Fireman Alex completes incredible 32-marathon challenge in 16 days

September 26th, 2018 7:15 AM

By Southern Star Team

Alex is greeted by colleagues Martin Lawton, Brian Tanner, Mick Daly and Michael Ryan from the Cork City Fire Service after crossing the line at the Irish Guide Dogs training centre in Cork. (Photo: John Allen)

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BALLINEEN’S Running Firman Alex O’Shea said he will never forget the kindness he was shown on his ‘32 Marathon Challenge’ which saw him run the equivalent of two marathons a day.

The father of four ran 32 marathons, in 32 counties, in 16 days in aid of the Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind.  

He completed marathon No 31 in the early hours of Sunday morning in Waterford battling wind and rain before travelling to Anglesea Street in Cork to start the last run of this extraordinary challenge.

Alex was joined on his challenge by Tralee native Garda Ollie O’Sullivan who crewed for Alex but who also took on his own personal challenge to run 50km of the 84km a day every day of the challenge.

The final marathon started outside the fire/Garda stations on Anglesea Street where Alex was stationed and where Ollie was stationed many years ago. From here the route headed out to Ballincollig Regional Park to run loops, before the final 2.7 miles to the finish at the headquarters of Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind on Model Farm Road. 

Alex said: ‘When I took on this challenge I knew it could be achieved but it would be very difficult. The smallest injury could derail the attempt but thankfully with Ollie’s help we always remained positive and ahead of any problems. We prepared for a tough physical event and never realised the support, friendships and emotional journey we would go on. We have had people run the longest distance ever with us. We had a man that only ran two marathons in his life and this week ran two with me. We have been trusted with stories of loved ones lost to illness and personal connections to the Irish Guide Dogs. We have been very privileged to undertake this journey and will never forget the kindness of others. Special thanks to my family, friends, colleagues and all supporters without whom this wouldn’t have been possible.’

In the last few years Alex has developed a love of running and has pursued many personal running challenges and goals meeting some great people along the way.

He completed his first marathon only four years ago and became a Guinness World Record holder in the process: Fastest Marathon in Full Fire Gear in 3hrs 41min 10sec. Since then he has competed for Ireland at the 100km World Championships in Spain 2016 and won silver medals in the 50km and 24-hour national championship events in 2017.

Patrick Burke, Chairman of Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind added: ‘We are so grateful to Alex and proud of his phenomenal achievement. His strength of character and sheer resilience are an inspiration to us all. Through Alex’s mental and physical strength, he has helped raise much needed funds to help us change lives and shared our story with many people across the country. Due to the needs of our clients across the country and success of our Breeding Regeneration Program we are experiencing significant growth in the number of pups needing homes for the next year. If anyone would like to help us change lives by raising a puppy or in any other way please contact us. For everyone else, other Alex marathons are optional!’

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