Johnny Donnelly can only be described as a unique character who follows his passions in life to the ultimate extreme, and in that vein has committed to run 60 marathons in the next 4 years.
Johnny has spent a good deal of his life finding solace in playing drums; not in the haphazard, noisy and tuneless sort of way adopted by small children, but from a very early age he would sit behind the sofa drumming along to James Last. When he was sixteen, opportunity knocked on his door and he joined the folk-rock band, The Saw Doctors and never looked back.
For thirteen years The Saw Doctors took Johnny and his drums round the world and back home again. During that time he'd flee the rock and roll lifestyle by escaping into his world of running and during that period of his life he didn't touch an alcoholic drink - no mean feat for someone living the life of a rock star!
Johnny also started running as a child, at around about the same time as he received his first drum kit. He loved the rhythm of running created by his heartbeat and his feet and ran with the words 'Run, Johnny, run' pounding through his head. He knew that this was where he wanted to be.
At age thirteen, Johnny finished his first Dublin Marathon and continued to run in it for the next nine years.
Johnny had always had a recurring dream that he was running alongside a group of people, which he didn't take much notice of until he left the band and began to focus on his running.
In 2004 he picked a marathon and a charity and set off. The marathon was the thirty-five mile Two Oceans marathon in Cape Town and the charity became the Niall Mellon Trust, the Irish charity that builds houses in South Africa. Inspired by standing in a shack in South Africa, he realised that he wasn't just raising money for these people, he was giving them hope.
Johnny saw the issues in South Africa as an extreme problem needing extreme help and on that note, dedicated the next four years of his life to run in sixty marathons. He discovered Sea Change, which is a charity that engages in micro-finance, the process of giving small loans to those in extreme poverty to help them to work their way out of it. The money is recycled back into the organisation and has the benefit of teaching families to understand profit.
So Johnny's recurring dream has been realised. He is looking for people to run alongside him in any of the marathons he's going to undertake.
For further details on how to run alongside Johnny or to simply donate to his worthy cause, visit his website
When the sun doesn't set for two months, it seems a good idea to run a marathon at midnight. Since 1989, such an event has been held in Tromsø, above the Arctic Circle in Norway.
The Midnight Sun Marathon is the world's northern-most AIMS certified marathon, attracting runners this year from about 50 countries. There are distances to appeal to all ages, with the feature race beginning at 8.30pm and a half marathon starting at 10.30pm.
Even though it is late at night, it is hard to believe that runners start and finish in broad daylight.
The marathon began in the city centre, quickly heading over the 1026m Tromsø bridge, 44m above sea level, to the Norwegian mainland. After about 20km on the mainland, runners headed back over the bridge through the city centre, round the southern part of the island and back to finish in the city centre.
Tromsø is the capital of northern Norway with about 64.000 inhabitants. It is a beautiful and friendly place to visit, with attractions including the Arctic Cathedral, Tromsø Museum, Polar Museum, cable car and Polaria, which presents the arctic way of life in northern Norway.