Going the distance: the ironman who just keeps moving

Maurice Mullins has run 130 marathons, 20 100km races and some 24-hour races, but is facing his biggest battle yet

Fri, Feb 14, 2014, 17:17

Maurice was diagnosed with prostrate cancer at the age of 64. In Going the Distance , he describes leaving Beaumont Hospital afterwards and seeing a blind kid outside with a cane. “I said, ‘Jesus I’m 64 and I’ve lived a fairly good life. But this lad is only 11 and he’s never seen and the odds are he never will, So what the hell am I moaning about?’”

Such an attitude probably helped him win the first battle with cancer, after which he returned to running and completed another three marathons. Deirdre points out that Maurice avoided surgery at that stage as he wanted to ensure he was able to get back to running. But five years later he found out the cancer was back and had spread to his spine.

His daughter’s documentary, produced as part of a film production course in Dublin’s Filmbase, captures Maurice while he is going through chemotherapy. Despite being told the cancer has damaged his back and he shouldn’t run in case he falls, he is determined to get back out on the road.

Getting back on track
The 12-minute-film follows Maurice, as the self-confessed running addict conducts a daily regime of weights, exercise and static cycling, in a bid to get fit enough to get back running. Throughout it all, Maurice gives his opinions on life, illness, the nature of running and whatever crosses his mind, while maintaining an upbeat attitude and displaying a quirky sense of humour.

One of the most touching scenes is when Maurice meets his running friend of 30 years, Eddie Harrison, for a walk/training session in the grounds of Ardgillan Castle. The easy banter between them charms viewers and not surprisingly Going the Distance picked up the Audience Award at Dingle International Film Festival 2013.

Maurice says he’s pleased with the documentary primarily because it “wasn’t rehearsed and was done for a lark” and fondly remembers the day 10 young people descended on Skerries to film it. Deirdre has now decided to make it available online so she can move on to her next project and the response in the first week – from runners and triathletes in particular – has been overwhelmingly positive.

Maurice now concedes he won’t run again – he is currently on a drug trial to try and beat the advanced cancer – but still carries out a daily exercise regime.

As he memorably says on screen: “I can’t see how rehabilitation is all about sitting still in an armchair and being careful with yourself.”

View Going the Distance at vimeo.com/85677240 . Deirdre Mullins is on Twitter @DeirdreMullins

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