Athletics: Fallon fundraising drive for €100,000 hits road in Park
Paul Fallon set off at 8.30 this morning from the Phoenix Park to begin a month-long fundraising drive with a difference.
The 46-year-old Galway man's running odyssey will see him cover 1,000 miles around Ireland by New Year's Eve. He will average 33 miles a day -- including Christmas Day -- and is hoping to raise €100,000 for On The Road Again, a Galway-based charity that's helping some of the city's homeless rebuild their lives.
Fallon is looking for 1,000 people to commit to walking or running a mile with him on his nationwide campaign and anyone interested can contact the On The Road Again organisation at www.otra.ie or 086 8755129.
The inspiration for the run came from the success this year of the On The Road Again personal development project, in which running plays a part in assisting homeless people take their first steps to self-sufficiency.
Based on the American 'Back on My Feet' concept, a pilot programme was launched in Galway last June with the aid of Cope, Galway Simon, St Vincent De Paul, Galway Diocesan Youth Services and Jigsaw.
Thirty-four homeless people involved with these agencies signed up to take part in the programme, with 16 graduating last month. Some of the participants have run events like the Streets of Galway 8k and Galway Half-Marathon as part of a new structured lifestyle that has also seen several members of the group return to education.
"The On The Road Again programme is all about motivation," says Fallon. "Running can give people targets to achieve and they can feel slow but steady progress as they start to get fit."
Many of those involved in On The Road Again have battled addictions and depression, but in many cases running has been the catalyst for change.
"It can be hard going for some of the homeless, especially if some of them slip back into addiction or depression," says Fallon.
"The On The Road Again programme is there to help these homeless people achieve independent living again and the pilot programme we ran this year was hugely successful."
His Boston-born wife Melanie and his two children Saoirse (11) and Sophie (nine) are fully supportive of his fundraising efforts, which means he will not be home for Christmas dinner this year.
"I have great family support and they understand and applaud what I am trying to achieve," he said.
He has also received strong support from a number of local companies and says that he has received great help in developing the running programme from the Mizuno running shoe company and from Galway sports shop Amphibian King.
•Irish Olympian Roisin McGettigan and American 5k champion Lauren Fleshman and have launched a new training diary specifically for women runners.
Lauren and Roisin used their current and past experience as professional athletes and their exposure to sports psychology to create the 'Believe I Am Training Journal'.
Lauren and Roisin met on the international Pro Track and Field Circuit in 2003 and shared their training secrets and struggles over the next eight years whenever their paths crossed.
In the summer of 2010 they decided to share their best lessons in the sport with other women.
"The electronic training log over-emphasises the physical; this simply doesn't reflect the mind/body reality and the art that is at the heart of running as a sport," says Fleshman.
•The 21st running of the John Treacy Dungarvan 10-Mile Road Race on January 29 will be one of the early highlights of the new year. Pre-race entry closes in January or when the limit of 1,500 entries is reached.
Organised by West Waterford Athletic Club and the Waterford Sports Partnership with support from Dungarvan Town Council, Waterford County Council, the race is sponsored by local businesses including Glaxosmithkline, Dungarvan Shopping Centre, Glanbia, Optimum Nutrition, Tipperary Water, Flahavan's and Déise Design. Race entry and details at: www.dungarvan10mile.org.