By Rose Barrett
Mark Conlon, from Bawnogue, Clondalkin, can be described as having legs that just can’t stop running!
A former member of the Defence Forces, Mark is an avid marathon runner, and like so many during the pandemic restrictions, he used his running skills to save his sanity and well-being but also to raise much needed funding for so many people and causes. The Gazette last year covered his sponsorship raised towards a fundraiser for little Freya Doyle whose family needed substantial funding to adapt the family home to her needs (€30,000 raised in total).
On December 30 last, he was announced the Last Person Standing from among an elite tribe of long-distance athletes.
“In January,” he told the Gazette, “We started with another competition, this time with 60 experienced ultra-marathon runners from across the country.”
This time, Mark utilised his athletic skills to raise funding for the Ronald McDonald House in Crumlin, which caters for families who have children with serious illness attending Our Lady’s Hospital.
“Week one, we ran 10-12k per day; the second week, it was up 15-20k; week three entailed to full marathons, then there were timed marathons and fixed distances. If you didn’t finish in time, you were out, finished! “
Next came daily 12-hour challenges – from 7am, all competitors had to run 32k; at 1pm another 10k and from 3pm, another 32k – a total of 74 k per day.
“After 90 days running, it was down to just four of us.
“Gary Reinhardt, Race Director for East of Ireland marathons decided to do a final between the four left. The two girls, Sherry Berry and Laura Bennett dropped out after 12 hours but were amazing to do so well.
“Frank McDermott came second running 100 miles in 23 hours, and I took the title, with 104 miles in 24 hours.”
Aside from his joy in winning the ultimate Last Person Standing, Mark said he thrilled to see out the competition in aid of the work by Sharon Keogh and the team at Ronald McDonald House.
“Their motto is: ‘The hospital looks after the sick child , we look after the families’.
“You can still donate at https://rmhc.ie/donate-make-a-payment/ and I’d grateful if you could leave a message citing Mark’s win or Last Person Standing.”
Mark has run marathons for the past 13 years in aid of charity including 50k a day for the Simon Community; 10 marathons over 10 days for the Inner City Helping Homeless; 33 marathons in 33 days for Peter McVerry Trust; 20 marathons in 10 weeks for Pieta House and also ran for Irish Cancer Society and St Vincent de Paul.
So many Dublin charities have benefitted from the man whose legs just keep on running!
Special thanks to Mark’s sponsor, Asics in Kildare Outlet; Thomas Ronan Physiotherapy, Karen Shine and all the Conlon and O’Flaherty family.
CAPTION: Gary Reinhardt presents Mark Conlon with the Last Person Standing award