The Sanctuary Runners took home the award for ‘Best Initiative to Promote Inclusivity in Sport & Physical Activity’ at this week’s Irish Sports Industry Awards.
The awards night hosted by the Irish Federation of Sport in association with ‘Clubforce’ took place at the Westin Hotel on Tuesday night.
The keynote address was provided by Minister for Sport Jack Chambers.
The Sanctuary Runners were honoured for creating an inclusive running community.
“They use running, jogging and walking to bring everyone in the community together – including, and especially, asylum seekers, refugees and other migrants,” the Irish Federation of Sport said when announcing the result.
The group saw off stiff competition from other fantastic initiatives across a number of different sports, but it is clear and understandable as to why the Sanctuary Runners stood out to the decision makers.
The group was established in 2018 by Cork based former journalist and broadcaster Graham Clifford. That same year a team of 200 from 40 different countries participated in the Cork City Marathon. Amongst the team included 51 people from the five different direct provision centres in Cork.
At the end of 2019, the Sanctuary Runners had 1200 runners across Ireland and participated in over 50 running events. This figure has grown significantly since and with the current war in Ukraine it is expected to grow further in the coming months.
The group’s motto of ‘Solidarity, Friendship and Respect’ is highlighted on their t-shirts and shows that the group is inclusive.
Last year’s Cork City Marathon took place virtually with 1,700 from the Sanctuary Runners taking part, nearly half of all participants.
"It was the most culturally-diverse team to have entered a marathon anywhere, ever," founder Graham Clifford said.
The group is looking forward to the upcoming Cork City Marathon on June 5th which will see some members run as part of a relay, while others will run the full or half marathon. They are expecting 1,000 members to join them on the day.
It will be a busy month for the group as they are holding their inaugural 5k ‘Sanctuary Run’ on June 19th at the Sports Ireland Campus in Abbotstown. The event takes place on the eve of World Refugee Day.
People from across Ireland, along with members of the Direct Provision community and Ukrainian community will come together for the run on the day.
More information on how to take part can be found on www.sanctuaryrunners.ie