Running for a cause - what Kenya means for Mulhare
Published 24/04/2015 | 02:30
Defending champion Wilson Kipsang and world record holder Dennis Kimetto should be to the fore in Sunday's London Marathon but Kipsang and Kenya have a very different resonance for Portlaoise athlete Dan Mulhare.
Dan and his younger siblings Michael and Mary have all run in the Irish vest so it was no surprise that they made the final of RTé's 'Ireland's Fittest Family' last year.
But competitive athletics has taken more of a back seat for the young Glasgow-based engineer since he got involved with a Kenyan charity called The Gathimba Edwards Foundation (GEF) which, uniquely, has distance runners at its core.
After completing his degree in Edinburgh in 2010, Mulhare, like a lot of European distance runners, hit off for Kenya's famous training spot Iten, to see how a few month's altitude training (at 8,000ft) with the locals could improve him.
While there, he actually stayed on Kipsang's training compound courtesy of his university team-mate Myles Edwards, a Scot who had interviewed the star a year earlier.
Edwards had also become friends with another Kenyan, Gideon Gathimba, a former 1,500m silver medallist at the African Championships.
Through him they visited a local orphanage in Karatina - a life-changing experience that the two visiting athletes simply could not ignore.
The foundation raises funds by bringing distance-runners to Iten and Eldoret for training camps and combining that with a safari and some voluntary work at their foundation.
In the past year it has expanded rapidly, from working with the orphanage to a broad spread of local projects. Mulhare accompanied a group of 15 runners to Kenya for 11 days last month and their next trip is in October.
The cost for Irish runners will be close to €1,000 but these training trips also contribute to the local community.
"When we first visited the Pavilion Village I was shocked," Mulhare recalls.
"There were 22 kids and one of them was bed-bound because they had no wheelchair.
"There was no electricity, broken windows and none of them was in school.
"Now 19 of them are in school, one is in college and one is in university," Mulhare explains.
"Just £35 pays for their food, clothing and education for a month. In the developed world that is nothing to us but it makes such a huge difference in their lives."
If training with the Kenyans sounds a tad too challenging, the Gathimba Edwards Foundation project also welcomes funds and volunteers. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.