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50 Marathons for GOAL – Sam’s Story


June 1, 2022 • 4 min read

Sam O’Neill, an Irish GOALie based in Spain, decided to do something very special to mark her 50th year – run 100 marathons for charity, including 50 to fundraise for GOAL!

By Sam O’Neill

“I’ve been so lucky in my entire life, I thought it was time to do something and give back. I love to run, so I decided that I would run 100 marathons!”

“I turn fifty this year, so a lot of friends said to me – why don’t you just run 50 marathons this year? I’m Irish but I’ve lived in Spain for 19 years, so I thought I’d go further than that and do 50 marathons for an Irish organisation and 50 for a Spanish one”.

“I decided that I would mark my life in Spain by raising funds for MSF Spain, and my Irish heritage by supporting GOAL. I looked at the amount of work GOAL do and it was a no-brainer to donate there. Where you’re born determines what type of life you can have – and I’ve just been so lucky.”

“It’s  very rewarding doing things for other people. And when you see how generous people are as well – I’m amazed at the amount of people who have donated.”

Going the Distance

“I did marathon number 40 this Tuesday – I try to run Tuesdays and Saturdays so my legs have the chance to recover. I’ll be running number 41 this Saturday!”

“People have been extremely supportive. At the beginning when I said I was going to run 100 marathons, people said: ‘yeah sure, you’ll also grow wings and fly away’, but people are now starting to believe that it can be done. I think if you decide to set yourself goals and believe that anything is possible – you’ll find a way”.

“I was inspired by actor/comedian, Eddie Izzard, who I’m a huge fan of – she ran 27 marathons in 27 days for charity as a tribute to Nelson Mandela a few years ago and continues to raise money for many causes.”

Sam O’Neill will be running 100 marathons while raising funds for charitable causes in 2022.

“I’ve run on and off for years but took it on seriously in 2016 when I decided to run my first marathon. My dad ran when I as a kid and I used to want to go running with him but he would always send me home. To get him back, I entered my dad and myself in a marathon in Valencia! He did it while in his 70s! He slept for days afterwards, but he finished it, and he was very proud of himself!”

“Marathons are still hard though, even when you run slowly! I don’t run at a competitive pace – usually around six or six and a half minutes per kilometre – depending on the day, depending on my legs, depending on the weather!”

“The last eight kilometres always hurt – it doesn’t matter how slow or fast you’re going – the pain is there! The secret is when you start to feel the pain, you have less to do! So that’s when I start smiling because I know I’m nearly finished, the more pain I’m in!”

Leaving your comfort zone

“You have to push yourself out of your comfort zone a little bit. And when you see that you start raising money and it’s going to help people who really need it, it’s just the most amazing feeling. It’s better than a trophy or a medal or any of that”

“This year is the happiest I’ve felt about myself in a long time, being able to contribute, helping people – it makes you greedy in a way where you want to do more! It’s just a wonderful feeling. You’d be amazed at how well people have responded – friends on social media – those you think don’t really pay any attention actually coming out and cheering you on, and, more importantly, donating!”

“My advice is don’t listen to all the negative ninnies out there – because I’ve had a lot of people telling me ‘you’re not going to be able to do it’ – I’m just laughing now! We’re capable of doing a lot more than we think we are.”

“The best thing about all this running is the number of shoes I’m allowed to buy – I’ll need to get a green pair to go with my GOAL t-shirt!”

Follow in Sam’s footsteps and start your own fundraising challenge today!