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Cork runner Sinead Kane competing in Energia 12 Hour Race

July 09

5 Cork-based runners will compete in this year’s Energia 24-Hour race on the Mary Peters’ Track in Belfast on July 17/18. Cork’s Eoin Keith, Jerry Forde, Ruthann Sheahan and Grellan McGrath will now be joined by Sinead Kane

Cork runner Sinead Kane competing in Energia 12 Hour Race

For the first time, Energia24 will welcome a blind runner to the starting line-up at the Mary Peters’ track in Belfast on July 17. She couldn’t have a more experienced guide to take her round than three-time Irish 24-Hour champion John O’Regan.

 

The Energia 24-hour race is the endurance race where competitors run as many laps of the 400m race track as they can in 24 hours. It is a National Championship and used for international selection.

 

Sinead came to national attention in the spring when she forced organisers of the women’s Mini-Marathon in Dublin to reverse their decision after they had initially ruled that she could not compete with a male guide. She won the visually impaired section of the 10K event and placed 104th overall from 40,000 competitors. Previously, she had become the first blind woman to complete the Dublin marathon; and earlier this year she dipped under 5 hours for the Donadea 50K - as she tested herself out for the 12-hour challenge that lay ahead. Recently she travelled with John to Brazil to take part in the Wings For Life World Run race and finished 23rd female out of 1,413 female competitors.

 

Sinead, who has 5 per cent vision, became the first registered blind solicitor in Ireland. She is also a motivational speaker having battled prejudice against disability all her life. John was also a guide runner for blind adventurer Mark Pollock during the North Pole Marathon, The Dead Sea Ultra Marathon and The Tenzing Hillary Everest Marathon.

 

Eoin Keith, who will be wearing the number 2, set the current Irish record when here covered 245kms in the Energia 24-hour race in Belfast in 2013. Hailing from Cork originally, he is currently living and working in Dublin. Eoin is one of only 4 people in the world to have run over 800kms in 3 days. After dropping out of Belfast last year and Turin World Champs in April with a troublesome knee injury - some thought his best days were behind him – he bounced back in May finishing 2nd to the great American Joe Fejes (who broke the world record) in a 6-day ultra-marathon in Hungary where he ran 816kms.

 

Jerry Forde is a 64-year-old from Blarney in Cork. He is not only the second oldest competitor taking part but the first wheelchair-bound athlete to take on the Energia 24-hour race. He has chalked up an impressive 309 marathons over the years. Jerry, who suffers from spina bifida, is retired but still does a bit of DJing for hospital radio.

 

Ruthann Sheahan is 40 and hails from Leap in Cork. She is the Irish 24-hour record holder on the road, having run a total of 229kms, and on the track, with a record of 226kms. She appeared on the front cover of the June/July edition of Irish Runner. She collapsed at the World 24-hour championships in Turin in April just 45 minutes away from the first-ever major championship medal for an Irish competitor. Unfortunately she was suffering from hypoxia and dehydration and her blood oxygen levels were a critically low 85 per cent. She still managed 224kms for 11th place. She will take on the famed 250km Spartathlon from Athens to Sparta in Greece in September.

 

The oldest competitor taking part is Colette O’Hagan from Dundalk. She’s 65. The furthest travelled will be Malcolm Gamble, who is 47. He journeying 17,125kms from Melbourne, Australia to the start-line. Not content with taking on the ‘monster’, David Higgins, 51, from Armagh is dressing up as one and doing the entire 24-hours in fancy dress to support two charities close to his heart. His crew is dressing up as well.

 

In all 18 Irish and Northern Irish counties will be represented: Antrim, Armagh, Cavan, Cork, Down, Dublin, Galway, Kerry, Kildare, Kilkenny, Limerick, Louth, Offaly, Mayo, Meath, Westmeath, Wexford and Wicklow. A wide range of international runner will also be competing, with runners from England, Spain, Scotland, Italy, the Phillipines, Poland, the Falkland Islands and Hungary entered into this year’s race.

 

The event carries a Silver Label from the World Governing Body and is grant-aided by Belfast City Council and supported by Pure Running. Athletics Ireland and Athletics NI are also supporters of the Energia 24-hour race. 

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