VIDEO: Firefighting marathon man targets second world record

Alex O'Shea with sons Leon and Noah as he set a world record for running a marathon in firefighting gear.

In a bid to break his second world record, Cork fireman Alex O’Shea is gearing up to run the length of Ireland in less than four days.

The Ballineen man, who is a member of Cork City Fire Brigade’s Blue Watch, will begin his journey from Malin Head tomorrow and is aiming to make Mizen Head, Co Donegal, by Wednesday night. To achieve the feat, he needs to run the equivalent of four marathons a day.

“I’m going to drive to Malin Head for 6am and run the duration of a marathon.

“Then I’ll have a 45 or 50 minute break where I’ll get into the camper van that will be accompanying me, put the feet in a bucket of ice, have someone rubbing the legs, and try and get little bits of food,” he said.

Alex O’Shea speaks to Robert McNamara about his training and motivation ahead of the Malin2Mizen challenge. Video by Larry Cummins.

“Then I’ll do another marathon. I’ll do the whole cycle about four times a day. Then if I’m lucky I’ll get four hours sleep. That will be the routine then for three to four days.”

Currently, the record for running the length of Ireland is three days, 15 hours, 36 minutes, and 23 seconds — set by British ultra runner Mimi Anderson in 2012 who recently wished Alex luck.


Alex is confident he will complete the journey, but said it will be hard to beat Mimi’s record: “Because of all the training I know I can deal with day one. I just don’t know how days two and three are going to go. You don’t really realise the extent of it, or how hard it will be, until you actually do it.”

Alex O’Shea speaks about his Malin to Mizen head challenge. He’ll attempt the run the length of Ireland in under 4 days. Video by Larry Cummins.

But Alex is no stranger to breaking records. Last year, the 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; a fire- fighting 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.

Amazingly, Alex only started running competitively a few years ago. Now he can’t get enough of it.

Ultra marathon runner Alex O’Shea speaks to Robert McNamara about eating right while training and running gear. Video by Larry Cummins.

“Running just clears the head. It just declutters, you go out and you just run. The hardest part is always just to step out the front door but you come back and the head is clear and you’ve more energy coming back than when you left. People have the assumption you’d be more tired after it, but you just have to find a level you can enjoy.”

As part of the run, Alex is raising money for the Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind. Anyone who would like to donate €4 to the charity can text WOOF to 50300. For updates, search for ‘Challenge Alex’ on Facebook.


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