Mallusk man Alan Ladd will take on a challenge of marathon proportions later this month in memory of his mother who died from cancer aged 59 in August 2014.
On Saturday, June 24, Alan, his brother Jonny and a team of seven of his running clubmates from Mallusk Harriers will tackle all 24 of Northern Ireland’s five-km parkrun routes in 24 hours.
Starting at Derry City at 9.30am, the team will work their way North, East, South and West of the country, all being well, concluding by 9.30am on Sunday, June 25, at Lakeland Forum, Enniskillen.
Alan’s mother Catherine was a keen runner, taking on five marathons, with a personal best of 4.18. In 2001. She completed her first marathon in Paris and, in 2007, she completed her final marathon in Perpignan. It was the combination of his mum’s love of running and Eddie Izzard’s 27 marathons in 27 days that inspired Alan to do something so adventurous.
“My mum loved a challenge,” Alan said. “Nine months into her second stint of cancer treatment, my brother Jonny ran 100k for charity. My mum completed 15k alongside him. She was first diagnosed with advanced breast cancer in 2011. Following treatment, we believed the cancer had gone. Unfortunately, in February 2013, I received a heart-breaking call explaining that the cancer had returned and it was incurable. I suppose I was in a state of disbelief; she’d been through it all already, and now it was back and there was nothing we could do. My mum never let the cancer break her determined spirit;
she remained upbeat and positive right to the very end. She is my inspiration.”
Alan, originally from Leeds, West Yorkshire, moved to Northern Ireland aged 19 to begin his studies in Music Technology at Queen’s University. In 2003 Alan completed his first marathon alongside his mum.
He said: “My mum had been talking about coming to Belfast to visit me at uni. Having got a taste for marathons in Paris she was keen to try Belfast Marathon. I didn’t really have any interest in running before then. I grew up with my mum running in her local running club, Abbey Runners, a few times a week. When she said she wanted to take on the Belfast Marathon, it took a lot of persuasion for me to sign up. Looking back now, it is something I am so glad that I did with her. My mum loved the
Belfast Marathon; she came back in 2005 and completed it for a second time.”
Alan is a keen member of the Mallusk Harriers running club and has run several marathons; his most recent achievement was completing his first ultra marathon in the Connemarathon, during April of this year.
Parkrun is a weekly five-km timed run and has become a phenomenon that encourages runners of all abilities to get out and improve their fitness and wellbeing. Being a weekly event, it would take six months to complete all of them, however, Alan and his clubmates intend to achieve this in just 24 hours.
Alan’s clubmates were only too glad to support him with the idea. Alex Davidson, a member of Mallusk Harriers, said: “The
challenge that Alan and his fellow runners from the club have undertaken is immense. They will run the equivalent of three marathons in one day, challenging their minds and bodies like never before. It is a massive undertaking.”
The public can support Alan in his quest of raising £10,000 through this challenge by sponsoring him at www.24in24.run.