While running a marathon can be tough enough at the best of times, People Newspapers employee Donna Murphy has just returned from running what is known to be among the most gruelling on the planet, and all for a great cause.
The Ballinaboola native jetted across the globe to China to take part in the Great Wall Marathon in aid of The Alzheimer Society of Ireland. With over 5,000 steps, up and down, as well as running the rest of the distance, surprisingly she took up the challenge on somewhat of a whim.
'I had been chatting to a friend about doing different marathons,' she explained. 'I was looking at New York and other marathons in the UK and then we saw the Great Wall Marathon. I've always wanted to see the Great Wall, so that was nearly more of a factor than the run itself.'
While Donna is somewhat of a fitness buff anyway, she signed up for the challenge just two months out from race day.
'I did do a lot of training,' she said. 'I did a fair few long runs and I had been doing cycling and things like that as well, so I wasn't really starting from scratch.'
Nevertheless, with the combination of jet-lag, the heat and those seemingly never-ending steps on the wall playing a big factor, this was no regular undertaking.
'It was very tough,' she conceded.
'There are a lot of steps. We were lucky in that the weather was really good for it. It wasn't too warm and there was a light rain. It was perfect conditions. There was a great atmosphere on the day too. The locals were all out cheering us on and the kids were running alongside and high-fiving us. It was the best run I've ever done in terms of atmosphere.'
Thankfully, Donna made it back in one piece and collected her winner's medal at the finish line.
'The cut off point was eight hours, so I just wanted to be able to do it in less than that,' she said. 'I made it back in six hours and twenty-eight minutes.'
In terms of fundraising, Donna bore all the expenses of the trip herself and was delighted to find that her marathon effort has raised €1,800 and counting.
'The support has been amazing,' she said. 'Everyone chipped in wherever they could and I'm delighted with the amount raised.'
It's not too late to donate to this wonderful cause. Contributions are still being accepted online by searching for 'Donna's Wander on the Wall' at www.everydayhero.ie.
Donna wished to thank everyone who contributed and is already eyeing the next challenge!