Trans Europe Run – Richard Donovan
In Summer 2016 Irish ultrarunner and race director Richard Donovan completed a 3,000 km Trans Europe Run from Istanbul to Rotterdam, running up to 40 miles a day through western Turkey, Greece, then Bulgaria, Serbia, Croatia, Hungary, Austria, Germany and the Netherlands.
The original plan had been to run from Istanbul to San Sebastian, Spain in April, but planning long expeditions like this comes with changes.
“On the last day, I felt better than every single other day. It took about 2 months, 2 pairs of running shoes and almost 2000 miles of running to have a 40-mile day feel relatively easy. I didn’t train for the Run, the Run was the training,” Richard says.
He had to remove the nail on his big toe after stubbing his foot, and he also lost a few days to sickness.
He was supported by the Trans Europe Run team: Heather Carr for the route, and Paul Donovan, Alice, Jacinta, Anne, Paul Grealish and Bernard for road support.
It wasn’t the first time Richard crossed a continent on foot. He has also completed transcontinental runs across North America in 2015 and South America in 2017. Although Antarctica is still on his list, he’s already run marathons on the North Pole and Antarctica and then decided to organize races in these extreme environments.
After running seven marathons, on seven different continents, in fewer than seven days in 2009, Richard also turned this experience in a race called the World Marathon Challenge.
“Yes, I was the first person to run seven marathons on seven continents in under seven days. Back in 2009, I completed it in 5 days, 10 hours and 8 minutes. I managed to better my record in 2012 with a time of 4 Days, 22 Hours 3 Minutes, Richard says.” His record still hasn’t been broken.
“There is mental clarity from the simple act of putting one foot in front of the other
long after the body has begged you to stop.”
Throughout his challenges Richard contributes to Irish Schools Athletics by raising money and awareness, and visiting schools in Galway, where he’s living, to inspire kids.
He also ran across Europe as preparation for an attempt to cross Antarctica.
Image by Torpong Tankamhaeng