Friday 23 February 2018

Marathon man flies over the finish line

Allison Bray

Allison Bray

A BEER, a pizza and a lazy day in the sun -- that's how ultra marathon runner Richard Donovan will celebrate his world record today as the only man on earth to run seven marathons on seven continents in under five days.

And surprisingly, it was a couple of beers which helped the Galway man get through his amazing feat.

The former economist, turned North Pole marathon expedition organiser, confirmed that flying through three time zones in such a short space of time was an ordeal in itself.

"It was quite tough. In fact, over the past two or three days I've lost an awful lot of weight. I couldn't keep food down, I couldn't even keep water down today or yesterday," he said.


"We came to desperate measures in Sydney and I chanced a beer," he said. "I had one bottle of Heineken during the race for some carbs and one at the end of it. It was the first time something stayed down in days."

The 45-year-old married father of one from Galway hopes to spend today "soaking up the rays" on Sydney's famed Bondi Beach after finally getting some well-deserved kip following his astounding feat to raise funds for African relief with the Irish aid agency Goal.

His own goal was to beat his 2009 record of completing the run in five days, 10 hours and eight minutes.

And he did it in four days, 22 hours and three minutes.

His sister Alice Donovan (44) said Richard was exhausted when their brother Paul (48) spoke with him on the phone after he completed his manic dash yesterday morning.

"He just sounded shattered but now he's going to relax and try to get a few days in the sun," she said last night.

His odyssey began last week when he flew economy class with just one carry-on bag from Dublin to Cape Town, South Africa where he boarded a Russian cargo plane to the Novo research base in the Antarctic.

After launching his run there on February 1, where he encountered temperatures hovering around -20C, he flew back to Cape Town and ran the 42.2 km run there, before hopping on a succession of commercial jets -- often with barely less than nine hours' turnaround time.


He then completed the same run under supervision in Sao Paulo, Brazil; Orlando, Florida; London; and Hong Kong, before finishing up in Australia.

Meanwhile, his beaming family, including his wife Caroline and their daughter Jaimie (8), sisters Alice, Jacinta (56), Anne (59), and brothers Paul and Gerard (52), will be toasting his return to Dublin on Friday.

The sisters, along with his friend and 'Running World' editor Steven Seaton, met up with him on his London leg of the journey last Saturday.

"We went to surprise him on Saturday and he looked wrecked then," Alice said.

"But when Richard puts his mind to something, he seems to be able to get around it. He just puts himself in a different zone," she added.

After relaxing at home for a few weeks, Richard will return to the North Pole in April to conduct his marathon tour business while he contemplates his next challenge -- running across the entire Antarctic, Alice said.

Irish Independent

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