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Saturday 10 June 2023 Dublin: 13°C
Ian Lawton Ian Lawton
# Raising money
'It's life-giving': Meath man runs 66km charity ultra-marathon within 2km radius of home
Ian Lawton ran the distance to raise money for Ireland’s special care baby units.

A MEATH MAN has run the 66km distance of an ultra-marathon within the 2km radius around his home to raise money for special care baby units. 

Ian Lawton’s son Hank was born on 1 February 2011. He died one day later. 

Following the death of his son, Lawton said he fell into a depression. 

“It had a huge impact on my mental health and it had serious ramifications on my physical health, so I became morbidly obese,” he told At one stage, he weighed over 350 pounds. 

“I’m not blaming the death of my child, but certainly I wasn’t looking after myself,” Lawton said.

He added that in the aftermath of his son’s death he put the wellbeing of those around him first and foremost, rather than looking after himself. 

“I put myself on the bottom of my list and it took a lot of time for me to figure out if you’re going to look after other people you have to look after yourself first, otherwise you’re useless,” he said. 

In May 2018, Lawton made the decision to change his lifestyle. He began a wholefood, plant-based diet and within 10 months he had lost over 100 pounds. 

Following his weight loss, Lawton took up an interest in running. 

“There was one day where I was out walking my dog and because I had shed so much weight I just felt lighter, not just physically but mentally, as well. I just felt compelled to run,” he said.

I’m not a religious person but it was a very spiritual experience in running like that because it felt free, it felt childlike, emotionally freeing. I didn’t feel trapped anymore. 

Over the next few months, Lawton began running in the evenings and built up his endurance until he could run the distance of 5km. 

Just a few months after that, he ran his first marathon. 

In December 2019, Lawton ran three marathons over the course of the month. 

“I seem to be really attracted to endurance running because … what I’ve endured is morbid obesity, the death of my son, mental ill health. It’s life giving and it helps you look after yourself,” he said. 

Since 1 January, Lawton had been training to take part in the Connemarathon Ultra, his first official ultra-marathon, which was due to take place last Sunday. However, the event was cancelled as a result of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. 

Despite the event itself being cancelled, Lawton made the decision to run the 66km distance of an ultra-marathon within the 2km radius of his home anyway. 

“When it got postponed, I just decided yeah, I’m just going to run it anyway,” he said. 

Speaking of how it went on Sunday night, Lawton said: “The hardest part of it is the marathon. Once you get beyond the marathon it gets easy. There’s this threshold of pain that you seem to break through. 

You think you’re at the end of something and suddenly you’re finished that lap and you’re still running. It’s a really odd, strange metaphor for life in that it’s in us all, this capacity to continue. 

Lawton ran the distance of the ultra-marathon on Sunday to raise money for the staff in the special care baby units in the maternity hospitals around the country. 

“I always wanted to do something to acknowledge the people in the ICUs who worked so hard to fight and keep my son alive,” Lawton said. 

You just want to pay it forward, you want to be of service, you want to help.
The helplessness that you go through when you’re watching your son die and there’s absolutely nothing you can do to help, that helplessness stays with you and you just want to help others. 

“I did that for many years, for seven years I was trying to help others but I never looked after myself. Now, I’m putting myself first but not in an egotistical way, I’m bettering myself in order to be of better service to others.”

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