Co Tyrone clergyman to run marathon on a prayer

A Co Tyrone clergyman is running a full marathon while praying to raise funds for repair and restoration work in church buildings in his parish.

Church of Ireland minister Peter Ferguson will run the 42.2km (26 miles, 385 yards) from the rectory front door and around the Derg Valley parish before finishing back at the rectory.

It is the first Derg and Killeter “door-to-door” marathon and is to take place on Friday, May 15.

<figcaption class='imgFCap'>Rev Peter Ferguson said he would be praying while running (Peter Morrison/PA)</figcaption>
Rev Peter Ferguson said he would be praying while running (Peter Morrison/PA)

Rev Ferguson, who is recovering from a foot injury, is hoping to complete the marathon in around three hours.

The keen runner said he misses being out and about in the community while chatting to local people.

“I’ve always loved running and when I run or jog I spend that time praying,” he said.

“So, the idea came that I would train up for the first door-to-door Derg and Killeter parish marathon, praying for the parish and the community as I go.

“Many of our fundraising initiatives have been postponed or cancelled at this time and this is a way to encourage our community and to raise some funds for worthy projects.”

<figcaption class='imgFCap'>The minister has run the Belfast Marathon three times (Peter Morrison/PA)</figcaption>
The minister has run the Belfast Marathon three times (Peter Morrison/PA)

It will not be the first time Rev Ferguson will have run the distance as he has completed the Belfast Marathon on three occasions, clocking a personal best time of three hours and 24 minutes.

Rev Ferguson said parish fundraisers had been severely affected by the Covid-19 emergency and he hopes the marathon will bring in much-needed income.

He added: “There’s repair work to be done on St Bestius’ Church in Killeter.

“Derg Parish are also raising money for capital projects and we’ve a long-term vision to upgrade the parish youth hall which is used by the whole community.

“Friends encouraged me to think about setting up a JustGiving page as a way of raising some much-needed funds for parish projects.

“We had many community-reaching parish fundraising initiatives planned over these coming months and they have all been cancelled, so this is a way I can connect with the community and the parish and bring some encouragement, and also raise some funds for parish projects.”