THE finish line is almost in sight for three lads who embarked on a marathon challenge earlier this year.
Mates Jim Kane from Portballintrae, Lee Galbraith and Matthew Jordan (both from Coleraine) vowed to pound almost 160 miles of roads in Europe and America to raise money for a charity close to their hearts.
The trio set themselves a target of completing six marathons in 2011 - and having taken part in the Dublin event on Monday have just one to go.
So far The Arctic to Desert Challenge has taken the plucky lads to Barcelona, Belfast, Cork and the Arctic Circle with the final event taking place in America next month.
The Dublin marathon took place on Monday but the boys declined the chance to don fancy dress for the gruelling challenge.
“I think it will be difficult enough without trying it dressed as a pineapple,” joked Jim ahead of the marathon.
“The whole adventure has been great so far.
“It has been a struggle some of the time but we have made it, every last mile.
“We have two guest runners this time after we decided to open it up for one marathon.
“One is Stuart Campbell, a Scottish fella, and William Hill from Coleraine.
“Another guy Andy Smith was to come too but unfortunately work commitments ruled him out.
“We are very happy to have the two boys and it should be good craic.”
Jim - who works for the National Library in Scotland - has very personal reasons for taking on the challenge.
He lost his mother Jean Kane, a former community midwife covering the Ballymoney and Ballycastle areas, back in 2005 after a long battle with Motor Neurone Disease.
In his mother’s memory, and as a way of raising money for the Motor Neurone Disease Association, Jim and his pals decided to set themselves this punishing challenge.
Jim said on behalf of the three he wished to thank everyone for their support to date.
Last month a night at the races took place at Coleraine Rugby Club which boosted the coffers of the challenge by £1,300.
“Everyone has been excellent,” said Jim.
“We are really proud of what we have got so far and the folks back home have been amazing.”
Next up, and the last one to be scored off the list, is the marathon the boys are most excited about.
The trio will lace up for a unique run on December 4, half of which takes place in the Nevada Desert with the other half within the Las Vegas city limits.
Jim took a bit of a ribbing from his pals for describing them as his heroes in an article back in June.
But undeterred, Jim reaffirmed his admiration for them, adding:
“I unashamedly admit that Matthew Jordan is my hero.
“Whilst running in Tromso, I tore a hip muscle at mile six and Matthew stopped with me just after I’d torn the muscle and was limping along.
“I said ‘Matt, I can’t finish this one. I can’t run.’ ‘You can’t
run? Ah well. You’ll have to skip!’ then skipped away giggling like a schoolgirl!
“I limped for 20 miles just so I could finish and try to skip across the finish line.
“Then during the Belfast Marathon the wonderful people were giving out sweets and energy drinks along the way, holding them up to the runners. Matthew had seen this along the way and thinks he accidentally stole some kid’s jelly baby!”
You can keep up-to-date with the progress of the boys by visiting their Facebook page.
Simply search for Arctic to Desert Challenge.
And you can donate at www.justgiving.com/Arctic2Desert