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Meet our Dublin Marathon hero
This Sunday, thousands of people will take part in the annual Dublin Marathon. Nigerian native Uzo Nwankwo is one of those lining up for the 26 mile run in aid of Concern.
A year of marathons
This is far from Uzo's first marathon. In fact, this will be his 19th overall and his tenth so far this year, as he aims to complete one marathon a month in 2018. This is no easy goal, since one marathon stretches 42.2km. By the end of this year, Uzo will have completed 506.4kms in marathons.
So far this year, he has finished five marathons in Ireland, four in South Africa and one in the UK, Belgium and the United States.
Uzo, who took part in several 'Climb for Concern' challenges during the year, said he wanted to really push himself this year.
"The thought had first come up shortly before last year's Dublin Marathon. At some point during the race, I noticed a fellow runner was on the same mission as shown on the back of his shirt," he said.
"At that moment I decided to give it a go and make it my running goal for 2018. I was particularly inspired and excited because it was unknown territory for me having done no more than 4 marathons in one year."
Last year, he finished the Dublin Marathon in just 4 hours and 26 seconds.
A surprise connection
“I’m really inspired by the work that Concern is doing,” he said.
“Since I came to Ireland last year, I’ve grown to understand their different programmes and methods of operation. I'm inspired by their work and wanted to support them by raising money as part of my participation in SSE Airtricity Dublin Marathon.”
Although Uzo was aware of Concern, it wasn’t until a work meeting with Concern CEO Dominic MacSorley that he realised there was more of a connection than he imagined.
In 1967, the eastern region of Nigeria declared itself to be an independent state, known as Biafra. The war that followed this declaration led to mass starvation within the region of Biafra. The following year, a young couple, John and Kay O’Loughlin Kennedy, were moved to do something to help the people who were starving. Their fundraising efforts went on to become the foundation of Africa Concern, later to become known as Concern Worldwide.
“My family are from Biafra and were directly affected by the war,” he said.
“When I told them about Concern and my fundraising for them, it was really well received.”
With just a few days to go until the 26 mile race, Uzo is overcoming some knee injuries that have pained him since the start of the year.
"Thanks to a combination of physiotherapy, doggedness, determination, a wonderful support network of friends and family as well as a strong spirit to succeed, I have been able to complete nine marathons so far within the first nine months of the year," he said.
"Each marathon has been characterised by unique, unexpected and unforgettable experiences; enough to fill volumes if I were to write about them all.
I hope to finish the year long initiative by participating in the Athens Marathon on my birthday 11 November and a Marathon in Kenya Africa on 1 December."
Uzo has improved on his marathon times throughout the year and has a great feeling for Sunday's race.
"I am confident of achieving even better performance results in the Dublin Marathon after which I hope to celebrate with some pints of good old Irish beer on Sunday night and the days to follow."
You can sponsor Uzo here.
Find out how you can take part in a challenge for Concern.