KEVIN BEGIN’S HIS 32-COUNTY CHALLENGE (Midleton & District News, January 11th)
While many of the 170 or so runners at the Bandon road race on New Year’s Day were happy just to get another year underway, for Kevin Donovan it was the start of what promises to be a hectic 12 months, writes John Walshe
Kevin’s goal is to run a race in each of the 32 counties on this island and it’s something that very few people have achieved in a calendar year. On well-known local runner, Denis McCarthy of East Cork AC, did compete the challenge a few decades ago but in his case, as they were very few races around at that time, it took him a number of years to achieve it.
Kevin, who grew up outside Ballycotton and now lives in Midleton, explains how the idea came about: “Since I have gotten into running over the last two years, I like to set myself various challenges. For 2017, I thought about what I could do. I started looking around at various races and came across a 32 county challenge in which you have one year to run a race in each of the 32 counties.
“I started running over the last two years and attended many races, from 4km to half-marathon, from Ballycotton to Windsor. The main reason I got into running was when my father passed away in July 2014. He used to do a lot of running back in the 1970s, ‘80s and ‘90s. In 1980, my father, Dan Donovan, ran his first Ballycotton ‘10’. It was always an ambition of mine to be the next generation to run this race which I successfully did I in March 2016. It was a big moment for me when I crossed the finish line.”
Over the last few years, Kevin has competed in many races, both home and abroad. “I did races like the Silverstone 10km (interested in F1!), Run Norwich 10km (avid Norwich City supporter!), along with my first half-marathon in East Cork. Over the two years, I have averaged 25 races a year,” he says.
But it’s not all about running the 32 counties as Kevin’s challenge will also benefit two charities, the Irish Deaf Society (IDS) and Cork Deaf Association (CDA).
“The main reason I have selected these charities was when I was young, I had Specific Speech Disorder. This meant I found it hard to say the words even though there was no problem with the brain. I was brought to different special centres and schools but with no success.
“It wasn’t until a decision was made for me to go to the School for the Deaf in Douglas, which changed my life. It was the staff that got me talking and made the gradual process of improving my English. Even though I was never deaf, I made many great friends during my time there. Thanks to them, I could go onto mainstream secondary school and onto college where I got my Honours Degree in Chemistry in CIT.”
Kevin has a special word of praise for Sr. Pauline Casey, who is also originally from the Ballycotton area. “I owe a lot of my success to Sr. Pauline and the staff who took me on and recognised the problem I have and worked very hard with me. My disorder is not obvious anymore, but there is the odd hint!
“For me personally, I feel IDS are working very hard to make the Irish Sign Language (ISL) recognised by the state. I also feel there are many charities that often get overlooked for other better-known charities or many people may not know these charities exist. I hope by doing this challenge that it will brings ISL to the forefront. I consider ISL to be my second language, ahead of French as I never studied Irish. I choose CDA as they are local and many of my friends are from Cork,” he concludes.
With just a week of 2017 gone, Kevin’s daunting challenge is already underway. Along with Bandon, he also ran the Ferrycarrig five-mile in Wexford last Sunday and next in line is the Banner County on January 28th where he will take part in the Resolution Run 5km.
The following is Kevin Donovan’s 32-County Challenge itinerary:
1. January 1st – Bandon 5 Mile, Cork
2. January 8th – Ferrycarrig 5 Mile, Wexford
3. January 28th – Resolution 5km, Clare
4. January 29th – Charlie Curran Run 10km/5km, Carlow
5. February 5th – Dungarvan 10 Mile, Waterford
6. February 12th – Gorgeous Gort 8km, Galway
7. February 25th - Belfast Telegraph Run Forest Run 10km, Down
8. February 26th - Bradley Clinic 5 Mile, Leitrim
9. March 11th – Bundoran 10 Mile, Donegal
10. March 17th – Mullingar Half-Marathon, Westmeath
11. March 26th – Wicklow Gaol Break Half-Marathon, Wicklow
12. April 2nd – Ros Go Run, Roscommon
13. April 8th – Patsy Kelly 5km, Louth
14. April 9th – TQ10km, Antrim
15. April 17th – Edenderry 10 Mile, Offaly
16. April 22nd – Royal Canal Run 10km, Longford
17. April 23rd – Run Armagh 10km, Armagh
18. May 7th – Streets of Sligo 5km, Sligo
19. May 14th – Strabane Lifford Half-Marathon, Tyrone
20. May 19th – Kilmallock 5 Mile, Limerick
21. May – Maguiresbridge 5 Miler, Fermanagh
22. June 3rd – Tullaroan 10km, Kilkenny
23. June 18th – Throughbred 5km/10km/Half-Marathon, Kildare
24. June 24th – Dunshauglin 10km, Meath
25. June – Courtwood 5km, Laois
26. July 22nd – Run Killarney Half-Marathon, Kerry
27. July 29th – Ballynonty AC 10 Mile, Tipperary
28. August – Monaghan 10 Miler, Monaghan
29. August 26th – Frank Duffy 10 Mile, Dublin
30. September – Waterside Half-Marathon, Derry
31. September 23rd – Clew Bay Half-Marathon, Mayo
32. October 1st – Run with Catherina 5km, Cavan
You can follow Kevin's progress on this Facebook page... https://www.facebook.com/kevin32county2017/
|Kevin is also a member of the Wibbly Wobbly Wonders Running Club|