Tuesday 20 March 2018

Johnny finally beats path home after 64 races

Mark O'Regan

It's been a long time coming, but this Monday former Saw Doctors drummer Johnny Donnelly will finally hang up his running shoes after completing his 64th marathon in four years.

His remarkable feat of human endeavour has raised over €500,000 for Third World causes -- but the musician says the Dublin marathon will spell the end of his running career.

"I set myself this challenge when my youngest son, Harry, was born. He was sick and there were a few times that my wife, Aisling, and I thought he wasn't going to make it.

"That changed my whole outlook on things, because when you have a sick child, you put a real value on life," he explained.

"So I decided to make myself do something that I really didn't want to do. I left the Saw Doctors because I didn't like being away from my young family and that was the hardest part of all."

His most testing task to date was the infamous Marathon des Sables last year, which saw him complete a 253km six-day race under the blistering Sahara sun.

"I've four children and I've missed birthdays and big family occasions over the past four years and that's been tough. The races were gruelling.


"When I was in the Sahara, I had blisters, infections and even fainted in the heat. But being away from the family so many times was the hardest."

But before Johnny laces up on Monday, he's hoping it will be all plain sailing today when he helps out as event manager at the Volvo Ocean Race in Alicante, Spain.

"I never thought of myself as a great drummer or a great marathon runner, but I love to take up a challenge and trying to improve myself. I'm very proud of the difference we've made to people's lives,'' he said.

Irish Independent

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