Strabane woman taking on run in memory of friend who took his own life after drug addiction

A Co Tyrone woman is taking on the Strabane Lifford Half Marathon in memory of a well-known local man who took his own life following a drug addiction.

Ciara Timoney will take on the 7km leg of the half marathon on Sunday 19 May alongside friends in memory of Rory Carlin from the town who died suddenly a year ago.

Ciara herself credits running with aiding her own recovery from her mental and physical health issues.

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She returned home from London in 2022 after suffering with depression and anxiety and signed up for the Derry City and Strabane District Council’s Couch to 5k programme shortly after.

Her leg in the Half Marathon will be her biggest event of her running journey to date and she has decided to take on the challenge to raise funds for The Koram Centre, which provides counselling services to people suffering from mental health issues in Strabane and the wider area.

Ciara said the town of Strabane is ‘crying out for help’ due to issues around mental health, addiction and suicide.

“The Carlin family are well known in the town, but even if you didn’t know them, the struggles that our town is having with mental illness, addictions and suicides are plain to see, and the town is crying out for help,” she says.

“By supporting this fund, we are not only remembering Rory and his family but letting everyone know that no matter what you’re going through, there is always going to be a helping hand and support.”

Rory Carlin took his own life following a battle with drug addiction in May 2023
Rory Carlin took his own life following a battle with drug addiction in May 2023

With no background in running when she started two years ago, Ciara now runs three or four times a week and has been overwhelmed by the positive impact it has had on all elements of her life.

“It has been indescribable go be honest,” she said.

“In 2022 my Dad Eugene mentioned he was starting the Couch to 5k program at Melvin and encouraged me to give it a go.

“That first evening I couldn’t run the length of myself without feeling like I was going to be sick but the group of established runners were so friendly and encouraging so I thought I’ll at least finish this program.

“I’ve made so many friends through running and we all have each other’s backs and pick each other up whenever one of us is down.

“My depression and anxiety, my asthma, even my sleeping have all improved, when I think of how far I’ve come, it’s quite overwhelming.

“On a personal level it’s also meant a lot to me that my Dad has been with me through every step of my running journey and he is taking part in a relay team himself.”

Ciara will be joined on race day by her relay teammates and friends Berni Campbell and Noelle Kelly.

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“I’m not confident enough to do a Half Marathon yet, although hopefully in the future, and I was really excited when they announced the relay option as it allowed so many more to get involved with the event,” she noted.

“The training has been going well, it can be very difficult to get motivated when the weather has been cold and rainy but we have put in the hours and are more than capable.

“If I was to say something to someone starting out with running it would be to just get out there, not every run will feel great and some nights your body is just not in it .but that’s perfectly fine- everyone has days like that.

“I’m excited to take part in this brilliant event for our town, and every single person- from the first over the line to the last and everyone who is out supporting us – can be extremely proud.

“We hear so much negativity around our wee town, but events like this highlight the best of us- the perseverance and kindness.”

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BelfastLive – Co Tyrone