Belfast Telegraph

Eoin Keith is on track with a 152-mile record in the Energia 24-hour race

By Brian Hill

By any measure of endurance it was extraordinary at the Mary Peter's track in Belfast at the weekend as the records tumbled.

There were two national records and five new track records in the Energia 24-hour race where no fewer than 22 runners topped the 100 miles mark.

And, there were also records in the 24-hour relay and the 12-hour race.

The 24-hour was won by Cork man Eoin Keith, 44, who set new figures of 152 miles (245km).

This broke his own Irish record set in London in 2008 by some four miles.

Keith had gone through the 100 mile mark in 15hrs and 26mins breaking that record in the process.

Right behind him Ruthann Sheahan, 38, was scattering records before her like confetti. Sheahan, from Leap Village in west Cork, in finishing second overall, did not so much beat the Irish record as demolish it!

She went past the best mark of 113 miles after just 18 hours and 48 mins and, despite the soaring temperatures, went on to record a distance of 140 miles (225km) which will surely stand in the record books for a long, long time.

In a race started by Dame Mary Peters, it was the first national record to be registered on the reopened track indicating that even for the ultra-runners this is a venue designed for pushing the bar ever higher.

Behind Keith and Sheahan, two-time champion John O'Regan, 48 from Leixlip in Kildare put up the bravest of defences of his title to finish third – his 137 miles (221km) improving the all-comers track record he had set two years ago by five miles with the ever-consistent Belfast ultra-man, Madrid-based Eddie Gallen, 50, also bettering the all-comers with a new PB of 134 miles (215km).

And, there was a great family story behind them with Susan McCartney, 36 from Belfast but currently living in Berkshire, posting remarkable new PB figures.

Two years ago McCartney had collapsed on the track this time she posted 122 miles (197km) to take runner-up in the Irish Championships with, and in a great battle, her brother Tim Brownlee just behind her in sixth with 117 miles (189km).

In the 24-Hour Relay, Donadea Runners from Kildare, successfully defended their title improving their record by four miles to 185 miles (299km) for the two men, two women combination each running three stints of two hours. Donadea beat sponsors Energia into second place.

A remarkable performance from Team Energia as none of them are ultra-runners but managed a very respectable 139 miles (223.6km) as Tom Gillen from Energia, and relay team member explained: "We are delighted with our efforts at the energia 24 hour race, especially in the heat that we had to battle through.

"In saying that, this is very much a team race, every single runner helped each other and it was a fantastic event to be a part of."

Aidan Blake, 33, from Ballinteer in Dublin set new best figures in winning the 12-hour race covering a distance of 72 miles.

Even Belfast's Lord Mayor Máirtín Ó Muilleoir who, with Energia, sponsored the race, got in on the act joining the runners for the last hour.

Race Director Ed Smith said: "The new track bore witness to the best ultra-running ever seen in Ireland.

"There is a lot of blood, sweat and tears left behind but the result is a phenomenal roll-call of records and endeavor."

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