Saturday 1 October 2016

Endurance runner battles deadly snakes and heat in 5,000km journey

Ed Carty

Published 26/08/2015 | 02:30

Richard Donovan is closing in on the end of his 3,100-mile odyssey from San Francisco to New York Photo: PA
Richard Donovan is closing in on the end of his 3,100-mile odyssey from San Francisco to New York Photo: PA
Richard began his journey through 12 US states on around 3 months ago
In Colorado, a deadly western diamondback rattlesnake shot out in front of Richard

An endurance runner has had near misses from hunters, deadly rattlesnakes, an attempted hit-and-run and heat exhaustion in an epic test run across America.

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Richard Donovan began his journey through 12 US states on San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge on May 19. He is due to finish in New York on September 5.

Despite running up to 47 miles a day, the trip was not designed to set a new continental record but to train the former economist for an unprecedented run across Antarctica.

"People might think, 'why run across the US to prepare for something in Antarctica?' but a lot of it is to do with the mental process you go through," he said.

"The toughness and development are applicable to any climate. It's all about toughening up and looking at distances in a different way."

Mr Donovan is in the record books since 2002, when he became the first person to run a marathon at both the North and South poles. He followed that feat by running seven marathons on seven continents in less than six days in 2009.

The race organiser from Galway had his US route specially designed to go off the beaten track and take in epic sights, as well as crippling endurance tests.

Speaking from near Akron, Ohio, Mr Donovan listed a few unnerving close calls he faced in the last three months during his 3,100-mile (4,989 km) run, including though a large cattle farm.

In Utah, a young hunter fired two shots near him as he stood on a roadside admiring a deer. In Kansas, he had to dive off the road after a reckless pick-up driver tried to run him down. And in Colorado he had to leap over a deadly western diamondback rattlesnake after it shot out in front of him as he ran.

Mr Donovan said his lowest ebb came in Utah when he suffered heat exhaustion as he attempted to run 20 miles across a desert inaccessible by road.

"I could hardly move through it," he said. "I had to sit down for 30 minutes and then try and move a little further. You have an urge to try to sleep but there's no protection from the sun. There are no trees, it's total exhaustion."

His self-funded trip is also being used to help cover medical bills for a marathon runner left paralysed by a fall. His friend, Alvin Matthews from California, fell off a roof while working in Lebanon.

Irish Independent

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