Galway man Paul Fallon is set to complete his one thousand mile run around Ireland this Saturday, 31 December.
The personal trainer began his epic journey on 1 December, and has since clocked up an average of 30 miles per day.
Paul’s 1,000 Mile Run for Home is designed to raise funds and awareness of the personal development programme On the Road Again (OTRA), which involves specially tailored exercise regimes for homeless people to help them rehabilitate back into society.
Sixteen participants recently graduated from the pilot phase of the programme and Paul is hopeful that OTRA will expand beyond Galway in 2012.
Speaking to the Galway Independent, the trainer said that his gruelling run around the country has proved a positive experience, despite enduring injuries, including problems with his hips and hamstring, and some serious muscle strain in his left quad.
Having picked up the injury on day eight of his run in Mitchellstown, Co. Cork, Paul was left “hobbling” for the next six days, prior to running from Gort to Clarinbridge on 15 December.
“It got to the point where I couldn’t even walk, so I wasn’t really sure what I was going to do, how I would make up the distance. Now whether or not it was a coincidence or not, when I got to Galway I felt fine again!”
Paul has thanked all the physiotherapists around the country who helped him along his journey. “They have been helping me out along the way, I’ve been pulled and twisted and turned in all sorts of directions.”
Admitting that it is tough to be away from his wife Melanie and daughters Sophie and Saoirse during the 1,000 Mile Run for Home, Paul has also praised his support team for keeping him going in difficult conditions.
“The other day I was out running for seven hours and 35 minutes; it’s a long haul and so demanding on the body and, thankfully, the guys with me are keeping me going. I’m drinking smoothies all time and recovery drinks and eating all around me, so I’m just eating and running and sleeping basically,” he said.
He also said that hotels around Ireland have been supportive of the initiative, with other supporters helping out by doing the team’s laundry. “I’m getting lots of very kind words of inspiration that is keeping me going,” he said. “It’s tough going but it’s all going to work in the end.”
Paul and his team plan to spend today (Wednesday 28 December) in Ballina and tomorrow in Castlebar. There he is hoping to meet with An Taoiseach Enda Kenny, having previously discussed the programme with him at the launch of the Mayo Drug and Alcohol Awareness Week in November. “He was very interested in supporting it and said he would come out and support us when we are in Castlebar,” said Paul.
Paul will be running in Tuam on Friday, 30 December, and making the journey from Tuam to Claregalway on Saturday morning, when supporters will join him for the run into Galway City. Successful participants from OTRA will also join him in Oranmore for the final stretch and he is hoping that members of the public will meet him in Renmore to run the last mile.
Deputies Brian Walsh and Derek Nolan and Senator Fidelma Healy Eames are also set to join Paul on Saturday, and he will also be extending an invite to Mayor of Galway City Cllr Hildegarde Naughton and any other politicians that may wish to attend.
“I finish the run on the 31st but this isn’t going to end on the 31st because I think we have a lot of good public backing and reaction to it now. And there are a lot of politicians who know what On the Road Again is now and what it is we are doing. I think there is definitely a very good foundation now for us to expand it and go nationwide with it,” he said.
Paul advises anyone who wants to donate funds or learn more OTRA to visit www.otra.ie to read more about the programme. “It has helped 16 people in Galway, 16 service users in Galway from the homeless agencies. It’s something that works,” he said.
For more details, follow Paul’s daily blog at www.otra.ie or find On the Road Again on Facebook or Twitter.