KILDARE RUNNING LIFE: The runner who showed the futility of a Brexit border

Barry Kehoe points out humanity has always built walls but they are never insurmountable

Barry Kehoe


Barry Kehoe


KILDARE RUNNING LIFE: The runner who showed the futility of a Brexit border


If you don’t know what the backstop is, you’re not alone, as it seems that most of the politicians in Westminster haven’t a clue either.

Northern Ireland voted against Brexit with 56% of the population in opposition to the UK leaving the European Union.

Brexit is looming and as the potential for a no deal exit becomes a greater risk the chances of a hard border between the north and south of Ireland grows.

In 2017, an artist based in northern Ireland used the art of jogging to highlight the potential difficulties a hard border would cause.

Aleks Stanek, a graduate of fine art, ran 2oo miles of invisible Irish border over seven days.

Originally from Poland but living in Ireland since the age of 11, she completed the run in a week by criss-crossing the border 17 times, showing the freedom currently afforded at the border and highlighting the approaching absurdity of potential restrictions to free movement after Brexit.

Art and health have long been at the core of human interest.

The need for meaning and relevance in daily life has long been accepted as the fundamental motivation in artistic creation and enjoyment. Art helps people communicate experiences that are too difficult or elusive to express in words. There are physical and mental benefits from producing art and expressing yourself in a material way.

The true implications of a hard border seem lost on the politicians in London. The border is currently only marked by changes in road surface and the confusing calculation of changing miles into kilometres.

The way in which the border runs means there is divisions halfway through roads and fields, cutting through herds of cattle, dividing communities and replacing bridges built in the last 25 years with the barriers.

Almost 30 years after the Iron Curtain fell, and in an age in which globalisation is supposedly tearing barriers down, we are building walls and borders at a rate unequalled in history, provoked by the illusion of security.

Aleks set off from Bridgend, a small village on the Inishowen peninsula in County Donegal on July 22, 2017. The village is located on the road to Letterkenny, on the western outskirts of Derry and at the border. She crossed the border 17 times with the longest single day run being an impressive 44-mile effort to finish in Warrenpoint, County Down.

Each time she crossed the border Aleks buried makeshift monuments of broken Belfast bricks and ash tree seeds native to Ireland — the bricks representing industries in Ireland and the trees referring to a physical border and a border in people’s minds.

Although history tells us they are destined to crumble, we have always built walls... but there is almost always a way through, under, over or around.

Borders and walls aim to separate and divide but as Janet Napolitano, former US secretary of homeland security to Obama observed “Show me a 50ft wall, and I’ll show you a 51ft ladder.”

Local physio and Newbridge AC member Barry Kehoe offers advice to runners of all levels. See