Life Style Sports Run in the Dark is happening in Dublin, Cork, Belfast. London, Manchester and around the world on Wednesday 13th November AS DARKNESS falls over the city in November and many people are settling down in front of the television, thousands will be pulling on their trainers and heading for the door. People all over the world will gather again at 7:30 pm local time on Wednesday the 13th of November in the hope that they are part of something better for paralysed people like Mark Pollock and others. The brainchild of the Mark Pollock Trust, the Run in the Dark is now in its third year and is going seriously global in 2013 with 5km and 10 km fundraising running events set to be held across 6 continents. There are 5 official locations – Dublin, Cork, Belfast, London and Manchester and pop-up events in cities worldwide run by independent champions. Those who are interested in taking part in this year’s event can register online at www.runinthedark.org or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/runinthedarkoffical or via Twitter on @theruninthedark.
Participants in last year’s event in Dublin describe a living, breathing light show as 5,000 runners flowed like lava alongside the river Liffey in their Run in the Dark red armbands. They also describe an enveloping sense of togetherness, of common purpose, of being part of Mark’s plan for paralysis no longer being a life sentence. And this feeling was felt around the world as people ran into the night in Cork, Belfast, London, Sydney, Hongkong, Singapore, New York, San Francisco and many other cities.
Mark’s quest began when he fell from a second story window in 2010. He broke his back and the damage to his spinal cord left him paralysed. Sadly, this was not Mark’s first tragedy. 12 years earlier at the age of 22, he lost his sight. But, then he defied his blindness and went on to compete in ultra endurance races across deserts, mountains, and the polar ice caps. These challenges include a race to the South Pole, 6 marathons in 7 days in the Gobi Desert; and the Tenzing Hillary Everest Marathon. He also won silver and bronze medals for rowing at the Commonwealth Games.
As the blind adventure athlete lay in hospital, blind and paralysed his supporters knew that even though he was struggling, he would meet this new challenge head on. To fund his ambition to walk again, they created the Mark Pollock Trust – www.markpollocktrust.org. Now, Mark is exploring frontiers again using his own body as a research subject, and using his public profile to initiate collaborations across the world.
Commenting on his mission, Mark says, “I believe that the cure for spinal cord injuries simply requires enough of the right people having the will to make it happen. It is my mission to find and connect those people around the world to mainstream what is currently on the fringes.”
Piers White, Head of Fundraising for Mark Pollock Trust, says “ I believe in the power of entrepreneurship to solve big problems, I felt that bringing an entrepreneurial approach to fundraising was the best way to support Mark Pollock Trust’s mission. Our vision was to create a global running series to provide a sustainable source of funding. And we are delighted to announce Life Style Sports as our new Run in the Dark partner to help us continue to make it happen.”
Mark Stafford, CEO of Life Style Sports said “Life Style Sports is all about inspiration, fearlessness and collaboration, which fits perfectly with Mark Pollock’s incredible response to his own personal challenges. We are extremely excited about the ambitious growth plans for the Life Style Sports Run in the Dark race over the next three years and, through our network of 64 stores, including our online store lifestylesports.com, we look forward to offering Run in the Dark participants the very best range of running apparel and footwear.”
Funded primarily by donations from the Run in the Dark global running community, Mark was the first person in the world to own and regularly walk in an Ekso Bionics robotic suit and he trains in this €150,000 piece of equipment on a daily basis. Supported by his trainer, Simon O’Donnell, he is following an aggressive physical therapy programme in conjunction with innovative electrical stimulation sessions on his legs. However, Mark knows that finding a cure for catastrophic spinal cord injuries won’t happen in isolation. He says “Finding a cure for spinal cord injury is not a predictable problem. It is a human crisis and it requires collaboration across geographical, organisational and intellectual boundaries. It will not be solved by individual heroes. We need the glorious chaos of global collaborations and a fanatical, fantastical desire to solve the things the human brain can’t yet comprehend. So, I am working on collaborations with scientists, technologists and physiologists around the world.”
Through Mark’s role as a charity ambassador, the team at Life Style Sports Run in the Dark have joined forces with Wings for Life, the global spinal injury research charity, who will also benefit directly from entry fees alongside Mark Pollock Trust. In addition, Piers White says “As a small organisation we realise how much effort and time it takes to create a top class event. So, in the spirit of collaboration which is central to our work, alongside Mark Pollock Trust and Wings for Life we want as many charities as possible to use Life Style Sports Run in the Dark as a focus for their own fundraising.”