Andrew Wallace will tackle ‘The Race’ next month – a 24-hour endurance test described as the toughest ever to take place in Ireland – in memory of his late mother.
When Andrew Wallace from Bridgend was starring on the hurling fields of Donegal and beyond for Burt and Donegal, his mother, Eileen, was his number one fan.
In 2015, Eileen Wallace died of amyloidosis – the same disease that later took the life of Martin McGuinnes.
Amyloidosis is a rare disease that occurs when a substance called amyloid builds up in your organs. Amyloid is an abnormal protein that is produced in your bone marrow and can be deposited in any tissue or organ.
Andrew stopped hurling in 2013 and he took to adventure racing to fill the void.
He had taken part in the 2012 Extreme North in Inishowen.
He has since competed in Ireland’s top ten adventure races, including Shore2Summit, Connemara Adventure Race, Quest Killarney, Dingle AR, Gaelforce West and Tuff Inish.
Last May, he won on the steep slopes of Slieve Donard.
Now, he’s set for his ultimate test.
“It’s weird to think anyone would look forward to a race that can possibly last for 24 hours,” Wallace says.
“However I’ve never shrugged away from a challenge, albeit this is a whole new ball game, if you excuse the pun.
“I’m putting in between 15 and 20 hours of training per week at this stage and that isn’t easy with being away at work five days a week – out of house at 8am and not back until after 6pm. I also set aside Sunday as a rest/family day so everything is crammed into the other six days.”
The Race is a 250k 24 hour Adventure Race which takes place in Gartan in March. It comprises a 22k run 15k of kayaking, a 96k bike race, a 5k run on Muckish, a 68k bike race and a 42k run.
Even reading it is enough to set the pulse racing.
“My reason to do this is for my mum,” Andrew says.
“Mum was such a great woman and was always there for me and supported me right up until she got ill. Now I feel it’s time to honour this great lady.
He hopes that his pursuit will race awareness of the rare illness that claimed his beloved mother: “It’s an unknown disease and needs more awareness hence this.
“Lately I’ve heard of more and more people locally getting this. If we’d had more info on this we just might have got to spend a few more years with mum.”
Andrew admits that he has one big challenge as he gets ready to compete in Gartan – getting the head right.
He says: “I love training and to be honest I could do the race tomorrow fitness wise, however I need to get my nutrition and clothes organised now and the one big thing – ‘the head’!”.
He will go, though, with the same comfort as he always took to the hurling fields. He remembers his parents traveling to support him when he played for Ulster in Templemore back in 2001.
His biggest fan will be with him every inch and every sweat drop of the way.
He says: “I know Mum will be looking down and cheering me on as she always did, that alone will get me over the line…”
Anyone wishing to sponsor Andrew can do so by visiting www.gofundme.com/the-race-250k-24-hrs-amyloidosis or by contacting Andrew directly or any family member. He has a facebook page set up called Andrew Wallace “The Race” 250k 24 hours Amyloidosis Fundraiser. Give it “a like” please and follow updates on training etc.
A tea/coffee morning in O’ Flaherty’s Bar, Buncrana, on Friday, March 1, between 10am–2pm, is also taking place with all proceeds to the Amyloidosis Foundation.