Retired Irish GP with incurable cancer plans to walk virtual Spanish pilgrimage for charity – without leaving his driveway

A RETIRED Belfast GP with incurable cancer plans to walk 120km in six days without leaving his driveway, arriving at his virtual Spanish destination on his 58th birthday.

Father-of-five Martin McMullan’s challenge to walk the equivalent of part of the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage from Logrono to Burgos in five days is in aid of Trócaire, which supports vulnerable people in the developing world.

And within days of setting up a JustGiving page, with a target of €500, donations have rocketed to €9,305.

Martin hopes to complete 30km a day in his garden, ‘arriving’ on May 4.

The former family doctor retired as a West Belfast GP back in 2014 after battling through a form of blood cancer called myeloma.

He ended up having a stem cell transplant, which is when he retired, and started walking more “as I had more time on my hands.”

He admits “I am not an athlete, I am an old man who has survived cancer,” and is on the highly vulnerable list, so is housebound for some time.

He told The Saffron Gael: “I started walking after I received my cancer diagnosis. I have done a couple of sections of the Camino before, and I have always meant to do another one.”

Martin went on to say: “As we are stuck in lockdown I decided to do the next section of my Camino journey from Logrono to Burgos in a virtual sense without leaving my driveway and “arrive” in Burgos for my birthday on May 4, 2020.

“If I walk from my garage to the front gates and back, and do that five times, that is about a mile,” he said.

“I realise that times for many are difficult and you may not be in a position to donate. I totally understand. I intend to match the first £100 of donations myself as obviously I am saving money on airfares etc.”

Trócaire is a charity that relies on Lenten contributions for the people of the Third World, but with Lent celebrations cancelled, needs all the help it can get, pointed out Martin.

Martin will follow a virtual version of the Camino route using step-measuring technology and have breaks after mileages corresponding to real rest stops.

He is ordering his supermarket shop and is limited to 80 items, including a few Spanish olives to lend a little authenticity.

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Written by

Tara Rippin

Tara Rippin is a reporter for Spain’s largest English-speaking newspaper, Euro Weekly News, and is responsible for the Costa Blanca region.
She has been in journalism for more than 20 years, having worked for local newspapers in the Midlands, UK, before relocating to Spain in 1990.
Since arriving, the mother-of-one has made her home on the Costa Blanca, while spending 18 months at the EWN head office in Fuengirola on the Costa del Sol.
She loves being part of a community that has a wonderful expat and Spanish mix, and strives to bring the latest and most relevant news to EWN’s loyal and valued readers.

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