WHAT do you do when you have completed all the six world marathon ‘majors’ — London, Boston, New York, Berlin, Chicago and Toyko?
If you’re Corkman Liam Cotter, you step it up a notch and find a fresh challenge!
This year, Liam completed the Herculean feat of running 100 miles a week for 12 straight weeks to raise money for Mna Feasa, a community- based project to help victims of abuse.
It meant running 24km a day for 84 successive days, so it’s just as well Liam points out:“I love running and am really into fitness. I run in all weathers.”
He takes everything in his stride too.
“I would do all those marathons again without even thinking about it,” he says of those big city runs.
“The New York marathon is the stand-out one for me.”
What prompted the father of one, who works as an accountant for the Kerry Group in Charleville, to embark on his latest challenge for Mna Feasa?
“My wife, Fabiola, is passionate about different things,” says Liam. “Mna Feasa is an organisation she would have done a huge amount of fundraising for before and she talked me into it.
“I believed in Mna Feasa myself and in the work they do to support victims of domestic abuse.
"I knew during Covid domestic abuse numbers were rising. So helping raise funds for Mna Feasa became my goal.”
Were there enough hours in the day for his feat?
“I believe there are enough hours in the day to do everything you want to do” says Liam. “I get up for a run at 5.30am and I’m home for 6.30am. In the evening I run another eight to 10 miles.”
When did he get bitten by the running bug?
“I can remember the exact moment,” says Liam. “Again I blame my wife!
“We were driving through Ballincollig in 2007 and the Cork City Marathon was on. We stopped the car and watched the runners go by. I was enthralled by the scene and the buzz sparked my passion for running.”
Liam was always fighting fit.
“I always had an interest in fitness and I became pretty passionate about it.
“I was so interested in the whole area of fitness, I studied physical therapy at weekends and at night to understand how the body works and how it can operate undertaking heavy mileage.”
Running opened up new avenues for him.
“In my job I have a global role, spending a lot of time travelling abroad to places like Chicago and Mexico,” he said.
Hotel rooms can be lonely when the day’s work is done. “Running became a saviour for me,” says Liam.
“When I was travelling abroad, I’d look up a race to run. It gave me focus and a goal. The running community is a great community worldwide.”
When Liam decided on his goal to raise funds for Mna Feasa, he got serious.
“I know a lot of runners aspire to running 100 miles in a week,” says Liam. “It’s a personal thing. I asked Fabiola what she thought about me running a 100 miles a week for the charity. She wasn’t too impressed. I thought she would be more excited! She said I should get serious about supporting the charity.”
And he did. He got very serious.
“I had a re-think. I said to her, how about running 1,200 miles in 12 weeks?”
Now he was getting somewhere.
“I must admit that impressed Fabiola more,” says Liam.
But he wasn’t shouting his intention from the roof-tops.
“I kept a little quiet,” says Liam. “I felt a bit nervous myself.”
He knew the pitfalls that could befall him going the distance.
“I knew it was a huge feat and that you have to respect the body. If you feel a particular injury you need to stop.”
There was no stopping Liam.
Having run all the ‘Majors’ in under 2 hours 50 minutes, keeping up the pace is something Liam is very familiar with.
“I averaged 15 miles every day,” says Liam. “Then, at 200 miles, I felt so much pressure, every bone in my body was crying out.”
Just before embarking on his 12- week, 100 mile a week challenge, Liam ran a virtual Boston marathon-in Bishopstown, which he completed in a time of 2.56.
“I knew every step was for a good reason,” says Liam, who is from Kilmichael and had a great-uncle who fought for the Flying Column in the historic ambush there.
“I am very competitive and I am very disciplined,” adds Liam. “That keeps me ticking over.
“I am looking at doing more foreign marathons, in Hong Kong and Dubai, when the world opens up. I would love that.
“Fabiola and I usually combine the races abroad with a lovely holiday.”
Was she impressed when Liam completed his heroic challenge for Mna Feasa this month?
“She was thrilled with me!” says Liam.
Fabiola was quietly confident that her man would keep to his word.
“There was no doubt in her mind that I’d do it,” says Liam. “She has more confidence in me than I do.”
He was also confident of people’s generosity in uncertain times.
“The fund has reached almost €3,000,” says Liam.
“Yes. It sure is!” he says.
Mna Feasa director, Ann O’Mahony, was also thrilled with Liam’s wonderful gesture on behalf of the charity.
“Liam’s contribution is greatly appreciated,” said Ann.
“During the pandemic we experience a high level of calls. People were under added pressure during lockdown with children at home from school and partners out of work.
“Vulnerable Irish families are impacted by the deepening recession.”
The money Liam raised on his epic 1,200 miles will be put to good use.
“Our premises are a bit damp,” says Ann. “We are getting the walls dry-lined. Then it will be cosier for people to come here and to meet up.”
What next for Liam?
“I can relax a little,” says Liam. “Let the hair down a bit.”
A tipple or two perhaps?
Mna Feasa confidential helpline 021-4211757.