THE beast is back - and its claws are as sharp as ever, its roar just as fearsome as it has always been and its bite every bit as severe as before.
The infamous Beast of Ballyhoura, arguably the most gruelling and arduous endurance race in Ireland will once again return to North Cork over the August bank-holiday weekend.
Now in its seventh year, the event attracts athletes from across the world keen to test their stamina and powers of endurance to their very limits on some of the most gruelling terrain the country has to offer.
Up to 30 teams of four will compete non-stop for up to 40 hours over a 300 km course through counties Cork, Limerick and Tipperary via the Ballyhoura, Galtee and Knockmealdown mountains.
Along the way they will trek across energy sapping hills and bogs, cycle along twisting mountain bike trails, kayak down raging rivers and abseil down sheer cliff faces.
Organisers have also warned competitors to expect plenty of surprises and special tasks along the way that will test both their physical and mental agility.
The race will get underway in the early hours of the Saturday morning from Blackwater Castle, with each team charged with the task of navigating the gruelling course while carrying enough equipment and supplies to see them through to the finish line at the castle.
The event will also incorporate the Ballyhoura Blitz on Sunday, August 5. The Blitz offers people an achievable challenge for people looking to push themselves or redefine their limits. The race route will be marked and will include a 10km run followed by 30km off-road mountain bike test.
The weekend will also see the return of the annual inter-services challenge. The will see teams from the army, gardai, PSNI, ambulance service and civil defence going head to head to find Ireland's toughest service.
To find out more about the 'Beast' and for information on how to enter any o the events over the weekend visit www.ballyhourabeast.com or call Ballyhoura Failte on 063 91300.