Andy running 66 ultra marathons in 66 days across UK's 66 cities
Crossing the finishing line
Andy and Luke after six miles
ELECTION week in Northern Ireland saw more than one important race taking place.
Whilst the politicians were waiting for the results, Marathon Runner Andy McMenemy could be found at Thiepval Barracks in Lisburn readying himself for a gruelling 50km long Ultra-Marathon.
But this was no ordinary run — it was his 53rd in 66 planned consecutive events in his own personal project named Challenge 66, as Andy hopes to set the World Record at 66 Ultra-Marathons, running in 66 cities in 66 days, raising money for the Soldiers' Charity at the same time.
"I ran the Marathon des Sables in the Sahara in 2007, a six day back-to-back run of nearly six standard marathons and this inspired me to set my own personal best" said Andy.
A number of setbacks in his career and the death of his father, a former soldier, made Andy even more determined to succeed. When The Soldiers' Charity paid for a ramp to allow wheelchair access to his ailing father's home, this prompted Andy to adopt a charitable angle.
As the Soldiers' Charity helped my Dad, I felt compelled to repay the favour" recalled Andy. As Andy left Thiepval Barracks, he was joined by Luke Forsey (16), the son of The Soldiers' Charity Regional Director, David, based in Lisburn.
Luke hopes to commence a BTEC Diploma in Sport at the South East Regional College in September.
"This is hard work!" Luke confirmed at the six mile point. 'Andy might be 49, but he sets a really fast pace!" Also joining the run was Belfast Solicitor, Iryna Kennedy, a member of Lagan Valley Athletics Club.
"He is very inspirational," said Iryna as they slowed at the 20 mile point. "I hope that one day I can be as focused as Andy."
Andy takes each race in his stride. He has promised himself no treats except a cold pint of Lager Shandy once he crosses the finishing line on his 66th race in York this Friday, 20th May — his 50th birthday.
David Forsey, Regional Director of The Soldiers' Charity in Northern Ireland cycled ahead of Andy throughout the event.
"Each city has an on-line tally" he explained. "Anyone who wishes to donate should go to www.challenge66.org and click on 'support us', then 'individual sponsors' and then find Lisburn on the Northern Ireland cities list and donate.
"It's totally secure, so no personal details will appear on the web."
Andy successfully crossed the finish line at the Island Centre in a time of 6:47.01. "What beautiful City Hall in such a great setting." he said.
Sixty six Ultra-Marathons is a tall order, but will it be too much for him? Andy smiled and replied "A moment of pain is nothing compared to a lifetime of victory."
You can follow Andy's progress and see if he makes it to the finish line this week on the Challenge 66 Blog.