Navan dad runs 50 mile barefoot marathon for animal sanctuary

An ultra-endurance athlete from Navan who successfully took on the challenge of running a 50-mile marathon barefoot says the experience connected him with his son who tragically passed away away he was just one-day old.

On September 27th Ian Lawton (49) completed just under two full marathons running 33 2.5km loops on the Hill of Tara totalling 81km in an incredible time of 13 hours.

Animal lover Ian came up with the idea to raise money to build a new home for two pigs in Back into Daylight, an animal Sanctuary in Navan that houses and cares for over 400 animals.

Donations totalling €1,500 have been raised and building work has already started on Bella and Charlotte’s new home.

Ian Lawton says running "saved his life"

The barefoot runner is no stranger to pushing himself to the limit as during lockdown he undertook an ultra marathon distance of 41 miles around loops of his neighbourhood deciding to go the “extra mile” to raise money for the “superhero doctors and nurses who fought to save his son” Hank who tragically passed away when he was just one-day old.

This time around Ian also dad to Ike (11) wanted to push the boundaries even further. Describing the experience as “life changing.”. He said:

“It is probably the most excruciating thing I’ve ever done but also the most rewarding thing I’ve ever taken on.

“Three runners that I know came out and joined me at the start and that really helped me.

"Once I got the first marathon over with, they left me on my own and that’s when I was battling with the demons.

The barefoot athlete raised €1,500 to build a new home for pigs Bella and Charlotte

“ I went out by myself and met this other guy who was out running barefoot and we got chatting and it was so wonderful because he was also a bereaved father.

“I lost Hank after a day, he lost his son when he was two weeks old. We stopped and talked and we wept together. It made the experience even more special.

"I really connected with this man who also lost his son. We spoke about our emotions and feelings which is not really what men in their 40s are known for doing.

“Running barefoot brought out the inner child in me which felt like a manifestation of my lost son and it really connected me with childhood and the childhood I missed out on with him.

Just two years ago Ian at 25 stone was morbidly obese, pre diabetic, in danger of having a stoke and struggling to come to terms with the loss of his son Hank who was born prematurely in 2011.

Proud dad Ian with son Ike (11)

The dad of two who lost an incredible eleven stone in nine months says that “running saved his life.”

So exhausted and ready to throw in the towel on his last lap on Sunday, Ian says knowing his family was at the finishing line “pushed him on.” He added:

“With 5km to go I was ready to call my wife and say just come get me I’m done and I was making up all of these excuses in my head to stop and to apologise to everyone who contributed to this fundraiser.

“Physically I felt the lowest I have ever felt, then just passed like a wave, my pace picked up and I continued.

“My wife, my dog and my boy were at the finish line and they cheered me on and I sprinted into their arms.”

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