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Endurance runner completes European challenge - and sets sights on Antarctica

Published 30/08/2016

Richard Donovan has completed his run across Europe
Richard Donovan has completed his run across Europe

A record-breaking endurance runner has completed a second transcontinental adventure by running across Europe.

Richard Donovan, a 50-year-old father-of-one from Galway, set off from Istanbul on June 21 and finished on Monday evening by reaching the coast of the Netherlands just south of Rotterdam.

The former economist, who organises some of the wildest and most exotic marathons in the world, set himself the 2,000-mile challenge after running across the US last year.

He now hopes to use the experience to press ahead with an ultimate and unprecedented endurance run - across Antarctica.

"It's still a goal of mine to do it," he said.

"Like all Antarctic expeditions it often gets pushed out from the date you planned to make it happen. It involves a lot of other co-ordination and logistics to make it happen, b ut it's still on the horizon."

During his latest pace-setting adventure, Mr Donovan ran up to 40 miles a day through western Turkey, Greece, then Bulgaria, Serbia, Croatia, Hungary, Austria, Germany and the Netherlands.

His worst injury involved having to remove the nail on his big toe after stubbing his foot, and he lost less than a week to sickness.

"It was hanging on for a while," he said.

"I had to just rip it off from the base."

Mr Donovan was originally due to travel across southern Europe but the oppressive heat around the Balkans forced a route change.

"I was in the middle of Croatia and I started to think about the route. I just wanted to avoid the Alps so I had to manoeuvre my way around them," he said.

Mr Donovan has been in the record books since 2002 after becoming the first person to run a marathon at both the North and South poles, and he followed that feat by running seven marathons on seven continents in four days 22 hours three minutes in 2009.

"I am in better shape now than when I finished in America. I set off too fast on that run. I didn't train for this. I relied on muscle memory but ran into fitness," he said.

The entire trip was recorded on GPS tracking devices to verify distances and starting and finishing points each day.

Final plans have not been set in stone for the 1,000-mile run across Antarctica.

The record-breaking runner hopes to begin at the Ross Ice Shelf and move up the Leverett Glacier, ascending to more than 9,000ft on the polar plateau to the South Pole, before turning to finish at the Hercules Inlet on the South American side of the continent.

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