EDERNEY-BORN Tom McGrath, of Ederney and Fermanagh gaelic football fame and, in latter years, a fund-raising long-distance runner is preparing to undertake a 200-mile run down south, ‘The Gathering’ to raise money for Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital in Crumlin.
When he lost his brother Colm (44) to cancer in recent years, it gave him a personal aim and, despite his business commitments – he runs the Black Sheep pub on Third Avenue in New York where he lives – he has come back home for fund-raisers north and south.
He set out on Monday last for the first leg of the six-day 300km run from Our Lady’s Hospital alongside Senator Eamonn Coughlin, the former world champion.
People travelling south may catch him along the way. Today, the third day of his run, he should be somewhere between Dundalk and Carrickmacross, tomorrow, it’s Carrick to Kells, then Kells to Mullingar, and back to Dublin via Endfield.
So, how does he prepare for such a challenging run?
“For this run I did 40 miles a week on the road, just me and the concrete. I do three types of training, road work, strength training, and stretching and using the foam roller.
“Am I in good nick? Well, I’ve been doing 40 miles a week for this last two months right up to departing for Ireland last Friday.”
And, as for running to help children in need, Tom explained that most of his runs were to do with children who are sick.
“That’s very special to me. We who are now adults got a chance in life, but these children I’m running for never got a chance. In fact, whenever I think of them, I see them lying in a hospital bed.”
Indeed, he used that image to block out the pain so as to keep running.
“My legs get very heavy, my muscles very sore and my mind gets weak, and it’s at that stage I try to think positively, and it’s often the thought of children lying in bed surrounded by sophisticated medical equipment that a hospital ward becomes my background.
“I like to put it this way: “I’m not running for the life of the day for the child, but for the day in the life of a child.”
Now, in his words, ‘60-plus’, he has been long distance running for 30 years.
And, he has been in the Guinness Book of World Records for crossing the U.S., in record time.
Last year, he ran consecutively in each of the six counties, again for charity.
For more information or to make a donation visit www.cmrf/tommcgrath
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