North County Focus: Runners to attempt 10 Howth marathons in five gruelling days
THE village of Howth will be the scene for a unique running festival next month.
East of Ireland (EoI) marathons will host a 10-marathons-in-five-days challenge that will see runners do four laps of Howth head twice a day.
"It's never been done in Ireland - and I'm not sure if it's been attempted anywhere else in the world," organiser Ger Copeland said.
"This is one for the 'runkies', those running junkies who just want the challenge to be bigger and better every time," he said.
The course will see runners set off at 6am to complete the first of the day's races.
Following a two-hour break they will then gather at the starting line again.
One group will also attempt to run five 'ultramarathons' in five days.
An ultramarathon is any race longer than the traditional marathon length of 42kms.
Athletes from Australia and Italy have signed up for the gruelling challenge.
Due to the hills in Howth, the race is sure to be one of the toughest courses on the Irish circuit, Mr Copeland said.
Though it might seem extreme, members of the Dublin Bay Running Club - which is affiliated with EOI marathons - have taken on some of the toughest races around the world.
"In a way, it's easier to run back-to-back marathons because your body doesn't have time to recover.
"You suffer better, as strange as that might sound," the running fanatic said.
Last year the group hosted 10 marathons in 10 days and raised almost €10,000 for Temple Street Children's Hospital.
"Anyone who wants to fundraise when they taking part are more than welcome to raise money with us, but only if they wish to," Mr Copeland said.
"My son was treated in Temple Street before, so I always try to fundraise for them when I can."
Some 18 people will attempt to run the 10 marathons over the course of the five days.
If they succeed they will have covered a huge 420km.
Though he is organising the event, Mr Copeland said he was also keen to win the competition.
Meanwhile, 20 people have signed up for the longer races during the festival.
The package of multiple races has already sold out, but people may still sign up for any of the individual races.
It costs €30 to enter and that covers a medal and refreshments.
"People in the supermarket always laugh when they see me buying hundreds of cans of coke and chocolate for a group of runners," Mr Copeland said.
The festival will run from August 4-8 and the races will kick off at the Abbey Tavern each morning and afternoon.
East of Ireland Marathons is the brainchild of Mr Copeland and his fellow organiser Frank McDermott.
Established just two years ago the group now has more than 3,000 members from Dublin and neighbouring counties. They organise regular marathons.
Many of the people who take part also train with the Dublin Bay Running Club, which meets several times a week in Howth.
Anyone interested in joining the club can find the group on Facebook.