The Coronavirus pandemic has brought many challenges to people’s lives. There has, and continues to be much heartbreak as a result of its devastating effects. New opportunities and benefits have also arisen though. For many people all over the country with a love of running, they have seen the cancellation of races that much training had gone into and of which they were looking forward to. For Alastair Donaldson, a Church of Ireland minister from County Fermanagh, such occurrences can take a toll on people’s mental health as well as their fitness levels.
“I had planned, God willing and injuries permitting, to run a number of major races between Easter and the end of June”, he said. “However, with the lockdown, one by one these disappeared from the race calendar”. What was one to do? Well, one day Alastair was introduced to the concept of ‘virtual running’. He said, “At first I thought it was something to do with a computer game but it was nothing of the sort”. Indeed, it wasn’t. Virtual running is big business. The idea is not necessarily new but has gained much traction of late. A typical athlete will enter a race of whatever distance through various organisers. They then ‘run the race’ remotely alongside other entrants. When they have run the full distance, they submit proof i.e. pictures or downloads of their GPS watch etc to prove completion. A medal will then be sent in the post to the competitor. Or something roughly similar to that.
Alastair says, “with my 38th birthday imminently approaching, I began to think like Pheidippides (the original marathon runner) once again. Running was the only sport I was ever good at. Over the years I have seen it both bless me and use me to bless others. I thought of an idea to remotely run 380km (my age to the multiple of 10) over the months of May and June excluding Sunday’s.”
Many of you will be experiencing deja-vu as you read this. Alastair has a history of these things. In the summer of 2013, he organised ‘Run4Christ’, a run around the entire perimeter of Ireland. This consisted of some 1,298 miles spread over 53 ‘marathons’ and taking in total 8 weeks and 3 days (July 1st – August 29th). There were days during that endeavour where he and those who supported him ran up to 30miles). 7 years older at this point, his aspirations are more modest.
Supporting the Irish Church Missions in Dublin
Something on Alastair’s heart and for which he is using the run to draw people’s attention to the work of Irish Church Missions in Dublin and their prayerful intention to see ’10 new church congregations planted by 2028’. These range from pioneering work in the Silicon Docks amongst the business community to the ongoing pastoring of an ethnic Iranian community, already feeling isolated, in both Belfast and Dublin. In the months going forward, such gospel initiatives may prove vital to all the citizens of Dublin and throughout the country and island.
Has this idea caught your attention? Would you like to run remotely alongside Alastair?
Or would you consider partnering with Alastair through prayer and financial giving?
If so, please visit RunandPlant380 to donate.
A Facebook Group with further information and updates is also available RunandPlant380.