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Marathon Run "Funbarr Challenge" in aid of CLAPAI

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“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”

Finbarr was born on the 14th January 2018 in the Starcare hospital in Seeb Muscat , about 5 months before hand we had been told during a routine scan that there maybe something wrong on the formation of his face . It soon was confirmed that it was a single cleft on his lip , at the time they couldn't determine whether it was severe or had he a hole in his palate.

I remember coming home the first time after being told and googling images of children with cleft lip and palates , we were taken aback . The doctors had said not to worry as its only a cleft lip and palate and it was very normal , albeit i had only ever seen 2 people with a cleft in my entire life i couldn't accept that it was something not to worry about … roll on the 14th of January and the moment i saw Finbarr , i just didn't see it. All i saw was a beautiful little boy just like his older brother Tommy.

Over the next year Finbarr was put under the care of Dr Belushi in Burjeel Hospital , a wonderful man and a great reassuring doctor. He first performed the cleft operation on Finn when he was just 10 months old , an ordeal i wouldn't wish any parent to go through. Finn then tackled the palate operation several months after . It seemed like we spend most of the year in the hospital. Like the trooper he is he battled through both operations and recovered really well.

He is nearly 2.5 years old now and on moving back to Ireland was accepted by the cleft & palate team in the CUH in cork , they will now monitor his development until he is 18 years old , speech therapy , orthodontists and more surgery awaits him along with the trappings of growing up without as a young boy and a teenager. He has a wonderful brother Tommy who loves and adores him and will be by his side through it all !!

I decided in March immediately after the lockdown to try and get our rugby team to keep fit by setting a 5km challenge on our WhatsApp group , on the 23rd of March i ran my first 5km since i had ran the Al Mouj Muscat 10km race way back in January 2019 . I did it in 38 minutes , in a month i had that time down to 26:41 , i then decided to tackle the 10k mark , i had previously in 2017 ran one in 52:31 but in only three goes i had broken the hour mark again. I couldn't stop and along with doing a Sports Psychology diploma and a theming project with the rugby club on Cobh’s great runner Sonia O’Sullivan i decided to push it out to 16km for the big rugby run for feed the heroes on the 9th of May.

I decided to rung the 16km to see how Sonia O’Sullivan as a distance runner operates , what goes through their head , i needed this to help me for my theming project with the Cobh Pirates rugby team. Little did i know that that day i would go on to run a half marathon in exactly 2.5 hrs. time. I was buzzing after it and had pushed buttons i had never pushed before both physically and mentally , i was ticking a lot of boxes with this run , fitness , rugby work and college work.

Then i needed more it was like a drug , one day i googled how long it would be to run around the Great Island , and low and behold it was just under 22km , i would not only beat my longest distance record but also run a lap of the island and try and do it under 2.5 hrs - I smashed it , i ran the 22km in 2.23 slicing about 7 minutes off my time , but the biggest surprise was my recovery , it was so fast and very bearable. My brain went into overload and i started thinking about the full marathon.

I then decided on a route and just went for it , i knew from my time raising money with the Davey Jones X-Men for MND (£9000) and on my own for Myeloma Ireland (1000 euro) that i could raise some money whilst i was doing it and rope some mates in along the way , there was only one charity left that's really close to my heart and it was CLAPAI , the cleft lip and palate association Ireland. I have never done anything for them before or have heard of anyone doing any charity work for them. They have a great Facebook page which i have contributed to before on Cleft awareness week and so forth , however it was a no brainer to select them for this challenge.

We are calling it the Funbarr Challenge as its Finbarr's nickname due to his everlasting ability to never be down :) , i have said in the past he has cried enough tears for a 2 yr old that that's why he doesn't cry that often , or he might be saving them for the future that lies ahead. Either way we will have over friends and family all over the world challenging themselves on the 20th of June 2020 in aid of not only an amazing little boy but a worthy charity , we will hope to raise enough money to maybe help other families with clefties :)

A huge thanks goes to Macdara O’Ciardha who i have mercifully roped into running a simultaneous marathon in Dublin :) Go raibh maith agat Mac.

Thank you to the challengers and the all those who donate , a special thanks to Pinky & Tommy and of course Funbarr for all the support.

Fundraising team: Funbarr Challenge !!! (28)

Luke O'Mahony
Raised €2,129 from 42 donations
Anne Gilsenan
Macdara Ciardha
Team member
Raised €1,190 from 34 donations
Bob Johnstone
Team member
Raised €765 from 20 donations
David Kane
Team member
Raised €425 from 16 donations
Julian Mullineux
Team member
Raised €285 from 8 donations

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