WHEN you’ve ran eight marathons, three ultra marathons and trained in one of the hottest areas on earth, what’s left to do?
Limerickman Diarmuid O’Malley, who has been living in Dubai for nine years, and his friend Neil Munro came up with the answer.
It’s a long way from Dubai to Greenland - more than 8,000km - but that’s where the self-confessed “cardio junkies” decided to go.
Often referred to as “the coolest marathon on earth”, the Polar Circle marathon in Kangerlussuaq, Greenland, saw the duo train in freezers in Dubai to prepare for temperatures of minus 20ºC.
“It was very difficult and very unusual terrain, especially as we were running over an ice cap for the first 8km. You’re quite unsure of your footing the whole time. But it was just amazing - very beautiful, remote and untouched,” he told the Limerick Leader.
Runners in any marathon are meant to ‘carb-up’ before a race, but they dined on reindeer, venison and fish instead.
While it was “the race of a lifetime”, the adrenalin buzz wasn’t the deciding factor for Diarmuid, 39, from Dooradoyle.
The son of the former deputy and minister for health Tim O’Malley, he took on the challenge to raise funds for a charity close to his heart. In all, they raised over $53,000 for the Christina Noble Children’s Foundation (CNCF), which educates hundreds of impoverished children in Vietnam. “I was first introduced to CNCF by Christina Noble’s book Bridge Across My Sorrows many years ago,” explained the publishing director for ITP Business in Dubai.
“It was recommended to me by both my mother and my mother-in-law. Christina’s challenging life and the amount of work she and the foundation have done and continue to do is just staggering,” said Diarmuid.
And he was the first Irishman past the finish line in a time of 4:20:42, finishing in 14th place out of 70 men. His most recent ultra marathon was the 73km Wadi Bih run in Oman in February last.
“Like any marathon there will be moments when you really wonder ‘Why the hell did I sign up for this for this?’ but thankfully we both kept one foot in front of the other and adopted the phrase I most use to my kids when things aren’t going their way - to ‘dig in deep’ - and that’s what we did. It was definitely a hard marathon and may even be the hardest marathon we both completed but the 200 kids in Vietnam kept us motivated all the way through,” he said.
To donate see www.justgiving.com/arcticxtreme