Sunday 21 January 2018

O'Regan reigns with 132-miler

Ultra runner John O'Regan from the Le Chéile club in Leixlip is the new Irish 24-hour champion after winning the Energia Belfast 24-Hour race at the Mary Peters Track.

In the first 12 hours, O'Regan (pictured below), a previous winner of the Inca Trail Ultra in South America, ran through the night after the 6.45pm start, and clocked up just over 75 miles, putting him seven miles ahead of his nearest rival Eddie Gallen, a Belfast man who lives in Spain.

His target was Eoin Keith's Irish track record of 147 miles but when the bitterly cold night turned into a blazing hot day, that ambition was out of reach.

For the final two hours, O'Regan marched around the track, clocking up 132.3 miles over 532 laps. "It's damage limitation now. I'm not going to get the record, but at least I'll get an Irish title and then I can back into training," he said.

It was also a track record, adding five miles to the distance recorded by Thomas Maguire last year.

Maguire, the Irish 100km champion, dropped out after 16 hours and 90 miles with a torn quad muscle.

Drawing on all his experience to come second was Gallen, competing in his 21st 24-hour race.

While others of the 50 starters collapsed or retired, the diminutive figure from Spain, fortified by his brother-in-law's pizzas, kept churning out the laps. By the finish he had accumulated a total of 127.6 miles -- eight miles more than last year.


Icelandic champion Gunnlaugur Juliusson finished third on 120 miles, with Dubliner Shane O'Neill fourth on 116.5 miles.

Perhaps the most eye-catching performance came from Tipperary's Deirdre Finn. In her debut ultra, the Killaloe woman registered 112 miles and finished sixth overall.

Everest mountaineer Lynne Hanna from Dromara was been first woman a year earlier when she ran 90 miles.

This time she was among the 18 to break the 100-mile barrier. Dublin Frank McDermott was another to run over 100 miles.

Making an early impression was 24-hour novice Michael Cunningham from Limerick.

He covered the marathon distance of 26.2 miles in three-and-a-half hours. He held on to finish seventh running just shy of 112 miles.

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