I'll run 32 marathons in 32 counties ...in 16 days

I'll run 32 marathons in 32 counties ...in 16 days
Ultra-marathon runner Alex O'Shea who aims to complete 32 marathons in 32 counties in 16 days...all in aid of The Irish Guide Dogs for The Blind.Pic; Larry Cummins

As new year resolutions go, running one marathon might seem like a hefty task but a Cork city fireman is planning to run 32 marathons, in 32 counties in just 16 days for charity.

Alex O'Shea, a well-known ultramarathon runner and member of Cork City Fire Brigade’s Blue Watch, is currently putting a number of the logistics in place.

The Ballineen man previously broke the world record for running a marathon while in full firefighter attire - steel-toed boots, overalls and helmet included - in three hours and 41 minutes in 2014, beating the previous record by almost an hour.

Over the next few months, he will be assembling a team of people to help with his latest challenge, building a webpage and organising events in each of the 32 counties.

Irish athletes Gerry Duffy and Ken Whitelaw famously completed 32 marathons in 32 counties in as many days in 2010 — and Alex is looking to double that achievement.

“While I don’t think the 32 marathons in 32 counties has been attempted in this time frame before, it’s not a record attempt in the strictest sense of the word,” said Alex. 

“It’s a huge charity and personal challenge, which I hope people will embrace and get behind. You don’t have to be an experienced runner to join in a little run and everyone will be welcome and we will embrace all suggestions and offers of help. As I will be running unofficial marathons and travelling the country, we will look at using parks and tracks, with the option for people to join me along the way.”

Alex will have to hop between counties each day during the challenge and says getting to the start line of the second marathon on time each day will be a major hurdle.

“The first marathon of each day should start on schedule because we will cut sleep if needed to keep on schedule but after that, we will be very much up against the clock to get to the second location and will be fighting fatigue, possible injury and delays,” added Alex. “If this happens, the timeline for the second marathon of each day could be affected and only time will tell for sure. Marathon two is entering into the unknown.”

Alex is now seeking sponsors to help with transport, fuel, accommodation, food and providing gear.

He attempted to break the record time for running between Malin and Mizen Head in three days, 15 hours, 36 minutes and 23 seconds set by Mimi Anderson in 2015 but was forced to retire through injury. He has also represented Ireland at the 100km World Championships and last year competed in the national 24-hour road race championships in Belfast.

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