‘Marathon men’ prepare for final leg of epic adventure

More than 8,000km by bike, 25 marathons in 27 days, and now 6,500km down one of the world’s fastest flowing rivers in a raft.

It’s little wonder that two Irish adventurers are taking a breather before taking on the third and final part of the extreme 16,000km triathlon across eight countries from Istanbul to Shanghai by foot, bike, and boat.

Maghnus Collins, from Limerick, and David Burns, from Coleraine, have just completed their punishing task of running a marathon a day for four weeks up the Himalayas.

The pair are now preparing to raft and kayak down the white rapids and crocodile-populated waters of China’s Yangtze river.

Fewer than 150 people have made it down the roaring waters of this largely unexplored 6,500km-stretch of river.

Maghnus, who has lost more than 25lb on this epic expedition, said completing a marathon a day up one of the highest mountain ranges in the world has been the toughest task of his life.

“We have just been recovering from the run before we start the river this week. I now weigh what I weighed when I was 16 so trying to put on a bit of weight before the river.”

They picked up two pack rafts this week at the source of the Yangtze River in the Qanghai Province in Northern China to travel 6,500km to its mouth in Shanghai.

“The first stage will be the most dangerous, when the river is dropping from the Tibetan Plateau down to the Schezuan province.

“As we are not experienced rafters we will have to be very cautious and respectful of the river’s power.”

When they get past the fast-moving part of the Yangtze River they will swap the rafts for kayaks for the stretch of water populated with crocodiles.

“There are crocodiles in that stretch of the water so you need to make noise when you’re coming so as you don’t startle them,” explained Maghnus.

The pair, who have raised €21,000 for Self Help Africa, have run through shin splints, sunburn, blisters, bites, exercise-induced blood in urine, chapped lips, and aching muscles.

Their exhausting run, which finished last week along the highest highway in the world up the Himalayas to the Tibetan Plateau, comes just after they completed three months in the saddle.

The pair, who set off at the end of March, cycled across Iran, Pakistan, Nepal and India. They then completed a 1,000km run.

* To donate to the expedition see www.exa.mn/97


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