I’m from Ennistymon, I’ve been here most of my life. I am part of the Clare Fire and Rescue Services and I am a plasterer by trade. I do a bit of running on and off, more off than on at the minute.

The fire service in Clare is a retained fire service. So that means we work on a pager system. You have to live and work within a mile-and-a-half of the station. If you get a call, no matter what you’re doing, you have to drop it and you have to go.

I’m into lots of different sports, a lot of outdoor stuff like kayaking and hiking with my kids.

I was sitting in the same chair as I am now in December 2020 when I came across this marathon challenge. We have a rocking chair on the landing and I had just put my young fella to bed.

I was scrolling through Facebook and I came across Ray’s Marathon Challenge, where a person has to do 26.2 miles a week for a year. I think over 2,000 people signed up and the goal was to raise €1m for LauraLynn.

I said: “Go on. A marathon is a big goal for a lot of people. If I can do this a week for a year, I’m going to raise big money.”

I hadn’t run a marathon in three years. I came back four and three-quarter hours later and I was absolutely buckled

Next thing, St Stephen’s morning I said nothing to anybody about where I was going. I hadn’t run a marathon in three years. I came back four and three-quarter hours later and I was absolutely buckled.

I said to myself: “I can run a marathon without any training, I’ve done this.” So the theory in my head was: if you’re doing it every week, they were bound to get easier.

I wouldn’t class myself as a runner. I would class myself as someone who has the ability to run 26 miles.

So I talked to my wife and said: “Look, I’m thinking about running a marathon a week for a year, what do you think?” And she goes, “You’re mental. But if that’s what you’re thinking, yeah why not, it’s a great charity.”

Overcoming obstacles

It got to a point where the marathons became easier, after maybe 10 or 11 of them. But then as the year went on, work commitments got bigger and then they started getting harder again, because I was trying to find time for everything else. I had to find time for family balance, work balance and run a marathon every week.

In reality, it was actually probably about eight hours of my day gone

I was doing it in one full go. I’d start, do my 26.2 miles and that was it. In my head I was like, “Sure what’s four or five hours every weekend?” In reality, it was actually probably about eight hours of my day gone, because if I wanted to do it in the mornings, I’d be getting up at probably half four in the morning, get ready, run a marathon and then I’d be back the second half of the day.

Or on a Friday evening I’d be off from work at six, eat a small bit of food, throw on my trainers, go do my marathon, be home by maybe 12am and then by the time you would have bits and pieces done afterwards, it would be one o’clock in the morning before you would be finished.

Joe Crosse crossing the finish line of his 52nd marathon in Ennistymon.

We actually got away for a few days down to Wexford and my wife was like, “So how are we going to manage the marathon?”

I brought my trainers and stuff anyways, so I got up one morning at three o’clock and it was my favourite run of the whole lot of them. It was a really starry, clear night and you could actually run without a light, that’s how bright it was. I got up at three and my wife got up at eight in the morning and I had my marathon done.

I had an amazing amount of people that got behind me.

People I knew and people who knew me from the locality, they’d be like: “Ah jaysus, you’ve been there every week, we’ll run a few kilometres too.” A few lads from the fire station were running a couple of miles with me every marathon. One of the lads would actually cycle a half marathon every week with me.

Once all of these people jumped in, it made it a whole lot easier, because you’re not only doing it for yourself then, but for them as well.

We could start at six and then one of the lads would go off between six or seven, somebody else would go from seven to eight and people were coming out there at 10 o’clock in the night just to run a few miles with me, just to get me through it.

I think off the top of my head I raised €11,965. There was over €904,000 raised nationally. You’d think for a small town in the west of Clare, you’re not going to raise much, but we actually raised the top amount in the country.

Read more

My Country Living: John Murray of Doon Social Farming "community at heart"

Cold comfort – sea swimming to clear your head