NI's most gruelling race is back on

July 21

23:59 “If you’ve gone this far –there’s only a minute left –You’re going to make it.”

It is perhaps the cruellest, most daunting challenge on the Irish sporting calendar – to keep going non-stop until the digital clock moves on to 24:00.

Yet that is what awaits 50 track heroes on Friday July 22 starting at 6.45pm in the Energia Belfast 24-Hour race at the Mary Peters’ track.

They will come from seven nations, and 14 counties of Ireland with their tents, their camper vans, their support crews, their energy drinks, stamina in their legs and hope in the their hearts that mind will conquer matter and they will prevail.

There will be Gerard McCann, 35, from Belfast with his mantra: “Run when you can, walk if you have to, crawl if you must.”

There will be the Viking economist Gunnlaugur Juluisson, 59, from Reykjavik, Iceland who holds the Nordic  24-hour record on a treadmill.  But can he push back the years and do it on a track?

There will be Hungarian mother-of-five Timea Bontovics from Budapest taking part in her first ever 24-hour race.

And, then there will be the ‘professionals’ like John O’Regan, 41, from Leixlip,Co Kildare.
John has raced up the steps of the Empire State Building in New York.. He has won the Inca Trail Marathon and the 100-mile Yukon Arctic Ultra. And, Eddie Gallen, 47, who will fly in from Madrid. He has done an incredible 20 twenty-four hour races.

Finally, there’s Liam McGarry, 34, from the Ormeau Road in Belfast. He plays five-a-side football. “ I’m hoping it isn’t as bad as they say.”

Six of the ‘originals’ from last year including last year’s women’s winner Lynne Hanna, 48,return. The Clarins executive from Dromara is used to big challenges. With her husband Noel, she became only the world’s second married couple to stand on top of Everest.

In conjunction with Ultra Running Ireland, the Belfast race will stage the Irish 24-Hour Championships for the first time. It will bid in the future for the European Championships.
The race carries a £500 prize to the man and woman who goes the furthest and there are special awards for anyone who passes 100 miles.

Title sponsor Energia’s Marketing Manager Michael Ringland says: “I had nothing but admiration for the men and women who kept going through night and day last year.

“This very challenging event is a great advertisement for teamwork, the motivation of the runners combined with their friendship and encouragement for each other. Their team support on the trackside and the tented village makes for a great spectacle,” He says.

The 24-Hour race is also funded by Belfast City Council through its Support for Sport initiative.

Lord Mayor Niall O’Donnaghaile says: “Belfast City Council is proud to support such a huge challenge through its Support for Sport funding programme and I wish all the competitors who are coming from far and wide all the best in what is a truly daunting undertaking.”


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