Andrew’s up-hill challenge

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Andrew Wallace plans to have busy day on Saturday November 3rd - he plans to run almost 5 kilometres from the sea shore up to the top of a hill, then cycle 8 kilometres, then climb to the top of Croagh Patrick, get back down again, ride 35 kilometres on a bike over rough terrain and just to top it off he intends finishing a four kilometre run along an obstacle course close to the sea. It could be getting dark by the time he’s finished.

The amazing thing is the well known Donegal hurling star is, to quote him exactly, ‘really looking forward to it’.

The Bridgend man admits when he started off training for the ‘Westport Sea to Summit’ challenge he thought - ‘Don’t print this bit’ he says now - about packing it in because it was so tough. Only for the fact that he was doing it for charity motivated him to keep going.

He said this week: “I’m up not long after 5 a.m. most mornings because that is the only time I can get a sustained bit of training. Usually I do a couple of hours cycling. In the evenings because of family commitments, I try and either do a bit of mountain climbing or go for a run. I’m training about eight hours a week; I train six days one week, five the next. And of course I’m still doing the training for the hurling as well so it’s very busy.”

Andrew says the catalyst for the decision to do the event was that his uncle, John, and his mother-in-law, Bridget Duncan, died within two weeks of each other last year. It hit his family hard.

He says now: “My uncle was so well looked after by the Donegal Hospice, and my mother-in-law, who had Multiple Scelrosis, availed of respite care there. It was a godsend for both of them, and now I would like to do something by way of thanks. We really appreciated what was done for them.”

What started out as a chore has now, admits Andrew, become a labour of love.

“While it was never the objective I have lost two and half stone in weight. Despite hitting the 40 mark around the same time as this challenge I’m definitely fitter than I was 20 years ago and I would have contended I was fit then.

“What’s more I love the mountain climbing - absolutely love it. There’s something about it that really gets to me.

“The discipline involved has done me a power of good too

“I have a family and my wife, Karen, works so I have to work around the family which means I have to be flexible. There’s no point in me saying to someone ‘I’ll meet you at 6.30’ because I could never guarantee to be there. So I have to discipline myself to do it when I can.”

He also concedes that he was ‘too generous’ to himself when he initially indicated it would take him about six hours to do the challenge.

“I would expect to do it now in four to five hours. When I started after Christmas six hours seemed realistic, even optimistic. Now I’m hoping for much better.”

Andrew will be splitting the money between his two charities - the hospice and the Donegal Multiple Sclerosis Society.

He concludes: “I have been concentrating so much on the training that I forgot the objective - this is for charity, so I need to raise some money. I have a whole host of cards out there and I would appreciate any support I can get. I have a target of 5,000 euro and anything above than will be a big, big bonus.”