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Irish running legend calls on people in Carlow & Kilkenny to sign up for GOAL mile

The event's going virtual for 2020

An Irish running legend is appealing to people of Carlow and Kilkenny to run a mile for GOAL this Christmas.

Eamonn Coghlan is calling on adults and children locally to sign up for the fundraiser for the aid agency to help them to support the world’s most vulnerable communities.

The three-time Olympian and former World 5,000metre champion has announced that he and his family will be out of the traps for the virtual event on Christmas Day and they’d like as many people as possible to do the same.

Every Christmas for four decades it has been a tradition for family, friends and neighbours to take time out to walk, run or jog a mile for GOAL at locations across the country to support the agency’s work in 14 countries in Africa, Latin America and the Middle East.

With the current pandemic still holding fast, the event like many others has adapted. And so, determined to keep the tradition going, and to give people that chance to connect in a different but meaningful way over the festive season, GOAL has announced that the GOAL Mile is going virtual – and you can register to do your mile at a time and place of your choosing, within the COVID-19 guidelines.

So far almost 4,000 Irish people at home and abroad have registered. That is 4,000 miles, exceeding the distance from Ireland to Syria where GOAL supports more than one million displaced people every single day.

According to Coghlan, the first man over 40-years-old to run a sub-four-minute mile, the virtual GOAL mile offers people a chance to get out into the fresh air over Christmas and to stand in solidarity with those less well off.

He says “This has been a very challenging year and Christmas will be different due to COVID-19 restrictions. We will all miss being together in larger numbers, and not seeing family, but we must stay safe. GOAL’s decision to do a virtual mile is inspired as it offers people a unique chance to connect over Christmas and get out into the fresh air.”

This year marked the 35th anniversary of Coghlan, along with other Irish running greats Marcus O’Sullivan, Ray Flynn and Frank O’Mara, combined to break the world four by one-mile relay in Belfied in aid of GOAL. The record set by the foursome was 15:49.08, and it stands to this day.

Said Coghlan: “I have fantastic memories of that evening in Belfield when we broke that record before an excited crowd. The support we got was unbelievable and the four of us have enjoyed reminiscing on that night this year.

He added: “The Irish have never been found wanting when it comes to supporting those in our world most in need. We are renowned for our generosity. Whilst this Christmas we are all being asked to keep apart, we can stand together by doing a virtual GOAL Mile.”

GOAL Director of Fundraising, Eamon Sharkey, said: “A huge thanks to the people of Kilkenny and Carlow for all their support for the GOAL Mile over the last 39 years. Our target this Christmas is to get 10,000 people at home and abroad register to do a GOAL mile. The pandemic means the GOAL Mile is more important than ever as we work to rebuild communities shattered by disease, conflict and climate change. “

He adds “Since March GOAL has supported over 17 million people in our thirteen countries in preventing the spread of the virus, rolling out COVID-19 awareness programmes and teaching people the importance of keeping a safe distance, wearing masks, and observing a handwashing regime. We could not do this without the support of Irish people everywhere.”

Last year GOAL reached more than six million people in need with nutrition, health, livelihood and emergency response support. They include infant triplets Nyachua, Nyajuak and Nyakime who were born in a refugee camp in Gambella, western Ethiopia, in March. Thanks to GOAL intervention the triplets, who were on the brink of starvation are now thriving.

You can register to do a GOAL Mile at: https://www.goalglobal.org/goal-mile/