Award-winning novelist Michael Collins will captain the Irish men's team for the European and World 100km Championships in Gibraltar on 7th November 2010.
Completing the team will be John Byrne, Mayo AC, who ran 3:19 at the World 50km Final in Galway on 29th August, and John O'Regan, an Irish international 24 hour runner. Byrne is making his debut at 100km but is a very stong athlete with huge potential over the longer distances.
Collins was part of the Irish team that finished 5th at the European Championships in 2007. But his team mates on that occasion, Irish record holder Thomas Maguire (7:05:06) and two-time national champion Martin Rea (7:21:42), are not targetting this year's event. Also absent is newcomer Chris O'Neill, who has been forced to withdraw through injury, while Eoin Keith (7:45:12) has only just overcome injury concerns and will not take part.
However, Collins, who has a PB of 7:37:57 for the distance, will be among the favourites to lift the world masters title which will be run concurrently. In 2006, he won the Sahara Half-Marathon, beating former two-time world marathon champion Abel Anton in the process and then went on to win the North Pole Marathon. A former US scolarship recipient for athletics, he holds a PhD in English and is a highly respected and successful international novelist. His books have been translated into many languages with 'The Keepers of Truth' being shortlisted for the prestigious Booker Prize in 2000.
In the women's competition, the reigning European bronze medallist from Ireland, Helena Crossan, has also been forced to withdraw through injury. It is an extremely unfortunate turn of events for the Donegal woman as Crossan was running extremely well - recently running 3 hours in a marathon race used merely a training run at the end of a 130 mile week. She was certain to be a world title contender in this year's championships. In her absence, Aisling Coppinger will be the sole contestant from Ireland in the women's race. Aisling was European (W35) mountain running champion in 2008 and is getting stronger in each of her successive ultra events.
UltraRunning Ireland support personnel will include Helena Crossan, who is sure to provide lots of inspiration through her presence, as well as Tony Brennan, John Collins and Rob Cummins.