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Wednesday 7 December 2016

Meet the Dubliner who is taking on 20 marathons to help promote mental health

Mark Conlon
Mark Conlon
Mark Conlon is running 20 marathons

This big-hearted Dubliner is taking on the toughest of challenges, running 20 marathons across Ireland in 20 weeks to raise awareness of mental health issues.

Former soldier Mark Conlon (32) wants to promote the work of Pieta House, the suicide and self-harm prevention centre, and highlight the benefits of exercise for those who suffer from depression.

"I've served overseas so I've seen people with depression when they come home and I've seen friends and family members with it," he said.

"I think exercise is a great way of combating it.

"I also want to show people that you don't have to do a whole marathon - you can go out and do any kind of exercise or even go and talk to your friends, it will help you feel better.

"I want to show people what can be done.

"They'll see what I'm doing and they might look into doing something similar themselves, even if it's a smaller race.

The Clondalkin man's journey kicks off this Saturday with a 50km ultra-marathon in Donadea, Kildare and will take him across the country to places including Galway, Laois, Wexford and Dublin.

Some of the challenges he has set himself include running two marathons a day for five days, organised by East of Ireland Marathons.

These runs will take place across Dublin, including Howth and Clontarf, and runners will start at 6am and 2pm daily.

"Of course, I'm hoping not to get injured in any of the marathons, but those few days will probably be the toughest ones logistically, because there's only a few hours break in between them," said Mark.

In another attempt to challenge himself to the limit, he will run a 26-mile race starting at midnight in Leixlip on June 20.

People are encouraged to donate through mycharity.ie/event/markconlons_20_marathons_in_20_weeks/, or in person at each marathon

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