Sunday, 30 December 2012

Ultra Running 2012

Well I don't really evaluate the 'past year' other than to say it was a craic and I learnt a lot about ultra running. 2013 will be a lot more serious for me, in the meantime here are some pics of 2012:

Thursday, 27 December 2012

IAAF Honour for UltraRunning Ireland

Picture of Ireland's Dan Doherty in Trail World Championships

Footage of the 2011 Trail World Championships in Ireland was selected to be shown in the '100 Years of Athletics Excellence' video at the IAAF Centenary Gala in Barcelona.

Read more here

Irish Ultra Runner of the Year 2012

The team - which comprised John Byrne, Michael Collins, Dan Doherty, Thomas Maguire, John O'Regan and Keith Whyte - finished a fantastic 6th in the World 100km Championships in April 2012.
Furthermore, individual members of the team performed brilliantly in other ultra events throughout the year.
Find out more here

Monday, 5 November 2012

A Pat on the Back for the Donegal Mooathon

When asked to attend a marathon by Newline, I was a little apprehensive. My usual race involves running on trail or in the mountains over 50 to 100 miles. Recent training sessions and races include the Cornish coastal path, Glen Nevis, the Lake District, the Welsh mountains and the French Alps – You get the picture.

If I’m going to travel for a race I want to make sure it’s something that can push me physically as well as offering breath-taking scenery along the way. When you run as seriously as I do, you need to remind yourself that it’s about having fun and the experience. With hours of training each week, I sometimes forget that this is a hobby and not a job!

The Mooathon is entirely on road but take athletes up and around the Donegal mountains and then along the beautiful coastal line through Downings and up to Long Rock.

The start line was a mix of serious looking runners and cows. Yes, that’s right, cows! Many on the line had made great effort to dress in accordance with the rules, i.e. look like a cow. Pretending to be a serious looking athlete I simply opted for the white singlet and black shorts to avoid disqualification. Some went for the complete cow suit. Great! Athletes had the option of two distances, semi-skimmed (half marathon) or the full fat (marathon).

A bit of face painting with a cow patch on my face (“Moo!”) and I was ready to go. Looking at the competition on the line there were certainly some serious looking athletes amongst the cattle. I noticed some guy who seemed to have been inspired by the Tarahumara Indian barefoot tribe as he was standing on the line in some very flimsy flip flops. He had painted his toe nails in cow print; guessing what his feet probably looked like and will look like at the end of the race, it was probably for the best!

The route starts in the very sleepy village of Kilmacrenan just outside Letterkenny. The countdown began and I immediately broke off from the crowd at a fair pace just behind the leading semi-skimmed runner. Half a mile to warm up and then the hills kicked in. I never wear a HRM but I there were times my heart felt like it was trying to break through my rib cage. A couple of miles in, my lungs felt like they were going to explode. It was like this for a good 7-8 miles. I am conditioned to run hills and mountains, but not at this pace!

As they say, “no pain, no gain”. And there was a lot of gain to be had. I finally hit Lough Salt a beautiful lough shadowed by the Loughsalt Mountain, these were the views I was after and they were well worth the wait (climb).

Reaching the highest point in the race we were given a little respite (by that I mean running at marathon race pace on the flat) where we ran the length of the lough to be rewarded with a view that stretched for miles across Donegal. To the right I had a vast stretch of beautiful countryside and mountains in the distance and to the left I had Sheephaven Bay. This is why I run and more importantly, this is why ultra running and mountain running is the way forward!

Having spent the last 7 to 8 miles running at 6 minute miles to 10 minute miles, the next few miles would lead to the half marathon finish line at Downings and would provide a different challenge. Downhill and with pace. The long downhill road provided the opportunity to make up for the slow climbs. In fact, I remember looking at my GPS a couple of times and seeing 4.37 minute miles at times. I knew I would pay for that later in the race.

It wasn't long before we hit Downings. The guy in front passed the finish line and clocked a very respectable 1.22 half marathon. A great time for that course. I had hit the half-way point and after a quick refresh of my Elete electrolytes I was ready for the second half.

The second half follows the coast line and offers the same kind of climb as the first half but spread out in long undulations. The route had its own challenges mainly from its exposure to the winds coming in from the coast. Fighting a steep climb in the wind was tough and I was starting to pay for that downhill section several miles back. My mind however was elsewhere. I was taking in the huge cliff sections, rugged rocks and traditional Irish thatched cottages that were dotted along the coast line. I wondered what life would be like around here.

I completed the full loop of the coast line which naturally brought me back into Downings. Only a couple of miles to go. I can see the finish line but I’m not there yet, I have to do a wee detour around a church and then try and find some speed in my legs for the final two miles into the finish. These final two miles or so was in headwind and my legs felt like lead. The pace felt like I was walking but taking a cheeky gander at my watch I was still running at a respectable pace.

Before I knew it I had a few hundred metres into the sports centre. A hot shower awaits. A final push and I was being greeted by the smiling organisers at (the race organisers) and a post recovery carton of milk. Job done!

This really is an amazing course. If you want a half marathon or marathon PB then this is probably not the one for you. However, if you like dressing up as a cow, or you are looking for a true challenge with the rewards of one of the most beautiful places in Ireland, then the Mooathon is one to add to your diary!

See you on the start line! Enter online here:

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Irish Team Mate Byrne Comes 5th in World 50km Champs!!

Irish 100km team mate John Byrne finished in 5th place at the World 50km Championships in Italy, despite temperatures soaring making conditions really tough!

You can read more of this on Ultra Running Ireland's website here

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Time to Re-Classify Ultra Running?

When is a run, no longer a run? I believe that ultra running truly brings this point into question.

Now, before I start, this is not a blog about what is the 'better' distance or which discipline is truly ultra or tougher but it's to ask the question: at what point does the race in itself become a different sport altogether and in itself comparable to adventure racing, triathlons and the like?

Personally, when it comes to ultra running I am a multi-tasker, I love to run the 100k roads as well as the mountains. 

Each event holds its own challenges:

the 100k, 24hr, 50k being more prescriptive and comparable to track style running. Road ultras require constant pounding of the tarmac or track which adds to the toughness of the run with the repetitive running cycle, harshness on the joints (with little give) and usually ran at a faster pace. Personally, I have found that nutrition and hydration is tougher at these events as you are running that much faster with little time to stop and recoup.

Trail and mountains offer a truly unique experience and in most cases (for me) offer a more 'enjoyable' run with a truly unique experience each time you put the trainers on and hit the trail. Of course, the obvious challenges for mountain and trail running being the terrain, harsh ascents and descents and the frequently changeable and unpredictable weather (saying that the past few 100k World Champs have been bloody hot). That said, I don't think anyone can put a plausible argument across as to whether road or mountain running is the tougher sport. They each have their own challenges.

With that point in mind, I'd like to pose the question when is a run no longer a run? Presumably when its a walk. Right? Or a scramble, climb,  abseil or whatever? But we are actively encouraged to walk ultras in places and taught that it forms part of the race. So surely walking is fundamental to ultra running?

Sure, I think this is a simply concept to grasp. Anyone who has run a tough ultra (whether on road or mountain) will have spent some time walking or standing at an aid station. 

However, (posing an extreme example) what if the majority of competitors in a competition walked, scrambled, or hiked say 90% of the race course - would this still be an ultra run? Presumably not. It would most likely be deemed as a pedestrianism event. So on this basis there must be a stage where the run no longer qualifies as a run. So are we talking stats here to re-classify an event? If so, are we talking about distance walked and percentage of those walking that distance?

Let's take an example,

if over 50% of competitors walk, hike or scramble over (let's say) 30% of the course, can it still be defined as an ultra run? or should it be re-classed as an ultra race? Does it matter? Will it matter in the future when ultra running becomes more mainstream?

let's take another example that may not be unimaginable, 95% of competitors walk, hike or scramble over 20% of the course. Should this race still be deemed as a run or something else? Again, does it really matter?

I think we can drop the term "ultra marathon" as to me a marathon is a determined distance and ultra marathon simply doesn't make sense. So what should we call it? Perhaps there should be several disciplines:

ultra mountain race
ultra mountain running (but how much should be ran)
ultra run (where the event is run by over 95%?)
ultra road running
ultra race (other races not an ultra run)

I dunno, just chewing the cud. What are your thoughts?


Monday, 23 July 2012

Keith Whyte Wins Anglo Celtic Plate!


Irish team mate Keith Whyte won the Anglo Celtic Plate on Sunday in very tough conditions to become the first Irishman to win the race.

The race is 100k road and involves Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England competing against each other. Unfortunately, Ireland was unable to field a complete team but Keith did Ireland proud by bringing it home in 7 hrs 16 mins, followed by Allen Smalls (Eng) 7hrs 25 and Craig Holgate (Eng).

You can check out Keith's blog here. I am sure a race report will follow!

Saturday, 30 June 2012

Ultra Trail South West - Race Report

Award Ceremony - thanks to Simon Ritter for photo

I was both excited and apprehensive of entering the Ultra Trail South West 100. This would be my second 100m race to date with my last being 2 years ago. That was at the Lakeland 100 and it turned out a true disaster coming in at around the 31 hour mark. I have done a lot of running since the Lakeland but it would be true to say that 100 milers are new to me.

Many people asked me: “how long will it take you?” and my usual response was “I’ll be glad to the finish, thanks!”.  I am pleased to say I crossed that finish line and here are my thoughts from the day:

The Ultra Trail South West 2012

A wee introduction to the course. The event is organized by Endurancelife ( who organize a variety of events along the Cornish and Devon coastline including the Classic Quarter and the Coastal Trail Series amongst others. Check them out.

The Ultra Trail South West 2012 covers a 100-mile stretch of the South West Coastal Path in Cornwall. The path itself covers a stretch of around 630 miles and is maintained by the National Trust. According to Wikipedia:

The path originated as a route for the Coastguard to walk from lighthouse to lighthouse patrolling for smugglers. They needed to be able to look down into every bay and cove: as a result, the path closely hugs the coast providing excellent views but rarely the most direct path between two points.

Lesson over.

The race is claimed to be the toughest foot race in the UK and there are many reasons for this. The multi-terrain is extremely technical in places, there’s a lot of climbing and descending , with much of the course exposed to strong winds.

The race covers a different section of the SWCP each year with the 2012 edition covering a stretch of the coast from Porthleven to Watergate Bay (north Newquay).

As far as terrain is concerned, runners will need to tackle road, trail, forest, sandy beaches, very large sand dunes (some stretching on for 2 miles!), rocks, pebbles, cliff faces, tin mining areas, and some extremely large boulders! The course has a cumulative gain of around 6500 metres.

The event started at 7pm to ensure everyone faced a night section and of course to make the event that little more difficult.

I have been truly looking forward to this event for a good few months. I love the coast (I have spent most of my life along it), it’s the kind of terrain that you can say is truly ‘alive’. The views of the cliffs and wave cut platforms are magnificent. At night listening to the sea smashing up against the cliffs adds to the drama, character and excitement of the run.

My Approach

For me, it was key to recce the entire route: a) to know what laid ahead, b) reduce the risk of getting lost on the day (this didn’t work!!); and c) note key locations to use on race day to get an understanding of how far I had left. I therefore took the time to go down to Cornwall on 3 or so occasions to check out what we had in store.

Kit wise:

I was expecting to wear the new Solomon Sense shoes but they gave me massive blisters so I had to run on the day wearing the NB MT100 which are 4mm differential and are a reasonably minimalist trail shoe. The key point to these though were they had a very good rock plate which really looked after the sole of my feet during the race. Not an ideal shoe for 100 miles or for any road sections but they would have to do.

I was also wearing the Newline Imotion tee, Newline Stormpack Jacket and BTN NF shorts.

I would be using my Elete eletrolytes (seriously, if you don’t use this stuff, DO IT!!). The Salomon SLAB pack, a few GU gels, some 9bars, a hot cross bun (I know!) and whatever I could get my hands on at the CPs.

Finally, I taped a pic of my boy on my water bottle, to give me that lift I may need later on in the race J

Just before the start, I knocked back a Redbull. I know! Absolutely disgraceful. I picked that habit up doing a training run with Oliver Sinclair. In training, I knocked back a couple of tins and was running around like a rabbit so thought it may help on the day. Can I suggest that this is not a great idea for such a long event?

The Race

The race started at Porthleven and this is where I met Stuart Mills and Neil Bryant. It was great to finally meet Neil who only recently raced and won the 110 Hardmoors and is of course one of a few who have completed the John o’ Groats to Land’s End challenge (and win it).

I try not to worry too much about who is running and simply focus on my own challenge that lies ahead. As always I tend to go out way too fast and pay for it later on. It seems to work for me and I find it very difficult to play the game any other way. Perhaps this will come with more experience.

A quick group photo and we were off. I started at the back and then realized that the first section is very narrow so made the decision to try and get out in the open and as far up front as possible. I could see Neil ahead with a guy in front of him who looked like he was competing in a 10k!

I ran in a group of 3 for a while myself, Neil, and another guy who looked very fast. I wasn’t sure who the guy ahead of us was so I decided to push on a bit, knowing that I would probably see Neil and the other guy later on when I was shuffling along!

After a couple of mile I caught up with the guy who was knocking out an unbelievable pace only to be told he was running the relay. Doh! Dan this is not how you should be running a 100 miler!

It was about 7 miles in that I began to feel a hot spot under my left foot. Shit, this was not a good sign. I had not had enough time to properly break-in my trainers so this was to be expected. I passed the relay team and pushed on once I hit a short road section which took me neatly into CP1.

Just before I hit the CP there is a short section which requires a run across a sandy beach. As soon as I hit this section my shoes sucked up the sand with style that Mr. Henry would be proud of. I reached CP1 threw off my shoes and socks emptied the sand and got to town working on that hot spot. A quick shake, refresh of my bottle and one of those fancy foot plasters and I was ready to crack on. The hot spot didn’t affect me for the rest of the race.
In the famous words of Michael Barrymore, “What is a hot spot not”? Never could understand what the crowd shouted back… ha ha.

The second stage was pretty uneventful. Oh other than not seeing any pirates in Penzance, running past a massive fun fair, watching a seal swim close into the harbor arm for a bit, and getting some strange looks from guys and girls on the Friday night razz!

I wanted to get the first half of this section out of the way. It was mainly on road and I was not wearing the right footwear for this. But also it presented a short opportunity to run at a reasonable pace as things were about to get a lot slower and trickier underfoot. It wasn’t long before I hit the trail which felt a lot better on the feet heading towards CP2 at Lamorna.

Unfortunately, CP2 had yet to be set up, so I made sure some relay guys waiting for their team mates took down my number and time and I cracked on. I was a little concerned that I would be disqualified at this stage but later learnt that there was technical difficulties and a few went by without dibbing their ‘dibber’. To be honest I was a little grateful as it meant I could simply push on and had no excuse to stop. I knew there were a couple of streams ahead that would provide water so I topped up along the way. Next stop Land’s End!

I held on as long as I could before throwing on the headtorch -  there were a few parts which required running through a forest which made it overly dark, so I threw on the headtorch and prepared myself for a bit of night running.

This section was beautiful (if you could see it in the dark), it required runners to run through Portcurno, up and past Minack Theatre (an open theatre carved into the rocks and cliff face). I had a good view behind me so thought I would take a sneaky look at who was close by. Nothing. I expected to see Neil and the other chap close on my tail (or at least the relay teams) but there was just darkness. Not a headlight to be seen. I later learnt that Neil had a bad episode with a dog and hurt his foot quite badly which caused him to pull early on in the race.

I had been running for about 5 hrs when I hit CP3 at Land’s End. This was the first kit drop and I was pleasantly met by Oliver who ushered me into a nice warm room that had loads of food, chairs, hot soup, lots of people to talk to and my kit bag with loads of goodies in. Places like this can really add to your time, so I ripped open the drop bag re-stocked on nutrition and pushed on. It’s just too easy to sit down in these places so getting out quick was key for me. I must mention at this stage that on saying goodbye to everyone at the CP, I tripped over the door step and nearly ended my race!

Coming out of LE
The section between Land’s End to Pendeen Watch felt long. In fact I ended up getting lost twice at this stage and in the same place as I got lost in training with Oliver. This was evident when I noticed I was very close to the cliff edge and there was a barbed wire fence to my right. I jumped over the fence and kept running in land (up and over large hills with gorse bushes to tackle) until some kind of distinctive path showed up. This certainly cost me some time!

Land's End

The race manual described the next stage leading to Zennor Head as difficult. That just doesn’t cut it. It was horrendous, made worst by a lazy and stupid omission that cost me a lot of time and very nearly my life!

By now my head torch was starting to lose its light/power and was screaming out for some fresh batteries. At this stage I should have spent a couple of minutes changing my battery but failed to do so.

The coastal path is quite faint through this stage with a lot of rocks on the path itself (requiring a lot of hopping, skipping and jumping) and sharp turns. In addition, there are a lot of descents on boggle wet grass with boulders randomly sticking out and in places the path seems to completely disappear. At night, this was really quite challenging. Even more so, with little light.

There is a common pattern along the coastal path. Each cliff section usually ends with a sharp descent, a short river / stream crossing over a bridge, followed by a steep climb up on to the new cliff section.

Zennor with random people

However, while running the Zennor section I had come off the trail too far left. I stopped at the edge of the cliff and looked over the edge, my head torch light simply disappeared into darkness. I could hear the stream/river flowing some way down which indicated it was a very, very long way down. I went to turn and find the bridge and as I did, the mud bank gave way and I fell over the side of the cliff. I must have fallen half my height, closed my eyes and expected to keep falling. Thankfully, the muddy bank kept me up and I grabbed hold of two clumps of grass. I was stuck. If the grass gave way, I was likely to fall. For some reason, I cried out “help” and realized that it was about 3am with no one around. Perhaps I was hoping some seals would team together and sort me out!
Realizing that I would be there for a very long time, I dug my fingers deep into the mud and slowly climbed up and back over the edge. I spent a couple of minutes to compose myself, had a sip of water and changed my head torch battery! Close call… That said, it did give me a wee adrenaline fix and proved that Redbull doesn’t give you wings!!

Shortly after this episode not far off St Ives, the first relay team passed me. We chatted for a short while and then for some reason it must have been through early morning tiredness or a rock that didn’t like the look of me, I tripped over a jagged part of the trail slicing myself up across the knee, elbow and shoulder. I lay on the path for a while thinking that the last 10-15 miles was not going so well for me! But hey, a few more miles down the path and I’ll be at St. Ives. Winner…

The run into and through St. Ives was pretty uneventful, so was Hayle. I also don’t want this report to go on for another 10 pages! 
The difficulty of the last 35 miles of the race is set at ‘moderate’ but I actually found them to be the most time consuming. Of course, most runners will lose form 70 miles in but the true time killer was the large sand dune sections that we had to tackle.

The sand dunes after Hayle simply went on as far as the eye could see and at some stages were higher than my house. At times it was like being in a maze. The coastal path simply disappeared and I was forced to focus on heading in the general direction of the other end. Trying to run on very soft sand dunes for nearly a two mile stretch was energy sapping to say the least. A truly savage obstacle to place 70 miles into a 100 miler.

Sand Dune on Coastal Path

Every time I passed through one of these dunes, I had to take off the shoes and socks and empty a small desert from my shoes and crack on.

I hit Perranporth (a two mile beach section) when another person from a relay team caught up with me. We kept each other company for a while up to the penultimate CP which would lead us into Newquay. Nearly home! Yeee haaa.

The final 6 miles or so into Watergate Bay went on for far too long for me (probably because I was not far off a shuffle) but as soon as I could see the hotel in the distance, I simply let everything go and roll in. I took a cheeky look behind me to see if anyone was close (you never know) it would be awful to lose the winning place 200 yds from the finish line.

Watergate Bay

It was a great atmosphere at the finish line to be greeted by the team and the locals. I gave the family a hug and the first thing I could think of was “burger. Feed me now!”

Till next time J

Coming into finish line at 19 hrs and 31 mins

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Welsh Coastal Ultra - 100k

Last weekend I decided to use a race as a training run along the Welsh coastal path. This was to be my final long run (over 40 miles) in preparation for the Ultra Tour South West on June 22nd. The key for this race was not to taper but to incorporate it into my weekly training schedule - i.e. running on tired legs.

Before I get tucked in to my race report I thought I would mention some tea that I have found to be a great aid for my training.

Recently I attended a course at work which gave away a variety of teas during the break which offered immense flavours. There was a variety of teas available including peppermint tea, green tea, fruit teas, and the like. They are called Teapigs. Seriously, check them out here

Messing about on their website I came across a selection of green teas - I like to include green tea in my diet (and try and replace it with coffee as much as possible). In particular, I found this little chestnut:

Teapig Matcha Tea

This stuff is called "matcha" tea. It's organic and it boasts some amazing stats. I have taken a few of these stats from Teapigs' website. 1/4 of a teaspoon provides:
  • 137 time the antioxidants of standard green tea;
  • 9 times the beta carotene of spinach; and
  • 70 times the antioxidants of orange juice.
What's great about this tea is that its 100% natural and can be added to most of your drinks (juice, protein shakes, add it to milk or simply drink it neat). Teapigs provides a hand whisk to help remove any lumps and mix it up. Anyhow, take a look at its benefits, recipes and other useful information here:

Personally, I have only been using this for a short while but I have noticed a difference.  I have been taking a shot of green tea in the morning just before training and another in the afternoon before my afternoon session and I really do feel that my energy levels have increased. It's entirely natural and can be thrown into any protein shake so it's also very convenient to take. If you don't like the taste then throwing it in some juice may also help (although the taste is not bad at all!).

I try and keep my nutrition as natural as possible and this certainly will be a key ingredient in my diet moving forward. I even added it to my pre race drink at the Welsh Ultra. Although it didn't help with my navigation (yup I got lost again) it certainly gave me the confidence and energy boost that I felt I needed first thing in the morning before a long day ahead on the coastal path! I can see this being a real hit with endurance athletes because if its obvious benefits.

I have only been using this for a couple of weeks now so I will keep you posted on how I am getting on with this tea, especially leading up to the UTSW and UTMB. It will also be interesting to see if it provides the boosts I need when I focus on speed training for the Anglo Celtic Plate!

Coastal Path 100k North Anglesey, Wales   

The Welsh ultra is organised by Adventurehub ( who put together a few events across the UK.

So, I knocked off at work at 4.30pm and drove for 5 hours up to Anglesey taking in the beautiful views of the sun setting off the Snowdonia mountain range. I eventually reached the start location and decided to pull up on the side of the road and kip in the car until the start of the race the next morning.

Mistake. It was an extremely uncomfortable night and I was still wide awake at 2am watching the short film about Marshall Ulrich's Trans-American run on the iPad. Inspiring stuff.I eventually got off to sleep only for the sun to pop up turning night into day very quickly. 

Pre-race nutrition consisted of some home made fruity porridge and a shake (with a touch of Matcha green tea) followed by a very strong coffee!

A short drive to the start line and I was ready to rock n' roll. It was a really friendly atmosphere. I favour coastal runs for two reasons. Firstly, the terrain is varied with some good runnable climbs and secondly it's easy to navigate. Right? Wrong!

I'm in the white cap ;)

The organisers have painstakingly taken steps to ensure ease of navigation including a pre race powerpoint step by step guide over the map, the route cards provided at the start and the fact that the course was marked at difficult navigational points (this was in addition to the coastal path marking which was every few hundred metres). Despite all this I got lost. Ha Ha!

The route is 100k and is an out and back. Starting at Penrhyn following the coast to Lligwy Bay. Check points were at roughly mile 9, 13 (because of the marathon), 21, 31 and back. Ultra runners ran out to the 31 mile point - turning around and heading back home. The terrain is superb. It's not as aggressive as the South West Coastal Path but it does offer challenging trail, some ascent, requiring runners to pass, road, sand, beach, pebbles, coastal rock, fields and the like.

Out and back may seem 'boring' but I can assure you that the views and technical variance is there. Of course, unless you look back when you are running you will have missed some great views. Not so in this case. In addition, it's also nice to recognise key markings to get bearings on where you are and how far you need to go. Finally, it's also very nice to see your fellow runners and sound off some words of encouragement.

In summary the course was challenging but not so aggressive or technical to rule out those who want to try out a 100k for the first time. For some reason I managed to get lost twice and in the same place! I managed to get lost about 8 miles in as I was too far north of the two sisters (chimneys) despite the route card specifically advising that runners pass below both chimneys. 

I ignored this and ended up on another public right of way only to be faced with farmland. Totally lost. After wandering around for about 5 minutes I decided to knock on the farmer's door to get directions. He kindly allowed me to run through his land and pick up the coastal path again! By this time 6 runners had passed me. I picked up the pace and managed to get to the front pack a couple of miles down the line.

The checkpoints were great and very friendly. I had my own nutrition but also took bananas and 9bars as additional nutrition. 9bars are a great source of natural energy and are the sponsors of the event. Check out their website here:

Not tapering and overdoing the x trainer in the gym (1 hour x trainer session followed by 30 mins core session and 10 mile trail run for afternoon workout) put some strain on my ITB. This led to an inflamed ITB about 35miles in to the race. Not bad enough to stop me from running but still quite painful!

The race was quite steady for the rest of the race until I hit the same place as I got lost last time. For some reason I hit the same footpath I got lost on on the way out. In fact, I got so lost I started to get a little worried that other runners probably had passed me while I stood on the path scratching my head. I had no choice but to scramble up to the top of the coastal rocks to get a better look of the course. I could actually see the coastal path half a mile south (for some reason I had been running away from the sea!). I had to climb down off the rock, over a couple of barbed wire fences and back on the path. It felt good to be back on the path! At this stage, I did not know whether any runner had passed me (the top few looked very strong passing them on the way back in!).

Thankfully, the race went smoothly following the second navigational mishap until I happily crossed the finish line. The organisers had kindly rushed to finish line expecting me to come in a lot sooner, however due to my poor navigation skills, I left them waiting a little longer. Sorry!!

In the end, my GPS told me I had ran 66 miles instead of the 61! These things are not entirely accurate but I reckon I got a few more miles for my money ;)

All in all a very well organised event on a reasonably challenging course. Personally, I was disappointed with my time which was around 10hrs 40 as my expectations were around the 9 hrs mark (I spent a bit of time standing around looking lost!). That said a really enjoyable day and only 5 hr car drive on the way back! Well worth it though

Results can be found here

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Pics of 100K World Championships 2012

I'm not going to write a lengthy blog this time on the World Champs. I was extremely disappointed with my time which I think was due to a very bad patch on the 4th lap, but hey ho there is always next time!

That said, we did well as a team coming in 6th place for the World Championships, and here is a few pics of the team at the event...

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

World Class Irish Team Result

John Byrne at the 2012 World 100km Championships in Seregno, Italy

The Irish men's team finished a magnificent 6th in the World 100km Championships in Seregno, Italy on 22nd April 2012.
In perhaps the most competitive championships to date, the UltraRunning Ireland athletes also set a new Irish team record in the process.
Team captain, Dan Doherty, was the leading finisher among the Irish when posting new personal best time of 7:07:26 hrs for a top 25 placing.
                                                                Dan Doherty

John Byrne and Keith Whyte were close behind, registering times of 7:16:27 and 7:25:56, respectively.

The cumulative times of the top three finishers establish team rankings and the new Irish team record of 21:49:48 hrs ensured 6th position overall. It was the highest global placing by any Irish athletics team in many years.
The winning team was Italy, with the USA finishing second and France third.
Michael Collins posted a very competitive 7:43:14 hrs to finish in the top 5 in the men's 45 category, but John O'Regan, Thomas Maguire and Jim McCormick encountered various problems and injuries during the race.
In the women's race, Ireland's sole competitor was Helen Lavin and she ran strongly to finish in a time of 8:54:38 hrs.
It was a remarkable weeked for the Irish delegation as UltraRuning Ireland chairman Richard Donovan was also elected to be Director of the International Association of Ultra Runners, the world governing body for the sport.
In the past few years, UltraRunning Ireland has achieved the highest standards on the international stage, including continental medals, top global placings and numerous new Irish records. An Order of Merit was also awarded to Richard and Paul Donovan for the staging of the IAU Trail World Championships in Connemara last year, which was broadcast globally to 200 million households.
However, Athletics Ireland's CEO John Foley will now take responsibility for all aspects of the sport of ultra running in Ireland, including the funding of teams for international compeitition.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

100k World Champs is around the corner

So it’s time to pack and get ready for the European & World 100km Championships in Italy on 22nd April. It should prove to be a great race with some very talented athletes attending. Giorgio Calcaterra, Michael Wardian, Marina Zhalybina and Ellie Greenwood will be battling it out, amongst many others.

From the Irish side of things, I have been given the honour of captaining the following team which will certainly start in a strong position:

John Byrne
Michael Collins
Daniel Doherty
Thomas Maguire
John O'Regan
Keith Whyte
Jim McCormick

Helen Lavin

The cumulative time of the top three finishers for each nation decides the outcome of the team competition for both the Worlds and European events.


It has been quite tough to prepare from a training perspective for the Worlds as at the same time I am having to condition myself for some coastal path and mountain events in June-August with perhaps another 100k on tarmac thrown in between. That said, I believe a mix of trail, road and mountain will do no harm!

From my own experience 100k events on tarmac can prove to be one of the most difficult ultra running disciplines to master. This is for many reasons but in the main it's due to the high intensity run over such a long period, on unforgiving ground (tarmac).

Unlike many trail or mountain ultras where there is plenty opportunity to compose yourself, vary your pace, hydrate and focus on nutrition (especially on the climbing parts and the like) 100k road usually requires a lot more focus with disciplined and calculated consumption of hydration and nutrition. Getting it wrong can be fatal to your time. In addition the tarmac is unforgiving and if your running gait is out of form you are going to know about it very quickly!

Many athletes on Sunday will be aiming to break the 7 hour mark. Allowing for fade (a negative split is truly amazing) you are looking at an average of 6:30 – 6:40 minute miles for 62 miles. That is no walking pace. This therefore places pressure on ensuring that hydration levels are kept up and nutrition is literally shoved down the throat! Ireland has an experienced and knowledgable support team which reduces the pressure a little especially later on in the game. Each athlete will pass 20 aid stations over the course of the 100k so there is a lot to think about.

Essentially, I will have various things available to me including:

a)     Elete Electrolyte add in concentrate and tablets
b)     Water
c)     Clif shot blox
d)     GU gels
e)     Jelly Babies

At each CP I will have a 250ml bottle of water that will have Elete – this is a vital piece of kit for me. Essentially it means I can take in the relevant electrolytes with the simple taste of water without having to consume a vast amount of ‘flavoured sports drink’ which certainly makes me feel sick and sticky over the course 7 hours. Throw in gels and it’s a total nightmare especially on a hot day. Elete also offer tablets which are simply taken with water and provide for measured electrolyte intake. I will take a couple of these through the race. Check out Elete here:

I will therefore cellotape the nutrition to the bottle (so I don’t have to fumble around for the nutrition) and mix it up so that during one 5-10k period I will be eating something solid (Clif) and the next section I will go for a gel. I might throw in a banana or something else if needed. For the final section, I will consume whatever I can, for example a few jelly babies/banana to get me to the finish line. Of course the key here is not to consume something too sugary too early to avoid the crashing.

Anyhow I thought I would share this with you, this is my plan but as with all ultras you never know what the day is going to throw at you which is what really makes this sport so exciting!!

You can get live updates of the race by visiting the IAU website here:

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Irish Invasion of the Lake District

Here is a wee slideshow of me and the lads in the Lake District in April. Ultra runner's heaven!

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Irish Squad for 100k World and European Champs

Ultra Running Ireland has announced the squad for the 100km World & European Championships. It is an honour to be captain of such a strong team and with such talent! 

Ultra Running Ireland ( announcement:

Ireland will send a very strong team to the European & World 100km Championships in Italy on 22nd April.

The men's team will be captained by Daniel Doherty, who finished 14th in the 2011 World Championships.

Doherty, along with Irish 50km Champion John Byrne and Irish 100km record holder Thomas Maguire make up a trio of Irish runners with sub-7:10hr PBs.

The team, which also includes Keith Whyte (sub 7:30hrs), Michael Collins (World veteran bronze medallist) and John O'Regan (Irish 24-Hour Champion) will be among the favourites to medal in Europe. The cumulative time of the top three finishers for each nation decides the outccome of the team competition.

In addition to the team, Jim McCormick will represent Ireland as an individual and should be among the top contenders in the vets competition (which is run concurrently).

In the women's race, Ireland will be represented by Helen Lavin, who has recently posted some very good ultra performances in the USA.

IRISH MEN'S TEAMJohn ByrneMichael CollinsDaniel DohertyThomas MaguireJohn O'ReganKeith WhyteJim McCormick*