Derg rector prays through the pain barrier to pass unique marathon test

The Rector of Derg and Termonamongan, Rev Peter Ferguson, has successfully completed his eagerly anticipated ‘Door-to-Door’ marathon, raising more than £3,000 for parish projects as he strode through the County Tyrone countryside praying en route.

The 41-year-old clergyman shook off a foot injury that, until recently, had threatened his participation in this unique fundraiser. The father of three was accompanied on the last half of the run through the ‘Red River Valley’ by Derg parishioner Geoffrey Sproule.

The Diocese’s fittest pastor set off from his home in Castlederg at 10.30 on Friday morning, following a 26.2 mile route through that took him through Killen, Killeter, Aghyaran and Spamount, before arriving back at the rectory’s front door.

Church members and well-wishers gathered along the way to encourage the popular clergyman along. On the last stage, Rev Ferguson was applauded by parishioners who’d put up balloons and a sign on the rectory gates to support him on the hard final steps. One parishioner, Audrey Robinson, said, “Aw, Peter, I just want to give you a hug,” although – in deference to social distancing guidelines – she restricted herself to joining in the three cheers offered for the rector.

Minutes after the run, the long-distance rector said he intended to do his stretches, have a shower and then enjoy dinner. “I’ll just do a 10-mile run tomorrow,” he quipped – at least we think he was joking.

This isn’t the first time Rev Ferguson has run the 26-mile endurance test. He has completed the Belfast Marathon on three occasions, clocking a personal best time of 3 hours and 24 minutes. Friday’s run – over a more difficult course – took a few minutes longer.

The Rector said Friday’s first Derg and Killeter ‘Door-to-Door’ Parish Marathon was not intended as a Free Will Offering replacement but rather as a community fundraising initiative in the parish group. The money raised will be used to carry out repairs and restoration to St John’s Church in Castlederg and St Bestius’ Church in Killeter. Rev Ferguson said the parish also has plans to redevelop its youth hall, which is used by the whole community.

If you’d like to support the Parish of Derg and Termonamongan’s fundraising effort, you can still donate to its JustGiving crowdfunding page: