Alex O’Shea, will set off today on the first of an incredible 32 marathons in 32 counties over the next 16 days

He has braved burning buildings and raging torrents to save people’s lives but super-fit firefighter Alex O’Shea is about to face one of his toughest challenges yet. The ultra-running father of four, who works with Cork City Fire Brigade, will set off today on the first of an incredible 32 marathons in 32 counties over the next 16 days. He will run two marathons and burn 10,000 calories a day. Alex will be supported during the challenge by Garda Ollie O’Sullivan who plans to run 50km a day with him. “We’ll start in Dingle and work all the way up the coast to the north, zig-zagging into the Midlands as we work our way down the east coast but, as a Cork man, my goal is to get back to Cork for the finish,” said Alex. Olympic legend Sonia O’Sullivan who described the attempt as an “incredible challenge” is among a host of stars who sent best wishes to Alex ahead of the marathon fundraising effort for the Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind (IGDB). Race walking legend and Olympic, World, and European medallist Rob Heffernan, who helped him train, also wished him well last night: “It’s a massive, massive commitment, something I don’t think I could take on. You need massive energy, and positive mental attitude towards it, and Alex has all those,” he said. Alex, in 2014, set a Guinness Book of World Records-ratified world record for running the fastest marathon dressed in full firefighting gear. He completed the Cork City Marathon wearing steel-toed boots, fire-retardant pants, his firefighting jacket, and a 3lb firefighter’s helmet and visor in 3.41.10 — a remarkable 58 minutes faster than the previous world record. He took a break from marathons for a few months afterwards but set himself this ultra-marathon challenge several months ago.

posted Saturday September 1st