'I've run 22 marathons in three months'


THIS RUNNING LIFE:Gavin Redmond (28), is a web designer and founder and director of the Digital Academy

After a few drinks the words, ‘Well, anything you can do . . .’ came out

When did you start running and why? I was heavily involved in rugby and windsurfing until I was about 26. So I’ve always enjoyed sports. In Christmas 2010 I did a 10km in a Santa suit for the Irish Heart Foundation and just about managed to finish it. A year later, I was in the pub listening to my friends Maghnus Collins and David Burns talk about their next expedition to follow the old Silk Route across Asia by cycling, running and rafting 17,500km. After a few drinks the words,

“Well, anything you can do . . .” might have been uttered and I made them a promise that if they went ahead with it, I’d join them for the run.

Today, I can say I’ve run 22 marathons in three months, 20 of them being completed in 25 days. It was a harsh lesson about making promises in pubs.

Your biggest achievement? For the running part of the expedition, Maghnus and David chose a route following the highest highway in the world – a road called the G109 from Xining in China to the Tibetan Plateau, running at altitudes of 2,500m to 5,000m. I was running back-to-back marathons for 25 days. Food poisoning and injury meant that I could complete only 20 marathons, but Maghnus and David completed the route against ridiculous odds.

So my biggest achievement was reaching our finish-line after running 20 marathons at altitudes of more than 3,500m along the highest highway in the world with my two friends beside me.

How did your body feel after 20 marathons? It may not seem possible but towards the end of the run my body felt much stronger. At the beginning, I got food poisoning and spent two days on my back feeling extremely ill. On the third day, I got up and felt if I didn’t start right there and then, I just wouldn’t do it. That day, my first day, I ran 50km at an altitude of 2,500m in 30-degree heat. I had eaten nothing except a bowl of instant oats porridge and a Kinetica energy bar before I started. It took me eight hours to finish, the last 10km taking 2 hours 30 mins. After that, the days got much easier in comparison.

One thing you’d change about running? The mind’s way of telling you to stop when your body has bucketloads left to give.

Where’s your regular run route? I live in between Dublin and my home town of Wexford. If I’m in Dublin I try to run 10km along the Royal Canal or through the Phoenix Park. I also try to make it to the Irish Mountain Running Association Wednesday night runs in Wicklow. If I’m home in Wexford I’ll run over Forth mountain near my home or occasionally on the beautiful Curracloe beach.

What are you training for? Right at this moment, I’m taking a break from running and trying to put some weight back on as I lost two stone running in China. Maghnus, David and myself often discussed doing the Klagenfurt Austria Ironman upon their return in early 2013 after they have finished pack-rafting the length of the Yangtze River.

What do you wear on your feet? I wear Saucony Mirage runners which I bought in Base2Race in Ballymount in Dublin. The team there made me try on 15 pairs of shoes. By pair 14 it was all feeling the same, but come pair 15 I was so grateful they did. They were a revelation. These fit me like a glove, and weigh next to nothing.

The other thing I wear on my feet are X-Socks. They work wonders.

What’s on your iPod when running? During the expedition I would usually keep the iPod in my bag until around 25km every day, and then run the last 17km with music. It gave you something to aim at and a reward when you reached it.

Any niggly injuries? Currently, nothing much. During the run I had shin splints, which were excruciating for a time, but then my body got used to them and decided to ignore them.

Ever been chased by an animal? We saw a wolf as we were coming down a 4,000m mountain pass one day.

I slowed down and let the other two run in front. Then I told them about the wolf. Fortunately, he seemed to have more interesting things to do. Other than that, a hawk once circled above me for 20 minutes.

Favourite running tip? Find people to run with. You don’t have to chat to them or even stay with each other the whole time. It’s perfectly acceptable to catch someone after a run if they happen to be a lot faster than you. Having someone for the first couple of steps makes the run so much easier.


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