Bitten by the running bug

Rev Dave Sweeney enjoyed his relay team experience at the 2017 Belfast marathon so much, that in 2018 he decided to run the full marathon. Why? He tells us here…

What sort of numpty decides it would be a good idea to run a marathon?! Well, this sort, I guess!

Having been “out of shape” for the best part of 20 years, a few years ago I began a journey back to health and fitness. Initially this was through walking regularly and diet, but as weight decreased and fitness improved, I was encouraged by a good friend to start running. I never had been much of a longer distance runner at school, much preferring the short distance sprints . However, the bug bit.

At the start, I was content just going out for 2 or 3 miles a couple of times a week and doing the odd Parkrun. Then, in 2017, I decided to take part in the Belfast City Marathon as part of a relay team. There were three of us from Bloomfield Methodist along with two others (Michael Sloan and Peter Kerr). For me, as minister of a church, it was an excellent way to promote the work of World Development and Relief with the congregation. Personally, the buzz of the day, taking part with thousands of others was just amazing – and that was just over 4 miles. I think a seed was planted that day – not that I realised it then. 

In January 2018 I had decided that I might like to train for a half-marathon and had begun to do so. Then the promotional material arrived from Tim & Laura and I thought, sure, I’ll put together another relay team – that worked well last year. A bit more support for WDR, that’ll be great. About two weeks later, I heard that my former team mate, Michael, was going to do the full marathon; another colleague told me, ‘you run a lot, you could do that no problem’. Before I knew it, I had my entry fee paid and was now doing a marathon in 3 months’ time!!

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I have to say that the support of my local church, of family and friends completely blew me away as I prepared to run. Huge generosity in giving to WDR in support of Dabane; moral support and encouragement when I thought I couldn’t do it; people on the day who came out and cheered me on.

Doing the full marathon was an amazing challenge and opportunity. It took more out of me than I ever knew I had to give! Achieving the time goal I set myself brought a great personal sense of achievement, but more than that, to know that I had encouraged many to support WDRF and that people in Zimbabwe would have clean water to drink brought even greater fulfilment. 

Time is short if you’re thinking of doing the full marathon – but if you have any running training behind you, it’s still possible. But there are loads of other ways you can get involved – relay runner, walker, fun runner. Or sponsor someone else who is taking part. Just do it – you won’t regret it!


If you’d like to join us at the 2019 Belfast Marathon, please email Laura. There are 5 events to choose from, including a 2.5 mile Fun Run/Walk, so there’s an event for everyone! This year our fundraising is for Wenchi Methodist Hospital in Ghana.  

Walking for Water

Derek Wylie was one of our 8 mile walkers at the 2018 Belfast City Marathon. Having worked behind the scenes at the Belfast Marathon for a number of years, this was his chance to experience it on the other side!  

At Methodist Conference 2017 we were invited by Irish Methodist World Development & Relief (WDR) to consider regular giving by Standing Order and also to participate in one of the Belfast City Marathon events in 2018. I opted to do both because I feel passionate about the work that World Development & Relief are involved in.

Derek after completing the 8 mile walk

Derek after completing the 8 mile walk

The event I chose was the 8 Mile Walk as I am a keen walker and also I served on the Belfast Marathon Organising Committee for 8 years and I thought it would be an opportunity to experience being a participant. The fundraising in 2018 was for the Dabane Water Workshops in Zimbabwe, providing pure clean water to local communities, which was really needed and greatly appreciated.

The 8 Mile Walk was enjoyable, we talked as we walked, there was good camaraderie as we walked in our bright green WDR bibs as a sign of witness. When we arrived at the finish in Ormeau Park there was a great atmosphere and encouragement from those who had already finished. After collecting our medals it was time for refreshment and a Picnic in the Park! In summary ,the weather was good, the event was good and the cause was good!

The 2019 Belfast City Marathon events start in Stormont Estate for the first time. This year WDR are raising funds to support the work of Wenchi Methodist Hospital in Ghana, which serves over 180,000 people providing affordable, quality healthcare to those in the region.

In light of my experience last year I would strongly encourage you to come and join us and in so doing, bring the Love of Christ to our Brothers and Sisters in Ghana.

Hoping to see you on the 5th May!


If you’d like to join us at the 2019 Belfast Marathon, please get in touch! Register by 28th February for early-bird rates! 

Run, Christiaan, Run!

Rev. Christiaan Snell ran the full 26.2 miles for WDR in the 2018 Belfast Marathon. Here he tells us why he decided to take part!

Last year I decided to run the Belfast Marathon.  I am new to marathon running and completed my first marathon in 2017, so I set the goal of running two marathons in one year. 

Christiaan after the race

Christiaan after the race

Being new to the Methodist church I also thought it would be a good opportunity to get involved with the church in another way. 

When I ran my first marathon in 2017, it was just to tick it off my bucket list.  However in deciding to run Belfast in 2018 in the back of my mind I knew I wanted to run to raise funds for a worthy cause. Being from Cape Town originally, I have been so mindful of the crises my home city has been facing with drought and the scarcity of water.  

When I heard that WDR was looking for people raise funds for an essential organisation like Dabane in Zimbabwe I was immediately sold.  Running for Dabane was a great away of supporting those who are on the forefront of providing clean water to people who need such a basic thing.  

It was wonderful to be part of the Belfast marathon on the day.  Personally I achieved a massive PB for my marathon time which I was chuffed about. However, what made the day even more special was that I knew that I was one of many people running on the day supporting the same cause.  It was a real encouragement on the road to run past other runners wearing the same green bibs. 

If you are thinking about running in the Belfast marathon for WDR, don’t hesitate to sign up.  It is a wonderful way to make those aware around us of needs elsewhere.  It is a wonderful way to support WDR and the great work they are doing under the umbrella of the Methodist Church in Ireland to show our love in action.  

Apart from all of this, it’s just a great day to be part of whether you are a seasoned marathon runner or just taking on your first race. Get registered!


If you’d like to register to take part, please contact us! We’d love to have you on board!