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Cycling against suicide


ON HER BIKE Anna Deegan will travel 555km during her fundraising triathlon.

Áine Ryan

THE positive impact of sport on Anna Deegan’s battle with depression when she was younger is a message she is about to highlight through her grueling Challenge 555 to raise funds for two causes close to her heart. Over five days, starting today, July 6, her 555-km triathlon will bring her from Clare Island to the tip of the Blacksod peninsula, across to Ballina and south to Leenane before swimming back to Clare Island where she will complete a looped run.
“As someone who fought a long and relentless battle with depression from a very young age and all through my teens, twenties and early thirties with very little respite until I found sport, mainly Triathlon,” Anna Deegan tells The Mayo News.
“I believe that this would have been a very different story had I found this tool much earlier in my life. Sport and exercise has had a profoundly positive impact on my life and I am extremely passionate about spreading this message.”
The two beneficiaries of her fundraising drive are the Cycle Against Suicide charity, which like so many other such organisations has been unable to fundraise due to the pandemic. The second recipient of the challenge will be the playground of St Patrick’s NS on the island.

Perfect match
Deegan explains: “Cycle Against Suicide was a perfect match as a beneficiary because their evidence based schools programme shows that early intervention is key among young people in the treatment and management of depression and other mental health issues. Due to Covid-19 they have not been able to run their main fundraising event now for two years which will have a huge impact on their ability to run their programme in schools. Hopefully, this fundraiser will go some way to helping them to continue delivering this programme and helping young people all around the country.”
A regular visitor to Clare Island, Deegan says that the national school is ‘badly in need of funds to upgrade their unsafe and inadequate school yard for the pupils’. 
“Exercise and sport is so powerful to the lives and development of young children, and every child has the right to a safe place to play during their precious and impressionable school years no matter how small their community,” she says. 
She adds that ‘the people of Clare Island have been so welcoming to me and have offered tremendous support to me in planning this challenge and what better way to give back than to the children of the island’.
“I would like to express my gratitude to the people of Clare Island for all their help and support in supporting this challenge,” Anna Deegan says.

The challenge
CHALLENGE 555 will take place over five days from July 6 to10. It will comprise of a 500km cycle over three days: Day 1, Roonagh Pier-Achill-Belmullet; Day 2, Belmullet-Blacksod-Ballina; Day 3, Ballina-Westport-Leenane-Louisburgh- Roonagh; Day 4, a 5km sea swim from Roonagh Pier to Clare Island; Day 5, a 50km multi-looped Ultra-Marathon around Clare Island.   
Deegan is very grateful to Rachel Nolan of Rachel’s Irish Adventures for her help in creating the routes.

For donations go to www.idonate.ie/AnnaDeegan

3011 MPU