Marathon Man, Thomas Takes On Ultra Challenge for Breast Cancer Research

This July, accomplished marathon runner, Thomas O’Connor will compete in the Badwater135 Ultramarathon in California, which describes itself as ‘The world’s toughest foot race’, to help raise funds and awareness for the National Breast Cancer Research Institute. This demanding and extreme course that Thomas faces, will run 135 miles from Death Valley at 282 feet below sea level, crossing two mountain ranges and ending with a climb toward a third at 8,000 feet at Mount Whitney, while also withstanding average day temperatures of 54°C. No stranger to ultra-marathons, even having recently completed his 100 marathon mark, Thomas had to successfully complete a minimum of three, one hundred miles races before he could even apply to take part in this event.

Hailing from Caherush, Co. Clare, but now working and living in Galway, Thomas knows only too well the impact cancer can have on a family, having lost his eldest sister, Dorothy to cancer 17 years ago. By coincidence, Dorothy’s anniversary falls on the start of the event, July 4th, so Thomas is also honouring her memory while helping to support the work of National Breast Cancer Research Institute, based at the Lambe Institute, University of Galway. The institute-funded researchers are currently working on major national and international projects to improve the diagnosis and treatment for those diagnosed with breast cancer, where current statistics show that 1 in 7 Irish women will develop breast cancer before they reach the age of 75.

Ultra marathon runner, Thomas O’Connor in training as he takes on the Badwater135 Ultramarathon in support of the National Breast Cancer Research Institute.

As a radiographer at Blackrock Health Galway Clinic, Thomas understands the importance of research in improving the outcomes for patients. He says: “The National Breast Cancer Research Institute is a world-class facility, based locally but with a far wider impact. It goes about the challenge of understanding cancer as a disease, how it affects us individually and how we respond differently to treatments so that treatments can be tailored specifically for our needs. It is truly amazing the wonderful work that goes on there quietly in the background that makes a difference when we need it. And the reality is that like my family, and most families I know, we need the knowledge and outcomes of cancer research more than ever”.

In taking part in an event like this, along with his running buddy and inspiration behind Thomas participating in the run, Galwayman Ray O’Connor, a strong, dedicated support team is very important to help overcome any challenges on the way and achieve success. Thomas’ crew is led by his sister Miriam, who is rapidly heading toward her 100th marathon herself, his partner Jordan, also a successful marathoner and his late sister Dorothy’s son, Kevin who when invited to join his crew, immediately said yes and that ‘it sounds like fun’. Thomas says: “And that is exactly what I need in a crew member; someone to remind me to enjoy myself when the going gets tough and to take in this unique experience that I’m privileged to be a part of.”  To find out more and to see how you can support Thomas and the National Breast Cancer Research Institute, go to:

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