A BALLINEEN man is four days and eight marathons away from completing the toughest running endurance test ever undertaken in Ireland.
Well-known running firefighter Alex O'Shea has already completed a pain-inducing 24 marathons in 14 counties as part of his effort to run a marathon in every county over 16 days in aid of Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind.
The previous record was set by Gerry Duffy and Ken Whitelaw in 2010 when they ran a marathon in every county over 32 days.
Alex has already completed 26.2 mile runs in Limerick, Clare, Galway, Mayo, Roscommon, Sligo, Leitrim, Fermanagh, Donegal, Tyrone, Derry, Antrim, Down, Armagh, Monaghan, Louth, Dublin, Meath, Cavan, Longford, Westmeath, Kildare and Offaly after starting his challenge in Dingle on September 1.
His final marathon will take place in Cork city and Ballincollig on Sunday.
He has been joined by runners from all over the country in his challenge with many completing full marathons alongside him, while hotel and homeowners have provided Alex and his crewman, Garda Ollie O'Sullivan, with bed and board.
Each marathon time is averaging out at around five hours says Alex, who is 100% focused on getting to the final run in Cork where he will be greeted by well-wishers at Irish Guide Dog Cork headquarters on the Model Farm Road at around lunchtime on Sunday.
“I have it in my head that they are not going to get any easier and the whole goal is to get to Cork,” said Alex.
“I don't know what day of the week it is anymore. We barely know which county we're in but we are having the time of our lives doing it and we are meeting some amazing people.
“The generosity of people, you just can't explain it. You see all the bad stories on the news, well I'll have a million positive stories when I come home,” he added.
His challenge is in aid of Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind with donations being sought through his Facebook page and at www.alexoshea.ie.