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Furlongs take on the miles in Waterside Half Marathon

07 August 2017

Like all mothers with children off working and at university, Kate Furlong just loves to see the family getting together at every opportunity. But for the Furlongs, it’s a case of ‘the family that trains together, stays together’ as six of the family of eight have signed up en masse for this year’s Waterside Half Marathon.

Kate, her husband Alan and four daughters, Orlaith, Leonie, Maria and Alannah, will all be at the starting line on September 3rd when over 2,000 runners take on the annual challenge which is one of Ireland’s most popular running events.

And despite the blisters, the Greencastle family are all looking forward to taking on the challenge together, and have found that being part of Team Furlong has been a real motivator, as well as generating a bit of healthy competition.

All the family enjoy a wide range of sporting activities, from GAA to basketball, but mum Kate’s passion for running must now be in the genes as she explained.

“I’ve been running since I was at school and I’ve always really enjoyed it,” she revealed. “I’ve done a number of half marathons now but I’m really looking forward to this one with so many of us getting involved.

“My husband Alan came to running a bit late – he took it up when he was getting past the age for hurling and needed to find another activity to stay fit. All the girls have been active in sports over the years, especially through school and the GAA. Leonie was a big Gaelic player and played for the county, as did Orlaith, who was also into soccer and basketball. Alannah did athletics and swimming, and she took up the running about a year and a half ago. Maria has been running since primary school with Inishowen Athletics.

“The only two members of the family who aren’t taking part in the race this year are Elaine, who is nursing in England, and Iona – she’s only 15 so will be too young to take part. But she’s already done a 5k race and is just waiting in the wings for her chance to join in.”

Each of the family has been working to a personal training schedule, running together when they get the chance, and all are benefitting from professional nutrition advice from daughter Orlaith.

“The only issue with the training is that we’re all in different locations so we have all joined Map My Run and we can see each other’s progress which is a great incentive,” Kate explained.

“If you see someone’s been out putting in the miles it kind of forces you to get out for a run as well. We’re all at different levels as well, so we do most of our runs on our own. But myself and Maria and Alan will go out for a long run once a week together which we really enjoy. And diet is also a major part of it – Orlaith is a nutritionist so she’s been giving us advice on what’s best to eat during training and building up to the half marathon as well.”

Husband Alan might not have been running as long as his wife, but he’s been making up for lost time taking on both marathons and half marathons in recent years.

“When I decided it was time to give up the hurling I was told that running would be lower impact but it certainly doesn’t feel like it after running a marathon. I also took it up as a way of getting out of the house on my own – but unfortunately the girls seem to have followed me,” he jokes.

“I’ve done a few marathons and half marathons now and I’ve also done the Great North Run, which is particularly challenging. I don’t think Kate was too happy with me as I signed her up for it this year as a birthday present - so we will be heading over to complete that just the week after the Waterside Half Marathon.

“I actually really enjoy the Derry races as there is such brilliant support from the crowd, it really spurs people on. And I’m a big fan of the new course which takes in the bridges, it’s a bit more challenging.

“This year will be particularly enjoyable taking part with the family. In terms of who would be most competitive among us I would say that’s Orlaith. I remember when I did my first marathon Orlaith was really annoyed as she wanted to take part with me, and sure enough the following year she trained up and we ran the whole marathon side by side.”

If you’ve been inspired by the Furlongs then entries are still being taken for the Waterside Half Marathon up until Monday August 14th www.derrystrabane.com/halfmarathon. The race will leave from Ebrington Square at 10am on Sunday, September 3rd, the route crosses the river to the cityside taking in local parks, bridges and greenways before finishing at St Columb’s Park.

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