Belfast Telegraph

Long-distance runners take ultimate endurance test

By Claire Williamson

It's the ultimate test of endurance.

Fifty men and women from throughout Ireland and seven others countries were limbering up last night ahead of the Energia 24-hour race.

The event, which has gained international status, is currently taking place at the Mary Peters Track in Belfast.

Dame Mary Peters started the gruelling race which started last night at 6.45 and finishes tonight at 6.45.

Organiser Ed Smith said most racers won't stop except for comfort breaks throughout the 24 hours.

Interestingly, the competitor to travel the furthest to get there was a Belfast man. Eddie Gallen (51) flew in from Madrid to take part in his 29th race.

The one to watch is defending champion Eoin Keith from Cork. Last year he set new figures of 152 miles (245km) which broke his own Irish record set in London in 2008.

Among competitors preparing to start the race was Don Hannon (41) from Wicklow.

He is aiming to run more than 200km to get in to the Irish Team for the World Championships 24-Hour Race.

This is Don's third attempt at the 24-hour race as his last two times were marred by injury and sickness. He said: "I'm nervous, scared. If I get my hydration and my nutrition right I have a good chance." He added: "There aren't many distractions. It's very much you and your head.

"And after the first seven hours you don't really have the capability of talking to anyone anymore and you are trying to conserve your energy.

"But it's all about having fun and keeping smiling."

The event is free and spectators are welcome to come to the Mary Peters Track to cheer on competitors.

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