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The Participants

Daniel (Danny) Leahy

Daniel Leahy



I'm Danny and I'm 29 years old and I'm from Cork, living in place called Larchfield on the Northside of the city. I'm the eldest of 5. I have 3 brothers and a sister and I'm currently living at home with my Mum and 2 of my brothers.


I've been working for Laya Healthcare for the last 8 years, currently as a business project owner and really enjoy it. I'm a big music and sports fan and I love travelling to Munster and Ireland rugby games.

Why you wanted to be part of Marathon Mind and what you hope to achieve on this journey?

I came across the Marathon Mind programme on Rob Heffernan’s Instagram story and I was immediately interested after watching the video. The idea of training the mind to make the body stronger was a huge pull for me.


Honestly, I hate this part, putting together what can come across to be a sob story.


The effects of suicide is now unfortunately part of my family's life. In June 2015, my brother took his life and in Oct 2019, my dad also took his life as a consequence. The support from friends and family in this time has been and still is absolutely incredible but I don't feel I've ever really faced the actual events. I try to live life with a smile on my face, work hard and I love having the craic but emotionally life feels like it has been paused and that I'm allowing life to dictate my path as opposed to me taking control of that path. I don't even know if that makes sense.


My hope really is that the Marathon Mind challenge helps me to mentally and physically step up and face the obstacles life has presented and to prove to myself that I can face them head on and overcome them. I suppose the initial feeling I had when watching the Marathon Mind video was that I would like to be able to take control of my own mind and my own body and use that to build a better life for myself and for my family going forward.

Marion Russell Photo 2

Marion Russell



Hi everyone, my name is Marion Russell. I’m 39 years old and I’m from Glengarriff in West Cork.

I live here with my three crazy and brilliant children, and our dog Miley.

A primary school teacher by profession, I am currently on a career break, and work a few days a week in schools locally.

Hobbies include waking and jogging, reading, watching TV and all things beauty and fashion. In a previous life-  before Covid 19- I also loved eating out ( O my God I miss eating out!), going to the local pub and travelling.

Why did you sign up for Marathon Mind?

2020 was a tough year for so many people- but it was a particularly difficult year for our family.

In April 2020, my beloved husband Barry passed away. He had lived with cancer for three and a half years, and he passed away peacefully at home on April 23rd.

Before he died, Bar made me promise to get back into exercising. He knew how beneficial it was for my mental health...

I started back walking the day after his funeral and have kept it up since.

In January I stumbled upon Niall’s “31 Days of Mindfulness” on Spotify and decided to give it a go. It was a challenging month of learning about myself, and it was my first taste of mindfulness...but I really enjoyed it, and I wanted more!

What do you want to achieve on this journey?

A few things!!

I want to start and finish a marathon, hopefully on the same day!

I want to develop the skill of practising mindfulness- and learn more about mindfulness.

And I want to get a little bit of Marion, the person, back. I know how to be Marion the mother. I knew how to be Marion, wife and best friend of Barry. But I have kind of forgotten how to be Marion- the individual. And I’d like a little bit of focus to get that back. I think, and hope, that Marathon Mind will help me start to achieve that 😊

Phelim Gallagher



Born & raised in Galway. Living in Dublin. Law graduate. Hobbies: Sea swimming/Have swam everyday in February so far currently taking part in  #Freezbury.  Love/Hate relationship with running.

Likes: Boxing, Long walks on the beach, Travel, Music, Ham & Cheese Jambons and Trad music with a fireside pint.

His “WHY”

For my Dad who passed away suddenly of a heart attack in 2018. I think Marathon Mind is a once in a lifetime opportunity to work with a learn from a team of World Class Coaches.

What Do You Want To Achieve?

“The aim is to train the mind to make the body strong, not the other way around.”


I believe that during the next 9 months of training & on race day, there is a massive amount to be learned from each and every one of the coaches on the Marathon Mind Team, from every different perspective and speciality.


I want to shine a light on my weaknesses and understand my strengths. Finally, from this experience be mentally stronger and more able to deal with set backs, struggles and challenges in the future.

Phelim Gallagher
Michelle McDonnell

Michelle McDonnell 



Name: Michelle McDonnell Brehony

From: Keash a small village in South Sligo, Ireland.

Hobbies - Walking, a little running, playing football with the kids, listening to podcasts.

Married to Sean and we have 3 young kids.

Work: I trained as a nurse and am now working as a Quality Manager in Healthcare.

Why do you want to be part of Marathon Mind and what do you hope to achieve on this journey?

I was diagnosed with a kidney tumour in Nov 2019 and a few weeks later had my right kidney removed. The diagnosis came as a huge shock and it was a difficult period emotionally and psychologically. I always loved the idea of running a marathon but in the madness and business of what I called 'normal life' I never gave myself the time. I would love to have a new focus for 2021 one that will benefit me in body and mind and help me to truly leave this past difficult year behind. 


During the last year walking and the outdoors has been my saviour and I was keen to increase my exercise this year. I had joined a running club before I got sick but between illness and Covid I have not returned. It would be so special 2 years on form my initial diagnosis to have the mental & physical ability to complete a marathon.

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