Tralee club set to host 40 mile ultra marathon
Ultra-running is quickly becoming one of the fastest growing sports in the world, as people look for new ways to test both their physical and mental endurance by going beyond the traditional 26.2 mile marathon.
And on Saturday 29 July, local runners will have the chance to take the next step as Born To Run Tralee Marathon Club host a 40 mile ultra-marathon event.
One Tralee man who will be taking part is Stephen Byrne, who is running to raise awareness for a cause close to his heart, having received a kidney transplant in 2015 after being diagnosed with kidney failure in 2011.
"I see this as being one way of giving thanks to my incredible donor and the new lease of life they've given me," says Stephen, who completed his first marathon in March and whose training for the 40 mile event has included regular evening runs with the Born To Run club, as well as hill sessions on the Glanageenty Loop between Tralee and Castleisland.
During the event, Stephen and his fellow participants will complete 10 four mile loops on a course that includes the River Lee walkway behind the Aquadome, quiet country roads and two hill sections in the Ballyard area.
This makes it as much a mental as a physical challenge, but Stephen will be taking the "slow and steady" approach and plans to walk the hills in order to conquer the distance.
"I think with the constant meeting of fellow runners and supporters around the course, the brain won't have time to start doubting...fingers crossed!" says Stephen, who says that self-belief, the duty to honour his organ donor and "lots of jelly babies" will hopefully see him through.
As well as the 40 mile option, participants also have the option of signing up as a tag team, running 20 miles each. Castleisland woman Kristine Brosnan has convinced her friend and running partner Martin O'Sullivan to join her for the challenge.
"l couldn't sign up fast enough, poor Martin didn't get an option," says Kristine, who is using the event as part of her training plan for the Dublin City Marathon in October.
"I suppose the challenging part will be the loop itself. The first, second and fifth will be fine; the third and fourth might be the tricky ones! I've never really done a loop race before, but there are great people running this race that will no doubt encourage me along."
But while the prospect of running either distance might seem daunting to even the most seasoned runner, Tom Foley of Born To Run explains why it is actually an ideal way to dip a toe into the ultra-running world.
"A lot of people who have run marathons now want the chance and opportunity to push themselves to a higher level and 40 miles is very achievable," says Tom, who says the secret to reaching the finish line is to be "more disciplined with a slower pace".
He also believes the tag team option will "inject a fun element into the day" while giving people a taste of what is involved to go the extra distance.
"They get to see what ultra-running is all about up close and personal on the sidelines and out on the course with the other athletes," he says.
However, he stresses that even people who have no intention of running can play an important part on the day.
"Born To Run Tralee Marathon Club would really appreciate if people could come down and cheer on and support the athletes, friends and family members who are taking part in our event. Also people who live near or on the route could help out in many ways if they like, to cheer and support all those taking part, getting kids to draw up posters on cardboard or paper or even messages on balloons," he says.
"There is nothing better than people shouting some encouragement, especially near the end when the athletes are on their final lap."
Entries for the event are capped at 75, and all finishers will receive a medal and buff. Registration is €45 for the 40 Mile event or €70 per tag team.
For further information or to register, visit www.active.com or find Born To Run Tralee Marathon Club on Facebook.