Polar Bear Challenge for Eamonn

The following is a piece penned by Eamonn Cashin – a first year Sports Studies Student in UCC and a member of the UCC Athletics Club.


Polar Circle Polar Bear Challenge.

I am competing in the Polar Circle Polar Bear Challenge 2015 in remote Greenland. This is a unique arctic race. I will be running on the vast ice sheet in this challenging event.

It is referred to as “the coolest marathon on earth” and takes place in Kangerlussuaq, Greenland. The endless ice and arctic tundra of this vast country make up the backdrop of this challenging race. We will pass glacier tongues, moraine landscapes and the soundless, arctic desert.
I will be participating in a Marathon on the 24th October, followed by a Half Marathon on the 25th of October through the snow and ice, with temperatures at -10 to -15 degrees C or less.

Look at 1: The Polar Circle Marathon Trailer or https://youtu.be/8yBYcb0RhkI

Look at 2: Polar Circle Marathon 2014 – by CatchUPhoto.com or https://youtu.be/2XSH5Z7feJI

To date no Irish person has run back to back to achieve the Polar Bear Challenge.

With my extensive injuries following getting knocked down while cycling in December 2013, I had to reassess everything. I was a teacher for 13 years with extensive National and International teaching and lecturing experience in Second, Further and Higher Education. Currently my focus is on recovery and I am now a student in UCC again. I am a first year on the CK116- Sports Studies and Physical Education course. The staff and my fellow class mates in UCC have helped me in many ways.


I have brain injury, reduced hearing in my left ear, I am now 1/4 blind in both eyes, have a damaged left knee and right ankle, vertigo, and had a damaged coccyx.  However 10 months after getting knocked down I ran my first Marathon, Dublin 2014 in 3hrs 33minutes. In March 2015, I came 3rd in the Dover Marathon taking 19 minutes off my Dublin time to finish in 3hrs 14mins in difficult conditions. Acquired Brain Injury Ireland have made a significant contribution to this.


For the Polar Circle Polar Bear Challenge my aim is to navigate the challenging terrain responsibly, with my health and safety paramount. Finishing times to me are not a factor for this overall event. I believe it is about doing a marathon through the snow and ice, then having the courage and mental strength to get up the following morning and complete a half marathon. It will happen. I have trained for this event while also helping others to train for events such as couch to 5km, 10km, half marathons, and marathons that the individuals or group chose. It brings me great joy to see others succeed.
As I train and run events I think of many things. Rocky Balboa (2006) ‘The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place and I don’t care how tough you are it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done!’

Having had the opportunity as a teenager to run with Eamon Coughlan in St Augustine’s College, Abbeyside, Waterford, a phrase he said has never left me throughout my on-going recovery: ‘Winners never lose’. It is true that at times the moments that challenge us the most, define us.


I will succeed in this event for my wife Claire, my infant Paddy, my parents Eddie and Jacinta, my brothers Thomas and Philip, and my sister Clíodhna. I will be very proud crossing that finish line on both days thinking of all those who have helped me, and will look forward to thanking those people personally. You know who you are!  I welcome the October 2015 Polar Circle Polar Bear Challenge.


Éamonn Cashin