Continent-crossing runner to visit Mullingar on charity 300 km run

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Ultra-runner Tom McGrath crossing the line on one of his recent distance challenges.

Ultra-runner Tom McGrath crossing the line on one of his recent distance challenges.

It is expected Mullingar’s own ultra-runner Gerry Duffy will be out to tip his hat to his world-renowned compatriot, Tom McGrath (61 ), who will be coming through the town on Thursday as part of a 300 km charity run for Crumlin Hospital.

Tom’s run will be started by Senator Eamon Coghlan at Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital in Crumlin on Monday morning, and from there he will run to Navan, Dundalk, Carrickmacross, and Kells, before coming to Mullingar on Thursday afternoon.

The run from Kells - exactly 100 metres more than a full marathon - will come through Castlepollard, and on his approach to Mullingar he will be met by local camogie clubs who have organised a bucket collection.

That evening the Mullingar Greyhound Stadium has kindly donated their venue for ‘A Night at the Dogs’, which will include a special terrier race, and entertainment.

On Friday 24 he runs 38.5km from Mullingar to Enfield, ending his challenging run on Saturday when he leaves Enfield to finish at Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Crumlin.

Later that evening, a talent show and auction will take place in Dublin, with all proceeds going to Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital.

McGrath, originally from Fermanagh, but a US resident since the early 70s, made it into the Guinness Book of Records in August 1977 when he ran 3,046 miles unsupported across the continent, from New York to San Francisco, in 53 days and seven minutes.

He averaged a phenomenal 57 miles a day - five miles more than two marathons - and held the trans-continental record for three years.

In 1983 he came home to Ireland and ran 630 miles around the island in a week, while for three consecutive years in the early 90s, ran a 1,000-mile solo run each year for paediatric cancer charities in the US, each run taking an average of 15 days.

Asked why he was taking on this challenge, Tom replied: “When I finish these daily runs my body is weak, my muscles are sore, and I am really tired but I know after some rest I can do this again tomorrow. Some of these sick children will never be able to walk again, never mind run, so that’s what drives me to take on this challenge to make a difference for sick children.”

“For over a year now the hospital have been putting a huge effort into raising funds. They are nearly there with a total of €6m raised but they still need to raise a further €2m, and I wanted to play my part in that,” he concluded.

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