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Stephen closing in on mammoth running challenge goal for Include Youth at Waterside Half Marathon

1 July 2024

A Derry runner who is racing the equivalent distance of Derry to Belfast in local athletics events is hoping his exploits will raise funds and awareness for the services of Include Youth.

Danske Bank employee Stephen Morrison will edge within touching distance of his 72.4 mile target when he completes his home town’s biggest sports event, the Waterside Half Marathon, on Sunday September 1st.

The father of one became aware of the crucial work Include Youth do in improving the lives of young people from disadvantaged backgrounds when his employers became their charity partner earlier this year.

The organisation work with young people to aid their personal development, reach their educational goals and help them fulfil their potential.

Their services include a range of tailored employability, personal development and good relations programmes in partnership with other community-based organisations.

A former Irish Champion kickboxer, Stephen has always had a keen interest in keeping fit, and after catching the running bug in recent years, he made his racing debut at the 39th edition of the Waterside Half in 2022.

“When Danske Bank partnered with Include Youth we decided we wanted to try and raise funds and attention for the organisation in a multitude of ways,” he explained. “ I decided I wanted to run the distance between our main two offices to signify the long hard road some children face in life and to highlight the importance and necessity of having a charity like Include Youth who are there to help and support them in every way they can.

“All children deserve the best start in life and if I can make a difference to even just one child then all the miles and aching legs will be worth it.”

Stephen is completing his challenge by taking part in six races across the North this year and to date he has completed two Ten Mile events at Derry and Ballyliffin and Half Marathons in Omagh and Strabane Lifford.

In September he will complete the challenge by running the Waterside Half in his home town of Derry before the Belfast Half Marathon.

“The challenge has gone very well so far and each race I’m hitting a new personal best,” he revealed. “Training is going great and I’m getting fitter every week, my last race was the Strabane Lifford in May so I have a lay off until the start September for the Waterside.

“When my son Zach was born, my kick boxing training became limited with father duties taking priority so I had to semi retire but I would still run the roads in the early hours of the morning to keep my fitness levels up.

“The more I ran, the more I got a love for the sport and decided it was time to test myself and enter a race.

"I entered the Waterside Half Marathon in 2022 and from then I really caught the bug and have never looked back.

“A personal highlight for me so far was when I was running toward the finish line on the beach at Ballyliffin, I could see Zach and my fiancée Michelle waiting for me, as I edged closer to the finish line Zach started running along side me, the motivation and extra boost seeing him was something special and I credit him for my PB that day.

“I am now touching £700 in funds raised against a target of £1000, so with two more races to go I’m hopeful I can meet and even exceed that target.”

While Stephen has enjoyed all the events to date, the proud Derry man acknowledges the Waterside Half has a special place in his heart.

“It’s an event that means a lot,” he admitted. “I will be competing against the best runners this town has to offer and there are a lot of those.

“Competing in my home town gives me a sense of pride and accomplishment; the race, in my opinion, is the best event and course I have competed in.

“From start to finish you take in all the beautiful scenery our town has to offer and it is organised to the highest of standards.

“I’m excited to try the new route also which I believe will incorporate the newly opened footbridge in the town, this will help line the streets of Derry with the support from the locals which I can only describe as phenomenal!

“There’s nothing like a Derry crowd cheering you on as you run, it’s incredible.

“It brings a lot of attention to the city and for all the right reasons, I would encourage anybody to try it at least once.

“This is my third time running the Waterside and there will be plenty more to come.”

As he hits the home straight in one challenge, Stephen already has one eye on more ways to support Include Youth.

“I’m already planning challenges for next year, I will be increasing my miles and will be competing in full marathons.

“I am planning, before the end of this year, to also climb Mount Errigal twice in one day with no break.

“I have heard climbing Errigal is easier than running a half marathon so we’ll see, it’ll be something new and something I am really looking forward to doing.

“A huge thanks to everybody who has donated to this challenge so far, please keep donating and help me meet the target, the children that Include Youth help really deserve it so thank you.”

You can donate to Stephen’s fundraising efforts for Include Youth at:

The 41st edition of one of Ireland’s longest running athletics events will take place on Sunday September 1st and is set to be the biggest in its history with an expanded field and a number of new features.

Event organisers Derry City and Strabane District Council have confirmed that the new footbridge linking Bay Park to Derry’s quayside will be part of a revised route that will be announced in the coming weeks.

The cost of entry is £27 per runner or £70 for a three person relay team and every finisher will receive a commemorative medal and t shirt.

Almost 2,000 runners have already registered for the event which sold out weeks in advance last year, registrations are open now at

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