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Fitness & Health

04th Apr 2019

Marathon man Evan Scully looks to break world record in Italy this weekend

Dave Hanratty

Evan Scully Cystic Fibrosis marathon

Scully, who has Cystic Fibrosis, currently holds the European record. On Sunday, he looks to beat the odds once more.

Born with Cystic Fibrosis, Evan Scully has defied the odds.

Doctors said that he likely wouldn’t live past 10 years of age.

Now 32 – the average life expectancy in Ireland for someone living with CF – he has an interesting outlook.

Right now, however, there’s not much time to think.

On Sunday (7 April), Scully travels to Italy for the Generali Milano Marathon, where he will attempt to break the world record for a person with CF, a time of two hours and 43 minutes.

Given that he’s the current European record holder (three hours, nine minutes), Italy is the next logical step.

A physical therapist and conditioning coach to Mo Farah among others, the Inchicore native has worked with 34 Olympic medalists and over 100 Olympians at the London Olympic Games, the Rio Olympic Games and the World Athletics Championships.

Serious business, but the man himself is extremely down to earth when JOE gives him a shout.

“It’s become normal to me now,” he says.

“I don’t even really think about it. It’s not that I wake up in the morning and think, ‘Oh god, I have CF still’ – I just get up and I know what I have to do, and that’s exercise. I prioritise exercise, and the rest of my day sits comfortably then.”

Scully notes just how vital exercise is for his day-to-day.

“I suppose it just keeps me alive,” he nods.

“If I don’t run for four days, I can feel that CF is getting worse – I’m more symptomatic, I’m more productive with mucus, I’m more tired, I just don’t feel right, I feel sore. That’s when I notice that I do still have CF.”

Evan Scully

Speaking with him, the sense of a balanced and grounded take on life comes through. His condition may have been something that he originally shied away from, but those days are in the past.

I know I have it and I don’t hide away from that. It’s not an ignorance type of thing. I know that I have something that the majority of people don’t.

“Sometimes, it does scare me, but if I keep on top of it with exercise and nutrition then I’m doing everything I can to ensure that I’m, I suppose, better than CF.”

Scully recalls a pivotal moment during his marathon in 2017 that gave him a unique perspective.

“When I knew it was getting hard and my body was going into full cramp, I was running past St. Vincent’s University Hospital,” he explains.

“At that time, I said; ‘No matter how bad I am feeling right now, I should be in that hospital’, because that’s one of the main hospitals for people with CF.

“I looked at the broader spectrum of things and said, well, if I can do this marathon it might give other people with CF hope.

“I think that’s the reason why I’m doing what I’m doing – to give other people with CF hope so they can see that it is possible to do marathons, it is possible to lead whatever a normal life is. It shows what I and others are capable of.”

Sunday presents a huge test, one that he’s well up for. Just don’t expect him to be listening to the Rocky theme in preparation.

He might listen to a couple of Eminem tracks to get in the mood, but Scully mostly prefers to drown out noise in a bid to retain mental strength.

There is one exception that might surprise you, though.

“I did 23 miles listening to Joe Duffy before!” he laughs.

“I just think my life seems a lot better when I listen to people complaining about farm gates being left open and cows going down the village. I love listening to that.”

Evan Scully is an official ambassador for Cystic Fibrosis Ireland’s 65 Roses Day which is on Friday 12 April.

The Generali Milano Marathon takes place in Milan on Sunday 7 April at 9am. You can follow Evan on Facebook for live updates.

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