1.Why have you decided to take part and run the full 26.2 miles of this year’s Deep River Rock Belfast Marathon? What motivated you to enter and train during the winter months?

I was always planning to run a relay in aid of Mencap since I have a very close connection to the cause. My two cousins both have a learning disability and fundraising for Mencap is a really great way of supporting them, whilst also fundraising for my family. They have both directly benefitted from the great services that Mencap provide. This is my personal way of thanking them and giving something back directly to my own local community.

2. We want to encourage others to get active and fundraise and run for Mencap. What reasons would you give other people to encourage them to take on a Marathon challenge and fundraise for Mencap? What three words would you say to help inspire and motivate them?

Running any endurance event takes real personal motivation and you can do a marathon for your own personal satisfaction and achieving a new challenge. From my own experience as a regular marathon runner, the good feeling at the end of the marathon is the climax of it all…. It can really change your life. How? The training and dietary demands can really change your life for the better. Your health improves too! Four to five months of intensive training can really change your body shape, fitness levels, breathing, stress levels improve and your overall well-being can improve drastically. It’s a no brainer!

3.Why have you become an official ambassador for Mencap and what’s your personal ambition by getting more involved?

From a very young age, I have always been involved with the Rainbow Club in Carrickmore – this is a social club which helps lots of local people with a learning disability. I helped out, got involved and organised day trips, social events and would attend meetings. Soon, I got very friendly with the members of the group and felt a real connection with Mencap. This is why I wanted to get involved.

 

4.What would be your top reason why people should get involved and #StepUp4Mencap and what are your tips for staying active and for endurance running?

Any endurance event, marathon or simple fun run is a personal learning curve. It also stretches and challenges your personal xxx. Running for Mencap Ni will also expand your knowledge of learning and disability issues and how society needs to change its own overall views – particularly wh
en it can affect one of my own family members. People can still be in the dark about it all and getting involved could change public perception in the long term. That is my ambition!

5.When you have finished the marathon…. What is the first thing that comes to mind? Upon reflection, how would you do things differently when training for next year’s marathon?

I think immediately of the following words: Relief, enthusiasm and overwhelming satisfaction. I would start training earlier on and ensure that my healthy diet was maintained throughout the whole year not just during the pre-marathon training period! The three words that I would use to describe the marathon at the finishing line are endurance toughness and hardwork!

Ryan McHugh Q and A

Ryan McHugh is a All-Star GAA footballer who plays for Donegal and he is an avid supporter of Mencap.
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Josh Magennis Q and A

Northern Ireland and Charlton Athletic football star Josh Magennis has been named a Mencap Celebrity Ambassador.
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