Cork firefighter forced to abandon world record bid

A Cork firefighter’s dream to break the Guinness World Record for running the length of Ireland came to an abrupt end yesterday when a knee injury forced the long-distance runner to abandon his mission.

Alex O’Shea, a member of Cork City Fire Brigade’s Blue Watch, began his journey from Malin Head, Co Donegal, on Sunday morning and had hoped to make it to Mizen Head, Co Cork, by Wednesday night.

To achieve the feat, he needed to run the equivalent of four marathons, more than 160km, each day.


The Ballineen man has spent the last few months training for the feat but, despite a good start on Sunday, he was forced to pull out of the race after he began to experience knee pain.

“Alex developed some knee pain at 75 miles. At 80 miles the physio looked at it and strapped it,” wife Audrey said in a statement on the ‘Challenge Alex’ Facebook page. “The next 20.7 miles Alex pushed his body to what we thought was to, but proved to be beyond, its limits.”

Having travelled a total of 100.7 miles (162km), Alex was forced to go to hospital and have his injury examined.

“Alex feels very disappointed and would like to express his gratitude to his family, his team on the day who did a great job, his sponsors, and to everyone that supported him along the way,” Audrey said.

“It’s been a long day and night and we’ll be in touch over the next few days.”

The record for running the length of Ireland is three days, 15 hours, 36 minutes, and 23 seconds — set by British ultrarunner Mimi Anderson in 2012.

While Mimi was in touch with Alex to wish him luck before the run, her record remains unbroken.

Last year, Alex, a father of four, broke the Guinness World Record for running a marathon in full firefighting gear — complete with steel-toed boots; heavy, fire-retardant pants; firefighting jacket; and a fireman’s helmet and visor weighing 3lbs.

He completed the challenge in 3 hours, 41 minutes, and 10 seconds, shaving almost an hour off the previous world record set at the London Marathon earlier that year.


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