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Alex O'Shea from Ballineen, crosses the line with his children Dylan and Noah at the Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind HQ in Model Farm Road, along with crewman Garda Ollie O'Sullivan after completing 32 marathons - one in each county - over the last 16 days in aid of the Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind. Picture: Howard Crowdy
Alex O'Shea from Ballineen, crosses the line with his children Dylan and Noah at the Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind HQ in Model Farm Road, along with crewman Garda Ollie O'Sullivan after completing 32 marathons - one in each county - over the last 16 days in aid of the Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind. Picture: Howard Crowdy
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Marathon man Alex O'Shea completes 32 marathons in 16 days

RUNNING firefighter Alex O’Shea has blazed a trail which will be hard to follow after he completed the toughest running endurance test ever undertaken in this country on Sunday.

The Ballineen man completed the last of his 32 marathons over just 16 days in Cork city after traversing every county since he set off on the mammoth task in Dingle on September 1.

He was embraced by his wife Audrey and children Noah, Dylan, Leon and Louisa as he completed the final steps of the 838.4 miles he travelled on foot in just over two weeks.

Alex O'Shea from Ballineen, gets a welcome hug from his wife Audrey after completing 32 marathons - one in each county - over the last 16 days in aid of the Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind. Picture: Howard Crowdy
Alex O'Shea from Ballineen, gets a welcome hug from his wife Audrey after completing 32 marathons - one in each county - over the last 16 days in aid of the Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind. Picture: Howard Crowdy
His crewman, Garda Ollie O’ Sullivan, also completed a minimum of a marathon each day alongside Alex, while having the task of driving him from venue to venue while preparing the runner’s kit and meals throughout the challenge – as well as devising the routes and keeping the mile count.

Several people turned up to support and run with Alex on his final marathon which began at Anglesea Street outside the fire station, where he serves as a firefighter.

An escort from the gardaí and a fire engine with sirens roaring took Alex and Ollie down South Mall and up Patrick Street before going out the Lee Fields and Carrigrohane Straight and into Ballincollig, where several loops of the Regional Park were completed.

Soon it was time for crewman Ollie to signal that the group had just a couple of kilometres to finish and they headed for Model Farm Road and the Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind headquarters — which it was all in aid of.

The previous record for consecutive marathons in each county of Ireland was set by Gerry Duffy and Ken Whitelaw in 2010 over the course of 32 days. Astonishingly, that record has now been halved by Alex. Alex said that he began to realise he could complete the challenge after the 22nd marathon.

Alex O'Shea gets a welcome lift from Martin Lawlor, Brian Tanner, Michael Daly and Michael Ryan of the Cork City Fire Brigade following his 32 marathons in 16 days in aid of the Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind upon his completion in Model Farm Road Cork. Picture: Howard Crowdy
Alex O'Shea gets a welcome lift from Martin Lawlor, Brian Tanner, Michael Daly and Michael Ryan of the Cork City Fire Brigade following his 32 marathons in 16 days in aid of the Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind upon his completion in Model Farm Road Cork. Picture: Howard Crowdy
“Once we had 10 marathons to go, I felt we were on the countdown and I knew it was within sight. For me, this all really finished in Kilkenny on Saturday when I completed marathon 30.

“Then it was a case of getting Waterford done and Cork was all about coming home and meeting all the people who supported me,” he added.

Hundreds of people ran alongside the duo across the country over the 16 days while hotels and families provided bed and board.

With the running out of the way, Alex will now have to tot up how much he has raised for the charity with several runners signing up take on their own challenges and collect money on sponsorship cards as part of the campaign.

He returns to his day job in the Cork City Fire Brigade on Wednesday after two days off.