Jesuit runners get on their marks

Despite volcanic ash clouds, bad weather,  and training injuries, 29 runners will still be taking part in the London Marathon this Sunday to help raise money for Jesuit works in Britain and overseas.  Their target is £57,000 for projects as diverse as AIDS orphans in Zimbabwe, community projects in Guyana and support for children in South Africa.

"All the runners are doing well, but with the bad weather many lost valuable training time, and have not reached their full distance," says co-ordinator and assistant director at JM (Jesuit Missions), Alan Fernandes. "However, they're all fired up and ready to tackle what apparently will be a blazing hot weekend.  Some will attempt the walk-run strategy: run a mile, walk a minute to avoid exhaustion or rather 'hitting the wall'."

The volcanic ash crisis has affected some travel plans too.  Runners from Europe who were originally planning to fly into London have been arriving on the Eurostar from France; minibuses are driving down from Glasgow with the St Aloysius College team led by Fr Gerry Gallen SJ; and just this morning (Friday) Paul Nenjerama, the headmaster of Hartmann House (a Jesuit school in Harare), arrived.

"Paul was due to arrive last Sunday, but that was postponed," Alan explains. "After a lot of persuasion he managed to get a 'jump seat' on Air Zimbabwe - the next flight would have been after the marathon! The jump seat is the crew seat for resting.  When they needed a rest he had to find a new seat somewhere else."

Both Dr Brian Thursby-Pelham (the fastest Womble in history 3.35) and Fr Robert Dolinar SJ are hoping to produce a sub-three-hours time, with encouragement from the JM staff.  And not to be outdone, Laura Howley (PA to the Director at JM) will be running as well. "Her training has not quite gone to schedule," says Alan, "But JM dog will be hot on her heels making sure she runs fast.  The rest of the staff will be busy supporting too - from the Mass at Sacred Heart Church in Wimbledon and pasta party at nearby Favre House on Saturday evening to the supporter points in Bermondsey and at Buckingham Palace, and the post-race reception at Mount Street on Sunday evening."

The Jesuit Refugee Service team (JRS-UK) continues to expand each year and will be fielding four runners this Sunday. "Not only do I get to compete in one of the greatest marathons of the world, but for the first time, I will be running for a good cause," says one of them: Alan Murdock from Luxembourg.

Full details of all the runners and how to sponsor them can be found at

Source: Jesuit Communications

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