Tuesday 20 March 2018

Meet the Irish man who smashed records in Britain’s toughest race - 268 miles in 95 hours with less than six hours sleep

Eoin Keith. Photo: via EoinKeith.wordpress.com
Eoin Keith. Photo: via EoinKeith.wordpress.com
Patricia Murphy

Patricia Murphy

An Irish athlete has set a new record after competing Britain’s toughest and most brutal race in less than five days.

Eoin Keith (47) embarked on the Montane Spine Race which sees endurance and adventure athletes tough it out across 268 miles on the Pennine Mountain trail in harsh January conditions.

The athlete from Cork smashed the race’s record time by almost 15 hours and crossed the finish line 95 hours and 23 minutes after he began beating the previous record of more than 110 hours.

“The miles isn’t really the big statistic,” Eoin told The Anton Savage Show on Today FM.

“The fact that it’s winter and January and that’s really adding to the arduousness.

“The ground is covered in snow and it’s foggy. It’s everything that Irish and British January can throw at you and that’s the hard bit.

“It’s not just 260 miles of walking on pavement. It’s bog, it’s rock, it’s slab and it’s up and down, up and down mountains,” he said.

Throughout the five day race, which is dubbed Britain’s most brutal, Eoin slept for under six hours in total.

“You can take rest anytime you like but of course you’re racing so rest isn’t a good idea. You want to sleep and stop but you want to plough on when you see people coming with the lights on their head torches. You have to push on. Along the way there are five rest stations and these are the easiest place to rest.

“You try and minimise the rest. The first time I rested was 36 hours in at the highest pub in England. It happened to be on the course. I had a hard day behind me so I went and lay on the couch for about an hour and a half and that regenerated me.

“You go into the most deep sleep imaginable.

“The next stop was for two hours the following day and the last one I was more in control of the situation. I was ahead by five hours and I thought ‘Okay I can sleep for two and a half here and still get out with a big enough gap’.

“I left a big enough margin to make mistakes and still come out first. I was about two or three hours. It felt like quite a lot,” he said.

The adventure athlete revealed that sleep deprivation experienced throughout the race has the potential to cause hallucinations, but he did not battle them while battling through the Spine.

“Sometimes you can be wandering around in a horrible state of sleep deprivation where your mind is playing tricks on you but I didn’t really get that this time. I managed it quite well.

“I was in a race before and I saw a 20 foot tea cup it the water next to me. That was a weird one,” he said.

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