On his 55th birthday, Eugene Winters set himself a challenge – a marathon challenge.
The Portstewart man, who had never attempted to run a marathon before, decided to complete the daunting task of running 300 official marathons in 300 weeks.
Oggie, as he is known to his friends, sailed through his first marathon in Belfast back in 2012.
Countless pairs of running shoes and almost 8,000 miles later, the 60-year-old has reached his gruelling goal of 300 marathons.
Even more amazingly, it took him only 270 weeks to achieve this incredible feat.
To celebrate smashing his self-imposed target, big-hearted Oggie decided to celebrate by donating £1,000 of the money he raised through his endeavours to Action Mental Health, to help support the vital work the charity carries out across Northern Ireland.
The remarkable runner has completed all the ‘marathon majors’ – the London, Boston, New York, Chicago, Berlin and Tokyo marathons.
He twice ran 10 marathons in 10 days and also took part in the Hell of the Hill Endurance event, which involves running five of the toughest marathons in the UK in five days.
Oggie has also been a regular ‘back to back’, ‘treble’ and ‘quad’ runner, meaning running marathons two, three and four days in a row. In 2016 he successfully completed the Victoria Park endurance event in Belfast, running 100 miles in 24 hours.
While his incredible achievement has left Oggie feeling better – both physically and mentally – than he has done in years, he admitted it was “very tough going” at times.
“I struggled to complete some of the marathons,” he said.
“I ran through injury at a few events and I had to rely on my own mental strength and toughness to get me through.”
Oggie now hopes his efforts will help inspire other people to go out and do something active.
“I firmly believe exercising and keeping active can help not just our physical health but our mental health too,” he added.
“I started out at 15½ stone and I’m now down to 11½ stone, feeling much better both physically and mentally.”
Eugene is a member of several elite marathon clubs around the world including the Marathon Globetrotters, Marathon Club Ireland, the 100 Marathon Club, UK and the Super Marathon Club, Italy.
His best time was the recent Newry marathon which he finished in an impressive three hours 37 minutes, enabling him to qualify for next year’s London Marathon in the ‘Good for Age’ category.
Jonathan Smyth, fundraising and communications manager at Action Mental Health said: “Oggie got in touch with us to pass on his really generous donation and I was completely staggered at what I heard! Everyone in the office was in awe of his achievement. What he has accomplished is truly amazing.
“Oggie’s strength of character and tenacity is a real inspiration to us all and we are very grateful that he chose to donate to Action Mental Health.”
For more information on Action Mental Health go to www.amh.org.uk