The Sanctuary Runners was established in Cork in February, 2018 by feature writer and broadcaster Graham Clifford and photographer Clare Keogh with the goal of building Solidarity, Friendship and Respect for all people seeking protection in Ireland. With the support of Cork City Council, and The Tomar Trust, a team of 200 participated in the Cork City Marathon (2018) which included 51-people from across the five different Direct Provision centres in Cork. The team spanned 40 nationalities. A year later 360 Sanctuary Runners took part in the race and in 2020 its expected over 1,000 Sanctuary Runners run through the rebel city proudly wearing their blue.

The team includes Olympians such as Olive Loughnane, Rob and Marian Heffernan and Clare Lambe – and we’ve had support from stars of the track such as Sonia O’Sullivan, Lizzie Lee and Gillian O’Sullivan and GAA legend Tomas O’Sé.

In 2019 the Sanctuary Runners spread to a dozen different locations across Ireland, from Killarney to Sligo and Longford to Waterford. By November, 2019, they had 1,200 runners across Ireland and now participate in over 30 running events in every corner of the country. Sanctuary Runners also we work with the Parkrun Movement and Sanctuary Runners can be found at 5k runs every Saturday morning where they also volunteer with the aim of growing Sanctuary Runners into a Global Movement.
The Irish Refugee Council are in a formal partnership with the Sanctuary Runners and provide financial governance for the movement, advice and fundraising support to the group.