Belfast Telegraph

We're in for the long run

By Steven Beacom

Fancy running 101 kilometres? Or does the thought of it suddenly make you feel tired and want to go to bed?

Ballycastle lady Helena Dornan and Newtownards native Sammy Daye are in the former category.

They'll be just two of many energetic or crazy people, depending on your point of view, who will be jogging round the streets of Belfast for 62 miles on Sunday as part of the Titantic Quarter Ultra Marathon.

The 101K run, organised by sports event management firm 26 Extreme, starts at Titantic Quarter and hours and hours later will finish at the same place.

It will commemorate the 101st anniversary of RMS Titanic's maiden voyage and is set to become an annual event, with the distance increased by 1km each year.

There are also 50K and 25K races on September 8, with a field of up to 1000 competitors expected to take part in the three races.

Runners will set off at 6am in the 101K Ultra Marathon travelling a coastal route to Millisle.

At that point those taking part in the 50K run will join the runners on the return leg, picking the 25K entrants up at Ballyholme Bay.

The event will be an official distance race, certified by Athletics Northern Ireland, making it the longest official road race ever to take place here.

So, what sort of person wants to put their body through the rigours of running over 60 miles in a single day?

Helena Dornan is one. The 42-year-old says she likes doing 'extreme things'.

"I cycled from county Cork to county Donegal in June in 23 hours and 10 minutes, so I felt I needed to move the goalposts a little bit," says Helena, with an infectious laugh.

"This is a huge undertaking and I am nervous but I'm really looking forward to it.

"There should be a good buzz around the event.

"My plan is to keep on running throughout the race.

"I'll maybe stop for a minute here or there to take a drink or an energy tablet and I'll carry food in my pocket and eat it as I go. I think if you stop it is always hard starting again."

Helena is clearly a fit lady but admits that wasn't always the case.

"I would run every day or cycle. I'm always doing something but I used to be a 15 stone fattie. Now I'm about 10 stone," she says.

"I did my first ever 40 mile race for my 40th birthday. That was my present to myself.

"That was the Causeway Coast marathon and from then I just got hooked."

Sammy Daye knows that feeling. He says long distance running is "addictive".

He only started racing five years ago having not done any fitness work in the previous 15 years.

Sammy, who was 43 recently, says: "The Titantic Ultra Marathon is just over 62 miles and will be my longest race in a single day. I need to do it in under 14 hours 45 minutes and if I make that time I'm on target in the future to race 100 miles in 24 hours which is my ultimate goal.

"I can't wait for it. I've already started drinking a lot more fluids and eating more carbs in preparation. My family think I'm mad doing these distances, but they are proud of me too.

"I don't smoke now and rarely drink and it's very good for my health. I would say I'm a lot healthier now than when I was 21."

To enter the Titanic Quarter Ultra Marathon, visit Entries cost £55 for the 101K, £45 for the 50K and £35 for the 25K.

The closing date for entry is September 5.

Belfast Telegraph

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