When his legs felt like lead and he struggled to push on and finish his first ever 100km run, Donal Kelly thought of the cause of life. In the lead-up to the Goldcoast 100 Supermarathon on June 11, he was not only training but raising funds for mothers and babies through Emily’s Voice’s life and love campaigns.

Donal finished the race in 12 hours and 51 minutes, putting him in seventh place out of 16 starters. He’s signed up for another two races already; a 52km in July and a 100km trail race in September!

“Not bad for a rookie,” he laughed.

“The race itself was challenging mentally; we did a 6.25km lap 16 times. It rained for a lot of the run also. Running for a cause gave me that push I needed when times got tough. There were a couple of periods where I struggled a bit but thinking of why I was running really gave me confidence that I could finish.”

A few weeks before the run, Donal’s employer agreed to match funds raised, dollar for dollar. So far, he has raised $3460 of his $5000 goal on Go Fund Me, equating to $6920 so far. The campaign will continue until the end of this month.

“The highlight was crossing the line knowing I had achieved what I’d set out to do really. It was extremely satisfying,” Donal said.

“Another highlight was hearing I’d come 7th in my first 100km which really blew me away.”

Well done Donal! Here at Emily’s Voice – we’re your biggest fans!

Why Donal ran

It was on a recent trip back to his home country Ireland that Donal was struck with the need to “do something”. He had been visiting his birth grandparents and father.

“My mum fell pregnant outside of marriage, not even in a relationship really, and it was seen as an embarrassment, a disgrace. She was sent away to a Catholic college and I’ve learnt that she didn’t get much support from friends and family, she was pretty much ex-communicated,” he explains.

“That’s when I was given up for adoption.”

While he has since made contact with grandparents and father, his birth mother hasn’t mustered the confidence for that meeting just yet.

“I don’t hold anything against her,” Donal says.

“I think she was 17 when she fell pregnant and there were so many people telling her what to do. I don’t think there was much choice for her in the situation. It’s had a lasting effect on her, the whole ordeal, and it took a long time for family to bind together again.”

But Donal was fortunate. He was adopted into a loving family that gave him all the love he needed, and is today happily married. When he met his wife Olivia, she was going through a strangely similar situation to Donal’s mum; pregnant at a young age. The difference was that she had support. That child, Reegan, is now five, and Donal and Olivia have added two more children to the nest: Gavin, 2, and Aurora, 1.

Donal’s own birth story, and then Olivia’s experience too, have given him a soft heart for women experiencing an unplanned pregnancy.

“After the trip to Ireland, when I got home I started thinking, if I can do anything to help this not to happen to other people, so that young mums have the support they need, I’ll do it,” he says.

Donal Kelly ultra marathon

There’s still time to show your support for Donal by sponsoring his run and helping meet his target of $5000. CLICK HERE to donate via Go Fund Me.

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