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The GAA goalkeeper getting ready for the Great Ethiopian Run

Paul Durcan will take part in the 10km run in Addis Abeba.

Over 40,000 runners will take part.
Over 40,000 runners will take part.
Image: Pat Murphy/SPORTSFILE

RUNNING 10KM AT 2,000 feet with 40,000 other people through the streets of Addis Abeba in Ethiopia is not something many GAA players will be doing next week but Paul Durcan certainly will as ambassador and fundraiser with the Vincentian Lay Missionaries (VLM).

Attracting over 400 elite athletes the 14th edition of The Great Ethiopian Run will take place on Sunday 23rd November.

The Donegal goalkeeper and current Allstar says it was the priest who says mass for the Donegal team that got him interested.

“Fr Michael said mass for the team and I got to know him. It came about that he had a mutual friend in Donagh Kelly from KN networks and he asked Donagh would I get be interested in getting involved. And when I found out more about it I was very interested.”

While in Ethiopia Durcan will visit some of the 26 projects in which VLM and its 250 volunteers have been involved in since it began in 2002. He will be accompanied by Fr. Stephen Monaghan of VLM, former national chaplain to the Deaf in Ireland, and now closely associated with the first new school for Deaf Children in Ambo, south of Addis Abeba.

The All-Ireland winning 30-year-old is well aware that the hardest part of the challenge will be the altitude, making oxygen intake more difficult.

“It’s a 10k run and maybe 40,000 people. And its up at big altitude maybe 4/5000 foot so that’s the big challenge. I wouldn’t be too good on the big runs. At this time of year… If I get it done inside the hour I’ll be happy enough.

The trip itself will only last between three and four days but in that time Durcan will take in much of the work that the missionaries do in Ethiopia as well as meeting the renowned long distance and marathon record breaker and former world record holder, Ghebre Hailie Selassie at a social night before the run.

The two-time Allstar admits that he hasn’t done too much training for the even in the last while.

“To be honest I haven’t done a lot of training in the last seven or eight weeks. It’s been quiet enough time. In the last couple of weeks I’ve done a bit of running but nothing too serious.”

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