Eoin prepares for toughest race in the world
WEXFORD life coach and marathon runner Eoin Ryan is about to face the biggest challenge of his life so far.
The organiser of the Pettitt's SuperValu Wexford Half Marathon is in training for the Marathon Des Sables in the Sahara Desert in early April.
The six-day event in southern Morocco is considered the world's toughest race and Eoin has signed up to raise funds for Pieta House.
Competitors must run 150 miles over arid gravel plains, dried salt lakes and sand dunes higher than the Empire State building while carrying a 10kg bag containing water and emergency supplies.
The mandatory kit includes a flare and an anti-venom pump in the event of snake or scorpion bites as well as a map and compass in case they get lost.
Training has not run smoothly for for Eoin, who damaged his Achilles tendon while running in the Connemara Ultra race.
He was out of action for months until he eventually opted for a cortisone injection into the tendon.
'I had to learn how to run again with a different technique to take pressure off the tendon,' he said.
Just as he was beginning to regain stamina, the opposite tendon gave way and he found himself hobbling around for another few weeks.
Despite the setbacks, he was determined to keep going.
Eoin is no stranger to endurance events, as in 2008, he ran seven marathons in six days along the canals of Ireland for Crumlin Children's Hospital.
'I put a lot of it down to will power. I really wanted this and even when I was down, I never lost sight of the goal,' he said.
Fatigue, blisters, dehydration and sun stroke are just some of the obstacles Eoin will have to overcome in the desert.
Fatalaties are not unknown in this gruelling race, where temperatures can reach over 50 degrees.