coghlan, and family doing their Christmas Goal Mile in Porterstown, Co Dublin

 

The traditional Goal mile charity event has been taking place on Christmas Day, but with a different format due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Normally, thousands of people turn out at one of 170 locations across the country to run the classic mile distance in support of Goal and its work in the developing world.

This year, the event has gone virtual, with runners encouraged to do their mile at a time and place of their own choosing, without infringing public health guidelines.

Participants this Christmas Day included the men and women of the 117 IrishPolBatt serving with the Unifil multinational peacekeeping force in south Lebanon.

The members of the battalion, under the command of Lt Col Fred O’Donovan, did their Goal Mile early on Christmas morning.

Goal Fundraising Director, Eamon Sharkey and friends doing their Goal Mile in Eamon Ceannt Park in Crumlin
Goal Fundraising Director, Eamon Sharkey and friends doing their Goal Mile in Eamon Ceannt Park in Crumlin

“This is a Christmas Day like no other as Covid-19 impacts all over the globe,” Lt Col O’Donovan said. “Members of the battalion are not home this Christmas with our families as we continue our tour of duty here in south Lebanon. But we were delighted to do our Goal Mile today, and to support the vulnerable communities Goal supports in Africa, the Middle East and Latin America.”

In Ireland those who turned out to do a Goal Mile included numerous sports stars including former indoor world mile record-holder Eamonn Coghlan and Operation Transformation psychologist Dr Eddie Murphy.

Twenty members of the Flanagan family also ran the Goal mile, despite being scattered around the world and unable to travel home for the festive season due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Aged from five to 85 years and based in Ireland, Thailand, Australia, Germany and the UK, they walked a mile at 10am Irish time.

David Wilkins, Mladen and Jelica Ivosevic (from Croatia) and Grace Connor, with labrador Sadie, doing their Goal Mile at Bray Seafront
David Wilkins, Mladen and Jelica Ivosevic (from Croatia) and Grace Connor, with labrador Sadie, doing their Goal Mile at Bray Seafront

Niamh Flanagan, assistant professor in applied social studies in Maynooth University and the only one of four siblings who lives in Ireland, said the family connected by Zoom on their iPads and smartphones as they did their miles together across their various time zones.

Niamh and her family were joined in Dublin by her mother, Máirín (85) and her aunts. Also taking part were her brother Dónal and his family in London; Ronan and his family in Perth; Angela and her family in Cologne and brother-in-law Peter Tarleton and his wife Nok in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

“Every Christmas at least some of our family are together to celebrate in Ireland, and in recent years we have built the wonderful tradition of doing a Goal Mile on Christmas Day,” Niamh said. “It is always a special time when we get out together as a family and do something for others.”

“When it became clear that this year family members would not be able to travel home to Ireland for Christmas due to Covid-19 we got creative about how we could carry on the Goal Mile tradition.”

The charity reminded supporters that it is still not too late to register to do a virtual Goal Mile at some stage over the holiday period.