It’s no secret that challenges such as these often have many people behind the scenes that make them possible and mine was no different. Although I was on my own for large parts of the journey, I had the support of some amazing friends and family who be helped me along the way. Having the support of my tiny Mum, Dad, aunties, uncles and numerous friends was a huge reason why was able to finish.
I also linked in with several running tour companies and running clubs within the cities I visited. They put together routes and ran alongside me to make sure I didn't get lost! The response I had has been incredible and despite Europe currently being a hot topic of debate it has really shown that the power of running and community spirit spread far and wide.
I was overwhelmed by the support of others who wanted to come out and join this adventure with me. A lady from one of the charities I’m supporting said she would start training tomorrow if she could come out to run one of the marathons with me. This then turned into a small group, with them also hoping to raise money for the challenge as well. To me that is what this whole adventure is all about and shows what can be achieved when a group of people put there mind to something.
The number of friends who supported me grew daily before and during the challenge. My close friend Billy kicked things off with me in Russia. My friends Manol & Jess were with me from Bulgaria through to Bosnia, this was one of the toughest stretches. The limited and potentially unpredictable transport links meant having them there to throw me in and out of buses and hotel rooms which made the difference between me getting through it or getting lost. Many other friends and family members including Leigh, Sara, Nigel, Sanjai, Matt & Andy also joined me at various points. My brother Andy also ran the London marathon with me, something which will made the day even more special.
Another friend who took the role on a stage further is 'hairdresser to the stars' Noel Halligan. Noel wanted to take on a challenge of his own whilst at the same supporting me to achieve mine. He joined me for the last 7 days of the challenge in an attempt to run 100 miles in 7 countries in 7 days. Noel completed this challenge too raised money for the cause! I am incredibly lucky to have had both his generosity and support which saw me home to Dublin. Below is a little bit about exactly what his challenge was and what it means to him.
When Pete told me of his challenge I automatically thought that he was joking. Taking on such a huge challenge, just seemed crazy to me but I quickly realised he was actually serious.
My first thought was ‘I need to be a part of this’. I need to be a part in a way that supports the cause, both in person, and in terms of raising money and awareness. Pete, after all, was one of the main inspirations that got me into running, something that has improved my life greatly.
Running has shown me a way to handle the voice inside my head. The voice that tells you to stop. The voice that tells you that you can’t go on, the voice that puts up barriers, that sets limits. This voice is still there and always will be, and this is no bad thing as without it there would be no element of caution. However I have learnt to understand it better and to control it in a positive way. Running has shown me how to do just that, to acknowledge this voice and to use it to positive effect.
Knowing that 1 in 4 people suffer from mental health issues and that suicide is the biggest killer of men aged 35 and below saddens me greatly. To think that men my age are not seeing a way out is really worrying. People just don’t talk about Mental Health and if throughout all of this I can inspire someone to put down their smartphone, put on a pair of trainers and get out and run it will be worth every second. Pete inspired me to do just that and I want to inspire others too.
I was there for the icing on the cake moment to support Pete through the second half of each of his last 7 marathons, providing supplies and support to my great friend.
This was also a huge goal for myself running over 100 miles and traveling 7 countries in 7 days! The goal of crossing the line in Dublin on the 14th of May was a dream that felt a million miles away, yet it become a reality!
To sponsor Noel, add to the Marathons for the mind total, and put a big smile on both of our faces, like the ones above please use the donate now link below.