Armagh man completes his 100th marathon in 100 days
Stevie McGeown celebrates end of mammoth challenge in Gosford Park
Armagh man, Stevie McGeown has earned himself a well-earned break and the chance to put his feet up after having just completed 100 consecutive marathons in 100 days - a feat thought never before seen on the island of Ireland.
The father of three took up the mammoth challenge with friend Larry Maguire, from Dublin, in aid of Cash for Kids and Rainbows Ireland.
Their aim was to raise awareness of the Laura Maguire Foundation, set up in the name of Larry's sister.
She died at the age of six of a suspected aneurysm and Larry was inspired by her short life to create an organisation to promote emotional and physical well being in children and teenagers.
The two friends ran day-in and day-out whatever the weather, sometimes together, sometimes alone, sometimes in the company of other runners who came out to show their support.
However, while Larry was struck down with injury on day 70 meaning he had to take a couple of days off, gym owner Stevie kept going, seemingly getting fitter and faster.
At the beginning many thought the task was beyond the friends and in the early days there was little attention on the pair, however, as they went on people started to sit up and take notice and more joined in with their runs, either joining them or offering their support.
And on Saturday, hundreds turned up in Gosford Forest Park to accompany the runners as Stevie completed his 100 consecutive marathon.
Both men were welcomed across the finish line to huge applause from the hundreds of runners, friends, family and supporters who turned up on the day to show their support and admiration.
There were emotional scenes as both men cracked open the champagne and drenched those gathered before thanking them for all their support along the way.
Larry and Stevie met while at a weekend retreat in Dublin in 2012 when the Dubliner first raised the idea of the challenge.
The pair soon began bouncing ideas off each other turning the plan into a reality.
"I was inspired by the idea and had a vision of myself running," Stevie told the Belfast Telegraph prior to completing his challenge at the weekend.
"I said I would do it with him. I hadn't ran any marathons at that time, I had done a few bits and pieces, maybe three and a half mile once or twice a week.
"I ran five miles every day for the next 30 days, starting on the 17th of December, 2012."
His first marathon was in Connemara, the 'Connemarathon', in County Galway, in 2013.
A former painter and decorator, 37-year-old Stevie was at one stage a hard drinker until a challenge that he couldn't stay off the booze for a month straight transformed his life.
"Before that, I wouldn't have went into my thoughts or thought about anything. I realised that I wanted to have somebody in my life, that I could share my life with them and they could know me for who I was.
"I didn't have to be drunk to be with them, because I had that kind of shyness," he said.
Six weeks on he met Catherine McCann from Co Tyrone and began focusing on the direction his life.
Later the couple opened a woman only gym and within months they had 600 members and after two years 13 outlets.
Now a motivational speaker, Stevie and Catherine have three children, eight-year-old Ben, Katie, (7) and Harry (5).
Stevie and Larry were raising funds for children’s charities Cash for Kids and Rainbows Ireland you can still donate via their website.