Popular Tyrone runner aims to do Ultra in memory of his mum

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Veteran Tyrone runner Kenny Holdsworth is taking on the gruelling Belfast 2 Dublin Ultra on March 27 to mark the eleventh anniversary of the death of his late mother Kathleen – and to raise for Cancer Focus Northern Ireland.

Kenny, from Coalisland, has been an avid supporter of Cancer Focus NI over the years and has raised a staggering £27,000 so far from his many challenges.

He will be attempting to run the 173km road trip to Dublin in a day. The money he raises will go towards funding Cancer Focus NI’s research at Queen’s University Belfast, care services for local cancer patients and their families and for cancer prevention services.

“I like to challenge myself regularly,” Kenny said.

“Running has become a massive part of my life in recent years and I thoroughly enjoy all aspects of it. In 2009 both my parents passed away three weeks apart and, although they had both been ill for some time, it was still a massive shock. Grief is a terrible thing and affects people differently and for long enough I had no interest in anything and was just going through the motions of daily life,” he said.

“Fast forward to July 2010 when my nephew asked me if I fancied running the Dublin marathon with him that October. I hadn’t done any running in almost 20 years. I agreed to go training with him and ran three miles - I thought I was about to die,” he laughed.

“I went out again and the rest is history, I got the bug and I was running even better than I had in my younger days. Running was my escape, it cleared my head and seriously benefitted my mental health.”

Kenny ran various marathons and friends suggested he should get some sponsorship. “I chose Cancer Focus NI as my preferred charity. I’ve gathered money for various charities but Cancer Focus NI is who I do most of my runs for.

“This charity stood out to me because my mother had breast cancer and I wanted to help with funding future research. I also became aware that all money raised for Cancer Focus NI stays in Northern Ireland, which I liked.”

To date, Kenny has run 58 marathons including four of the majors and is running in Berlin later this year. “I’ve run numerous ultra marathons, 40 miles for my 40th birthday, around Lough Neagh in 14 hours, and 122 miles in 24 hours last summer. On March 27, on the eleventh anniversary of my mother’s passing, I will attempt to run from Belfast to Dublin in a set time.”