Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Marathon Man; Never a Man to Be Intimidated by a Situation, Undercover Television Reporter Donal MacIntyre Is Attempting to Run Two Marathons - in Eight Days

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Marathon Man; Never a Man to Be Intimidated by a Situation, Undercover Television Reporter Donal MacIntyre Is Attempting to Run Two Marathons - in Eight Days

Article excerpt

Byline: DAVID SMYTH

One marathon is usually more than enough for most amateurs, who hobble over the finishing line swearing that they'll never do anything so foolish again. But a single marathon is a pushover for Donal MacIntyre, television reporter, investigative journalist and apparently man of steel.

With the air of a compulsive gambler taking on a pound sterling1 million bet and then saying, 'Why don't we make this really interesting?' he's running two in eight days.

On Sun 13 Apr, 37-year-old MacIntyre will be lining up with 35,000 other runners to take part in the Flora London Marathon. Then he sprints off to Boston for the world's oldest annual marathon, where he should complete his 52nd mile on Mon 21 Apr. Of course, his television persona as a thrill-seeking action man might lead people to assume this is his twisted idea of fun. After all, this is the man who, for last year's Wild Weather series, jumped out of airplanes, canoed over a Norwegian waterfall and stood in a 136mph wind tunnel.

Sipping a double macchiato in a Chiswick cafe, MacIntyre is rather less gung-ho about what he is taking on. 'I hadn't realised how close the two races were when I agreed to do it, but it'll be fine,' he says, laughing nervously. He has never done the London Marathon before, but has completed marathons a few times as a younger man. However, his last one, in Dublin 10 years ago, became a half-marathon when he attempted to run the whole thing without any training and ended up hitching home at the halfway mark. He ran the Disney Half-Marathon in Florida in January this year, but didn't enjoy that one either. 'It started at about half five in the morning and it was freezing cold,' he says. 'Plus it was in Disney hell, around the back of the Animal Kingdom. Buzz Lightyear nearly tripped me up at one point. All the Americans were giving the cartoon characters high fives and I'm thinking, "Get the hell out of my way!"' For all his talk of being overtaken by female race-walkers, he's fitter than he makes out. Before his television career took off he canoed for Ireland, and he recently finished a respectable third in the 1998 Devizes To Westminster Canoe Race - a 125-mile slog on water. In February this year he was due to fight Darren Day in the latest of the BBC's celebrity boxing bouts, before the corporation scrapped them. This meant that MacIntyre was under less pressure to train, and he admits he has done less than he should have for the double challenge. There is no strict diet or exercise regime to speak of, and despite his naturally competitive nature he professes not to be interested in his time or position. 'I just want to finish without too much pain,' he says.

However, in the three weeks before the London leg he has been running regularly with a friend, who has devised a gruelling routine of four- to 10-mile jogs in the week followed by 20-mile epics around Richmond at the weekends. …

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