The Sanctuary Runners’ Virtual ‘Run-Through-Africa’ (February 8th to February 14th, 2021)

Sanctuary Runners’ Virtual ‘Run-Through-Africa’

  • Irish solidarity-through-sport movement hoping to cover 26,000 KM + over the course of a week
  • Seeking runners and walkers in Ireland to join them to donate your kms
  • Irish Embassies in African countries giving a virtual welcome to the runners and walkers as they arrive

An Irish solidarity-through-sport movement is preparing to take on a mammoth challenge to journey from South Africa through 31-countries and 23-cities to reach Tripoli in Libya in a virtual running and walking challenge next week.

And they need the help of the Irish public to get through the 26,000 kms on time.

The Sanctuary Runners, which uses running, jogging and walking to bring together asylum seekers, refugees and the wider Irish public, say the plan was devised to help Sanctuary Runners stay focussed and physically active during Covid19 – but now has snowballed.

“We had an amazing reaction from members in recent weeks to a cross Ireland running and walking challenge and thought we needed to push it more, to get more people involved and have an even wider societal benefit. So, we will be running and walking through Africa celebrating the continent’s culture, people and beauty as we go,” said Graham Clifford, Founder and National Coordinator of the Sanctuary Runners.

The challenge is also part of #Douglassweek which runs from Monday February 8th to February 14th ( and will adhere to all Covid19 safety guidelines with participants taking part individually within their 5km zones.

The route was carefully mapped out to ensure every country represented by African members of the Sanctuary Runners in Ireland is represented.

It will see the challenge begin in Pretoria next Monday morning before continuing onto Harare in Zimbabwe, through Lilongwe in Malawai, to Asmara in Eritrea, to Khartoum in Sudan before heading south and west to Cameroon, out through Kumasi in Ghana and Freetown in Sierra Leone to West Africa, and then eventually heading north to Morocco and then east to Algiers and eventually passed the finish line in Tripoli on Valentine’s Day.

The team will have to cover an average of 3,700 km a day (think Dublin to Cork x 14.5 every day for seven days!).

Sanctuary Runners across Ireland are ready for the challenge but they have also sought the assistance of running and walking clubs, secondary schools, community groups, choirs and council staff members to add their vital kilometres every day.

“There is no fundraising of any kind involved in this initiative. The focus is very much on solidarity, friendship and respect with, and to, migrants. And every step can help us in the week ahead. So that’s from the person who might walk a few kilometres every week to the runner who covers more ground. We want everyone to chip in with their kilometres, so that’s children, older people, families, runners, walkers, joggers – everyone,” said Graham Clifford.

The Sanctuary Runners will update their progress map every evening at 9.30pm on their Facebook site so you can see how far along your contribution has brought the team and where in Africa you have reached. 

“We can’t wait to shake off the winter blues here in Ireland with a week’s trekking through Africa. To feel some virtual African sunshine on our face. And to do so against the background of those ideals with Frederick Douglass held dear, that everyone should be treated equally no matter the colour of their skin, the place of their birth or the language they speak,” said Graham Clifford.

And organisers will post pictures, music and videos of each country as the Sanctuary Runners cross national boundaries. And already staff from the Embassies of Ireland in different parts of Ireland have promised to have the welcome mat out and the kettle on when the Sanctuary Runners, virtually, arrive! Some may even join in with a few kilometres of their own.

To join us please or to find out more about the Sanctuary Runners go to  – And follow us on @Sanctuaryrunner on Twitter and