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Terrorist threat forces Kathryn to cancel Ethiopia charity run


 Kathryn Thomas. Picture: Brian McEvoy

Kathryn Thomas. Picture: Brian McEvoy

Kathryn Thomas. Picture: Brian McEvoy

OPERATION Transformation host Kathryn Thomas was forced to pull out of the Great Ethiopian Run after al-Shabaab terrorists threatened to sabotage the charity event.

Kathryn (34) was due to travel to Africa last week and run 10k to raise money for Self Help Africa.

But the Carlow native had to cancel her flight after the charity advised participants not to travel for the run.

She told the Herald: "I've travelled to Ethiopia and to Addis Ababa before and I think it's a great place and city – I've always been happy and felt safe travelling there.

"But the al-Shabaab terrorists were responsible for the Westgate Mall attacks in Nairobi, so the organisers had to take things seriously.

"Ethiopia has been on high alert since those two suicide bombers blew themselves up before Ethiopia's World Cup qualifying match against Nigeria."

Kathryn added organisers were particularly conscious after the Boston Marathon bombings earlier in the year. "They really had to alert participants to the danger and advise them not to travel," she said.

"The event wasn't cancelled but Self Help Africa had to warn everyone about it."

Despite the alert, several Irish participants made their way to Ethiopia. The hard core marathon men and women ran a different race in Hawass, several hours south of Addis Ababa, and dubbed it 'The Alternative Great Ethiopia Run'.

Kathryn added: "I'm delighted the other participants ran an alternate race and the event was a success despite everything.

"It was obviously a disappointment. It's the biggest run in the city – over 40,000 take part – but these things happen and safety is always a priority."

Kathryn is currently down in Cork filming the next series of Operation Transformation. But despite being in a different continent, she made sure to make a contribution to the 10k run.

So she threw on a pair of sneakers and hit the pavements in the south.

She revealed: "We did a 10k run down in Cork to make up for it.

"I was going to run it on the same day but I was travelling so did it the following day."