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Cork woman sets herself the challenge of doing twelve marathons in twelve days for charity


Joanne Fearon (41) raising money for charity by running on a treadmill in a shop window The sight of woman running daily marathons on a treadmill in a shop window is causing a stir on Cork’s Oliver Plunkett Street.
“She’s mad,” gasp passersby, before mouthing the words through the window. “You’re mad, girl!”
Ultra-running mother of two Joanne Fearon (41) from Cobh, sets out to run her ninth marathon in as many days today. That’s 380km in nine days.
She’s put her own spin on the 12 pubs of Christmas by embarking on a challenge to complete 12 marathons in the 12 days leading up to Christmas to raise funds for the neonatal ward at Cork University Maternity Hospital (CUMH).

 “Yes, the reaction from most people is ‘you’re mad’. But I’m not a person who goes out socialising at night or sits around drinking cups of coffee during the day. I’m probably doing what I would normally be doing except I’m doing it on a treadmill in a shop window,” she says.
Generally a fan of people watching, Fearon initially thought running the daily marathons (42.2km) on a treadmill in the window of Maher’s Sports shop might take the edge off the gruelling long distance run.
“I thought I would like that element of it as I’m a nosy person, but actually it’s incredibly boring. There are only so many Penneys and Brown Thomas bags you can watch going up the street,” she laughs.
The crowd’s generous reaction – with more than €5,000 raised so far – has restored Fearon’s “faith in humanity”.
“The Central Remedial Clinic scandal was on my mind and I was worried it would have an impact but to date only one person has asked us about it. We told them that all the money will be going straight to the neonatal ward at CUMH and because it’s a local charity, I think people trust it. People have been so generous.”

Mother of all challenges
What the gobsmacked crowd outside don’t know is that Fearon, a food and nutrition programme manager at University College Cork (UCC), has carefully timed the daily marathon running around breastfeeding her four-month old daughter Liadán. She also has a two-year-old son Darragh.
“I was fitting 12 miles in while the baby went down for a nap,” she says of her training. But since the challenge has begun, though feeling physically strong and fit, Fearon says she could do with a nap herself.
“I have a little muscle stiffness. But what I really am is tired. The baby is missing a feed while I run during the day, so we have been playing catch-up at night. Which means I’m up more than I usually would be and I’m tired.”
“To do this after my my first child would have been inconceivable – I broke my tail bone and it was horrific. I’ve hit the jackpot this time in terms of a quick recovery and a placid child. I just got lucky,” she says.
Because Liadán is a “dream baby” her mother is free to throw all her energy into the 500km, 12-day challenge, crossing the final finish line on Christmas Eve.
Between them, she and her adventure-athlete husband Niall Ó Crualaoich have completed an impressive array of triathlons, Ironmen competitions and competitive ultra-marathons.

Blowing hot and cold
Fearon has clocked up 59 marathons to date, among them the Marathon Des Sables in the Sahara Desert and a marathon in the Arctic among her top running achievements.
“I’ve done both extremes of heat and cold. I preferred the heat. I’ve done the Connemara 100-mile race, Ironmen, triathlons, you name it,” she says.
Tomorrow, she aims to enter the Guinness Book of Records by completing 10 marathons in less than 46 hours.
Averaging three hours and 55 minutes per marathon to date, Fearon is feeling confident.
“We are well on track to make it unless something goes horrendously wrong,” she said. And once that’s done, she’s on the home straight to Christmas, minus the hangover.

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Picture and Article form the IRISH TIMES