Long distance runner aims to do ten 10 K’s for autism charity
For the last number of years, ‘Fermanagh Herald’ readers have been fascinated by the adventurous running exploits of Garrison man, Thomas Maguire.
Whether it was conquering the North Pole Marathon in temperatures as low as -25 degrees or pounding 125km across the Namib desert in temperatures as high as 42 degrees, the ultra running athlete has not only managed to go the distance each time but has returned having broken Irish records and taking major wins.
His commitment to his sport means he endures gruelling long distance training sessions while his drive to succeed has ensured he raises the barometer for each new challenge.
And, now his latest venture is about to take place on home soil.
For, in association with the ‘Fermanagh Herald’ and the Fermanagh Branch of Autism Northern Ireland, Thomas has signed up to contest the annual Rotary 10k on Saturday 6th June.
But, while the majority will take their positions for a two o’clock start, Thomas has pledged to get going a lot earlier as he aims to run a whopping ten 10k’s (100k/62 miles) in aid of autism!
Inspired by his 11-year-old son Daniel who has autism, Thomas plans to run 10 laps of the traditional route, hoping to embark on his last 10k as other competitors are taking off at two o’clock.
“I have never done a charity run before, so I want to do the 10K for the Fermangh Branch of Autism NI,” Thomas explained. “I can also use the 100K as a good training session for the World 50 Mile Trail Championship in the French Alps on the 12th July.”
He went on: “I will have to run the course this week and work out a strategy but I think I will probably have to start about 6.45am. I hope to be running my last lap over the bridge at the Lakeland Forum as the first stage of the 10K begins. I will also try to get the last lap as far under 50 minutes as I can.”
To help Thomas and his charity along, the ‘Fermanagh Herald’ is calling on nine people to start a 10K with Thomas at each new lap of his course, before he sets off on his final 10K. Each volunteer will also be running to help Thomas raise funds for autism.
Ruth Watson, the Chairperson of the Fermanagh Branch of Autism NI has commended Thomas’ efforts and is encouraging everyone to get behind him and his charity.
“Children with autism grow up to be adults with autism, there is no cure but, with early intervention and specialist education, they can develop their full potential. In the West, especially the Fermanagh area, services and help towards our children are still very poor, even though the diagnosis of children with is ASD is now one in every 100.
“Due to lack of services and groups and societies being so reluctant (possibly afraid) to take on board our children, we in the Fermanagh Branch took it upon ourselves to start to organise activities for our children.”
These activities, Ruth said, were vital in teaching children the concepts of cueing, experiencing life outside their daily routine and teaching them to deal with different sensory issues such as sound, lights, and crowds of people.
Turning to Thomas Maguire’s 100k challenge, Ruth commented: “Doing this run for Autism NI Fermanagh is something close to Thomas’ heart as his son Daniel has Autism Spectrum Disorder. Due to the fact that one in every 100 children is now being diagnosed with ASD, it is very significant that Thomas on his own is running the 100 K. Both Daniel, his sister and their mum Siobhan avail of the activities organised by our local branch which has reduced the feeling of isolation known by all our families at one time or another.”
She went on: “The Fermanagh Branch of Autism NI greatly appreciate the effort Thomas is making in running the Rotary 10 K 10 times, he is not only making an effort to raise much needed funds to help our children’s social skills, but he is raising autism awareness within the county. He has also encouraged many more of our parents, siblings, family circle and friends within the group to get on their running and walking shoes and join him on his final 10th lap of his run. This will be a huge undertaking for our children as well.
Donations can be made and sponsor sheets obtained from the Fermanagh Branch by contacting Ruth on 0796