Paddy's on a seven marathon Sahara mission
In a fortnight's time New Ross man Paddy O'Leary will be running a 24 hour marathon in the UK in preparation for his 257km run across the Sahara desert over six days in April 2018.
Paddy (41), from Woodbine Close, is over the half way mark in his training for the Sahara race.
The Tesco meat counter worker said he is feeling good in body and mind as he increases his training for one of 'the toughest footraces on earth' - the Marathon Des Sables - in the Sahara Desert.
But it was a different story for Paddy a decade ago when he couldn't even tie his shoelaces, never mind run, due to prolapsed discs in his back. 'I used to be crying trying to move. It went on for three or four years. I got the prolapsed disc from working at a fish factory and at Drover Harris. I was told to get an operation but I refused to and if it wasn't for Siobhán Guiry in New Ross who treated by back and the team at Physio Matters I wouldn't be doing this or anything today.'
Paddy is running to raise money for the Walk Once More charity. He said: 'I appreciate my good health and that is the reason I am doing the race. I can walk and some people can't walk due to back injuries, while others are paraplegics.'
Paddy has always been interested in running as he find it a good way of de-stressing the body and for keeping fit. Over the past 16 years he has run many 10ks and half marathons. He always admired athletes that can go further and test their bodies to the very limit so he took up ultra running which is classed as a distance longer than the marathon 26.2, and has ran distances of between 40 and 60 miles.
On Saturday, September 23 at noon he sets off on a 24 hour Equinox run in England along a 10km loop of a castle.
'You can do a relay or a solo run and I'm doing the solo run. You aim to get as many miles in as you possibly can. I plan to keep going as long as I can. You can sleep near the route and then start off again. My aim is to get to 100 miles.'
He said working full-time means he cannot run as much as he would like.
'I train four to five days a week for between two and four hours, mainly doing 10k runs and loops on Brandon Mountain and in Graiguenamanagh. I don't stick to the tracks; I go off and do my own thing.'
He has to do a lot of hill and mountain training as there is a huge mountain to conquer in the Sahara race. One unknown element for his body to contend with will be the heat.
Temperatures can rise to over 50 degrees celsius in the desert and Paddy will be carrying his gear.
'I run with extra layers on to get my body used to running in very uncomfortable conditions. I'm going to start going to the sauna also to get used to the heat. I can't do anything about the conditions over there until I get there. I'll have two days to acclimatise. It has been on my mind for a while to do this. I always admired the runners who did it before. I know some Irish lads who competed lat year but didn't finish. They are on a mission to complete it this year so I'll learn from them and stay in a tent with them.'
Paddy, who stands at 6ft 3 and weighs 13 stone, plans to run all six marathons.
'If I walk I'll have less recvery time and time to sleep in between the races. I just want to finish it now. It's the biggest thing I'll ever do, but then we'll see what happens next year. I have the bug so who knows where it will bring me. A lot of people have a lot of trust that I will do it.'
During the marathons, the only the thing organisers supply is enough water to get athletes through the race. He said completing the 257km in the desert will be an important lesson for his sons.
'I'm also doing it for my sons Evan (6) and Oisín (2), to teach them that nothing is impossible if you really want to do it. They are all fired up about the race and Oisín has even offered me his teddy while I'm in Africa.'
Paddy thanked his wife Serena for her continuing support of him as he trains. Ultimately he hopes to raise as much money as he can for the Walk Once More chairty.
`You can donate on my charity page www.justgiving.com/paddyoleary-walkoncemore or you can see me at the meat counter in Tesco, New Ross.'
New Ross Standard