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Your Health

Marathon Paramedic’s special baby gift

It is not often that you win a prestigious prize and immediately give it away. But for Six Star marathon medal winner Eamonn Baxter, he could think of only one person that he wanted to have that very special award.

56-year-old Eamonn has been a paramedic with the HSE for the past 22 years, based out of the University Hospital Galway.

Three and a half years ago, he saved Jonah Murphy’s life when the tiny baby went into cardiac arrest aged just seven weeks. In July, he celebrated his fourth birthday thanks to Eamonn’s interventions.

Eamonn visited Jonah and his family to hand over the very special early birthday present when he returned to Ireland having completed the Tokyo Marathon in Japan.

By crossing the finish line in Tokyo in March, Eamonn earned himself the unique Six Star marathon medal. Tokyo was his final world marathon ‘major’, after previously completing the 26.2 mile courses in London, Berlin, New York, Boston and Chicago. The medal is awarded to participants who have completed all six of the major marathons.

There are only 92 of these medals in Ireland and just under 5,000 worldwide before the London Marathon last month.

“A friend had told me about the six majors. I had done Berlin at that stage and had qualified for Boston. So that was two done and then I had the other four kind of in my sights. I thought it would be a great thing to aim for. And always in the back of my mind was the little lad Jonah,” explained Eamonn.

“I really wanted to do it for him. I didn’t want to tell him or his parents about it in case I let them down by not getting them all done. But once I had just Tokyo to go, I approached his mum and dad and asked if they were okay with me running it for Jonah and wearing his picture on my t-shirt. They were delighted.

“After I came home, I dropped by the house for a visit to give Jonah my medal. He was thrilled with it – and wasn’t letting go. He has been a great little fighter and it was thinking of him that got me around the course. I wasn’t letting him down.”

What is even more amazing about Eamonn’s achievement is the fact that he only started running back in 2011 because he was overweight and his blood pressure was high.

“The reason I took up running back in 2011 was that I was overweight at over 90kg and my blood pressure was raised. I bought a cross trainer and a treadmill and started walking quickly on it and over time I started to jog and then run. My weight has dropped to 72kg and my BP has also dropped,” he said.

“My first 5k was the Darkness into Light and then I worked up to 8k and then just kept going, I suppose.”

Eamonn’s gruelling training regime also has a unique twist – he does it all on his treadmill.

“I know most people would be horrified to have to do all their running on a treadmill. But I suppose I don’t know any other way. When I took up the running, I used the treadmill all the time and it just became second nature,” he said.

“When I started back in 2011, I could barely break into a jog. So I used the treadmill to try to build up my strength and stamina. I eventually got fitter and fitter and it became much easier. Working the shift work of 10-12 hours as I do as a paramedic, it is much easier to walk in the door at any hour of the day or night and just hop on the treadmill. I followed my training plan around my work schedule thanks to my trusty treadmill.”

Eamonn-Baxter-web

The training and running events also give Eamonn an outlet to distress and switch off from work.

“The life of a paramedic can be very tough so it can be great to come home and get on the treadmill. It immediately clears the mind and makes sure I’m not thinking about work,” said the Galway paramedic.

He said it was tough to choose which of the big six was his favourite.

“In all my marathons, Japan was my first wet one which is mad considering how many I have done back home here in Ireland without any rain. In New York, it is an iconic course but there’s a lot of waiting around beforehand. Boston is a very tough and hilly course and you have to respect the heat. The humidity there was a big challenge, as it saps your energy. It was my slowest of the six, coming over the line at four hours and eight minutes.

“London is great but very congested, whereas Berlin is a lovely flat course. There was one part of it where there was a road with a big cathedral at the end of it and you could have sworn you were running down the University Road in Galway,” he laughed.

He finished Berlin in a fine time of 3.29:53.

The unique medal win wasn’t the end of the marathon effort for Eamonn. He then completed his 25th marathon in Limerick – where he started it all at his first marathon back in 2013, and went on to do his 26th in Derry.

“It was exactly six years to the day that I ran my first marathon so I thought that I better not skip it!”

Running 26.2 miles doesn’t get easier but Eamonn has his own way of making sure he doesn’t hit the famous ‘wall’ at 20 miles.

“Those last six miles are all about mental strength. In fact, I usually look forward to those last six miles. I just break it down into smaller races. Six miles is just a 10k like the first one I did in Clifden. Then when I’ve another mile done, I think ‘ah sure this is just the 8k Streets of Galway run.’ If I think about it like that, then it’s much easier to manage. Once you get half way round then you know you have more behind you than you have in front of you.”

It is not often that you win a prestigious prize and immediately give it away. But for Six Star marathon medal winner Eamonn Baxter, he could think of only one person that he wanted to have that very special award.

56-year-old Eamonn has been a paramedic with the HSE for the past 22 years, based out of the University Hospital Galway.

Three and a half years ago, he saved Jonah Murphy’s life when the tiny baby went into cardiac arrest aged just seven weeks. In July, he celebrated his fourth birthday thanks to Eamonn’s interventions.

Eamonn visited Jonah and his family to hand over the very special early birthday present when he returned to Ireland having completed the Tokyo Marathon in Japan.

By crossing the finish line in Tokyo in March, Eamonn earned himself the unique Six Star marathon medal. Tokyo was his final world marathon ‘major’, after previously completing the 26.2 mile courses in London, Berlin, New York, Boston and Chicago. The medal is awarded to participants who have completed all six of the major marathons.

There are only 92 of these medals in Ireland and just under 5,000 worldwide before the London Marathon last month.

“A friend had told me about the six majors. I had done Berlin at that stage and had qualified for Boston. So that was two done and then I had the other four kind of in my sights. I thought it would be a great thing to aim for. And always in the back of my mind was the little lad Jonah,” explained Eamonn.

“I really wanted to do it for him. I didn’t want to tell him or his parents about it in case I let them down by not getting them all done. But once I had just Tokyo to go, I approached his mum and dad and asked if they were okay with me running it for Jonah and wearing his picture on my t-shirt. They were delighted.

“After I came home, I dropped by the house for a visit to give Jonah my medal. He was thrilled with it – and wasn’t letting go. He has been a great little fighter and it was thinking of him that got me around the course. I wasn’t letting him down.”

What is even more amazing about Eamonn’s achievement is the fact that he only started running back in 2011 because he was overweight and his blood pressure was high.

“The reason I took up running back in 2011 was that I was overweight at over 90kg and my blood pressure was raised. I bought a cross trainer and a treadmill and started walking quickly on it and over time I started to jog and then run. My weight has dropped to 72kg and my BP has also dropped,” he said.

“My first 5k was the Darkness into Light and then I worked up to 8k and then just kept going, I suppose.”

Eamonn’s gruelling training regime also has a unique twist – he does it all on his treadmill.

“I know most people would be horrified to have to do all their running on a treadmill. But I suppose I don’t know any other way. When I took up the running, I used the treadmill all the time and it just became second nature,” he said.

“When I started back in 2011, I could barely break into a jog. So I used the treadmill to try to build up my strength and stamina. I eventually got fitter and fitter and it became much easier. Working the shift work of 10-12 hours as I do as a paramedic, it is much easier to walk in the door at any hour of the day or night and just hop on the treadmill. I followed my training plan around my work schedule thanks to my trusty treadmill.”

The training and running events also give Eamonn an outlet to distress and switch off from work.

“The life of a paramedic can be very tough so it can be great to come home and get on the treadmill. It immediately clears the mind and makes sure I’m not thinking about work,” said the Galway paramedic.

He said it was tough to choose which of the big six was his favourite.

“In all my marathons, Japan was my first wet one which is mad considering how many I have done back home here in Ireland without any rain. In New York, it is an iconic course but there’s a lot of waiting around beforehand. Boston is a very tough and hilly course and you have to respect the heat. The humidity there was a big challenge, as it saps your energy. It was my slowest of the six, coming over the line at four hours and eight minutes.

“London is great but very congested, whereas Berlin is a lovely flat course. There was one part of it where there was a road with a big cathedral at the end of it and you could have sworn you were running down the University Road in Galway,” he laughed.

He finished Berlin in a fine time of 3.29:53.

The unique medal win wasn’t the end of the marathon effort for Eamonn. He then completed his 25th marathon in Limerick – where he started it all at his first marathon back in 2013, and went on to do his 26th in Derry.

“It was exactly six years to the day that I ran my first marathon so I thought that I better not skip it!”

Running 26.2 miles doesn’t get easier but Eamonn has his own way of making sure he doesn’t hit the famous ‘wall’ at 20 miles.

“Those last six miles are all about mental strength. In fact, I usually look forward to those last six miles. I just break it down into smaller races. Six miles is just a 10k like the first one I did in Clifden. Then when I’ve another mile done, I think ‘ah sure this is just the 8k Streets of Galway run.’ If I think about it like that, then it’s much easier to manage. Once you get half way round then you know you have more behind you than you have in front of you.”