NEITHER age nor a global pandemic is stopping Castlederg marathon man Pat O’Loughlin (83) from gearing up for his 40th marathon on October 25.

He’s determined to continue running, and support the MS Society and MS research - even if it means running in a virtual marathon, rather than with thousands of other people.

With the Coronavirus this year, Pat and his team will complete a ‘virtual’ marathon, running along a local stretch that will cumulatively add up to a marathon’s full distance, rather than travelling down to Dublin.

They won’t have the crowds, but they will have each other for support.

There have been 41 Dublin Marathons, and the only one Pat missed was in 2014 when he was confined to a hospital bed in Altnagelvin.

His long-time friend and fundraising partner, John Doherty, joked: “Pat was for getting up that year and running - we very nearly had to restrain him!”

However, Pat was back on his feet and running again the following year, and is now looking towards marathon number 40, even if running under Covid-19 restrictions.

Originally from Belleek, Pat ran a jewellery shop in Castlederg for many years.

To date, he has raised almost £70,000 to help fund MS research and has a special interest in Myelin Repair research which looks at slowing, stopping and reversing disability.

By his own admission, Pat is finding the gruelling 26-mile distance tougher every year.

“This year I am realistically looking at nine or 10 hours to complete the whole distance.

“I have been training at five miles, maybe up to 10, but the marathon is a different thing altogether!

“I will start gentle, and see how I go.

“If I start out and keep going, as if by magic, I always run through it.”

Although he joked he was looking for a 26-mile route all downhill, Pat undersells his impressive strength of will.

On why he does what he does Pat said: “I love the exercise, I like to get out, to see people and stay active.

“I also want to make a difference in helping stop MS.

“I have a great team of fundraisers and supporters around me in the local community that helps a lot too.

“They give the money and support me, so I want to keep going and keep getting more of that money to MS research and the MS Society.”

Pat runs with his son, Ciaran; friend, Jenny McMenamin; and Jenny’s daughter, Rachel. Ciaran has run seven of the marathons, Jenny 12, and Rachel four, and it is always a team effort.

Talking about Pat, Jenny said: “It sounds like a cliché, but it couldn’t be truer - Pat is a real inspiration for me.

“His will and drive to keep going are unbelievable. This is my 13th marathon, and I would not have done any of them if it wasn’t for Pat.

“I know he inspires lots of people to run or be better versions of themselves, to give that little bit more.

“My daughter is running now, and my younger daughter can’t wait to join us as well.

“It is a multi-generational impact from Pat, and [his efforts give] great support to organisations like the MS Society.”

David Galloway, Director of the MS Society in NI, said: “Pat is a real star and is hugely impressive. His commitment and support are outstanding - to have run 40 Dublin Marathons, and 20-odd others, is a monumental achievement.

“He has raised a staggering amount of money over the years, and I have no doubt that he has made a significant contribution to MS research and to supporting people living with MS.

“Pat is a remarkable man, and we appreciate his efforts to help further our campaign to stop MS. He is, quite simply, an inspiration.”

You can support Pat’s fundraising effort at, or by donating through the jewellery shop at No. 22, Main Street, Castlederg..