A PILOT with the Air Corps is aiming to set a new world record in Limerick this weekend for the fastest time in a marathon while carrying a 20-pound backpack.
Lieutenant Gearoid Ó Briain, a military pilot, is taking part in the Barringtons Hospital Great Limerick Run for the first time this year in memory of two of his colleagues who were killed in an air crash four years ago.
Captain Derek Furniss, 32, who was his chief flying instructor, and classmate Cadet David Jevens, 22, died when their two-seater light aircraft went down in Connemara’s remote Crumlin Valley in October 2009, two months before David finished the course.
“Whether I’m successful or not I’ll be dedicating this run to their memory. I just want to highlight the work that people in the Defence Forces do every day, particularly the Air Corps. If I don’t get the record in Limerick I’ll keep training and attempt it somewhere else,” he told the Limerick Leader.
Gearoid, who has spent the past two years as a co-pilot on the Government Jet, the Learjet 45, said he was “very close” to his classmate David as there were just eight students in the class at the time.
He said the loss of his compatriots has “served as persistent motivation over the last few years, and has continuously reminded me of the importance of seizing the moment, of enjoying every bit of life, and of achieving all you can – while you can”.
Based in Baldonnell, the home of the Irish Air Corps, for the past six years, he is now training to become a flying instructor and has now been training for this record for the past six months, carrying the 20-pound backpack with him.
While he has adjusted to the load, he is suffering lower back and hip pain as there is a tendency to lean forward when carrying such a weight.
He chose Limerick for his world record attempt as “it’s a nice flat course” and the weather should be mild, he hopes, this Sunday, May 5. However, Gearoid’s hopes were dashed last weekend when a British special forces officer broke the last record by 20 minutes during the London marathon, which has put extra pressure on him to reach his goal.
The initial target was running in a time of 3:42, but the new record as of last weekend has been set to 3:25.
He had hoped the run the 26.2mile route in his full camouflage army suit, as he had done during the Connemarathon, but will be wearing normal running clothing to help his prospects in achieving his time, and has also lost weight, slimming down to 11 stone, to help with his running times.
During the Connemarathon he broke the record for carrying the 20-pound weight during the half-marathon, but didn’t have the entry registered with the Guinness Book of Records.
The keen runner has six marathons under his belt, achieving his fastest marathon in a time of 3:24:57.
The 25 year-old from Rathdrum, Co Wicklow, was among 30 members of the Defences Forces who all took part in the Dublin marathon last year, running in block formation.
Last May he completed his first Ironman challenge in Austria – despite having broken his collar bone just four months previously