Conlon’s latest challenge

by James Hendicott
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Bawnogue runner Mark Conlon has set himself another superhuman endurance challenge for later this year, with the distance specialist targeting ten marathons in ten days to raise money for Inner City Helping Homeless.

Conlon has a substantial history with marathons, having completed over 200 to date, including 33 in 33 days last year in aid of the Peter McVerry Trust.

Homelessness is an issue close to his heart, and he has big plans for this event, periphery ideas that he thinks may make it more challenging than his longer previous extensive efforts. There are several other consecutive-marathon runs in Conlon’s past, though, so he’s ready for the challenge.

“I plan to do a lot around the runs this time,” Conlon told the Dublin Gazette. “They’ll go from April 12 to 21 and I’m planning to get a lot of community involvement and speak to as many people as possible along the way.”

That includes heavy involvement in Clondalkin in particular, where Conlon will take to Corkagh Park on the second day – April 13 – where he hopes to get the support of politicians and local businesses.

“I’d like people to run what they can with me,” Conlon said. “I have a big main sponsor, the one I was looking for, Transdev [who run the luas service], but I’m hoping a lot of local businesses might take an interest, and I’d like to invite anyone locally who’d like to talk to me or run with me on that day, at 9am.

“I’ll run at least the half marathon around the park with anyone who wants to join me, but I’m happy to stay around and talk to everyone who doesn’t want to run, too. Then I’ll finish my run around Clondalkin.”

Conlon met the head of Inner City Helping Homeless, Anthony Flynn, as a result of his previous fundraising efforts, and is particularly taken with the charity’s approach.

As well as raising money, he hopes to give homeless people a voice through delivering messages to political contacts.

“We were both giving things out around the streets at the same time,” he says of the Flynn encounter. “They don’t take any fees from donations, it all goes straight to the homeless. I think it’s important people know that, as not all charities are like that, unfortunately.”

“I’m in good shape,” he says of his preparation. “I did the Donadea 50k, the Irish National Championships, and I’ve done a few races with the East of Ireland marathon series, too, so I’m feeling good.

“I injured myself at the end of 33 consecutive days last year, around day 28, but I got physio and the second last one I ran was the fastest of all,” Conlon said of his previous challenge.

Understandably, then, he’s confident of getting around what amounts to 420kms in a week and a half, but it’s clear the running isn’t really the main thing. It’s the fundraising and raising awareness that really drives him forward.

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