Tears as Dean finishes marathon

Dean McCabrey with Paula McQuillan
Dean McCabrey with Paula McQuillan

Dean McCabrey crossed the finishing line with tears in his eyes, realising a dream to run the Belfast Marathon in memory of his friend who died from Meningitis.

Ardous, painful and in the blazing sun, however Dean was determined to finish the 26.2 miles.

The Lurgan man who works at Craigavon Area Hospital was running for two charities, Sands (stillbirth and neo natal deaths) for his friend, Caoimhe Murphy, and for Meningitis Research Foundation, in memory of Roisin McQuillan, who was struck down by the disease, and very sadly died on 26 April 2004.

It was Dean’s good friend, and Roisin’s brother, Ciaran, who initially asked him to consider Meningitis Research Foundation.

Dean was only too happy to agree, and embarked on a gruelling six month training regime, cutting out most of his socialising, and abstaining from alcohol since Christmas.

Although Dean had been sporty, a history of knee problems was certainly a barrier. He built up the strength in his legs with a carefully prepared training plan.

“I could not wait to get started at the marathon, and the atmosphere was electric at the line. For the first half of the run, I was fairly comfortable, but then my knee started to give me trouble. Every step became painful, and at the halfway stage, there are still a lot of steps to go,” he said.

“I was determined, however, to get through. So many friends and family had sponsored me, and I knew it meant a lot to Roisin’s mum, Paula that I was running in her daughter’s memory.

“The crowd along the route were so good, and I think they in particular cheered on those of us who were struggling with the heat or with injury. Their support meant a lot, and I am very grateful.”

Dean’s legs had nearly left him by the time he had hit ‘the wall’ at around 18 miles. Sheer perseverance kept him going, determined to make Paula proud that he had made it through for her daughter.

In the final mile, Dean heard Paula calling his name from the crowd, and she pushed through to come out to embrace him. It was an emotional moment for them both, coming as it did just a week after the anniversary of Roisin’s death. One of his friends, who had already finished, returned to cheer him home, and Dean readily admits he crossed the finishing line with tears in his eyes. “I was just so proud to have finished. For my own satisfaction, for my friend Caoimhe, for Paula, and for Roisin. Paula followed me round to the finish, and it felt great to be able to hug her having finished the run.”

Paula was just as proud. “I am so grateful to a Dean, who is due to become a parent himself with fiancée Danielle in August. It means so much to me that he, along with others, wants to keep Roisin’s memory alive. It is devastating to lose your daughter, and really impossible to try to ever completely get over it. She was a young girl with so much to live for, and it makes me very proud that this young man has put in so much effort.”

Johnny Breen of MRF said the sponsorship he has raised will do a lot of good, possibly saving someone’s life.

Dean has so far raised over £500. If you would like to donate go to his Just Giving page https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Dean-McCabrey