Mangan on victory lap
World jogger returns to Irish soil on 50,000km run
If you happen to be travelling from Banbridge to Belfast today, you may notice a solitary figure running purposely along the road.
Today, with just a 32-kilometre run planned, is an easy day for world jogger Tony Mangan who arrived back in Dublin port after his epic run around the globe. After an emotional reunion with his family, he then set off on what amounts to a 1,609km victory lap around Ireland.
His World Jog will officially end only when he crosses the line of the SSE Airtricity Dublin Marathon on Monday October 27, having run a total of 50,000km in four years.
Mangan, sometimes described as 'Ireland's Forest Gump', had cycled the world in 1978 and always wanted to repeat the experience on foot.
He began his epic journey on 26 October 2010 - the day after the Dublin Marathon. He ran across Ireland as far as Dingle and then set off to run North America, South America, Australasia and Asia before returning to Europe last June. Most days, he ran between 30 and 50 kilometres, sleeping at night in petrol stations, in the open, or occasionally in people's homes.
Asia by some way provided the most challenging moments of the trip. After crossing the Australian desert, he had started in East Timor in June 2013 and ran seven islands of Indonesia before heading for mainland Asia. He had hoped to run through China but was refused a visa.
Then, last December while in Myanmar, he was told he couldn't cross the border into India. So he took a flight home for Christmas and then flew back to India, re-starting his run in India only a kilometre from where it had ended on the other side of the border with Myanmar.
The Irish Foreign Office then recommended that he by-pass Pakistan and Afghanistan, where his safety could not be guaranteed. So with great reluctance and after Closer to home, the unrest in the Ukraine meant avoiding Russia.
By comparison, Europe was a doddle. After crossing the Bosphorus in early June, he ran through Bulgaria, Serbia, Hungary, Slovakia, Austria, Czech Republic, Germany, Netherlands and Belgium before taking the ferry from Calais in France to Dover.
Then came a run across England and Wales with his last night "on the road" spent sleeping in a football club dressing room in the Welsh village of Bryngwran.
Mangan will spent the rest of the week running through the North of Ireland before heading for Donegal and a loop around Connacht, Munster and finally Leinster. He's inviting runners along the way to join him. "I'm not running fast - honest!". See www.theworldjog.com.