Ever Decreasing Circles – The 100 mile club!

Energia24 is the Irish National Championship for 24 hour running. Its an event that attracts some of the countries elite ultra runners … and me! It has grown to be a major event in the running community, with some outstanding results being achieved. I found the organisation to be faultless and very accessible..making things look easy usually shows a team have worked extremely hard to make it look so !My thanks to all of those involved in making this event happen.

Its held on the Mary Peters track in Belfast. http://www.marypeterstrack.com/Mary Peters is the holder of an Olympic Gold medal from The 1972 games in Munich and as tradition has it, starts the race. Starting In the presence of an Olympian..no pressure!The track sits in a nice location within a park, with some nice trees offering some respite from the ever decreasing circles.I enjoyed watching some dogs enjoy their morning,afternoon and evening stroll with considerably more enthusiasm than I was managing.

Theres not much to a track race 😜, you go around and around and …. yeah you got it …. I confess to walking quite a bit too until I realised running hurt less and was faster! When I say just Running around, obviously I’m being flippant, doing anything for 24 hours takes its toll and requires careful preparation. Some people have carefully executed strategies – mine was more of a hopeful plan!

I felt if I could get to the 100km mark by 7 am with my moody hamstring still attached I’d have a shout at reaching my 2015 goal of completing 100 miles. There was no guarantee the afore mentioned hamstring wouldn’t set off to Blanchardstown without me but I had hope, KT tape and prayers! So me and, my re-enforced limbs, set off dreaming of getting my paws on the 100 mile jacket that we all secretly wanted.

Last year I wrote how my 90 miles at Endure wasn’t 100 and despite praise and ‘well dones’ being offered well, it just wasn’t the 100 miles. I knew 99 miles was a failure – I wanted 100, I wanted that f*****g jacket and nothing shy of 100 miles would do it. That’s where the problems started!

I had a plan in mind, get to 100k around the 12 hour mark and the 100 mile would be attainable, I knew my training had been light so I was expecting to fade – This is where the mind games started and I began to sink into a rather large track shaped hole, it felt like my head was being tormented. Marathon virgins live in fear of the dreaded wall … I had a wall to climb but it felt like I was been buried under the wall and every lap seemed to push me further away rather than bring me close …. ah the joy of running! Speaking of pleasures in running… A portaloo after 16 hours running is truly an emotional experience!.Anyhow,Eventually my mind settled, I don’t think I was alone in the suffering but at those times you are alone. Misery doesn’t want company and I was bloody miserable!

As is often the way those lows fade and often it can be something small that can shift the balance in your favour. I was struggling to eat. As I set off on another lap I spotted Mairead with an orange – I’d never tried fruit in training and I had nearly vomited up my previous meal of creamed rice – I needed something – I tried a segment, it worked, the stodgy tired feeling in my stomach and brain just seemed to lift. The fruit wasn’t even for me, but I greedily took all I could!

It was hard work now but it all began to be achievable, I had a goal of reaching 100 miles in 24 hours … I was within reach of it now, all I had to do was keep going! When it’s you’re first stab at such a milestone I don’t think you really relax – six hours, five hours, four …. 140 laps, 139 laps, 138 laps … You just have to switch the brain off and trust your legs. Success is a great pain killer and success in running is highly personal .While I wouldn’t be troubling the judges this was a victory for me. I think that’s what the finishing line in any marathon represents.

The serious business of the day The National 24 hour championship was won by Eoin Keith with 141.9 miles, Eddie Gallen second with 138.3 miles and Malcom Gamble in third with 136.3 miles (Susan McCartney was first female home with 117 miles and the unstoppable Brenda Miere in second with 106 miles (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Energia-24/349324491757334)Brenda always has a good word for everyone and will be a force to be reckoned with again in 2016. One of the advantages to the track is the opportunity to observe these truly exceptional runners up close, there’s a lot to be learned from these athletes, I was taking notes!

Roz Glover won the 100k race, Alan Gorski ran 75.5 miles in winning the 12 hour race. I hope he takes this great form to the Connemara 100. Amy Masner was first female home with 73 miles (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Energia-24/349324491757334)The twelve hour saw Sinead Kane emerge from the pack to run an incredible 68.3 miles (), https://www.facebook.com/pages/Energia-24/349324491757334)on her debut over the 12 hour event placing second, this was an exceptional performance, and a sign of more to come,some may not know Sinead is visually impaired so her running journey has not been straightforward.We have shared a few miles together and I was delighted to see the results of her hard work.She was guided by John O’Regan former winner of the Energia24, one of the very best Ultra runners the country has produced and someone who has always been very generous with his knowledge.Ultra runners are a rare breed.

I thought the atmosphere over the 24 hours was truly special, this is down to organisers but of course to all the participants!.I had assistance through the night from Barry Thornton and his crew, I’ve met Barry on many random occasions including on a bridge in the Humberside, I owe you one Barry! A big thanks also to members of the Marathon Club of Ireland, (http://marathonclubireland.asocion.com/) of which I’m now a member, a group that have helped me rediscover the enjoyment in my own running.


A big shout out also to everyone associated with Dublin Bay Running Club who dominated the relay event and had a string of members gather 100 mile jackets also, so much so I was worried there’d be none left for me…!It was great to share the track with you. The http://eastofirelandmarathons.com/ was founded by two of its members and it’s a go to site now for good affordable marathons (and ultras!).

Hopefully next year will see me try the Vartry 100 organised by Don Hannon of http://www.trailrunner.ie/, another top bloke who seemed to cruise to 127 miles (Energia24.com)! So for now I’m off for a few weeks rest!





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