Booterstown to Howth: the 21km run in aid of The Down Syndrome Centre

by Gary Ibbotson

The Down Syndrome Centre, a Cabinteely-based charity that provides therapies and workshops for children with Down syndrome, will host its annual Challenge 21 event – a 21km run from Booterstown to Howth – on September 15.

Now in its third year, the charity expects hundreds of people to walk, jog or run the seaside route while raising over €75,000 in funds.

Irish Olympian David Gillick is the ambassador for this year’s affair and recently he sat down with Lydia Corley (9) who has partaken in the event every year since its inception to talk training tips and the work of the charity.

In the weeks leading up to the 21km Challenge, Gillick says that “a balanced diet with good proteins and carbohydrates is essential.

“The more colour in your food, the better. We all like treats, but have them when it suits, not all the time.

“Eat regularly, and hydrate. 2-3 litres of water a day especially leading up to a big event.”

Gillick says that training for the big day can be done incrementally – building your way up to the required fitness level.

He says: “You can do amazing things in a short period of time. Even if you only have 20 minutes, grab a friend or family member and get active.”

Corley, whose sister, Sophie (8) attends The Down Syndrome Centre, says that “a good breakfast (I eat porridge and berries) goes a long way.

“Trying is all you can really do. If you can make it to the halfway point, you can keep going! I’ve been doing the walk since I was seven – you can too.”

Speaking about the cause Corley says that the centre “is our second home, the people here are very good to Sophie.

“It makes me really happy to see them help her. I’m turning 10 just after this year’s walk, so I hope it’s the best one yet.”

After visiting the centre, located on the Bray Road at Cabinteely Village, Gillick says that he was “blown away” by the work that they do.

“They’ve created an environment where children are able to access essential services, many of which we take for granted on a daily basis – all without government funding.

“That’s why fundraisers like Challenge 21 are so vital for families who use the services at the Down Syndrome centres around the country.”

The Down Syndrome Centre says that everybody is welcome to take part in the event, regardless of fitness level.

Other events will be taking place around the country of the weekend of September 15 as well, with walks and runs in the North East and Midlands

For more information or on how to register you can visit or ring (01) 661-8000.

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