Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Thinking about next year.

Can it get any better? This time last year I was thinking to myself that it can't get much better than the year I'd just had and if 2011 wasn't better then it was a close second so maybe next year can be better and I'll do my best to make that happen.

I now have a list of possible races and one or other other projects that are yet to be confirmed and if they go ahead they may change some of my other plans.  At the moment I'm training for the Donadea 50K on Feb 18th and following on from that I was planning on racing the Kildare Marathon in May  but I've now ruled out Kildare as it's too close to the World Masters Athletics 100K Championships which I hope to run if fit enough and that's in Italy on April 22nd .  Unfortunately the WMA 100K is  also on the same weekend as the London Marathon so that rules out a weekend in London yet again.

The Energia Belfast 24-hr race will have a change of venue next year due to works at the Mary Peters Track and for 2012 will be held in Bangor on 6th/7th July.  I'm hoping to run this race yet again but it may conflict with something else so it's yet to be confirmed.

I also plan on running as many shorter races as I can fit in with my preference being 5K & 10K and for starters I'm thinking about the Ballybunion 10K on April 7th.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Staying in the Zone

 If you train at a relatively high volume on a weekly basis your diet will have evolved to meet your exercise requirements and if you take a few days off from training without making dietary adjustments your weight will start to increase.  This is no big deal if it's just a short break as 'water finds it's level' and when you get back into your usual routine it evens out again BUT at this time of year when it's acceptable to eat and drink to access you need to pay a bit more attention.  Taking a few days off is ok and will probably do your muscles more good than harm but if on those 'off' days you increase your calorific intake by 2 or 3 times your norm it can slow down your return to a regular routine and it will have an impact on your training.

Keep a check on your weight and if there's a significant increase you should take your time getting back on track and rather than trying to start back where you left on you should take a step back and ease back into it.  Train it off rather than starve it off and think of it as extra fuel for the long run :)

My plan for today was a 35K Long Run but I knew before starting that it wasn't going to happen!  My night time weight before bed last night was up by 2Kg and this morning I had lost less than 1Kg of that gain so it wasn't all alcohol.  I reduced todays run by 15K before starting out and that way I stayed in control of what I was doing rather than just suffering and finishing my return leg home with bad form.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Outsider People of the Year 2011

I'm happy to announce that for the second year in a row I've made the Outsider People of the Year List.  Totally unexpected but I'll take it and it's a great way to end a great year.

John O’Regan – Irish 24-hour track record holder

Many of you will be familiar with John O’Regan’s ultra-running feats and indeed he even features in last year’s list. But having set a new Irish 24-hour track record of 132 miles back in July, we just couldn’t leave him out.
John’s other achievements include completing the Spartathalon (246km), finishing an ultra-marathon or marathon on each of the seven continents and the North Pole, including the most northern (North Pole), most southern (Antarctica), highest (Everest) and lowest (Dead Sea) races in the world. He finished first in the 100 Mile Yukon Arctic Ultra, first in the Inca Trail Marathon and second in the Antarctic Ice Marathon. Not bad for someone who only started running in 2002.
John states, “I think my strength is mental. I’m able to switch off and stay in the moment. I don’t think of the finish line; I break it down into smaller manageable pieces.
“I try to fit the training into my life rather than my life into the training. I often commute from Leixlip by running. I run during lunch. At weekends, I go out early in the morning and when my training requires longer runs, I start earlier.
“I accidentally found what my game was. Maybe that’s because I was always looking; I was always trying different things. My watershed moment was when I read an article about the Marathons des Sables. I started running in April 2002, ran the Dublin Marathon just to see if I had it in me and then did the 150-mile Sahara Race in April 2003.”
John, who is sponsored by Great Outdoors, also competed at the 100km World Championships in September.
Note: The Track Record mentioned is for the Mary Peters Track and not the Official Irish Track Record which is held by Eoin Keith.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Still Here.

Since my last post I've been easing back into a regular routine and slowly increasing my training volume having got the good news that my iron levels have returned to normal and yesterday I took part in the National Novice Cross Country running on the Kildare Team which will probably be my last race of the year and the end of my recovery period.

Curragh Camp, Kildare.

There's nothing like a cross country race to get the legs moving and this race was the fastest cross country I've ever ran.  I knew I'd be out of my depth with this one but it's great to get the opportunity to compete at this level and sometimes you need to step out of your comfort zone for a reality check.
The race course was a relatively flat 4* 1.5K lap with lots of twists and turns and apart from a few very muddy sections the underfoot conditions were quite good.  I finished towards the back end of the field which I kind of expected but I needed this race and for me it's a good end to the year.

My strength work has been neglected over the past few weeks due to cross country racing commitments for my club but I start back with that tomorrow as part of my preparation for next year.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Mark Pollock. Run for Mark in the Dark

Training Run with Mark Pollock at Dingboche in Everest Region in preparation for Tenzing Hillary Everest Marathon 2007.

For over a decade Mark Pollock was known as an inspiration, an adventure athlete competing in the world’s harshest environments despite being completely blind.  

As part of regaining his identity after losing his sight he chose to take on spectacular challenges. He has survived the sub-zero temperatures of Antarctica as he raced to the South Pole over 43 days. He suffered the scorching heat of the Gobi Desert, completing six marathons in one week in “The Race of No Return”. He has competed in races on the frozen Arctic Ocean at the North Pole, through the desert lowlands of the Syrian African Rift Valley to the Dead Sea and at altitude at Everest base camp. He also has two Commonwealth Games medals for rowing under his belt.

In mid-2010, Mark’s business was thriving with a full calendar of motivational speaking events ahead. He was in the process of writing his second book and he was due to be married.

On the night of the 2nd of July 2010 everything changed. He fell from a second story window fracturing his skull, some ribs and breaking his back in a number of places. Mark was taken to intensive care where injuries such as bleeds on his brain and a suspected torn aorta one by one healed becoming less and less significant beside the fact that Mark could not feel or move anything below his belly button. An MRI confirmed damage to his spinal cord where two of his vertebrae had burst in the fall. Mark was transferred to the National Spinal Injuries Centre at Stoke Mandeville in England, where spinal surgeons stabilized the bones in his spine with metal rods.
Mark spent 7 months suffering an onslaught of kidney and heart infections, which brought weeks of temperatures and pain and a 3 stone weight loss. Mark’s bones eventually healed but medicine can do nothing to repair a damaged spinal cord and Mark was discharged to The National Rehabilitation Hospital in Ireland in February 2011.
The Run for Mark night time event is being held simultaneously
in Belfast, Dublin, Cork and Galway at 7:30pm on 16th November. We want as many people to engage in this worthwhile event to help raise funds to assist with the capital and ongoing costs associated with Mark Pollock's spinal injury. Every run also has a walking option which is half the distance of the full 8-10k run (distances slightly vary by location). To find out more about the event nearest you and register online, please click on Dublin, Belfast, Cork or Galway to see the route map and location venue. - If these details have not been populated it is due to the exact route not being confirmed with the council. However you can still register!

Register Now for the Run for Mark in the Dark at Your Preferred Event Location of Dublin, Belfast, Galway or Cork and find out all the details for your race by clicking here.

Download a poster by clicking here.

For further information, please contact

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Back to basics.

With my season more or less over I've gone back to basics and on the advice of John Belton at No17 Personal Training have started on a Strength & Conditioning programme to improve Core Stability and Leg Strength while maintaining Fitness & Endurance.  John travelled to Holland with the Irish Team for the recent IAU 100K World & European Championships and based on his observations has come up with a plan to work on my weaknesses and make me stronger.

My weekly routine now includes 2-3 sessions with John which includes some Olympic Weight Lifting moves and Mobility Exercises.

Running Volume has reduced with less running distance but I'll continue to include some high intensity workouts and short races of up to 10K and Cross Country when available.  I'm already thinking ahead to next year and the intention is to recover from what I've done this year while building a strong base from which to start next year.
I'll post a more detailed explanation of my strength routine shortly.

Kildare Masters Cross Country Championships.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Post Race Analysis / 100K World & European Championships 2011

Team Ireland. IAU 100K World & European Championships
Feeling quite confident going into this race I was sure of a good result and expected to finish between 7hr30min and 7hr45min based on previous training results.  Without doubt I had the endurance and reckon I had just enough time to work on my leg turnover after my most recent race in Belfast.  The later than usual start time of 10 am for a race of this length meant running in the hottest part of the day and for most of the day and thats where it went wrong for me.  I knew from before halfway that I was showing signs of dehydration which slowed my pace with an elevated Heart Rate and increased my stopping time to try rehydrate and deal with stomach cramps.
The stomach cramps were quite severe at times and gave me the urge to pass water even though nothing would come out.  My guess is the cramps were caused by gels that weren't dilute enough for digestion.  To correct this problem I cut back on my carbohydrate intake by switching to an electrolyte only drink until I felt able to or needed to take carbs again.  The problem did start to correct itself and I can remember having a wobble at around 79K which helped make the decision to go back on carbs.  I managed to avoid the wall and started to come around again and got back where I wanted to be and had a much stronger finish than my earlier problems would have suggested.

I can't use the race day conditions as an excuse for my performance as the finishing times show that with the right preparation and race day plan it was a race that I should have done better in.  In the days after the race I was moving quite freely and know that I didn't run to my potential so it's now back to basics and my plan is to learn from this and other races and over the next few months I'll correct what I think went wrong.  For starters, I went to Holland while waiting results of a recent blood test which have since shown that I'm borderline anaemic and regardless of whether this contributed to my performance or not it's something I need to get sorted.

Monday, September 12, 2011

IAU & WMA 100K World & European Championships.

I didn't get what I went for but I'm happy with what I got.  I'm not on form for writing a race report at the moment so I've attached a few photos and will hopefully have my race report in a few days.

Athlete Village Winschoten.
The Athlete Parade.
Pre Race Massage
Team Ireland
Food station.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Defining Moment

Back in April 2001 I went for my first training run of 5K in preparation for the Dublin Marathon and struggled to run the distance without stopping and walking.  I stuck with it and went on to complete the Dublin Marathon 6 months later and used that race as a stepping stone to a race that had first put the idea of running into my head.  This race was the Marathon des Sables, a 150 mile self sufficient foot race across the Sahara Desert and making the decision to run this race was to become my Defining Moment.
Lateral Vision Productions feature Documentary on Irish Ultra Runner John O'Regan.  Shot on location in Ireland, Greece, UK, French Alps. Sahara Desert, N.Pole Antarctica, and the Yukon Territory.
A fascinating case of one person against the elements.  What are the ingredients that make an ultra runner go through such grueling mental and physical pain?  How is an ultra runner different from a marathon runner?  This intriguing documentary reveals what makes him tick using the background story of his participation in the 2010 “Spartathlon”.  Four hundred and fifty of the world’s top ultra runners passed the stringent entry criteria for the 246km non-stop race, but just 128 crossed the finish line within the 36 hour lim

Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Running Man

A video documentary by Giant Leap Productions.  This is the Story of  extreme athlete, John O'Regan and his endeavour at representing Ireland at the World 24 hour Marathon in Brive, in France.  The documentary also features athletic greats such as Richard Donovan, Eddie Gallen, Eoin Keith, Thomas Maguire and Tony Mangan.

The Running Man from Near TV on Vimeo.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

24-hr Irish Championships 2011.

I almost didn't run this race having abandoned my original plan after being selected to run in the Trail World Championships.  Even though this was my main event of the year due to the cancellation of the 24-hr World Championships all it took to change my mind was a chance to run in a green vest.  Some might have done the 2 races but for me going into the Trail Race I didn't want any mental distractions, I wanted to give it everything I had and I couldn't do that if I was thinking of or trying to save myself for a race that was only 2 weeks away.  I knew that during low points I may have taken it easy and consoled myself by thinking 'sure you've another race soon enough to make up for this effort' and thats how the mind works.  I'm not into just doing events and go for quality over quantity.

An early fall in the Trail Race meant I couldn't run to the best of my ability and because my pace was slowed the impact on my body was lessened and my recovery was quicker as I finished the race in better condition than I should have.  The injury seemed to heal quite quickly but there was still an underlying problem with my left hamstring which surfaced the following weekend after few short training runs.  I stopped training as soon as I knew it was getting worse and I phoned my massage therapist 'Peter Matthews' to arrange an appointment as soon as possible.  I met him on the Tuesday before the race and was back running that night on my club's grass track.  The juniors were training while I was running around checking my lap splits and comparing them with my heart rate to get a feel for race pace and the signs were good.
After finishing my run I was asked about my expectations for the race and I said I was going to win.

The night before the night before a race is the most important nights sleep and for some reason I didn't sleep too well and that was repeated on the night before the race which wasn't good because I had a full day ahead of me before starting the race and I knew it would be late on Saturday before I slept again.  Maybe those thoughts were keeping me awake but I tried not to think about it too much and because all my gear was packed and ready to go I decided to head for Belfast earlier than planned.

Arriving into Belfast I met with Ultra Running Ireland's John Collins.  John offered to crew my race and that was a big weight off my shoulders as I know from experience that it can be hard to make sensible decisions during these events and if you want to be competitive you need someone else to do the work.  John is very experienced at crewing and knew what to do which for me was a big confidence boost.  My job was to put one foot in front of the other and he would make sure I continued to do so.  We arrived at the track in good time and after setting ourselves up we met with some other competitors and friends including my team mate Marty Rea and training partner Jim McCormick.

Eddie Gallen, John O'Regan, Marty Rea & John Collins.

My plan was simple and it involved running at 2:10-2:15 per lap or less than 75% of my heart rate max.  This meant I was running well within my aerobic zone and using mostly fat as a fuel which lessened my need for 'too much food'. At the race start I positioned myself towards the back of the pack to avoid the fast start and within the first lap I was on pace and it wasn't long before I was lapped and it happened again and again...

My guess is some of the front runners blew up really badly because by the first turn around at 4-hrs I seemed to be in 2nd place which didn't sound right and didn't really suit my plan as I wanted to relax into this race and move up the leader board in the final quarter of the race.  That wasn't to be and before half way my steady pace had me in the lead and with that came a little bit of extra pressure..
Under Pressure.

 I stayed on my feet for the first 9 hours and then sat down by choice to eat a sandwich or should I say I was told to sit down by John as he was thinking ahead and wanted me to eat something solid.  To make the most of my break I used the opportunity to elevate my feet and check positions and timings to get an early feel for how the race was going even though it was way too early for it to be a true reflection of how the race could finish.  Getting back on my feet it wasn't long before I became the first runner to break 100K and then I broke 100 miles but to me these distances meant nothing as I'd been there so many times before.  I'm not being disrespectful to the distance but I know that if you set yourself an end goal and reach it then it can become harder to go beyond it.

Running through the night with Thomas Maguire

Night time temperatures dropped quite low so I changed into some warmer clothing and changed out of them as soon as I felt it warm enough again.  My timings were very consistent and I felt very comfortable running at this pace but as we started to get into the new day it got very hot.  I knew by my sweat rate and inability to take enough fluids on board that I could soon be in danger of dehydration or some form of heat related problem so I made the decision to ration my sweat by slowing the pace down.  I began to stop at the aid station to help with fluid replacement and I made extra toilet stops to monitor my urine flow and make sure it was 'still' flowing. For the last few hours I decided to do just enough to hold my lead and win the race but was prepared to stop if I thought it neccessary.  Eddie Gallen was closing in on my lead very steadily and I know what he's capable of doing having ran with him on a few occasions and the most recent being the 246K Spartathlon in Greece last September.  Eddie is the most consistent runner I know and he will just keep going and going until it's all over.

With 2hrs to go it was looking like I had done enough to keep my lead by just walking and that's what I did.  My family arrived around this time and Cian walked / jogged a few laps and kept me company as the end got closer.  Eddie caught up and we chatted through the final minutes and then it was all over.  I was declared the race winner with a distance of 213K / 132 miles and more importantly I was the Irish 24-hr Champion finishing just ahead of last year's Champion Eddie Gallen.  Eddie won the Irish Championship title last year with a distance of 223K in the 24-hr World & European Championships in Brive, France.

It's a strange felling at the end of a 24-hr race as there's no finish line and rather than getting that winning feeling I was just relieved it was all over.  I spent the next hour getting my photo taken and doing interviews with Deirdre Finn the winner of the Ladies Race with 181K / 112.5 Miles and then it was back to the clubhouse for the awards ceremony.  All competitors were called up individualy with their distances announced and it was nice opportunity to put a name with the face.  I finished the evening with a proper dinner and a few pints of Guinness back at the hotel and then it was lights out.

During the race I wore:

Saucony Pro Grid Guide
Teko Socks
Skins Shorts
Skins A400 Running Tights
Salomon Sleeves
Club Singlet Le Cheile A.C
Suunto T6D Heart Rate Monitor.

All my kit is available from Great Outdoors.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Kildare man John O'Regan wins Belfast 24-hour race

Kildare man John O'Regan set a new track record of 132 miles as he was crowned Irish champion by winning the Belfast 24-hour race.
O'Regan's distance beat the 127 miles set by last year's inaugural race winner Fermanagh man Thomas Maguire.
With Maguire dropping out after 16 hours, Madrid-based Belfast man Eddie Gallen finished second with 127 miles.
Tipperary native Deirdre Finn was first woman finisher as she produced 112 miles which left her sixth overall.
Limerick man Michael Cunningham, 46, set the early pace at the Mary Peters Track as he covered the opening marathon distance of 26.2 miles in three and half hours.
However, O'Regan, 41, moved into the lead by half distance and he went through the 100-mile barrier in under 17 hours.
O'Regan stayed on the track round-the-clock in the Energia sponsored race as did 48-year-old runner-up Gallen.
Powerful Icelandic competitor Gunnlauger Juliusson finished in third place on 120 miles.
However, performance of the race came arguably from women's winner Finn who added 22 miles to last year's best female time set by Lynne Hanna.
Hanna improved her personal best as she also went through the 100-mile barrier while Hungarian Timea Bontovics was third best female with 91 miles.
In all, 18 athletes went beyond 100 miles in the day-long event.
Belfast mother-of-two Susan McCartney collapsed in the middle of the track after running for 12 hours but after resting for four hours, then resumed the race to complete 86 miles by the finish.
The 12-hour race was won by Welshman Sean McCormack who achieved 68 miles while the Orangegrove quartet of Liz Leitch, Gary Keenan, Colin Fulton and Ralph Coetzee won the relay event with a total of 170 miles.
Race director Ed Smith spoke of the "true heroics" produced at Mary Peters Track.
"It's mind over matter stuff. And, the miles covered were amazing - especially with a very cold night and a very hot day to cope with. Well done to them all," added Smith.

* The above post was copied from BBC Sports and I'd like to add that the track record mentioned above is for this track only! The Irish track record stands at 235.910K and is held by Eoin Keith.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Belfast 24-hr Race

Tooting Bec Track, London.

Following on from the World Trail Championships I more or less got straight back into training after a short recovery period.  All I've really done is keep my legs moving to stop them from seizing up and that also helps keep the weight in check as the reduced training volume unless balanced with a reduced calorie intake will lead to weight gain.  No big deal under normal circumstances but as an Ultra Runner I eat quite a lot and it wouldn't take long to put on a few Kg in weight and for a race of this duration it all adds up!  I find it easier to train it off rather than starve it off.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

2011 Energia Belfast 24-Hour

Race Director Ed Smith, Lord Mayor of Belfast Pat Convery, Dame
Mary Peters and Energia Chief Operating Officer Tom Gillen
This summer's Energia Belfast 24-Hour Race will carry Irish Championship status.
UltraRunning Ireland has conferred the title after the successful first running of the race in 2010. The event saw four athletes run beyond 100 miles and Fermanagh's Thomas Maguire winning with a distance of 127 miles.
The race will again be staged at the Mary Peters Tack on July 22 starting at 6.45pm.
Race Director Ed Smith says: "We are delighted to have secured the Irish Championships from UltraRunning Ireland and have an ambition to pitch for a European Championships in the future.
"It's the ultimate challenge of mind over matter to keep going round a track and right around the clock," he says. "The 17 who finished in 2010 - all going beyond 80 miles - put in a remarkable effort - and we are hoping to grow the event in 2011."
"To broaden the choice, I'll be introducing a 12 hour race to run concurrently, and also a 24-hour relay for teams of four which must include at least one woman," says Smith.
For further information contact: Ed Smith at 00447740818389 or

Thursday, July 14, 2011

My Race / World Trail Championships 2011.

Opening Ceremony

I hadn't planned on running this race but jumped at the opportunity as its an honour to be asked  and even more so when it's a World Championship event.  Regardless of what my plans were this would now  take precedence.  Luckily enough I had sufficient notice to change the direction of my training and without delay I became event specific which is partly because my training is so varied and I never shy away from the hills.  Training went as well as I could have wanted and yet again I knew I'd be standing on the start line without any excuses and knowing that I was ready to give it a good shot and there was no doubt in my mind that I was race ready.

Seeing as I was running as an Individual Internationl Athlete rather than on the scoring Team I'll explain 'My' race as that's what I was running and I'm sure there's plenty of interesting accounts of this race and you'll find some on my blog list (for example).

 Pre Race Meeting

My plan was simple, arrive at the start line fully fuelled / hydrated and run without anything for the first hour and until reaching the first check point (CP1).  At CP1 Iwould have more than I'd need and this included a 500Ml carb drink and 500Ml electrolyte drink plus a gel.  My pick up decision would be made based on how I was feeling and I could get what I wanted without wasting time stopping to ask.

Kylemore Abbey and the Start Line.

Waiting for the start

The race started outside the front door of Kylemore Abbey and stayed inside the grounds before turning onto the main road into Letterfrack.  I knew this section would be the easiest to run and I expected it to be quite fast and didn't want to get caught up in running too fast too soon as can easily happen.  I controlled my effort by keeping an eye on my HR rather than the runner directly in front as I knew what lay ahead and it was going to be a long day.

Before entering the village of Letterfrack I could hear the cheers from the support crews of all the visiting nations and then the work began as expected.  The flatness of the road was replaced with a trail that climbed quite steeply to the summit of Diamond Hill.  I comfortably ran most of this with the occasional forced walk due to congestion or steepness.  Reaching the top after climbing over 400M felt effortless and I knew then that I was going to have a good day.  Descending Diamond Hill is quite steep and it wasn't long before my race changed when I lost my footing while trying to avoid a collision with runners slightly ahead and below. Jumping to the side I slipped and landed sideways on a stone step taking all the impact on my knee and hip.
Diamond Hill during our recce and the scene of my fall

As I stood up I thought to myself 'this is it, I'm out' but rather than just stopping and accepting defeat I  ran on a bit to check the damage. My knee was throbbing and I couldn't bend it too well but it did loosen up and I tried to lead as much as possible with my good side when jumping or landing.

The checkpoint wasn't too far away but it was downhill and that's what hurt the most as it was very similar to ITB pain but I knew that beyond the CP it was mostly uphill and if I managed to get some pain killers I might be ok so I went on.  Passing through the CP I took some pain killers and I think they started to work as I began my second descent of Diamond Hill and I made sure to be a little bit more cautious on the second descent. My knee was still hurting but nothing like it was earlier and I knew from experience that it was manageable and nothing worse than I'd had before so I won't mention it again.

Following on from the second descent the race turned away from Letterfrack and made it's way towards Benbaun on a route that would be retraced on the return.  No big deal under normal circumstances but without doubt this must be the toughest course I've ever ran and knowing that each energy draining step on the outward section would be there on the return to be covered with tired legs on an energy drained body.  The course took in everything that the Irish Countryside had to offer ranging from undulating fields that had never been ploughed, river crossings, forest trails, bog, marsh with waist deep sink holes, open mountain and pot holed roads.

Dan doing what he does.

The next CP was located 16K away and manned by the ever dependable 'John Collins' and he seemed to know I was on the approach as he stood there holding my hydration pack ready for me to almost run into.  He asked a few questions and I can remember replying no to them all but did mention what extra requirements I may have at the next CP beyond Benbaun so he could pass word on and this included another dose of pain killers. The route from here climbed gradualy upwards along a forest road and crossed a river via submerged stepping stones.  I was starting to feel the climb and then before I knew it I was turning into a very steep climb which was the start of Benbaun.  The first part of the ascent traversed along marshy ground before losing height to climb again and I was now reduced to a walk and scramble as it was impossible to run this.  Height was gained very quickly due to the steepness of the climb but it was energy sapping.  I could see the top from early on and focussed on getting there without any stops but soon discovered that the top was probably still 100M more climbing and that's when it gets really tough.

The descent of Benbaun was quite steep which meant loosing height quite quickly and before long I was down to almost the same starting altitude as I made my way to the next CP. I had a very smooth transition through CP3 and dropped my hydration pack for refilling and took some more pain killers and ran with a 500ml carb drink out and back to the turn around and collected my hydration pack on the return.  The turn around was on the opposite side of kylemore lough to the starting line so I knew that the return climb up Benbaun was going to be tougher than I originaly expected. As I was now retracing my steps I knew the end was in sight but I also knew what lay ahead and even though I didn't have any doubts I tried not to think too far ahead and stayed in the moment.  The climb up Benbaun was relentless and this time I did stop.  I'd never encountered anything as steep or tough in a race and even stopping had it's hazards as the steepness made it very easy to lose balance and it was almost like taking a break during a rock climb.  It's a chance to catch your breath but calf muscles are still working to keep you steady.  I could always see what looked like the top but knew from earlier that the top lay further from my view but what i could see was enough to focus on and it kept me going.

Thomas after the Benbaun descent.

Descending down the far side was at times like looking over a cliff it was that severe and it made for a very fast but cautious drop into the valley.  I dug my heels in and kept my bodyweight into the mountain side and was always prepared for and expecting a fall.  The falls or slips did happen but I was always ready and it wasn't long before the end was reached.  Next up was the crossing of a small stream and I remembered jumping it on the outward leg but now I went through it as I was now heading towrds marshy ground and my feet were going to get soaked again.  I moved quite quickly through the marsh but did go off course as I was looking at the ground rather than ahead and follwing the most direct route.  I fell a few more times but fell forward so didn't lose any time and then I was back onto a fire road through a forest.  This section was familiar but seemed longer and I began to wonder if I was going the right way.  I scanned the road ahead looking for any signs that a runner had passed and then I reached the river crossing that there was no mistaking that this was the right way.  Minutes later I was turning the bend on the approach to the last CP and 'John Collins' was ready as always andwithout any delay I was fuelled and gone.  The plan from here was to travel as light as possible with most of what I'd need inside me so I drank 500ml which i guessed was enough to get me home.  I also carried a smaller drink and a Powerbar gel in my shorts just in case it was needed as it was now very warm and I knew there was still some tough terrain ahead and more climbing to be done.

Halfway between the 2k and 1k to go marker board I started to feel weak and knew I was starting to bonk.  Without any delay I took my gel and walked a small while as i waited for it to kick in and it gave me a reason rather than an excuse to climb what was to be the last hill.  On reaching the top I was looking at Diamond Hill in the distance and began to think back to the race start and part of me didn't want the race to end, I wanted to climb Diamond Hill again.   Maybe it was the low blood sugar that was causing those thoughts and then all was good again as I began my final descent into Letterfrack.  There was no one ahead of or behind me so I didn't finish with a sprint and cruised to the finish line.

With John Collins at the Finish.

Apart from my Ireland Team Kit I wore:

Additional Food Items
  • Powerade * 500Ml
  • Mars Refuel (after race)
Some Race Stats:

Total Ascent  = 2950 M
Total Descent = 2989 M
Total Distance = 71 K
Average HR = 138 bpm
Max Hr = 160 bpm.  
HR max was  reached during first ascent of Diamond Hill and apart from that my Hr never went above 155 bpm.

I never once felt like quitting even though I did think the fall would end my race.  My decision to go on was based on experience and knowing the difference between an injury and just pain.  My fuelling plan as usual worked perfectly and if I was to run the race again the only thing I'd do differently is that I wouldn't fall:)

Monday, July 11, 2011

Outstanding Trail World Champs 2011

The official IAU Trail World Championships took place in Connemara on Saturday 9th July and the event has been heralded as an outstanding success.
Elite ultramarathon runners from every populated continent took part in the race, incuding over 120 athletes from the athletics federations of Argentina, Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, Nepal, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, South Africa, Spain and the USA.
The event was also filmed for broadcast on Channel 4, Eurosport, Setanta and a host of other international channels over the coming weeks, surpassing the guaranteed international coverage of any other athletics event in Ireland this year. In addition, official London 2012 Olympic photographer, Mike King, travelled from the UK to photograph the event as well as journalists from France and Italy, which are trail running strongholds.
It was the first occasion an official world championships at trail running came to Ireland.
Race director Richard Donovan, who also organises extreme runs in the polar regions, planned an ambitious route of 70km, starting at Kylemore Abbey and encompassing mountains, grassland trails, compacted gravel trails, bog, loose rock trails and open countryside. He said Connemara was an obvious choice of location for such an extreme race given the amazing natural beautly of the region.
The Reserve Defence Force, Red Cross, Mountain Rescue and local volunteers were all out in force to guide and support people over the specially marked route. Meanwhile, thousands of people around the world logged on to live updates available on the race website
Incredibly, the first runner home, Erik Clavery (FRA), took only 6.39.07 hrs to complete the gruelling course. He was closely followed by Jason Loutitt (CAN) and Patrick Bringer (FRA). France dominated the team competition with Italy and Norway taking silver and bronze medals, respectively. Ireland finished 7th in the team competition and the first 3 Irishmen were Daniel Doherty 17th (7:19:18), Paul Tierney 24th (7:29:35) and Eoin Keith 27th (7:34:27).
Meanwhile, the women's race was won by Maud Gobert (FRA) in 7:41:31 hrs ahead of defending world champion Cecilia Mora (ITA) and Lucy Colquhoun (GBR). France once again dominated the team competition ahead of Italy and Canada.
Richard Donovan said "It was a fantastic day for everybody and the bonus good weather ensured that Connemara will be showcased to millions of people around the world in a way that the region has never been shown before. The aerial footage of elite ultramarathon runners moving at speed over difficult terrain is incredible."
Adding to the day's success, the International Association of Ultra Runners awarded the Order of Merit to the organisers for their planning and execution of the event.
Men1. Erik Clavery (FRA) - 6:39:07
2. Jason Loutitt (CAN) - 6:40:32
3. Patrick Bringer (FRA) - 6:47:50
1. France - 20:24:50
2. Italy - 20:56:36
3. Norway - 21:29:02
Women1. Maud Gobert (FRA) - 7:41:31
2. Cecilia Mora (ITA) - 7:50:02
3. Lucy Colquhoun (FRA) - 7:57:20
1. France - 24:00:42
2. Italy - 24:21:35
3. Canada - 27:01:08