Grin and bare it: Fundraiser puts his best foot forward for US challenge

Eamonn Keaveney: Broke world record for longest barefoot walk.

A Co Mayo teacher, who broke the world record for the longest barefoot walk, has set his sights on an even more gruelling challenge — walking across the US shoeless.

Eamonn Keaveney is three days away from successfully walking around the entire coast of Ireland in a counter-clockwise direction in his bare feet.

Last month the 23-year-old, who is raising funds for suicide prevention group Pieta House, broke an existing world record for the longest barefoot walk when he passed the 1,448km mark of his total 2,021km journey.

The adventurer, who kicked off his epic challenge on May 1 from his hometown of Claremorris, is set to receive a hero’s welcome and a huge homecoming party when he returns home on Friday.

However, Mr Keaveney won’t be putting his bruised feet up for long, as he is already contemplating a mammoth 5,000km trek across the US.

He said: “My main focus at the moment is finishing off this challenge and arriving back in Claremorris on Friday.

“This challenge has been very difficult and there were times earlier on in the walk, particularly around Connemara during the second week when I didn’t think I was going to make it.

“I was walking through hard terrain and my feet were destroyed, but I got through the pain barrier and started to pace myself better.

“Luckily, I’ve remained injury free throughout and I’ve received tremendous support along the way from people.

“I’ve found out during this challenge that anything is achievable if you put your mind to it and it’s certainly made me think of what I might do next.

“The challenge I’m thinking of doing next is walking across the United States in my bare feet. It would be very difficult and on a completely different scale, but it’s something I’m considering for some stage in the future,” he said.

Keaveney, who has kept GPS records and log books of his walk, said it could take up to six months before Guinness chiefs officially verify his world record.

More immediately he has called on the Irish public to dig deep to help his raise €20,000 for charity, as he walks through his home county on the final leg of his challenge.

He added: “When I set out on this my initial target was to raise €5,000, but we’re now at around the €17,000 mark. It would be great to reach €20,000.” n To follow Mr Keaveney on the final leg of his challenge, check out Baring my Soles for Pieta House on Facebook. You can donate to https://give.everydayhero.com/ie/baring-my-soles. n For advice and support from Pieta House, text HELP to 51444, call 1800 247247 or visit www.pieta.ie.


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