Ten marathons in 10 days for cancer charity

Peter Ferris and Harold Reilly pictured running 10 Marathons in 10 days in support of Cancer Focus Northern Ireland.
Peter Ferris and Harold Reilly pictured running 10 Marathons in 10 days in support of Cancer Focus Northern Ireland.

While running a full marathon is something most people will never achieve, two Ulstermen are in the middle of running ten of them – consecutively.

Long distance runners Peter Ferris MBE, 57, and Harold Reilly, 33, started the mammoth 262-mile challenge to raise money for Cancer Focus.

The Coleraine athletes are running all 10 marathons – one a day – in the grounds of Stormont, and yesterday they passed the halfway mark when they finished their sixth.

Mr Ferris completed the gruelling run at about 1pm, having started at around 7.45am.

While his best marathon time is a swift two hours and 40 minutes, he and Mr Reilly have been jogging at a slower pace of around five hours per session to avoid damaging their bodies, given the vast mileage that they are travelling. After yesterday’s run, as he rested for today’s seventh marathon, Mr Ferris said he was not feeling too bad. “My worst was yesterday. Once you get halfway, you know you’ve beaten it – you’ve got the back broken, as they say.”

He was filling a bath at the time he spoke to the News Letter, and explained that hot baths followed by ice-filled baths to tackle cramps are their nightly ‘treat’. “Harry goes to the bar at night to get two buckets of ice. We sit in there for 20 minutes.”

The men have been running up and down the 0.82-mile hill on a course going from the gates on the Newtownards Road, past Carson’s statue, to the steps of Stormont and then taking a route back down again – a total of around 1.6 miles. They repeat this 16.5 times every day to complete a full marathon.

The pair hope to be joined by MLAs “for one lap or a run down the hill” on Saturday, their final marathon day.

Mr Ferris – known fondly as Ferris Gump, an adaptation from Forrest Gump, the film in which the main character runs and runs – said: “Going up and down those hills wreck you, there is no other way to put it. I find it tough going up and Harold finds it tough going down. I had an accident a few years ago and was told I would never run again, but after rehabilitation at Musgrave Park Hospital I learned to walk again. It went from there.”

Mr Ferris, a retired Ulster University lecturer, wants “a cure for cancer in my lifetime”.

“My wee sister is coming out of cancer. She had cancer of the windpipe and has just got the all-clear,” he said. “Her husband died of cancer. On my mother’s side of the family the female members have either had cancer or died from cancer. So I look on every day as a bonus.”

To date Peter Ferris has completed 417 marathons worldwide “including many back to back”. Mr Reilly has run more than 180 of them.

To donate visit www.justgiving.com/10marathons or text CANCF50 £5 to 70070.