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The West Essex Man Who Ran 351 Miles In 26 Days

The story of West Essex local, Jon O’Shea, who ran 351 miles in 26 days, all in aid of The National Autistic Society

How did it go when you competed in the London Marathon recently?

It was good to finally be back on the streets in a major marathon for the first time in a couple of years, the crowds were good and the atmosphere at the London Marathon is still an unbeatable experience. Having run 325 miles in the previous 25 days it was certainly the most tired I had ever been at the start of a race, but I still managed to enjoy the experience and completed the race in a time of 4 hours and 36 minutes.

How do you feel to have completed the 351 miles?

The last week was extremely tough having to run 161 miles in seven days and trying to fit all that into a normal working week meant I was running at 4am most mornings. It’s one of those achievements you look back at and say “Well I’m never doing at again!”

How much sponsorship have you raised so far?

So far just over £7,600 has been raised, which brings my personal fundraising total from various running events over the year to just over £93,000, so I guess I’m going to have to think of something else for the future to get it over that £100,000 mark.

Why were you keen to support The National Autistic Society?

I was keen to raise funds for The National Autistic Society who do incredible work each year supporting the 700,000 autistic people in the UK and their families. I was diagnosed with autism in November 2019, so this charity is especially important to me. The National Autistic Society is the UK’s leading charity for people on the autism spectrum and their families. Since 1962, they have been providing support, guidance and advice, as well as campaigning for improved rights, services and opportunities to help create a society that works for autistic people.

Jon O'Shea London Marathon medal
Jon O’Shea with his well deserved London Marathon medal

When you were diagnosed what was your overriding emotion. Fear or relief?

There was a period of three months between self-realisation and formal diagnosis, which was not an easy time for me. The assessment meeting itself lasted for seven hours and obviously covered a lot of personal history. There is no doubt I felt immense relief at the end of the assessment when I was given the formal diagnosis.

What made you think you might be autistic?

I had always thought that “other people” didn’t react in the same way that I did in most situations. I have in the past been called cold emotionally, overly calm or even robotic which is not true, but visually I can certainly give that impression at times. After some banter in this regard at home I started Googling these traits, which led me to articles on autism and that was the lightbulb moment.

To help Jon O’Shea raise more money for The National Autistic Society, visit justgiving.com/fundraising/the351milemarathon. If you would like to find out more about autism, you can also visit the National Autism Society website (autism.org.uk/) and if you want to speak to Jon personally you can contact him via email, jon.o’[email protected]

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