John O'Connor (left) and wife Anne (right) presenting a cheque for £3500 to Bethesda Hospice finance manager, DR Maccdonald.
A Stornoway man has completed a 150-miles ultra-marathon through the Western Isles and raised £3500 for Bethesda Hospice.
John O’Connor, from Marybank but now living in Fife, ran from Barra to the Butt of Lewis over five consecutive days last week in aid of the hospice where his father, the late Sergeant John O’Connor of Stornoway Police, received end of life care.
John, 59, completed the challenge on Saturday (September 2) and delivered the proceeds to Bethesda this week – but he says that donations are still piling in.
“I’ve been absolutely astounded by the support we have received and for further donations that are still arriving,” said John, a life-long runner who has completed 10 full marathons over the years.
“I hope that the money raised will help to keep this absolutely fabulous facility in Stornoway running to the level that helped me and my family - and so many others like us - so much.”
John’s wife Anne, whose late father, Ernie Hughson also received palliative care at Bethesda before his death, acted as support vehicle during the five, 30-mile legs from Barra, up the Uists, through South Harris and then Lewis. It’s a distance equivalent to running six marathons back-to-back and required John to learn a special endurance technique alternating five minute runs with minute walks to avoid lactic acid build up in the muscles.
“Although he’s very fit I was worried how he would handle that kind of distance but he didn’t even get a blister!” said Anne, comparing John to “a spring lamb” as he tackled the final stretch up West Lewis to Ness where friends, family and fellow Hebridean Way travellers were waiting for him.
John tackles the Harris Hills as part of his 5-day, 150 mile "Ultra-marathon"
John was joined for the last five miles by his younger brother Derek O’Connor of Skigersta, Ness. And they even had a police escort for last leg to the lighthouse.
Bethesda Hospice, which celebrates it 25th anniversary this year, has an annual fundraising target of £250,000 to keep the hospice open and to purchase and maintain equipment.
D.R MacDonald, its finance officer, said: “When he came in to say that he was going to do it I could hardly believe it! To do it all in one week in 5 days - I thought that this guy was a miracle! I’m just staggered by his achievement and we are really just so appreciative of his support and the amount raised for the ongoing work of the hospice."
To support John’s Ultra Marathon feat you can still donate via his Just Giving page at www.justgiving.com/fundraising/john-oconnor2