24-hour race is a walk in the park
A BALBRIGGAN runner is taking on a massive challenge by signing up to run as many laps of a 400m track over a single 24-hour period as possible, covering anything up to 100 miles in a single day.
Paul O'Murchu from Balbriggan will be competing in the Energia 24-Hour Race on the Mary Peters Track in Belfast on July 18 and 19 - the endurance race where competitors run as many laps of the 400m race track as they can in 24 hours.
Race Director Ed Smith says: 'When we started out with this idea of running around-the-clock in 2010 - 18 runners showed up and it was won by Fermanagh's Thomas Maguire.
'He ran a very creditable 127 miles (204 kms). Everest conqueror Lynne Hanna completed 90 miles (145 kms) in winning the women's race.'
'Four years on there is no doubt the appetite has grown for ultra-running - and especially to see just how far can be covered in 24 hours - with many looking to register 100 miles.'
Competitors will be representing Latvia, Poland, Austria, Slovakia, England and Wales and Eddie Gallen (50) will again be flying in from Madrid.
The Spanish-based teacher will be taking part in his 29th 24-hour race and along with Ballynahinch barrister Iryna Kennedy, is the only person to have raced in all four Belfast events.
For the third year in a row, the race is also the National Championship and Gallen will be there with the rest of the Irish team with international places on the line for the World Championships at the end of the year in Taiwan.
That line-up will include Cork long-distance phenomenon Eoin Keith (44). 2013 was a stellar year for the Corkman as he became only the fourth person in history to run 300 miles in three days and then came to Belfast in July and - in 30 degrees of heat - broke his own Irish record running 152 miles (245 kms).
But he was almost put 'in the shade' by fellow Cork athlete Ruthann Sheahan,38, who ran 140 miles(226 kms) to shatter the women's Irish record and finish second overall.
Both will be back to defend their Irish titles - as will fellow international John O'Regan, 43, from Leixlip who won the title in 2012 and 2013.
In all 13 Irish counties will be represented: Antrim, Armagh, Cavan, Cork, Derry, Down, Dublin, Galway, Kildare, Limerick, Mayo, Meath, Waterford and Wicklow.
Smith said: 'There is also a 12-hour race which is filling up quickly but is still open and a 4-person relay, which must include at least one woman, and is also still available for entering.
'And, we're hoping to stage on the Saturday a 24-minute race for 12 to 17-year-olds and a 24 second race for 5 to 11 year olds.'
The event carries a Silver Label for the first time from the World Governing Body and is grant-aided by Belfast City Council and supported by Pure Running.