I ran one marathon last October and have been banging on about how great I was to complete it ever since. In fairness it is a great achievement to push your body for 26 miles and still be able to manage a few pints after it. That feat as tremendous as it was (I am of course taking the p!ss out of myself here) pales in comparison to what two Irish men have achieved.
Ken Whitelaw and Gerry Duffy teamed up to take on the challenge of competing 32 marathons in 32 consecutive days. Yes you read that correctly. They were running to both encourage others to get out and run but also to raise awareness and funds for Autism Ireland. A commitment like this to any charity is truly remarkable. Their journey is recorded in a forthcoming documentary called Marathon Men.
You can watch below an interview Gerry and Ken gave TV3 after they completed this incredible challenge.
To undertake the challenge Ken and Gerry spent two years in training. A tremendous commitment in itself. They also set themselves a goal of raising a six figure sum (€500,000) for their chosen charity. These men clearly aim high. You can catch a teaser for the full documentary here. (or below depending on your browser setup)
Ken is currently studying in the college I work in and was kind enough to answer a couple of quick questions for me about the challenge he and Gerry set.
Why did you and Gerry choose running marathons as a way to raise funds? It was the natural thing for us as we both love running; the longer the better! I had been running since I was 11 and Gerry had c. 15 of running in his legs before we decided upon this challenge. And we both love a good challenge!
How many hours and km/m a week did you train? At the start of our training plan, circa 12 months before the start of the event, we were running c. 40 miles per week. Training ramped up from there with a peak mileage week of 120 miles. Those big weeks would see us running 10 miles before work and 15 miles after work some days. And back-to-back marathons at the weekend. Training, organising the event, work, sleeping and eating was all we did for a year!
What was the greatest challenge for you? Initially, it was convincing ourselves that we could do this. That took some months and lots of training but we did get to the stage where no amount of naysayers could convince us otherwise. During the 32 days my greatest challenge was dealing with injuries, keeping focused and positive despite severe and constant pain.
Why did you choose Autism Ireland as your chosen charity? Irish Autism Action is a wonderful charity, doing great work. We were lucky to have been aware of some of their great work as they are based in Mullingar, our home town. This proved to be their biggest fundraiser to date and provided much-needed funds for both early diagnosis and support in their schools.
Would you do it again? No. I will be forever thankful for the experience but it is not something I would try again. I don’t think my ankle would allow me! But hopefully it will stretch to a 100 miler some day. And another ironman. And a new marathon PB
The documentary version shown on TV will be about 50 minutes and is shown on Sunday 21st December at 8 p.m. on RTE 2. There is also a 70 minute version which will be screened in the IFI (Irish Film Institute) on Sunday December 14th at 1 p.m. You can, and you should, book tickets for this remarkable documentary HERE
I would ask all that happen to read this to give it a share on whatever social media platforms you are a member of. It is a very heart warming story from two very inspirational people.