An Irish ultra-marathon runner has successfully completed one of the greatest sporting challenges to become the first person to run seven marathons on seven continents in less than five days.
When Galway man Richard Donovan crossed the finish line in Sydney, he had run marathons in Antarctica, Cape Town (Africa), Sao Paulo (South America), Orlando (North America), London (Europe), Hong Kong (Asia) and Sydney (Australia), since he began his challenge on February 1.
Richard took on the feat to support Irish charity GOAL’s efforts to alleviate the suffering of people who continue to be affected by famine and drought in the Horn of Africa.
The 45-year-old Galway man admitted that sleep deprivation, running and travelling through different time zones and in different temperatures took its toll on his body. “I was absolutely wrecked. I wasn’t even able to keep down water,” he said.
“We came to desperate measures in Sydney and I chanced a beer. It was the first time something stayed down in days.”
GOAL’s Lisa O’Shea, has said that Richard’s globe-trotting exploits have earned the respect of everyone in the organisation.
“Since GOAL was founded 35 years ago, tens of thousands of people have undertaken challenges in an effort to raise money for our programmes in the developing world,” she said.
“However, Richard’s achievement this week must stand out as one of the most remarkable. We are so proud of his world marathon challenge success, and deeply thankful that that he did it in GOAL’s name.”
After travelling alone and flying economy class around the world, Richard said the hardest part was concentrating in airportsand catching flights while fatigued.
However, as an experienced marathon runner at both Poles, he was never in any doubt that he would fail on the running front.
“I have a lot of training behind me as an ultra-marathon runner so I have a certain amount of experience of moving while dead on my feet and that helped the mental and physical and emotional management,” he said.
“I never contemplated I was not going to finish.”