Two Sligo cousins, one in London and one in Manchester, ran all weekend to raise raise €28,600+ for Irish heart and stroke charity, Croí. The cousins decided to take up the challenge of US marine David Goggins in the name of a cause that is close to their heart. They smashed their original fundraising target and gained the support of well known sports people in the process.
Conor and Karl McKeon, from the Village of Gurteen, challenged themselves to run four miles every four hours for 48 hours starting 8pm on Friday 5 March. It is known as the 4/4/48 challenge.
Conor (27) has been in London for nine years while Karl (32) has been living in Manchester for six years.
Conor told The Irish World: “It feels absolutely incredible. It’s hard to take it in. I don’t think it’s hit me properly how fast this took off and where it’s got to now. With trying to deal with how far it’s got to and trying to run 48 miles, it’s a lot to take in all at once.”
Running every four hours made getting any sleep over the weekend extremely difficult.
“It was more of a mental challenge especially with the fatigue. You do think, ‘My run’s going to take half an hour to an hour’. Then when you come back you have three hours to eat, stretch, You’re cut down to two hours. Then you need to get your head in the right space to go to sleep because you can’t just lay down in bed and fall asleep. You sleep when you’re absolutely desperate for sleep. There’s no point in planning it. There’s no point in saying, ‘I’m going to go to bed for an hour and sleep for an hour’. Because that doesn’t happen. You just lie down and if you need to sleep, it will knock you out. As long as you have someone there- which I did, my sister Shauna who I live with- to wake me up to get going again.
“You can talk about these things all day long and when it comes to actually doing it it’s a completely different story. It separates the men from the boys.
“The relief of not having to run again was absolutely brilliant.”
Conor realised how hard the challenge was on Sunday morning.
“Sunday morning just before I did the 12 o’clock I had a load of sweets. I had far too many sweets and I just got a mad sugar rush and was really cocky going into that one. Ran that one far too fast and then for the 4am on Sunday I had just a massive crash. So trying to do the 4am on a sugar crash was extremely difficult. I was going to stop just to take a breather during the run but I thought, ‘If I stop, it’s going to take a lot more to get going again’. And I wasn’t willing to take that chance so I just kept going but was a bit more wiser after that about what I ate and just powered through.”
Conor and Karl were both determined to power through for the charity means a lot to the family. Before Conor’s father Joe “Scobie ” McKeon past away late last year he had had much trouble with his heart and the brothers appreciated how the charity were there when they could not be.
“He had a lot of heart trouble over his life. He had five or six heart attacks. He had open heart surgery. He had as many stents as you can have put in. He had a defibrillator and pacemaker installed. He had a triple-bypass. He had had it all really. It ended up being that the last two heart attacks he had, they couldn’t actually do anything for him because they had done everything they could.
“He was working one day filling up his lorry and he just collapsed. That was it.
“Any time ‘Scobie’- That’s what we call my dad, that’s what everyone called him- Any time he had heart trouble, Croí would always give my mother accommodation in Galway, because we live in Sligo, so she wouldn’t have to worry about having to organise accommodation.
“We weren’t there so we couldn’t be organising things for her. It could happen in the middle of the night. They just looked after her so well and put our minds at ease knowing that there was an organisation like that that were able to look after her until we got home when things like that went wrong.”
“What Croí has done for us has been priceless. As long as we’re raising funds for them, to keep them going and it’s going to help another family out like it helped ours out.
“It was always in my mind I was doing it for them, Croí.
“But also our local club Eastern Harps got massively behind us. Overall, I think there was about 300 people that went out and did a leg with us. Eastern Harps kept the lights on around the pitch all night so that people could do the night legs with us as well which really meant a lot.
“The support from home has been absolutely unreal. As well as Australia, Canada, America, we’ve gotten messages from all over and donations from all over. It’s hard to take in.”
The cousins’ social media page has already got attention from well known athletes including Irish Olypians, GAA stars, English rugby players, British international athletes and London Irish rugby team.
Especially poignant for the the lads has been the support of former Sligo football coach Denis Johnson who is a coach with their local club Eastern Harps.
“I got a phone call from Denis Johnson, it was brilliant to get a phone call from him congratulating us. That was a brilliant feeling.”
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