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World Marathon Challenge director completes trans-U.S. run carrying friend’s ashes

Donovan completed his 5,150 km run in honour of ultrarunner friend Alvin Matthews

Race director and ultrarunner Richard Donovan completed his second run across the U.S. on Sunday. Donovan carried the ashes of his friend Alvin Matthews, a California ultrarunner, who sustained a paralyzing injury at work. Matthews passed away suddenly a year ago, and Donovan dedicated this run to him, delivering the ashes to Matthews’ mother at the end of his journey.

Photo: Instagram/richarddonovan

The athlete began his trek immediately after completing the Boston Marathon on April 18 and crossed 14 states throughout his journey.

Running extremely long distances is not new to Donovan: he completed his first run across the U.S. in 2015, then in 2016, ran across Europe from Istanbul to the coast near Rotterdam, and followed that with a run across South America in early 2017.


Donovan shared on Instagram that he’d faced a few setbacks: “Although a medical issue caused some delays, I’ve crossed Missouri, Kansas and the Rockies in Colorado and am heading into Monument Valley this coming weekend. I hope to finish the Trans USA Run at Santa Monica Pier later this month.”

Photo: Twitter/RichardDonovan

The Galway, Ireland native organizes the World Marathon Challenge every year, which involves a group of runners from various countries completing seven marathons on seven continents in seven days. The WMC has drawn the likes of ultrarunning legend Mike Wardian, who also recently finished running across the U.S., heading from west to east.

Donovan didn’t follow a strictly linear route and had no exact deadline; he mapped his journey based on places he wanted to run through.