Irish marathon man runs 260km in 4 days, runs out of water and stops for a pint along the way
Most of us probably relaxed over the Easter weekend, spending time with our friends and family and probably enjoying a bit too much chocolate but one Irishman used that time to prepare for the run of a lifetime.
Starting on Easter Monday, Aodhagan Fitzsimons ran 260km along the Canal du Midi, which runs from Toulouse all the way to Sete in the Mediterranean. The four-day trek is the latest chapter of Fitzsimons' running career, which has seen him complete 39 marathons.
He usually runs for the ACT For Meningitis charity but this latest gargantuan effort was a personal outing. Fitzsimons, who has also ran a number of ultramarathons, told Independent.ie about how tough the run was for him - and also how he got the idea to do it.
"I was reading an in-flight magazine when I came across the Canal du Midi. It goes from Toulouse to the Mediterranean," Fitzsimons said.
"I was doing about 50-60km a day for four days. There were lots of detours. You would be running down the road and come to a sign with an arrow pointing away from the main road and you would just trust you were going the right way because all the directions were in French."
There were other challenges along the way too. The changing terrain - from gravel to stone to tarmac - put severe pressure on Fitzsimons' ankles while he also ran out of water on two occasions, which is far from ideal when running 60km per day in the south of France.
"The first day of the run was Easter Monday and I thought I would be able to pick up water in one of the towns but everywhere was closed," he said.
"The first place I found that was open was a pub so - without being too much of a stereotype - I stopped in for a beer and a packet of crisps.
"Later, I had gone about two hours without water and it was the third day so I was struggling a bit. Eventually I can into a town and saw a huge Lidl. I had never been as happy to see a Lidl. I was taking pictures outside it."
At the end of the fourth day he finally completed his mammoth journey but didn't get a commemorative medal or any grand reception at the finish. Instead he enjoyed a far more low-key celebration.
"I bought some strawberries," Fitzsimons said when describing what he did after completing his run.
"There is no finish line, it is not like doing a 5k, so I went into a fruit and veg shop and bought some strawberries. They were great."
Fitzsimons took part in the 10k Great Ireland Run in Phoenix Park Dublin this afternoon, as did Andrew Lucas and a group of his friends, who ran in aid of a very special cause.
Evan Lucas (3) was diagnosed with Down Syndrome at three days old. He has recently had successful heart surgery in Evelina children’s hospital London and is currently in recovery.
"‘Evan was diagnosed with Down Syndrome three days after he was born, which was a bit of a shock," said his mother, Caroline Lucas.
"But we immediately got in contact with Downs & Proud and got a lot of support from local people and other parents with children with down syndrome. It’s been a real life line for us dealing with the issues for our son. And with Evan recently needing heart surgery, with the help of Children’s Heartbeat Trust he is in full recovery.
"We would just like to thank everyone who has sponsored so far.
"The money has made a real difference in the children’s lives. It gives them opportunities to learn and to grow and to be part of society.
"Down Syndrome is very common and a lot of people in our local community are affected by it. It’s great to see communities pull together and support each other, and we are very proud of Andrew and his friends today for raising money for a great cause. "