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blaze of glory

Run a marathon in steel-capped boots, overalls and helmet? Sign me up, says Cork fireman

“When I started too I was totally preoccupied about the weight,” says firefighter Alex O’Shea. “What I realised then is that its the pair of boots with a steel toe cap — that’s the real concern.”

RUNNING A MARATHON is a tough enough challenge for most mortals — entailing months of training, sacrifice, pain and discomfort.

Few runners would consider it the least bit sensible to add a pair of steep-capped boots, fireproof overalls and helmet weighing over 1.5 kilo to their training outfit.

One Cork man, however, intends to do just that. Firefighter Alex O’Shea is planning to run June’s Cork City Marathon in his full gear as part of a charity drive.

He’s also hoping to bring the world record back to Ireland in the process.

A colleague in the city’s fire service, Niall Crowley, claimed the title back in 2010 — but he was recently unseated by a firefighter in Heathrow, James Dajlid, who finished the London race this month in 4 hours 39 minutes.

O’Shea says the weight of the gear is the first thing people ask him about when they hear he’s planning to run 26.2 miles in gear normally used to shield the human body from intense heat at the scene of a fire.

When I started too I was totally preoccupied about the weight.

What I realised then is that its the pair of boots with a steel toe cap — that’s the real concern.

O’Shea trained on a treadmill throughout the winter, and soon realised that the constricting boots and the heat build-up caused by the gear were the main physical challenges he’d have to face.

Underneath the idea is to wear as little as possible, but the less you wear the more exposed you are to friction.

I’ve got a local physio and I’ve been taking a lot of advice from her. She’s been advising me to hold back on doing too much in the full gear for the moment.

Recently, the 40-year-old’s been doing training runs of up to 13 miles in his full firefighting outfit. He’s also signed up for the Cork City to Carrigaline Great Railway Run next month as a “strategy race” in order to assess his conditioning before the June Bank Holiday main event.

He’ll be running for to raise funds for a local playground and Irish Guide Dogs, and says finishing the race is the main priority — though he also has his sights firmly focused on the record.

I’d love to get the record and I’d love to take a chunk off it, to be honest.

In terms of the financial side, I’m not putting a target on it before the race. If you set a target, there’s always a chance you’ll miss out, so the idea is to raise as much as possible.

There’s still a further arduous task to complete if all goes to plan and O’Shea manages to set a new record time — it needs to be authenticated by the folks at Guinness World Records.

O’Shea and his supporters need to gather affidavits from Cork Marathon officials, from the timing company, and secure signed statements from spectators and volunteers located along the route, in order to get a submission together for Guinness.

I need to submit as many photos as I can too, so that will all be submitted.

Running the marathon is one part and then another week or two’s work for the paperwork — then there may be a gap of up to two months before we get word back.

You can find more details about Alex’s challenge, including sponsorship info, at his Facebook page.

Read: ‘Well-known’ billionaire buys record-breaking €144 million life insurance policy

Read: Dundalk Santas run to try and beat world record 

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