Ultramarathoner Conor O’Keeffe is more than halfway through Project 32, a 32-day marathon across all 32 boroughs to raise money for Pieta House.
I thought it would just be a great adventure and a little weird,” said the 30-year-old mental health advocate.
“I’m into ultra-endurance marathons, so I get my kick out of it. The other half of that is the fundraiser that I do for Pieta House.”
The organization helped a friend of his with mental health issues, a problem he also had.
Mr O’Keeffe from Cork began the challenge in Dublin at 32lbs in a weight vest and is losing a pound a day to symbolize the loss of negative thoughts.
“I had my own mental health struggles throughout my teens and 20s,” he said.
“I’m on the other side of that now. It felt like there was a real weight on me at all times – it was something I couldn’t shake. Hence the idea of the weights.
“At the time, I felt like not being able to get up in the morning, go to work, or talk to people was a burden for me. The weight is a physical representation of taking it off.”
Mr. O’Keeffe is currently on day 22 of his challenge.
He starts his marathons between 5:30 and 6:00 am and runs 42.2 km daily – the official distance of a marathon. He needs between five and six hours for his runs.
“One particularly challenging county has been Monaghan,” he said.
“We had plans to operate the Monaghan Town Greenway but all but a 1.3km section was closed. So I had to run that section 1.3km up and down just to finish the marathon.
“It was terribly boring to keep walking past the same things over and over again.
“It was a tough day because I still had quite a bit of weight in the vest at that point.”
At the end of each run, he travels to the next county and stays there overnight.
“I planned the routes before we left, a lot of logistical work,” he said. “There were a handful of districts where locals said, ‘This is probably not a good place to run, this is a better place’.”
His post-run ritual includes drinking chocolate milk.
“I drink a can of this when I’m done because it has everything I need. But more importantly, I really like it. Tastes good and makes you fit, even if the marathon was tough. I also go in an ice bath for 15 or 20 minutes,” he said.
Mr O’Keeffe’s father, Greg (59), cycles alongside him every day.
“My dad is my one man army, he takes care of me and everything. What I eat, how I rest, all that,” he said.
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/news/mental-health-advocate-conor-okeeffe-is-running-a-marathon-in-each-county-over-32-days-for-pieta-house-41919403.html Mental health advocate Conor O’Keeffe is running a 32-day marathon in each county for Pieta House