Widower plans 32 marathons in 32 weeks in 32 counties

NEXT Saturday, Joe Crowley, 61, a pharmacist from Killorglin, Co Kerry, will begin his challenge of a lifetime.

Widower plans 32 marathons in 32 weeks in 32 counties

He hopes to walk 32 marathons, in all 32 counties, in 32 weeks to raise money for St Vincent de Paul.

The ‘Walk with Joe’ will be launched at St Finbarr’s GG Club, in Togher, Cork, and Crowley hopes people will come and support him as he begins his challenge.

“I will finish it on the October Bank holiday weekend, in Kerry. I wouldn’t say I am nervous about doing it, but there is a little bit of trepidation. I haven’t walked two marathons in a row, I have walked 30K and 38K with a day in between, but I think, and hope, I will manage it,’’ he says.

During the 32 weeks, Crowley will walk two marathons every other weekend, to accommodate work. He has been training three to four walks a week and is confident.

He was inspired to do ‘Walk with Joe’ after attending a pharmaceutical conference last year. “The motivational speaker was Gerry Duffy. He had run 32 marathons, in 32 counties, in 32 days. And I thought to myself, ‘I’ll do that.’ But at 61 years of age, I had to have a health check-up first, and, on the advice of my GP, we had to compromise and do it in 32 weeks,’’ he says.

Crowley also hopes his challenge will inspire people of all ages to exercise. As a pharmacist, he says he has noticed the “shocking’’ rise in obesity and believes that exercise is vital in tackling the problem.

“Walking doesn’t cost anything, it is free, all they need is a pair of shoes. I would always encourage people to exercise, as there is a correlation between weight and blood pressure,’’ he says.

“If people increased their exercise levels, they would lose weight, it would lead to a reduction in blood pressure, a reduction in the expenditure for the HSE and would improve everyone’s health and welfare.’’

For Crowley, the challenge is also part of his grieving process: his beloved wife, Brid, died three years ago from cancer.

“She was always very active. This will be my way of coping. Walking is good for the mind as well as the body. I have always enjoyed walking. Brid would cycle along beside me, so it was a good mix. We were very happy in each other’s company,’’ he says.

“Now, I walk by myself, I listen to myself. There are no outside interferences. I just walk and solve all my problems, and then the problems of the world.

“I always feel much better after my walk. It absolutely improves your wellbeing.”

He hopes to raise €100,000, which will go directly to St Vincent de Paul. Administration costs have been covered by Joe and he is determined that every euro raised will go back into the local community.

“It’s absolutely important that people know that this money is going back to help their own community. I think it is important to have a social conscience, to help people who need it and that’s what I hope ‘Walk with Joe’ will achieve,’’ he says.

Not surprisingly, his three children will be supporting him all the way.

“You are never too old to help others. Age is a state of mind. When I was 20 years old, I thought people in their 40s were ancient. I am now nearly 62 years of age. I work 50 hours a week and have absolutely no problem exercising. I would like to prove that life does not finish just because you are a certain age. You can still go out and enjoy it,’’ he says.

¦ To donate, see www.svp.ie/Fundraisers/walkwithjoe

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