It’s one thing to be fit and active — but some people take it to extremes. Karen Murray speaks to two adventure fanatics who thrive on taking it up a notch and act as an inspiration to others.
Next time you feel like complaining about aches and pains after a tough workout, spare a thought for Shane Finn’s punishing training schedule. Affectionately dubbed the Marathon Man in his native Dingle, Co Kerry, over the past seven years the highly driven 26-year-old has travelled all over the world to compete in marathons and ironman triathlons with races across the US, Spain, and Australia.
Shane was always active but was inspired by his cousin Mary Evans from Celbridge, Co Kildare, who suffers from spina bifida, to combine his love of sport with raising money.
He started endurance running at the age of 17, wanting to make a change to the lives of others. He started off with, in his own words, “just a couple of marathons” in 2010, taking on the Dingle and New York races to raise €13,0090 for Spina Bifida Hydrocephalus Ireland (SBHI). In 2014, he was back on the road from Dublin to Dingle, running 12 marathons in 12 days and raising €33,000.
Last year, he raised his game even further. “I completed 24 marathons in 24 days. The number 24 represents 24 hours in a day and I chose this number as I realised that 24 hours a day is a constant challenge for many who live with spina bifida and/or hydrocephalus — basically it’s a marathon a day to represent an hour a day of someone who has to constantly overcome their struggles.”
By doubling his efforts, Finn trebled the funds raised for the charity. SBHI is important to him.
He understands that people in Ireland living with the condition struggle every day, and many have few supports in place.
“My cousin Mary provided the inspiration for all this,” he says, explaining the journey from marathons to ultra-endurance sports.
It started with regular marathons, then progressed to ultra-endurance challenges. I started to realise that not only could I help people and improve their quality of life by the money I raised, but I could also push myself, which I enjoy.
Finn is self-employed and has a tough training schedule, but his job — he’s co-owner at WK Fitness Gym in Dingle — means he’s working out even when he is at work.
Nutrition is also vital. “I eat a lot of fish,” he explains. “I think I’ve eaten fish in every county in Ireland. What we put inside our bodies is so important.”
Finn’s next project is a race across the US in 2019 that challenges him to cycle 250km a day for three days and then run 50km a day for three days. Not one for the faint-hearted…
In the meantime, he has teamed up with Gaelforce, one of the most prestigious adventure race competitions in the country, and its sponsor John West (handy that he likes fish!) to help with his training schedule. The series sees participants from all over the country take part in a variety of high-intensity and adventure-packed challenges which will test their physical and mental capabilities.
As part of the Gaelforce Heroes series, John West has created a series of digital videos with Finn which helps other participants prepare for the competitions. These videos, including strength and conditioning exercises, track the progress of an expert and a beginner with the objective of educating and inspiring runners to follow suit.
“I love it,” he enthuses. “I love pushing myself and seeing how much I can do. I’ve no intention of stopping, want to keep on pushing to see how far I can go.