Marty runs an Olympic leg of his own

Marty Lennon received the baton from Gareth Prentice in Loughbrickland
Marty Lennon received the baton from Gareth Prentice in Loughbrickland

HE ran 12.5 miles in the middle of the night with a baton in his hand, in a challenge Marty Lennon claims was greater than the Olympic torch run.

The 34-year-old architect from Banbridge took part in the ‘Real Relay’, a challenge set up by adventure group Endurancelife to go one better than the official torch relay by running the entire 8,000 mile route around the UK.

While the official relay stops in different parts of the UK and sees the torch and participants travel by bus and car the Real Relay requires those taking part to run longer legs amd have the baton being passed continuously.

Marty, who has taken part in various trialthons as well as running the Belfast Marathon six times, said hw was drawn to the challenge because it was “something different”.

“A friend contacted me and said ‘You’d be interested in this’ and when I looked into it I thought it would be a really unique opportunity to be part of something great,” he told the Leader.

“I liked the idea of doing something that would almost rival the Olympic torch tun or be an alternative to it. It was something I enjoyed much more than I think I would have enjoyed the offical route.”

Marty had a very different experience than the locals who ran 100 metre routes across Northern Ireland where hundreds of bystanders cheered them on as the official Olympic bus followed behind.

“There were no marshals and no big Coca Cola bus, it was quite the opposite,” he said. “I ran from Loughbrickland to Newry at around 1am with my mum and dad following in the car with the hazard lights on and my sister in a car in front of me!”

The 12.5 mile leg took Marty around 90 minutes to complete and he passed the baton to a complete stranger whom he had first been in contact with just the day before.

“It was a very independent experience where you signed up to it and were given the contact details of the person running before and after you and that was it. You had to do the rest yourself really - but I enjoyed that aspect of it.”

The £10 entry fee for the Real Relay will go to CHICKS, a charity which provides free respite breaks to disadvantaged children. The race hopes to reach London at the same time, if not before, the Olympic torch.

Follow the route online at www.endurancelife.com/realrelay.