by Nick Bramhill.
A NOVICE Co. Wicklow runner has told how popular comedian Eddie Izzard was the unlikely role model who inspired him to run 24 gruelling marathons in the space of just 27 days.
Student Callum Jacobs has just completed the superhuman feat of completing the equivalent of almost a marathon a day for four weeks, raising thousands of euros in funds for anti-suicide charity Pieta House in the process.
And the 23-year-old, from Bray, who only participated in his first marathon in April this year, revealed he owes his achievement to veteran British stand-up Izzard, who, five years ago when he was 47, famously completed 43 marathons in 51 days.
Callum said: I’ve only been running for about 18 months and took it up as a way of getting fit. But everything changed after I watched the Journey Across England documentary with Eddie Izzard.
He was in his late 40s at the time and not exactly a fit man, but it was truly inspirational what he achieved.
“I thought if he can do it, then so can I and I wanted to push myself to the limit to see how far I could go. And it was a great opportunity to raise awareness and funds for Pieta House.”
Callum, who was joined on his extreme challenge by project co-ordinator Sean Hoban, had initially set himself the quest to run round Ireland in 40 days in a clockwise direction from his starting point in Bray.
But just over a week ago as he was forced to cut short his quest to complete a gruelling total of 34 marathons when he was informed a very close friend had died suddenly.
But he said he plans to get his epic challenge back on track one final time in the coming days and push his aching body through one more marathon. And he can expect a hero’s welcome when he runs from Dublin and crosses the finishing line back home in his native Bray.
He said: “I think it was the fact I was so naive that got me this far through the challenge, because if I really had thought how difficult it was going to be I probably wouldn’t have done it.
“It was very tough, particularly at the start, and I suffered from a bad knee and fatigue. But it was definitely a case of mind over matter.”
He added: “What I’m most pleased about though is that it’s helped to raise awareness about mental health issues in Ireland.
“Without services like Pieta House, many people who can’t afford counselling would be left to suffer on their own with the risk of self-harm or suicide ever present.”
Last year Pieta House helped over 4,000 people in need of counselling, but they receive only 10per cent of their funding from the government. The other 90per cent comes from fund-raisers such as this.” For more information, see www.40daysonfoot.com.