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Veronica CosgroveVeronica from Belfast is doing the 2016 Belfast City Marathon Fun Run for Mencap Northern Ireland. Here, she explains her inspiration for taking part and encourages others to do the same…

I got involved with Mencap when my daughter Caoimhe was diagnosed with a learning disability – Ohdo Syndrome – as a small child. Less than one in a million people have this syndrome. Caoimhe was accepted into the Mencap Nursery at Segal House and attended there from 2012-2013.

To me, Mencap’s work is vital so other children like Caoimhe can be helped at the important, early stages of their lives. There’s really not much additional assistance.

I believe that taking part in the marathon means other children will be helped. I want other children to get the same support as Caoimhe received and fundraising through the Marathon will help Mencap continue to make an impact this way.

I decided to do the 2015 Belfast City Marathon to raise funds for Mencap and I took part in the eight mile walk, which was a daunting task for me. If you are considering it I say please, please go for it. Just enjoy it – the hard work really pays off eventually – just remember the reasons you are doing it. At the start of my journey I found it hard to build my fitness, but then I’d think of my daughter and I just kept going.

The whole experience was fantastic – you get to see the buzz around the marathon and me and my other children have now been inspired to take part too in 2016, instead this time we’ll do the fun run.

Personal health and fitness was also a real personal motivator for me – the healthier I am, the longer we will be around to help Caoimhe. This is a real worry for all families of children with a learning disability – what happens when I’m gone? When I’m training, I download whatever is in the charts at the minute – I don’t have a particular training theme or song, just anything to keep me going.

My family and I will also be taking part in the walks organised by Mencap in the run up to the marathon to help us get prepared. My kids are raising awareness by fundraising through their friends and peers. I work in the civil service and my department has a newsletter and my manager included the details of the marathon to help me fundraise. This was circulated among staff to encourage them to help me reach my targets – I’d urge others to do the same.

If anyone is considering doing it for Mencap then just do it. The money goes to the right people in the right places. Mencap can never have too much money. Its current nursery building in Belfast isn’t really fit for purpose now and the new building will be a godsend for families.

To those who have been engaged in fundraising already I say thank you on behalf of Caoimhe and our family. If there’s anything you can do to raise even just a little bit more please go ahead and do it. To those considering doing it for Mencap in 2016, what’s stopping you?

#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!

Sign Up Now