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Olympian Derval O’Rourke Launches Three RNLI Reindeer Runs in Cork & Dublin

8th November 2015
RNLI crew members Stephen Hurley from Union Hall RNLI, Liam Harty from Helvick Head RNLI, Martin Morris from Youghal RNLI and Shane Hurley from Union Hall RNLI (front) pictured with World champion Derval O’Rourke at the launch of the RNLI Reindeer Runs which will take place in Cork and Dublin.

The RNLI, the charity that saves lives at sea, has joined forces with World champion and European sprint hurdle medallist Derval O’Rourke (and wife of Olympic sailor Peter O'Leary) to launch three RNLI Reindeer Runs in Cork and Dublin.

The three time Olympian athlete and author visited Fota House and Gardens outside Cobh to team up with volunteer lifeboat crew and kick-start the festivities for the upcoming reindeer runs. The events will be held at Liss Ard Estate in Skibbereen on Sunday 22 November, Fota House and Gardens outside Cobh on Sunday 29 November and Marlay Park in Dublin on Sunday 6 December.

Due to the popularity of the reindeer runs, the charity has introduced a third venue at Liss Ard Estate this year. The stunning 200-acre estate in West Cork is located close to the RNLI’s newest lifeboat station at Union Hall which was established on a trial basis in September last year.

Launching the reindeer runs, Derval was joined by Union Hall RNLI crew members Shane and Stephen Hurley, Helvick Head RNLI crew member Liam Harty and Youghal RNLI crew member Martin Morris.

Born and raised in County Cork where the RNLI has eight lifeboat stations, RNLI supporter Derval, is familiar with the charity’s lifesaving work:
‘Living in Cork, I am all too aware of the search and rescue work the RNLI carries out around the coast and of the commitment of its lifeboat crews who dedicate themselves to regular training and to responding to their pagers at any time of the day or night.
‘Having experienced the festive spirit at an RNLI reindeer run for the first time last year, I am delighted to see that the event is going from strength to strength and that the RNLI has introduced an additional venue for West Cork. These events are a great way for us to build in some exercise in what can be a hectic season while also showing our support for our lifeboat crews as they continue to save lives at sea.’

Looking forward to the first reindeer run at Liss Ard Estate which begins at 10.30am, Stephen Hurley from Union Hall RNLI said: ‘We have had a busy first year in Union Hall and have been overwhelmed by the goodwill shown by the people of West Cork and much further afield.

‘Last year, RNLI lifeboats in Cork launched 163 times, bringing 218 people to safety. Across Ireland, there were 1,089 lifeboat launches and 1,414 people were rescued. While the figures show that our lifeboat crews are busy all year round, some of our most challenging call outs will occur over the winter months. However, having the support of people who so generously fundraise and sign up to take part in events such as the reindeer runs, means that we can avail of first class training and equipment and be ready to answer the call and help someone in need when our pagers go off.’

The second reindeer run in Cork takes place on Sunday, 29 November at Fota House and Gardens, starting at 10.30am.

Dublin’s reindeer run will take place in Marlay Park in Rathfarnham on Sunday 6 December, starting at 10am.

All abilities and ages are catered for with participants choosing from a 5km or 10km walk/run or a shorter Santa Saunter.

Registration for the three events is now open online at and costs €20 for the 5K and €22 for the 10K. Children’s tickets are €10 and a family ticket (two adults and two children) is €55. All participants in the 5K and 10K will receive an RNLI Reindeer Run t-shirt, a pair of antlers and a car sticker.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats Team

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