Cork runners to compete in Energia 24 Hour Race

June 25

4 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 runners to compete in Energia 24 Hour Race

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.


Cork’s Eoin Keith, Jerry Forde, Ruthann Sheahan and Grellan McGrath will all compete in the 24-hour event.


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.


Race Director Ed Smith says: “It’s just been crazy. My main problem has been how to accommodate them all on a 400 metre track. We’ll try and use as many lanes as possible but the day’s coming when we’ll have to find a bigger circuit.”


“When we started out with this idea of running around-the-clock in 2010 - 18 runners showed up and it was won by Fermanagh’s Thomas Maguire. He ran a very creditable 204 kms. Everest conqueror Lynne Hanna completed 145 kms in winning the women’s race.”


“Five years on there is no doubt the appetite has grown for ultra-running - and especially to see just how far can be covered in 24 hours - with many looking to register 160kms” he says.


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.


“And, we’re stage on the Saturday a 2.4 minute race for under-11s and a 24 second race for under-5s.”


Title sponsors Energia, the leading gas and electricity suppliers, have backed the 24-hour from day one - and not only are they backers but have entered 2 relay teams this year.


Energia’s Michael Ringland said: “We’re delighted to again be closely involved with this race. It was different than anything out there on the Irish sporting calendar - presenting an eye-watering challenge- when we came in; and nothing has changed. We have watched it grow year on year into something special and unique.”


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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