PHILIP’S FIRST MARATHON
Competing in 5k road races at the British and World Transplant Games, participating in 5k park runs on Saturday mornings and even completing a half Marathon was one thing. Running the full 26.2 miles of the Belfast City Marathon was quite another. This, however, was the goal that Philip Cairnduff, a liver recipient in 2004, set himself at the turn of the year. If he was to do it at all, it was appropriate to do it in the year he turned 30. And even more appropriate in the year his donor would have turned 60 had she lived.
Honouring his donor and her family, whose generosity and courage had saved his life, was the main reason why he started the rigorous training programme that his coach at Lagan Valley Athletics Club, John Glover, devised for him in mid-January. It was also the main reason for persevering with it through the cold and rain of the past winter. Raising money for the RVH Liver Support Group was a secondary though not insignificant motivation. His initial target was £500.
Here Philip takes up his own story: The lonely training evenings, sometimes for hours at a time felt very worthwhile up until 16 miles in. A few miles later I learnt just what ‘hitting the wall’ really meant. From then on it was a battle between an exhausted body and a stubborn mind. All the way round I was grateful to strangers who were encouraging me but most of all grateful to the complete stranger who allowed me to turn up at the starting line in the first place.
He finished in 3 hours 31 minutes 36 seconds. He is, as far as we know, the first Northern Ireland liver recipient to run the Belfast marathon. He was mentioned in an editorial in the next day’s Newsletter as one of three competitors who were the ultimate ambassadors for an event that symbolises human endurance and will in the face of adversity. As for his fundraising target, thanks to the generosity of many who have been touched by his story, the total currently stands in excess of £2, 000.
But will he be running another marathon? It’s far too early to say.