THREE friends have set themselves a marathon challenge this year which will see them each pound almost 160 miles of roads in Europe and America for charity.
Jim Kane (30), from Portballintrae, Lee Galbraith (29) from Coleraine and Matthew Jordan (26) - a deputy manager at Lidl in Ballymoney who also hails from Coleraine - have vowed to complete SIX marathons before the end of the year to raise funds for a charity close to their hearts.
So far the plucky trio have three marathons under their belts - Barcelona, Belfast and Cork - and were set to compete in the Tromso Midnight Sun Marathon at the weekend, taking place 217 miles within the Arctic Circle.
Jim - who works for the National Library in Scotland - has very personal reasons for taking on the challenge dubbed ‘The Arctic to Desert 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.
Self-confessed couch potato Jim said he was coaxed into signing up to the Barcelona Marathon by his pals during a night out.
“To be honest we were out on a night out,” he explained.
“Lee and I were getting a wee bit depressed about the prospect of turning 30, and before we knew it the three of us had signed up to do the Barcelona Marathon - and to be honest the idea just expanded from there.
“Lee and Matthew are pretty fit and look after themselves, but as a computer programmer, I would described myself as a bit of a couch potato, so it was a big shock to my system!
“We’ve already completed the Barcelona, Belfast and Cork marathons, and so far we’ve managed to raise £1,850. We’ve still got the Arctic Circle, Dublin and Las Vegas marathons to go, and we hope by the end to have raised around £10,000.
“I felt it was the perfect way to raise money for a good cause and also honour my mum’s memory.”
As if the challenge of taking part in the famous event in Norway wasn’t gruelling enough, the lads’ task has been made that much harder due to the onset of injuries.
“We currently have three good legs between us,” laughed Jim ahead of the challenge.
“Two of us are injured quite badly but we will struggle through hopefully even if it means dragging ourselves across the finish line.”
Despite none of the lads having competed in marathons before, all three have adapted well and are taking chunks of their respective times with each race.
Jim paid tribute to his mates for taking up the challenge, describing Lee and Matthew as “legends” and thanked everyone who has supported them to date.
“We have had wonderful people supporting us, they have been spectacular and we really appreciate it,” he said.
“We even met some people at the Barcelona marathon who came to support us in Cork.
“Lee and Matthew have been heroes too and I can’t thank them enough for supporting the charity.”
You can donate via http://www.justgiving.com/Arctic2Desert