Tallaght man bids to conquer the North Channel for charity

by Mark O'Brien

A TALLAGHT man is hoping to raise money for charity by becoming one of only a handful of people to successfully swim the North Channel, between Northern Ireland and Scotland.


Stephen Martin founded Marathon Man To Ironman three years ago and has raised money for charity by running marathons and ironman challenges since then.


Stephen initially took on the first challenge himself but others soon joined him to help raise money for Make A Wish.


He told Dublin Gazette: “I just fancied taking on an Iron Man there a few years ago but I was told go get a marathon in my legs as well.


“My wife suggested that I do it for charity just to give me the extra push to do it. The first time I did it, I was on my own.


“Last year I just chanced my arm to see would anybody fancy joining up with the challenge so I set up a Facebook page and all that and luckily I think we got about 12 last year.


“Over the last two years we raised nearly €8,000 for Make A Wish.


“This year I think we’ve about six or seven signed up and it’s only the first week of January so the ball’s rolling already.”


As well as an Ironman challenge in Majorca later this year, Stephen is hoping to swim the Irish Channel next year.


Just 57 people have successfully completed the swim since 1947 and there is gruelling training involved before Stephen can attempt the swim.


“You have to prove to the Irish Long Distance Swimming Association that you can swim in water for eight hours below 15 degrees,” he said.


“They have a race on this summer, I’m going to swim that, it’s 25km. I’m hoping to get there. It’s just over eight hours so I’ll be good to go.”


The group have also decided to change charities this year and have partnered with Spina Bifida Hydrocephalus Ireland (SBHI) for the next two years.


“We were with Make A Wish for the first two years but this year now, a friend of mine, his daughter was born with Spina Bifida so we decided to change charities this year for the next two years and team up with Spina Bifida Ireland and try and raise as much funds for them as we can,” said Stephen.


The next fundraising event in aid of SBHI will be a 5km race in Corkagh Park on June 30.


The event is intended as a family fun day with people of all levels of ability encouraged to run or walk the race in aid of the charity.


“There’s no pressure on you to finish in a certain time,” said Stephen.


“It’s just a day out and hopefully we’ll raise a few bob.”


To get involved please visit the Marathon Man To Ironman Facebook page.

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