Banbridge, Co Down native Simon McEvoy has challenged himself to run a 5k in each county in Ireland over the course of a week while raising funds for mental health charities.

Setting off on his challenge on Sunday 30th August, Simon will start in Co. Antrim and over the course of a week he will traverse the country driving on average 4 hours a day to visit and run in up to 5 counties before completing his 32 County challenge on Saturday 5th September on his home turf in Co. Down. 

Simon said, ‘I’m quite new to running. I ran my first 5k in 2019 when I took part in a Born2Run race in Castlewellan, Co. Down. Since then I’ve been interested in getting a bit faster and going a bit further, but I didn’t have any real goals, until recently when running the Atlantic Drive in Donegal had the idea to run in every county in Ireland.

‘Before having the opportunity to think it through or back out, I discussed the challenge with my family who were very supportive and decided that I would do it before the end of this summer whilst raising money for a worthy cause in the process. 

A focus on mental health charities 

I have previously taken part in fundraising events for AWARE, so it was important for me to raise funds for both AWARE NI and AWARE Ireland. This year has put a strain on the mental health of many across the island. The respective AWARE charities carry out amazing work in the mental health sector and their support is so vital at the moment with the current covid-19 pandemic’.

Simon concluded, ‘I am glad I didn’t give myself too much time to consider the challenge as it has been quite an intense few weeks training & organising the logistics of the 1,800km drive but it has kept me focused.

It is going to be a tough but achievable challenge, scaling up from an average of 25km a week to 160km. I am confident that I can complete the challenge as I am so enthused and appreciative of how generous everyone has been and I really want to repay of all the support.’

Karen Collins, CEO of AWARE NI commented, ‘Simon’s challenge is a brilliant idea and is so unique. We’ll be following Simon’s journey throughout the week and will be with him in spirit and cheering him on every step of the way. As a charity, the money that people fundraise is vitally important to allow us to continue delivering our services in schools, communities and workplaces across Northern Ireland’.

Fundraising really needed

Drew Flood, Fundraising Executive at Aware commented: “Since the emergence of Covid-19, Aware has seen a dramatic increase in demand for our services as society adjusts to the reality of living with Covid-19 and related socio-economic impacts. We are very grateful to Simon for choosing Aware and AWARE NI to benefit from his innovative challenge.

His efforts will not only bring awareness to the importance of mental health, but every single euro raised will make a difference. We wish him the very best and look forward to tracking his progress through the 32 counties!”

Simon has so far raised over €6,000 and to tie in with the 4 province, 32 county challenge has been in contact with all the provincial rugby & county GAA boards & sponsors so that he has enough tops to run in and hopefully plans to get them signed by players after so that the charities can auction to raise further funds. 

Progress of his challenge will be shared on social media over the course of the week and Simon has lined up fellow runners to do a 5k in over 20 international cities from Amsterdam to Washington tagging local mental health charities to increase awareness of the importance of mental health and he invites local runners to do the same. 

To find out more, how you can participate or make a donation in support of Simon’s challenge for the two AWARE charities go to:

Want to run faster? For just £30 per month athletes are provided with a Final Surge plan for each day of the week, coaching advice from Robbie Britton and Tom Craggs, as well as access to the unique Fast Running Performance community.

If you would like more information on joining the project, click here.