Belfast Anti-Cancer Crusaders Running 10 Marathons in 10 Days

August 21, 2013 at 3:00pm EST | by NYRR staff

On Tuesday, August 20, when he finished his run, Harold Reilly headed to a bar.

The 33-year-old from Northern Ireland wasn’t there for a pint, though. He grabbed two buckets of ice—part of a “treat” he’d share with fellow runner Peter Ferris, 57.

Ferris and Reilly are running 10 consecutive marathons—one each day—for Cancer Focus. At night, to soothe their cramping legs, they take hot baths followed by 20-minute soaks in ice.

“My worst was yesterday,” Ferris told News Letter on Wednesday, just after completing his sixth daily marathon. “Once you get halfway, you know you’ve beaten it—you’ve got the back broken, as they say.”

Ferris speaks from experience. He’s run 417 marathons around the world, “many back to back,” and his personal best is 2:40. Unfortunately, he’s also well acquainted with the ravages of cancer, having watched numerous family members battle the deadly disease.

“My wee sister is coming out of cancer. She had cancer of the windpipe,” Ferris said. “Her husband died of cancer. On my mother’s side of the family the female members have either had cancer or died from cancer. So I look on every day as a bonus.”

While Ferris—a retired Ulster University lecturer known as Ferris Gump—and Reilly are covering a lot of miles, they’re doing so without leaving Belfast. Each day, they run 1.6-mile out-and-back loop 16.5 times, passing the Stormont, Northern Ireland’s Parliament buildings, along the way.

It’s a tough course, what with the .82-mile hill, but Ferris is going strong. He’s overcome some health issues of his own, and he’s intent on seeing “a cure for cancer in my lifetime.”

“Going up and down those hills wreck you, there is no other way to put it,” Ferris said. “I find it tough going up and Harold finds it tough going down. I had an accident a few years ago and was told I would never run again, but after rehabilitation at Musgrave Park Hospital I learned to walk again. It went from there.”

To donate money to the cause, visit or text CANCF50 £5 to 70070.

Categories: Human Interest