'If it wasn't for running I wouldn't be here to see my 40th birthday', says Ballygawley man

“If it wasn’t for running I wouldn’t be here to see my 40th.” That is the honest belief of Ballygawley man Sean-Paul McCann who celebrates his big 40th on race day at the Deep RiverRock Belfast City Half Marathon, which takes place on Sunday, September 23, at 9am from Ormeau Embankment.

But that’s not the only celebration taking place on September 23 - Sean-Paul has chosen to run the sixth Deep RiverRock Belfast City Half Marathon on his 40th birthday!

Sean-Paul, an avid runner who has taken part in a number of half marathons, marathons and ultra races said: “Life begins at 40 they say. Well I know more than that, if it wasn’t for running I wouldn’t be here to see my 40th.”

Back on December 14, 2014, Sean-Paul experienced a massive wake-up call when his older cousin had a heart attack.

“He was older, but he always seemed so active.Thankfully he survived, but that wake-up call was the day I came to life myself.  On that day I decided I had to lose weight and for the first time in 15 years I weighed myself, tipping the scales at close to 22 stone. I didn’t wait until after Christmas to change my ways, it was happening on that day. Within two months I had lost two stone in weight, only to see a sign at home for my local five-mile St Patrick’s Day race in Altamuskin.  I signed up. On that day I ran some, walked some and possibly crawled some, but as I crossed the finish line and heard that applause that Lady Gaga speaks of, I asked a friend when the next race would be. I was addicted already, that high was indescribable and still is.

”Skip forward a year and two months and a good few stone of weight lost, I was running my first marathon in Belfast in 2016. I didn’t know if I would be able to complete 26.2 miles but that is the beauty of the challenge, will is great, a crowd is better and I was supported from start to finish. At the finish line I sat down for 10 minutes and when I stood up my legs had turned to iron. I couldn’t walk but I didn’t care, this was the making of me.

”In the years since I have run the Belfast City Marathon another two times and a PB each time. I owe that race my best performance.

See next weeks paper for full story. 


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