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'I feel like an iPhone with 1% battery' - Sean Buckley on running, swimming and cycling 2,000km for charity

Buckley and his friend, James Colbert, have set a target of raising €500,000 through the Endurance Challenge.

Sean Buckley and James Colbert have just two marathons left to hit 2,068km covered.
Sean Buckley and James Colbert have just two marathons left to hit 2,068km covered.

SEAN BUCKLEY HAD just left the plunge pool when he took this call; he was recovering after running back-to-back marathons last Wednesday and Thursday.

And he still has two more marathons left before he reaches his goal. That goal is the Endurance Challenge, which he started on 3 August to raise money for cancer research.

Buckley lost his father to the disease two years ago, and watching him struggle gave him the idea to cycle 1,780km through each of the 32 counties, do a 120km swim of the River Shannon and finish with four marathons, all in the name of raising money and awareness for cancer research.

And with the end in sight, he is feeling the strain.

“I am completely drained. We had hoped there would be a little bit left in the tank at this stage but there is nothing there. I am absolutely dead at the moment. I feel like I’m an iPhone with 1% battery power in the corner of the screen. It is just about putting one foot in front of the other at the moment,” Buckley said.

The Cork native isn’t alone in his challenge by any means. He has been joined by a huge number of people at various stages of the challenge, and his cousin, James Colbert, has been by his side for every stroke, peddle and stride.

“I wouldn’t have been able to do it without James, and he is probably the perfect person to be doing the challenge with. Whenever I have been feeling sorry for myself, he has always been there to tell me to get on with it. I think I have been able to do the same for him too.”

Buckley’s initial goal was to raise €500,000 and he says he is on target for that at the moment with two marathons left. Planning such a physically demanding challenge is one thing, but there are other things you can’t forecast, like when Buckley got sick on day three of his big swim.

“I had a few low ebbs that required me to dig deep. On the third day of the swim I was very sick. I was just swimming and vomiting and swimming and vomiting. I couldn’t really hold any food down and it was a very nasty day,” Buckley said.

As he gets close to completing his challenge, Buckley has reflected on what the achievement would mean to him. He doesn’t want to compare himself to any high profile philanthropists yet, but he acknowledges that the experience has changed him.

I don’t want to come across as really pretentious, but I have definitely changed a lot. I have a new perspective on people and attitudes. I am not Bob Geldof yet, but I have another two days left so we will see what happens.” Buckley said.

When he crosses the line of his final marathon, and after he has a chance to reflect on the money he has raised, it is natural that Buckley will do something to celebrate. But rather than tuck into a fry or down a pint, he has something a little more spectacular in mind.

“Have you seen The Wolf of Wall Street? I’ll do something like that I’d imagine! Seriously though, if at the end I feel anything like I have in the last few days, I’ll probably need to go straight into the back of an ambulance. Without sounding too corny, when I get to the finish line I would like to just see my friends and family,” Buckley said.

If you would like to get involved, you can visit the Endurance Challenge website, donate to either Sean or James online or text BCR to 50300 to make a €4 donation to Breakthrough Cancer Research. 

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