In recent weeks, the first thing that Ballinasloe grandparents Michael and Ann McCullagh do in the morning is to check where their grandson Boru is in the world.
On 27 August, 23-year-old Boru set off from London, where he lives, to cycle around the world to raise money for mental health.
In the eight-month journey, Boru – one of 10 grandchildren – expects to cover 34,000 kilometres, cross 25 countries and pass through two antipodal points.
"Three weeks into the trip, Boru had reached Croatia, clocking up over 2,000 kilometres, or 6% of the journey," says Michael, who points out that Boru’s parents, Mark and Lorrae, first heard about the trip on a visit to Ballinasloe last Easter.
“‘I think I’d like to cycle around the work, literally,’ pinged a message from Boru to Mark and Lorrae,” recalls Michael.
And how did his parents react? “They had nothing but encouraging words to say from the start, advising him that if it is something he really wants to do then he should take advantage of his young age and few life commitments to go and explore.”
Ann adds: “More importantly they were incredibly amazed and proud that Boru would take on such a challenge given the difficult mental health challenges he has faced in the past.”
In his late teens Boru spiralled into a depression which changed the way both he and his life looked for a number of years. He had to drop out of school before his final exams and got lost in the world, struggling to see how he could fit in with any of it.
The depression led to an eating disorder, drug use and being too anxious to be comfortable anywhere resulted in admissions to psychiatric units several times over the course of his late teens.
Boru, who is proud to say that he’s “cycling on an Irish passport”, wants to use this ride as a positive force to help a charity who helps people going through difficulties. He is fundraising for Mind, a mental health charity. Three weeks into his journey, he was already over halfway to reaching his fundraising target of £10,000.
Before setting out on his adventure, Boru was head coach at the Herne Hill Velodrome, a very popular and thriving cycling venue in south London. The venue has been a special place for Boru as he’s been riding and racing here from a young age. When he was 15 he started working there as a volunteer before taking a permanent role four years ago.
Boru is no stranger to long distance bike riding but a solo “bike-packing” adventure of this magnitude and duration will be new territory. He participated in the Race Around Rwanda in March 2022 and he rode from Lands’ End to John O’Groats in Britain in July 2021.
To catch up on where Boru is in the world, or to donate to his chosen charity, please visit: https://linktr.ee/marlboru.
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