January 21, 2011


Running the world one step at a time

Runner’s global trek takes him through Cortland County on two-year journey back to Ireland


Bob Ellis/staff photographer
Tony Mangan, from Ireland, pushes his 3-wheeled cart full of supplies Thursday morning along Route 13 between Sheds and DeRuyter. Mangan is planning on running around the world, covering 25 to 35 miles per day.

Staff Reporter

DeRUYTER — Tony Mangan started running 87 days ago out of Dublin, Ireland. He expects to return to his starting point in two years.
The 53-year-old Irish ultrarunner’s route takes him around the globe, onto every continent and through nearly every country. He said his plan is to cover each kilometer on foot, fly when necessary and alter the route when circumstances force him to.
“I’ve been dreaming and planning this in my mind for 20 years,” Mangan said as he ran along Route 13 between Sheds and DeRuyter. “Really it’s just the experience, the strength, that I got from my competitive career and the training I’ve done.”
He holds two world 48-hour records for endurance running in a regular race and has been long-distance running and cycling since the late 1970s.
The idea for running across the world entered his mind 20 years ago, while running.
“I went home and wrote into my training diary that I felt so good I could run around the world,” Mangan said. “The idea just escalated and the next day I thought, ‘why not?’”
Mangan said he knew what he was getting into, having bicycled around the world.
His journey has garnered media attention in other locations along the way.
Now he is wearing his seventh and eighth pair of shoes, which he alternates regularly.
He pushes a three-wheeled cart filled with supplies, including food and water, a tent, and electronics he uses to update the journey online through his website:
Mangan runs 25 to 35 miles each day and posts regular updates about the journey on his blog.
“I knew what I was getting myself in for because I’ve been in positions like this with the cold weather, and I knew my state of mind in what to do,” Mangan said.
Local resident Lynn Cunningham said she met up with Mangan later in Truxton and ran with him for about 3.7 miles. They also stopped for coffee and brownies and he shared his story, she said.
“I tried to let him know what I remembered about the terrain of the rest of Route 13 to Cortland was like ... he said not to worry,” Cunningham said via e-mail.
She encouraged anyone available to offer Mangan a warm place to sleep overnight, since he is on a very low budget.
Mangan said if he has not prearranged places to stay with friends or followers, he pitches a tent, or will simply knock on doors and ask to sleep in the garage.
Most people allow him to say and others have no problem inviting him to spend the night in their house, he said.
“I haven’t had a single rude comment since I started in Dublin on Oct. 25,” Mangan said.
He said there are some nights he has to sleep outside and the cold gets daunting.
“I am an experienced traveler, but everyone’s talking about record lows this weekend,” he said. “One thing is for sure, if I have to pitch a tent I’ll pitch a tent, but I’ll be fine.”
As he runs through the various landscapes, some very rural and others very populated, Mangan finds ways to keep his mind busy. On some occasions, other runners will follow him for a time.
“When I’m running through places like this I’m thinking a lot about past experiences about people I’ve met and stayed with,” Mangan said.
From New York, Mangan plans to run to northern Pennsylvania, then to Ohio, Indiana, and then to Colorado, where he used to live for eight years. He eventually will make his way to California and into Mexico. From there, he plans to run through South America, eventually to New Zealand and Australia.
He is looking forward to returning to Colorado.
“That in many ways is going to be sort of a homecoming for me. I have a lot of friends there,” Mangan said.
This type of running sport is different from competitive racing, Mangan said. He is not racing against the clock or other athletes. He walks when has to and stops whenever needed.
Mangan said he tries to make stops twice a day for a cup of coffee and talk with people in whichever town he happens to be passing though.
With the bulk of the journey still ahead, Mangan maintains confidence it will get finished, mostly because of his dedication to see it through.
“Ultrarunning is not a specialty of younger athletes because it’s not a fast sport,” he said. “It’s about endurance over a long period of time, so often maturity is an advantage because younger guys go on fast and older guys with more experience can go longer.”


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