Running Together

By Kathrin Kobus

A Saturday morning at the beach, and the runners lined up at Blackberry Lane, nearly 250 joggers and racers this time because it was the 100th event.

That’s a steady climb from the beginning almost two years ago with about 75-80. “On average we have 130-150 runners, some regulars, and always someone just here for the weekend in Dublin and tagging along,” said one of the organising volunteers.

A whole new group of runners turned up for the first time at the beginning of the year, with their light blue tops and the word “Sanctuary” on the front instead of a team name. On the back the top says “Solidarity, Friendship, Respect” – that is the short summary for the aims of the group which sees asylum seekers, refugees and Irish citizens come together.

Ronan Waide is one of the latter who shows in this way his solidarity with those who come to the country looking for asylum, and he knows first-hand how difficult and challenging this is. “My wife came from Sri Lanka with a work permit, and an invitation by an employer and still she had to wait and wait for the forms to go through the levels. Asylum seekers now who live in Direct Provision are even further down the ladder.”

The (for now) last group picture of the Sanctuary Runners at Poolbeg

One important point is that the sanctuary run is an event with participants running together for solidarity and for mutual respect. It is not a fundraiser or a charity. The light blue tops are printed and provided via the local councils, in this case Dublin City Council.

Currently there are two sanctuary running groups in Dublin, one in Clondalkin the other came regularly to Poolbeg. However, the 100th run on July 20th was their last show at Sandymount beach for a while. “They moved from Hatch Hall out to Balseskin near the airport. That’s too far away a journey every Saturday morning.”

Maria Long, another Irish sanctuary runner told N4. “The move out there is a big change for them. In Hatch Hall they could walk out the door and were in the city centre. Now they need a shuttle bus to bring them to the city centre and back for meal times, etc.”

Token taking at the finishing line

The Saturday morning run offered a chance for them to join in a community and become a part of it. There is a small chance for a return of the Hatch Hall group to our shore, according to Ronan Waide. “The group from Hatch Hall have grown fond of the Poolbeg run so we the sanctuary runners not in DP [Direct Provision] might think about finding a way to collect them and offer a lift here to Poolbeg.”

Maybe once a month or every six weeks the blue top runners will be joining the others on a Saturday morning, come rain or sunshine, running, walking and volunteering as well.  

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