A Galway man ran from Boston to Santa Monica to pay tribute to an old friend who died unexpectedly in 2021.
Richard Donovan, 56, began the grueling task on April 19, covering 3,200 miles and crossing 16 different states as he ran coast to coast with his friend Alvin Matthews' ashes.
The run was a way for Donovan to honor his friend and raise money and awareness for the Triumph Foundation in Southern California, an organization that aids people to triumph over disabilities.
Donovan returned the ashes to Alvin's mother Sara after reaching the finish line at Santa Monica Pier last weekend.
Covering an average of about 40 miles per day, Donovan began his journey in Boston before turning northeast toward Lake Erie. He later traversed the farmlands of Ohio and tackled the storms and sweltering heat in Kansas before ascending the Rocky Mountains in Colorado.
Toward the end of his journey, Donovan ran in relentless 100F heat as he crossed the deserts in southeast California before following the historic Route 66 for the last stage of his run.
He told the Irish Sun that it was "very special" to meet Alvin's mother and family at the finish line in Santa Monica.
"The run meant a lot to her and there was obviously some tears initially, but it was followed by a lot of joy. Alvin wasn’t simply forgotten about," Donovan told the Irish Sun.
He revealed that he started his journey "without adequate preparation for the mileage" but added that he got fitter as the run went on.
He said he loved running in Kansas, despite the "long straight roads" and "temperatures well above 100F".
"Drivers and workers on the roads would pull over and offer me water and encourage me, they were exceptionally nice,"
Donovan has extensive experience in long-distance running, becoming the first person to complete marathons on the North and South Poles in 2002.
He has also set a world record for running marathons on all seven continents in 4 days, 22 hours, and 3 minutes.
He also ran from San Francisco to New York seven years ago after Alvin was left paralyzed following a spinal cord injury.