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Connor McAliskey is a Tyrone GAA footballer. He is also part of Mencap’s Powerhouse20 relay team who are fundraising for this year’s full marathon. His aunty Marissa McKernan, aged 50, also from County Tyrone is coordinating Powerhouse20 and is GAA Tyrone’s sports physiotherapist. Come and meet them on marathon day at our finishing line area.We spoke to Connor about why he has decided to #StepUp4Mencap and help give children and young people with a learning disability the best possible start in life.

1.Why have you decided to take part and run the full 26.2 miles of this year’s Deep River Rock Belfast Marathon? What motivated you to enter and train during the winter months?

I was always planning to run a relay in aid of Mencap since I have a very close connection to the cause. My two cousins both have a learning disability and fundraising for Mencap is a really great way of supporting them, whilst also fundraising for my family. They have both directly benefitted from the great services that Mencap provide. This is my personal way of thanking them and giving something back directly to my own local community.

2.Why have you become an official ambassador for Mencap and what’s your personal ambition by getting more involved?

From a very young age, I have always been involved with the Rainbow Club in Carrickmore – this is a social club which helps lots of local people with a learning disability. I helped out, got involved and organised day trips, social events and would attend meetings. Soon, I got very friendly with the members of the group and felt a real connection with Mencap. This is why I wanted to get involved.

3. We want to encourage others to get active and fundraise and run for Mencap. What reasons would you give other people to encourage them to take on a Marathon challenge and fundraise for Mencap? What three words would you say to help inspire and motivate them?

Running any endurance event takes real personal motivation and you can do a marathon for your own personal satisfaction and achieving a new challenge. From my own experience as a regular marathon runner, the good feeling at the end of the marathon is the climax of it all…. It can really change your life. How? The training and dietary demands can really change your life for the better. Your health improves too! Four to five months of intensive training can really change your body shape, fitness levels, breathing, stress levels improve and your overall well-being can improve drastically. It’s a no brainer!

4.What would be your top reason why people should get involved and #StepUp4Mencap and what are your tips for staying active and for endurance running?

Any endurance event, marathon or simple fun run is a personal learning curve. It also stretches and challenges your personal xxx. Running for Mencap Ni will also expand your knowledge of learning and disability issues and how society needs to change its own overall views – particularly wh
en it can affect one of my own family members. People can still be in the dark about it all and getting involved could change public perception in the long term. That is my ambition!

5.When you have finished the marathon…. What is the first thing that comes to mind? Upon reflection, how would you do things differently when training for next year’s marathon?

I think immediately of the following words: Relief, enthusiasm and overwhelming satisfaction. I would start training earlier on and ensure that my healthy diet was maintained throughout the whole year not just during the pre-marathon training period! The three words that I would use to describe the marathon at the finishing line are endurance toughness and hardwork!

Marissa McKernan, aged 50, also from County Tyrone is coordinating Powerhouse20 and is GAA Tyrone’s sports physiotherapist.

#StepUp4Mencap and Sign up for 2017 Belfast City Marathon
Marathon Run

The Full 26.2 mile marathon challenge.

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Wheel Chair Marathon

The wheelchair race commences one minute before the main marathon event. The Marathon Organisers, working with DSNI and Disability Action have developed the route suitable for wheel chair users.

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Team Relay Challeng

This challenge is for teams of 2-5 people, running the same course as the Main Marathon Race.

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8 Mile Walk

For those who think the marathon is a bit of a stretch, but who want to put their fitness to the test, try out the marathon walk – you’ll never walk alone!

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Fun Run for Adults

There’s always been a great sense of fun and community at the Belfast City Marathon and the Fun Run is an awesome way to catch the vibe – silly costumes are not compulsory, but they really do help!

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Fun Run for Children

There’s always been a great sense of fun and community at the Belfast City Marathon and the Fun Run is an awesome way to catch the vibe – silly costumes are not compulsory, but they really do help!

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