Cork firefighter Alex O'Shea has just completed his 32 Marathon, 32 Counties in 16 days Challenge in Cork this evening.
'The Running Fireman' battled wind and rain in the early hours of this morning to complete marathon number 31 in Waterford, before travelling to Anglesea Street in Cork to start the last run of his extraordinary challenge.
Alex was joined on his challenge by Tralee native Garda Ollie O'Sullivan, who crewed for Alex, but who also took on his own personal challenge to run 50km of the 84km a day every day of the challenge.
They are off! Alex has just started Marathon 32 in his 32 marathons, 32 counties in 16 days challenge for Irish Guide Dogs!
He is running to Ballincollig before finishing up at our National HQ and training centre on the Model Farm Road! Please come along & welcome him home @~7pm pic.twitter.com/eMHu3QAPzs— Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind (@irishguidedogs) September 16, 2018
Started outside the fire/Garda stations on Anglesea Street where Alex was stationed and where Ollie was stationed many years ago, the route headed out to Ballincollig Regional Park to run loops, before the final 2.7 miles to the finish at the headquarters of Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind on Model Farm Road.
Having crossed the finish line, Alex reflected on the last 16 days.
"When I took on this challenge I knew it could be achieved but it would be very difficult," he said.
"The smallest injury could derail the attempt but thankfully, with Ollie's help, we always remained positive and ahead of any problems.
"We prepared for a tough physical event and never realised the support, friendships and emotional journey we would go on.
"We have had people run the longest distance ever with us. We had a man that only ran two marathons in his life and this week ran two with me.
"We have been trusted with stories of loved ones lost to illness and personal connections to the Irish Guide Dogs. We have been very privileged to undertake this journey and will never forget the kindness of others.
"Special thanks to my family, friends, colleagues and all supporters without whom this wouldn't have been possible."
Patrick Burke, Chairman of Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind said: "We are so grateful to Alex and proud of his phenomenal achievement. His strength of character and sheer resilience are an inspiration to us all.
"Through Alex's mental and physical strength, he has helped raise much-needed funds to help us change lives and shared our story with many people across the country.
"Due to the needs of our clients across the country and success of our Breeding Regeneration Program we are experiencing significant growth in the number of pups needing homes for the next year.
"If anyone would like to help us change lives by raising a puppy or in any other way please contact us. For everyone else, other Alex marathons are optional!"
- Digital desk