Inishowen’s ‘Magnificent Seven’ to take on London Marathon

The group of seven people from Inishowen who will compete in the London Marathon. Pictured from left are: Shaun McLaughlin, Aileen Doherty, Sarah Webster, Louise Friel, Mary Doherty and Donna Doherty. Front row Majella McLaughlin and Donall Henderson (CEO, Foyle Hospice)
The group of seven people from Inishowen who will compete in the London Marathon. Pictured from left are: Shaun McLaughlin, Aileen Doherty, Sarah Webster, Louise Friel, Mary Doherty and Donna Doherty. Front row Majella McLaughlin and Donall Henderson (CEO, Foyle Hospice)

An intrepid group of seven athletes from Inishowen are to take on the London Marathon this weekend in aid of the Foyle Hospice.

The ‘Magnificent Seven’ hail from across the peninsula and are set to raise almost £30,000, making a real difference to the patients who avail of the In Patient, Day Hospice and Home Care services provided.

The participants are undertaking the challenge for a variety of reasons, including personal goals, to improve their health and in memory of loved ones who were cared for by the hospice.

The team, comprising of Aileen Doherty (Clonmany), Donna Doherty (Ballyliffin), Sarah Webster and Shaun McLaughlin (Carndonagh), Mary Doherty (Linsfort), Louise Friel and Majella McLaughlin (Buncrana) will form part of a group of twenty seven from across Derry and Donegal who will take on the 26.2 mile run through the streets of London this Sunday, 26th April.

The seven have been training intensely for months and are now completing their final training sessions for one of the most popular events on the planet.

Donna Doherty told the ‘Journal’ how she is delighted to be participating in this year’s London Marathon. This is despite the challenges she faced when training, particularly when running long distances in the recent bitterly cold spell.

She said: “I thought it would be nice to raise money for a very worthy cause through running. What family hasn’t been affected by cancer and what better cause to support than the Foyle Hospice?”

She added: “I am greatly appreciative of my husband’s support and for looking after the children during training sessions. Also my many friends who offered their time and helped to fundraise and to everyone who made donations – it really was overwhelming”.

Aileen Doherty started running three years ago when she set a personal goal to run the Ballyliffin Coastal Challenge.

Following on from that, she has participated in several half marathons and in 2013 completed the Dublin marathon.

She said: “I had such a great experience running my first marathon that I wanted to do it all over again but decided to give myself a break for a year before tackling another one”.

So, when her best friend Majella, who she met at Inishowen AC, suggested taking part in the London marathon Aileen got excited and decided to go for it.

“I’ve always watched the London marathon on the TV and thought, wouldn’t that just be the icing on the cake to be running that some day?’”

Aileen’s training has been going well this year with personal best times set in all distances.

She added, “I am blessed to have no injuries and that is all down to training smart, taking appropriate recovery between runs, keeping the hard days hard and the easy days easy”.

Aileen would like to thank Niall McGee, Chairperson and coach at Inishowen AC for all his input and advice into training over the last few months.

Aileen concluded: “Training for a spring marathon is tough going, as getting out the door for a run when it’s blowing a gale and raining cats and dogs takes dedication. I would like to thank my family and friends for all their support and to all those who have sponsored me for the Foyle Hospice. I am so pleased that this money is going to make a real difference to people’s lives”.

Majella McLaughlin decided to run the marathon in memory of her sister-in-law, Marieanne McLaughlin, who died from breast cancer at the young age of 33.

Majella said: “I’m not much older now myself at 35 and as a mother of four children, I consider myself to be blessed that I am here to see my children grow and to have the ability to run and move. Every day is a gift and for this I am grateful”.

A mother of two young children, Marieanne was looked after by the Foyle Hospice team and Majella has no doubt that Marieanne would be happy with what she is doing. She added that her own mother and husband helped to facilitate the gruelling training, by child minding and providing lunch and hot showers after the trainings sessions. Their love and support kept her motivated.

“My mother truly is some woman for one woman,” she said.

Louise Friel was inspired to run a marathon after giving up smoking and taking up running with Inishowen AC.

Her first challenge was to run the Derry Walled City marathon which she completed last year.

She said: “I loved it and knew that I wanted to do another one, so when the London Marathon came up, I jumped at the chance. The idea of doing this for an amazing charity like Foyle Hospice makes it so much more special and rewarding. While running and raising money I know there have been personal goals with training, but also I’m doing this to raise money and help many people be greatly cared for at Foyle Hospice.”

Louise’s running partner Sarah Webster, who she trains with every Saturday morning, is equally excited. Both have overcome many challenges every week but now they are both looking forward to London next Sunday.

Sarah says that she chose to run the London Marathon after losing an aunt to cancer in November last year. This will be Sarah’s third marathon and she feels grateful that she is able to do it as something positive as well as raising money for a great charity such as Foyle Hospice. She would like to thank her husband Mark for his encouragement and support and her two boys Joshua and Callum for giving her motivation when the marathon training got tough.

She also wants to thank her extended family and friends for their generous donations.

Mary Doherty is set to undertake her very first marathon and she is running each mile in memory of someone’s loved one, who is no longer here.

Having been a heavy smoker for many years she has decided to take up running to improve her own health. She hopes that by doing so, she will set a good example to her four children, as well as having a great sense of accomplishment in completing the challenge. Mary commends the “amazing support, care and work” of any hospice as invaluable. She has been overwhelmed by the generosity of not only the Donegal people, but also those in her home county, Longford. She thoroughly believes that there is strength in numbers and the more individuals who rally around a cause, the better.

Noel McMonagle, Fundraising Manager and co-ordinator of the London Marathon event for the Foyle Hospice, said: “We are extremely proud of our team who are running this year’s London Marathon and greatly appreciate their commitment, endurance and efforts in aid of Foyle Hospice.”

You can keep an eye out for these local participants when Gabby Logan presents live coverage of the 35th London Marathon from 8:30 am – 10 am on BBC 2 and 10 am – 2:30 pm on BBC 1 as well as regular updates on Foyle Hospice’s Facebook and Twitter profiles.

If you’d like to donate to the Foyle Hospice London Marathon Team, it’s not too late. Please contact the Fundraising Team at Foyle Hospice to make your donation by telephone on 028 71359888 or donate online at