MARGRETHE LOGAVKEN, one of the world's top female 100k runners, leads an impressive entry list for Saturday's Celtic 100k/Anglo Celtic Plate -- the first world-class ultra to take place in Ireland.
Logavken, from Norway, has a best time for 100k of 7:43:27. Leading a strong German team of 11 is Jens Lukas, three-time winner of the ferociously tough Spartathlon Ultra in Greece and a former European 24-hour champion.
Helping make up two men's teams from Germany will be Stefan Hinze, the 2008 German trail champion with a time of 7:18 for 100k, Mattias Dippacher, reigning 50km Schwaebisch Marathon and Nuremberg six-hour race champion, and Florian Reus, twice the German 24-hour champion.
Marika Heinlein, the reigning German 24-hour Champion, leads the German women's team. Other individual entries have come from Andrew DuBois (Australia) and Zbigniew Gawor (Poland), which guarantees a fast race at the front.
Teams from England, Scotland, Wales and, of course, Ireland will battle it out for the Anglo Celtic Plate.
Dominic Croft, the defending champion, leads a strong English team. Also selected is Jez Bragg, the 2007 winner, with a personal best (PB) of 7:03:12 and Allen Smalls, fifth last year. Heather Foundling-Hawker, a former European 50km champion with a best time of 7:50:54 looks strongest of the three English women, with Charlotte Finch and Angie Sadler both making their international debuts at 100km.
Included in the Scottish men's team is Steve Mason who has run more than 148 miles in 24 hours. Sandra Bowers and Elaine Calder are the more experienced members of the Scottish women's team.
For Wales, John Pares, a two-time winner of the Tooting Bec 24-hour race, is perhaps the best known member of the men's team. Ireland is fielding a particularly strong team this year. Thomas Maguire is the national 100k record holder with a PB of 7:05.06; Marty Rea is a former national 100k champion with a PB of 7:21:42; while Eoin Keith holds the Irish record for 24-hours.
Leading the Irish women's team is Helena Crossan, with a PB of 7:52:45, who is ranked in the world top 10, and mountain running specialist Aisling Coppinger who is making her 100k debut. The race will take place over a 2km loop at Salthill in Galway from 8am -- so come along and cheer on your team!