Irish running legend, Eamon Coghlan, is appealing to men, women and children all over Ireland to sign up to do a mile for humanitarian aid agency, GOAL, this Christmas – and support the world’s most vulnerable communities at the same time.
The 3-time Olympian and former world 5,000 metre champion announced today (Tuesday) that he and his family will be out of the traps to do a virtual GOAL Mile on Christmas Day – and he wants as many people as possible around Ireland to do likewise for an important cause.
Coghlan, whose success as an indoor mile runner earned him the nickname “chairman of the boards”, has been a GOAL Ambassador for many years and is passionate about supporting the millions of people in the developing world who are in acute need.
Every Christmas for four decades it has been a tradition for family, friends and neighbours to take time out to walk, run or jog a mile for GOAL at 170 locations around the country to support the agency’s work in 14 countries in Africa, Latin America and the Middle East.
Determined to keep the tradition going, and to give people that chance to connect in a different but meaningful wat over the festive season, GOAL has announced that the GOAL Mile is going virtual – and people can register to do their mile at a time and place of their choosing, within the COVID-19 guidelines.
So far an incredible 3,000 plus Irish people at home and abroad have registered to do a mile. That is 3,000 miles, the distance from Ireland to Syria where GOAL supports more than one million displaced people every single day.
According to Coghlan, the first man over 40-years-old to run a sub-four-minute mile, the virtual GOAL mile offers people a chance to get out into the fresh air over Christmas and to stand in solidarity with those less well off.
“This has been a very challenging year and Christmas will be different due to COVID-19 restrictions. We will all miss being together in larger numbers, and not seeing family, but we must stay safe. GOAL’s decision to do a virtual mile is inspired as it offers people a unique chance to connect over Christmas and get out into the fresh air.”
This year marked the 35th anniversary of Coghlan, along with other Irish running greats Marcus O’Sullivan, Ray Flynn and Frank O’Mara, combined to break the world four by one-mile relay in Belfied in aid of GOAL. The record set by the foursome was 15:49.08, and it stands to this day.
Said Coghlan: “I have fantastic memories of that evening in Belfield when we broke that record before an excited crowd. The support we got was unbelievable and the four of us have enjoyed reminiscing on that night this year.“
He added: “The Irish have never been found wanting when it comes to supporting those in our world most in need. We are renowned for our generosity. Whilst this Christmas we are all being asked to keep apart, we can stand together by doing a virtual GOAL Mile.”
GOAL Director of Fundraising, Eamon Sharkey, said: “Our target this Christmas is to get 10,000 people at home and abroad register to do a GOAL mile. The pandemic means the GOAL Mile is more important than ever as we work to rebuild communities shattered by disease, conflict and climate change. “
“Since March GOAL has supported over 17 million people in our thirteen countries in preventing the spread of the virus, rolling out COVID-19 awareness programmes and teaching people the importance of keeping a safe distance, wearing masks, and observing a handwashing regime. We could not do this without the support of Irish people everywhere.”
Last year GOAL reached more than six million people in need with nutrition, health, livelihood and emergency response support. They include infant triplets Nyachua, Nyajuak and Nyakime who were born in a refugee camp in Gambella, western Ethiopia, in March. Thanks to GOAL intervention the triplets, who were on the brink of starvation are now thriving.
You can register to do a GOAL Mile at: goalmile.org