The year is just a month old and already one big road running event – the annual Run Kildare 10k, half-marathon and marathon promotion – has hung out the cancellation sign, while on the other hand, Kildare native and Today FM presenter Ray D'Arcy has just launched a brand new event – the Half-Million Half-Marathon for the LauraLynn Hospice, which takes place in the Phoenix Park on Good Friday, April 18.
Run Kildare race director Jo Cawley has hit the pause button on her event, which had become hugely popular over the past few years. It was an all-embracing event, and there was burgeoning support for the promotion, but Cawley has decided for health reasons not to go ahead with the event this year, though she makes it clear that she does not intend for this to be the final curtain for the Kildare Marathon.
"I am taking some time out to refresh and re-focus and I hope that I come back to the event with the same energy and enthusiasm as I had when I started it," she said.
D'Arcy, however, is a man on a mission this year and through a novel new running event, the Half-Million Half-Marathon, the Today FM presenter has his sights fixed on raising a whopping half-a-million euro for LauraLynn – Ireland's Children's Hospice, which provides home support, respite and end-of-life care to children with life-limiting conditions.
The event will be organised by Athletics Ireland and supported by Volkswagen Ireland, with a limit of 2,000 entries.
The entry fee will be €250 and entrants are encouraged to fundraise this amount through family, friends or work colleagues.
"We want to raise a clear half-million euro that will go directly to the LauraLynn Hospice and this Half-Million Half-Marathon promises to be a pretty unique event," D'Arcy said.
Since he took up running in his late 30s, D'Arcy has been a tireless promoter of the whole concept of recreational running and you can see him regularly running home from work to his home in Stillorgan, Co Dublin.
Ray set himself the ambition of completing a triathlon to celebrate his 40th birthday – almost a decade ago – and this year, as he approaches the half-century, the Kildare native has come up with his novel and noble plan to promote the Half-Million Half-Marathon for LauraLynn.
"I had thought about running another marathon in Dublin next October, but my wife Jenny, who is also a runner, was not in favour of me taking on such a strenuous challenge at my age, and she was probably right," he said.
"I still wanted to do something special in running to mark my 50th birthday and I could think of no better project than launching this serious fundraising event for the LauraLynn Hospice."
The LauraLynn Hospice came about because of the deep sorrow and loss that Jane and Brendan McKenna experienced when they lost their two beautiful young daughters, Laura and Lynn, to illness.
Their youngest daughter, Laura, was born with a hole in her heart and, having endured two serious operations, went on to have a few relatively good years while the final repair operation was pencilled in. Sadly, Laura did not survive and she died in 1999, aged just four.
Lynn had 13 years of perfect health until she was diagnosed with leukaemia on the very day that her younger sister passed away. The way she coped with her illness, her adored sister's death and her own impending death was an inspiration to her parents, who vowed to turn their double family trauma into something positive and inspiring.
LauraLynn House opened in September 2011 and it seems somewhat fortuitous that D'Arcy will celebrate his 50th birthday on September 1 this year.
The LauraLynn Hospice continues to deliver precious care and comfort to sick children and their families and the 2,000 runners D'Arcy hopes to lead to the start line on Good Friday will be made fully aware of the great cause that they are supporting.
See www.lauralynn.ie for more details of this event or visit www.todayfm.com. Online entries for the event will be available soon on www.athleticsireland.ie