O’Regan Wins 24 Hour Race

July 25

John O'Regan,41, from Leixlip in Co.Kildare set a new track record as he was crowned Irish champion, winning the Energia Belfast 24-Hour race on July 22/23.

It was a commanding performance at the Mary Peters track as the Irish international ultra runner completed 132 miles, that’s some 532 laps, beating Thomas Maguire’s distance set last year by some 5 miles.

This time the very disappointed defending champion Maguire, 38, from Fermanagh dropped out after 16 hours suffering from a torn quad muscle.

Speaking about the race John O’Regan said; “This was an extremely tough race for me as I was leading from an early stage and found the pace at the front difficult. I managed to settle into a slower, steady pace which meant I could stay out on track longer and build up the miles.”

Michael Cunningham, 46, from Limerick had set a cracking pace covering the marathon distance of 26.2 miles in three-and-a-half hours. It was the first experience of ultra running for the Cappamore bus driver and by half distance O’Regan had drawn level and went through 100 miles in under 17 hours.

O’Regan stayed on the track right round- the -clock as did the man finishing behind him, Belfast’s Eddie Gallen, 48, who had flown in from his Madrid base for the race.

Gallen was doing his 21st 24-hour race and he was back to his best form finishing second and covering 127 miles – 8 miles more than last year. The powerful Icelandic champion Gunnlauger Juliusson finished third on 120 miles.

But perhaps the most eye-catching performance came from Tipperary’s Deirdre Finn, 44. The Killaloe woman shattered the track record by some 22 miles registering 112 miles which left her in sixth place overall.

Last year’s women’s winner, Lynne Hanna,48, had set the mark at 90 miles and the Everest conqueror from Dromara didn’t give up her Irish title lightly, breaking through the much sought after 100 miles – equalling her husband Noel’s performance of  last year.

Third in the women’s race was the gallant Hungarian Timea Bontovics, 44 from Budapest. The mother of four covered some 91 miles.

Race Director Ed Smith says. “If there is a harder one day event in Ireland I’d like to see it. There were some true heroics going on out there. It’s mind over matter 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.”

Michael Ringland, from race sponsor Energia congratulated all the runners on completing such an extreme challenge saying: “Each of the athletes has shown incredible stamina to set such impressive distances during the race. This year’s event demonstrated the excellent athletic ability for this type of event within Northern Ireland with 20 of the competitors originally from here, Ireland and abroad. We hope their determination will inspire others to test their physical and mental strength in next year’s event, against Ultra runners from across Europe.” 

In all, a remarkable 18 runners went past the 100 miles barrier including Liam McGarry 34,from the Ormeau Road in Belfast who surprised everyone given that his preparation was playing five-a-side football.

Also completing the 24 hours was mother-of-two Susan McCartney, 34. The technical illustrator from Belfast collapsed in the middle of the track such was the pace she’d set in the first 12-hours, spent  some 4 hours receiving help from the paramedics and resting – only to return and complete 86 miles by the finish.

She and her brother Tim Brownlee – who made the 100 miles – were collecting much needed funds for their mum’s charity working with AIDs orphans in Malawi.

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