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RNLI lifeboat crew and lifeguards join the Antrim Coast Half Marathon!

Yesterday (28 August) Larne RNLI’s deputy coxswain Barry Kirkpatrick ran the Antrim Coast Half Marathon in memory of former coxswain and lifeboat volunteer Norman Surplus alongside Causeway Coast lifeguards Millie, Abigail and Olivia to raise funds for the charity.

The mass race started at 11 am with two flares lit by Larne RNLI’s lifeboat, Dr John McSparran. The all-weather Trent class lifeboat then followed the race in support down the Antrim Coast road.

Though Barry played a lot of rugby when he was younger, the Antrim Coast Half Marathon is his first running event after completing a couch to 5km app during the covid lockdown. Barry comments:

“I live right next to the race course and when I watched the race last year, I said to myself that I would do it next year.

“Norman was like my mentor at the RNLI when I was training up to be coxswain, he is such an inspirational person. He was one of the first volunteers at Larne RNLI, and one of the first coxswains. The RNLI meant a lot to Norman, which is why after talking with his family, I decided to run in his memory to fundraise for the RNLI.”

One of Norman’s inspirational feats, and one of his many Guinness World Records, was being the first man to fly around the world in an autogyro nicknamed “Roxy”.

Barry honoured this achievement of Norman’s by wearing Roxy’s international code G-YROX on his running vest.

Norman took off on his round-the-world journey from Sandy Bay in 2010 and landed back there after the second leg of the journey in 2019. Sandy Bay marks a significant point in the Antrim Coast Half Marathon as the start and finish hub.

Norman crossed the finish line on Bay Road accompanied by his young daughter Isla who joined him for the last 500 meters.

RNLI volunteers welcomed finishers across the line and into the finishers hub by handing them water from a lifeguard patrol truck.

The three RNLI lifeguards who were running in the Half Marathon, Millie, Abigail and Olivia travelled down to Larne from the Causeway Coast. The lifeguards were keen to support their RNLI lifeboat colleagues while raising funds for the charity that helps them save lives at sea together.

Lifeguard Supervisor Conard McCullagh said:

“Our patrol trucks are great for getting from one end of a long beach to the other when someone needs rescuing quickly and it turns out they are also pretty good for transporting water bottles to a race finish line!

“RNLI lifeguards work to keep our communities safe on beaches, and the Antrim Coast Half Marathon gave them the opportunity to have some fun running together in a community event while they raised money to help the RNLI save lives.”

Assisted by the charity’s mascot, Stormy Stan, Larne RNLI fundraising volunteers set up a pop-up shop at the finisher’s hub. After runners picked up their medals, they had the opportunity to browse the RNLI shop for a special race souvenir that helps the charity save lives at sea along the Antrim Coast.

Donations are still open, and you can donate to Larne RNLI post-race by following this link:


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