Marathon man

Last updated on July 3rd, 2019 at 07:17 pm

Matt O’Neill used to believe that every mile a person runs equals a mile they won’t be able to walk at the end of their life.

“It’s a mile more in your wheelchair,” O’Neill would say when mocking former roommates for running regularly.

But after completing three marathons and eight half marathons, O’Neill, a shareholder at Milwaukee-based Fox O’Neill Shannon S.C., now incorporates running into his weekly routine.

Upon turning 40 in 2006, O’Neill took up running with encouragement from his brother- and sister-in-law Nels and Lara Mitchel, who are serious runners and eventually convinced O’Neill that anyone who runs is capable of running a marathon.

Lara registered O’Neill for his first marathon, the Chicago Marathon, in 2007 as a 40th birthday gift. He later dubbed that marathon “the disaster marathon,” which ended with the death of one runner and the premature closing of the race due to near 90-degree temperatures and humidity hovering around 90 percent.

Still, O’Neill crossed the finish line at that Chicago Marathon with his firm partner Shannon Allen and subsequently completed a marathon in Las Vegas and another in Maui.

Allen and O’Neill in Maui

Finishing is always O’Neill’s goal at running events and he says it gives him a feeling unlike any other.

“It’s a rush,” O’Neill said. “It’s some kind of a natural drug.”

In staying active, he typically runs three to five miles at least three mornings a week with his six-year-old dog, Fergie. In training for marathons and half marathons, he commits between two and four hours to longer runs on weekends.

In the past five years, O’Neill has logged nearly 2,400 miles of running, about 2,000 of which have been run beside Fergie.

O’Neill and his dog, Fergie

His wife, Shannon O’Neill, and their three young daughters, Audrey, Sylvie and Daphne, have also started to follow in his footsteps with their own emerging interests in running.

When O’Neill turns 50 in 2016, he’s hoping to tackle the Dublin Marathon in Ireland. Running now represents an integral part of his approach to lifelong health.

“The secret to long life is to run in the morning and to have two cups of coffee and to have a couple glasses of red wine at night,” O’Neill said.

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