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Students in 385-mile run to fight cancer

Cancer has become an all too familiar part of the lives of two 21-year-old sports students who are determined to fight back against the disease.

The pair plan to run the equivalent of 15 marathons to raise more than €20,000 for cancer research and support.

Michael O'Reilly, of Shercock, Co Cavan, has lost his mother and his aunt to the disease. Phil Clarke, from Duleek in Co Louth, has already lost an aunt to the disease and now his mother Sandra (49) has been diagnosed with brain cancer and is undergoing chemo-therapy and radiotherapy.

Michael and Phil first met last September, while studying sports science at Bangor University in Wales. They became firm friends and when Phil's mum got her diagnosis over Christmas, Michael became a rock of support.

"He knew what I was going through because his own mum had died from cancer three years ago," said Phil.

"I wanted to do something to support my mum and to make a difference. I came up with the idea of running and Michael came on board."

Both students have an impressive background in GAA.

They have now set themselves the task of running 385 miles from Mizen Head to Malin Head in just 13 days.

The pair started training for the run, which begins on July 3, two weeks ago and are being supported by a team of sports scientists from their university to help whip them into shape.

Money raised will go to the Gary Kelly Cancer Support Centre, Drogheda, Co Meath, the Shercock-Killann Cancer Support Group in Cavan and Cancer Research UK.

Donations may be made to Allied Irish Bank account number 150-980-78, sort code 93-22-48.

csheehy@herald.ie