For Richard Donavan running the grueling 26.2 miles of the Boston Marathon was only a way to stretch his legs before getting up the next morning to run across America…for the second time. Running seven marathons on seven continents in seven days sounds impossible, so he did it in under five.
Richard is also the first person to run marathons at both the North and South Poles and now lures other likeminded athletes to join him in some of Earth’s most extreme endurance races, including the North Pole Marathon, Antarctic Ice Marathon, Volcano Marathon, and World Marathon Challenge (7 Marathons 7 Continents in a leisurely 7 Days).
Where to next? Space. His Space Athletics Federation is hoping to stage a race in space by early 2026.
Quite a journey for an economist from Mervue, County Galway.
On Irish Stew he tells of the trauma that led to his embrace of ultra long-distance running, improvising his way to becoming the first person to run a marathon at the North Pole, the friend who motivated his two cross U.S. runs, dodging coyotes while running across the American West, overcoming the mental and physical challenges of running in some of the world's harshest environments, and his push into the final frontier of extreme sports in space.
Join us in a conversation that spans the continents and looks to the stars with our guide to the exquisite loneliness of the long-distance runner, Richard Donovan.
o Twitter - Richard Donovan
o Twitter: Space Athletics Federation
o Facebook - Antarctic Ice Marathon
Extreme Race Organiser and Ultra Distance Runner
ATHLETE: First marathoner at both the North & South Poles & world record holder for running marathons on all 7 continents in 4 days 22 hours 3 minutes. Participated in many extreme locations around the planet, including the Atacama & Sahara Deserts, the Andes & Himalayan mountains and the Amazon Jungle. Won the Inca Trail Marathon, Himalayan 100-Mile Stage Race, Antarctic 100km, Everest Challenge Marathon and South Pole Marathon. Represented Ireland internationally as an ultramarathon runner. Ran 5,000km across the USA on two occasions: San Francisco to New York in 2015 and Boston to Santa Monica Pier in 2022. Also completed a 3,000km run across Europe from Istanbul to Rotterdam in 2016 and 1,800km across South America from the Argentine Atlantic coast to Chile’s Pacific coast in 2017. Summited Ojos del Salado in 2021, Pico de Orizaba in 2022, and Kilimanjaro in 2023: the highest volcanoes in South America, North America and Africa, respectively. Climbed Aconcagua in 2022, the highest peak in South America at 6,962m.
RACE ORGANIZER: Completed 40+ trips as organiser and group leader to the North Pole and Antarctica. Founder of some of Earth’s most extreme races, including the North Pole Marathon, Antarctic Ice Marathon, Volcano Marathon and World Marathon Challenge (7 Marathons 7 Continents 7 Days). Co-Founder of the newly established Space Athletics Federation. Organised and directed numerous global events, including the 100km Commonwealth Championships, the 50km World Trophy Final, and both the Commonwealth Trail Championships and World Trail Championships at ultramarathon running. Other miscellaneous events have included the 100km Anglo Celtic Plate, North Pole Bike Extreme, and the first ever Antarctic Triathlon. Helped to launch the international Wings for Life World Run and was Race Director of the Irish event.
ECONOMIST: A published economist holding postgraduate degrees from Europe and the USA. Specialisms in competition law & economics, development of interactive educational software for the university market, and demographic projections. Instructed undergraduate students at University of Galway, the New England Banking Institute and Arizona State University. Consulted to major industry, including the Irish drinks sector. Awarded postgraduate fellowship to National University of Ireland and academic scholarship to USA. Received a professional doctorate in Project Management in 2020.