It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!
The Energia 24 incorporating the Irish 24 hr National
Championships – A long report for a long race
2 years ago I ran my first 12 hour race completing 75 miles,
which was good enough for the win. I had terrible tummy problems throughout and
vowed never to run that far again. Last year they had the 24 hour World
Championships at the same venue, so I just had to step up and ran the 24 hour.
I covered 133 miles and discovered after the event, that 138 miles is the
International qualifying standard for Ireland. I’d stopped for an hour after
100 miles as it was my race goal, so knew that I could have reached that target
if I’d known.
This year I was determined to reach 138 miles. My training
wasn’t perfect due to running half marathon series events, marathons and going
on holidays 5 weeks before the race. My longest training run of only 33 miles.
In 2017 the weather was perfect with overcast skies and some
drizzle at times. However, I was worried about the forecast of blue skies
throughout and 20 degrees heat. Having had skin cancer two year ago I’m very
nervous about the sun, never mind the effect of the heat.
Looking at the race program the top three Irish runners were
numbers 1, 2 and 3 and all established Internationals. There was another runner
I noticed, who had beaten me by 1 hour 40 minutes over a 107 mile race, from
Belfast to Dublin early in the year. There was an Australian who had run 160
miles winning the Canberra 24-hr race and a Latvian who ran 2:37 in VLM this
On top of my 138 mile goal, I hoped I could come in the top
6 in Ireland, so I could be considered for the Irish 6 man team in the World
Championships next year.
At 1pm the race began in Victoria Park Belfast, and the
course consisted of close to 1 mile loops in almost flat ground. We were told
that to reach 100 miles we had to run 97 ½ laps and the 100 mile mark had a
sign on the course.
My race plan was for 8:30-9 m/m early on, then 9-10 m/m over
the middle miles and 10 to 12 late on. I’ve found that I always slow later on
whatever pace I start at. So I like to bank some early miles ahead of goal
target and hold on for grim death late on.
The sun was out as we started and I was covered in Factor 50
sun cream. The temperate wasn’t too bad on the Saturday peaking at around 17
degrees although it did feel a bit warmer as we were always in the sun.
One issue that came apparent from the start was we couldn’t
make out the score board due to the sun reflection and small case writing. Even
worse was that they only displayed the laps and not the mileage. This would become
more and more frustrating throughout and I never knew my actual distance
covered. Well apart from when I passed 97 ½ laps for the 100 miles. This was
annoying too because my Garmin measure 101.2 miles at the marker so a good bit
My race strategy was to walk for a minute every 3 laps,
although I did get mixed up plenty of times and did many 2, 4 and 5 lap stints
without a walk. I also didn’t walk for a while when I had long pit stops. I
didn’t have any support crew so did take more time than I’d have liked looking
though my sports bag for specific items.
At 1pm the race began and off we set. There was also a 12 hr
race, 100k and a team relay at the same time so paces varied greatly. I just
ran what felt like a comfortable slow jog which was indeed between 8:30 and 9
m/m pace. It was great to spend lots of time talking to different people. Early
on I ran with Ian, who had run 131 miles in the 2017 event just behind me.
I checked my HR every now and again and was happy to see it
around 115. However after about 15 miles it climbed significantly and then
started spiking over 200. I cleaned the contact points but it kept doing this
for miles. Eventually I just took of the chest strap and relied on the wrist
sensor. This wasn’t the greatest either so paid little heed.
The early miles were very comfortable, as to be expected and
I completed by first marathon in about 3:50. Mentally I broke the race up into
smaller sections trying not to think about the ultimate goal. I thought of each
marathon individually and also 50 miles, 100k, 6 hours, 12 hours and other
milestones throughout. At each milestone I would reward myself with a longer walk
and/or some food.
At 100k everything was going well and it was announced I was
lying in third place overall. I didn’t pay much heed, as I knew the
internationals tended to run a more even pace and I’d planned on a heavy
positive split. I’d taken about 9:30 for the first 100k and it was now getting
It wasn’t long after this that I had my first real difficult
patch. I’d been taking in my own gels early on, and had a protein bar after 6
hours. However, I was finding it more and more difficult to eat. Although, I’d
brought a wide verify of foods I just couldn’t stomach it. Nothing was
appealing at all, so I just sipped orange from the official food table.
Looking back at the lap times I didn’t run faster than 10
m/m apart from a few laps after 70 miles. I began worrying if I was going to
make it and started doing calculations to what pace I had to go to reach 138
miles. I’d dropped back to 5th place and considered dropping out at
I struggled on, giving myself a much need motivational talking
to. This was why I was here. I knew before had it was going to be hell and
overcoming the pain would define the type of person that I am. I am not a
quitter, and I never will. I embraced the pain, knowing how I would look back
in pride afterwards.
I convinced myself it really wasn’t that bad. Left, right,
left right repeat. I stopped thinking of the miles left and concentrating on my
breathing and form. I was a machine and thought off my posture and running
form. I breathed in through my nose and out my mouth kept pulling my mind away
from negative thoughts.
At 1am 12 hours into the race I had run 77 miles. This was a
12 hr PB by 2 miles and also 5 miles more than the 12 hour winner did this
year. I had 12 hours to run the next 61 miles which was around 12 m/m pace.
Although this may seem easy to most, when you add in the necessary breaks and
just how wrecked my body was, I knew it would still be a challenge. Unless
you’ve run a long ultra you’ll never know just how hard things can get. It
becomes 90% mental and 10% ability, the complete opposite of shorter distances.
I took in some caffeine and push on to another milestone at
88 miles. I now had only 50 miles to run. As I got closer to 100 the pain began
to lift and I was feeling better again. I reach 100 miles in just over 16 hours,
running a rare sub 10 m/m mile. I stopped and moonwalk backwards past the
marker to cheers from people around. Many of the runner’s goal was to run 100
miles and earn a 100 mile club jacket. I’d done it with 8 hours to spare.
First and second were now two of the Irish internationals and third was an unknown, who I later found out was called Nathan. 5th place was about a lap behind me.
I couldn’t help but give some thoughts of a podium place. This would be a dream come true and winning a national athletics medal would be something to savour for the rest of my life. I was feeling as good as someone can after running 100 miles and pushed on. A few laps later the spectator pointed out what Nathan looked like, as he was only about 20m ahead.
There was still 7 hours to go so the last thing I was going
to do was begin races now. While Nathan took a walk break I moved into 3rd
overall. However, within a lap I’d developed stomach cramps and had to go to
the toilet. This turned out to be all gas but a great relief to get rid of! I
thought I was back in 4th but a few laps later was told I was still
in 3rd as Nathan was struggling too.
I kept ahead for a few laps but was overtaken while stopping
for fuel. I drank a protein drink which upset my stomach for a lap but then
seem to give me a good boost. I surged again with a couple of sub 10 m/m laps
to go back into 3rd after about 115 miles.
However the mini surge didn’t last long. I don’t know
exactly what happened but I felt lightheaded and my strength drained rapidly. I
stopped for a toilet break, fuel break and took a walk all on the same lap.
Looking back this was my slowest mile of 14:28, I fell back into 4th
place. I never got near Nathan again and
was lapped by him many times over the last 4 hours.
Looking at the results, Nathan was the quickest of all the
leaders late on and nearly caught 2nd place, having been 5 miles
behind at one point. After he lapped me once, I forgot about a podium place and
just concentrated on myself again. The ‘race’ helped for a while but it also
helped to bust me.
I was struggling and glad to talk to other runners as much as
possible. I still couldn’t eat much but did manage a bowl of porridge. I ran a
lot with Norman (Number 80 on PMJ's photo), who had recently been awarded an MBE. Top bloke, and he seemed
to know everyone. My pace had dropped to about 12 m/m while running but longer
walk and more frequent toilet breaks had many 13-14 m/m laps.
Going into the last 2 hours I had 10 miles to go. So I
needed 12 m/m average to the end. I’d put sun lotion on earlier in the morning
but it was now close to 20 degrees and I had to stop for lots more. I took a
few minutes to cover myself with Norman singing ‘Ghostbusters’ to me as I was
Every lap I was dunking my hat into a barrel of water and
soaking myself with a sponge. The only food I could face was nibbling dried
apricots every few laps.
I was very glad when my family arrived with just over an
hour to go. To see my 4 year old daughter gave me such a boost. I had been
running with a little toy she had given me on Father’s day. As she was about to
go to bed she handed me one of her toys and told me she loved me. I carried it
for the last few hours of the race.
Entering the last hour I had less than 4 miles to go. Yes, I
finally knew I was going to succeed as I could practically walk the rest of the
way. With the crowd cheering I was never going to do that. I also knew when it
comes to qualifying for Ireland every mile might count. I targeted running over 140 miles as it just
I was running with Norman and we both picked up the pace.
With 30 minutes to go I ran 10:31 and then a 10:17 mile, my fastest in a long
time. Norman and I thought it would be the last time we would reach the busy
spectator area, and ran the cheering gauntlet with our hands joined together
above are heads. The cheering was incredible. I stopped for my final hat
dunking and sponging water routine, as Norman ran on. I gave it everything I
had over the last lap and half way round ove took Norman who was also pushing
hard. I made it back round to the cheering spectators entering the last minute.
They were amazing. I completed my 137th
lap as the final countdown began. I’d run the last lap in 8:55 which was my
fastest lap since lap 20!
I jogged the last 30 seconds to reach an area sheltered from
the sun. The buzzer went and I nearly collapsed. I was thankful to have a wall
to lean against and glad a marshal quickly brought me water. My Garmin recorded
142.96 miles but I knew this was out, having passed the 100 mile marker with my
watch showing 101.2. I was given 142.5 miles on the timers website but this has
now been changed to 140.5. It was interesting to note that my moving time was 23:07, so I wasted almost an hour with toilet breaks (cant be help), searching through my bag, douching with water, putting on a jacket having to pin on a number, making up a tailwind drink from powder and brief chats.
My family arrived soon arrived and we headed back to the
tented area for some refreshments. Norman was over the moon with 113 miles even
though he had taken over an hours sleep. He recently turned 60 and had never
run further than 50k before!
I was pleased to hear that I had held onto 4th
place overall, but couldn’t help be a little disappointed to just missing the
podium. I spotted Nathan and went over to congratulate him. He had been running
scared over the last 20 miles thinking I was going to catch him again. He
hadn’t realised he was over 5 miles ahead by the finish!
He did give me the best news I could have had. He was from
Scotland so not involved in the Irish National Championship. Had I just won a
medal? I quickly found a race organiser and told him about Nathan and me. He
confirmed Nathan would receive third overall but I would indeed receive the
bronze medal as third in Ireland! I’m still in shock. I’ve dreamt of winning an
age group medal, in masters team cross country, but never in my wildest dreams
did I think I could achieve this.
I’m a national athletics medallist. Not an age group or team
prize but all ages individual! Yippee! I was very proud to receive the medal a
few hours later and being local, got the biggest cheer of all.
The aftermath wasn’t great though. I still found it very
difficult to eat with my tummy in stress. Not long before the medal ceremony I
had to run over to tree and throw up. It was nothing but porridge, fluid and
chewed apricots. Yuk.
I could barely walk and getting into my Dads car was tough.
It was pointed out to me that one of my nipples was bleeding. This was despite
using medical tape over them as one had worn away. Getting out of my Dads car
later was even worse than getting in.
I tried eating some bio yogurt and oats but this didn’t
settle well. I tried sipping water but even it didn’t go down well. Within an
hour everything was brought up again. I was a bit worried as my pee was almost
brown but hoped this was more to do with beetroots tablets I had taken.
My two second toes had big blisters which needed drained and
one of my big toes nails is now black. This is ok though as it now matches the
other one! I went to bed before 9 having not held down anything in over 12
Thankfully this morning I managed to hold down a nut butter
sandwich early on, and have since began eating normal again. Phew. My weight on
Saturday morning was 154.8 lbs and this morning it was 147.8 lbs.
Ultra-marathon diets work well!
I’ve learnt a lot over the last few days. Every Ultra is different
and you never know how your body is going to react. I’ve never had problems
eating before and in fact ate too much during the 12 hour race, which caused
totally different problems. I was in difficulty longer in this race compared to
the previous year. This may have been due to a lack of specific ultra-training.
I don’t believe I’ll run many more 24 hour races. If I do
get the call up for Ireland then I will indeed. However I do believe that pushing
to such limits, can’t be great for long term health.
Despite now have the worst DOMs that I can ever remember,
I’m still in cloud nine. Ultimately, it was all worth it for how I feel now.
Never give up, never give in and have faith in yourself.
That was an excellent read, Badbark. I simply couldn't imagine anything near that!! You can dine out on that for some years to come! Fingers crossed you get that call up as well!
G-Dawg, well done on the early start. Not something I could do, though I bet it felt great afterwards.
Gul, nice evening trotting as well.
Gerard, yes Croatia look good as well, however it is always difficult to envisage a lower pedigree world cup winner from the big 5 or 6 countries that share it.
5 miles recovery for me yesterday, which given the heat and how I feel is probably going to be what many of this weeks runs look like.
My half gave my rb another boost so down to 3.2. This time last year I was at 4.4. My last boost took me into the top 10,000 on rb rankings (sounds really crap!) and I am hoping this one tips me into the top 1000 of my age group.
Great report Badbark and an amazing achievement. What a great role model you are for your daughter.
G Dawg I can't imagine running at that time in the morning, well done!
5 easy miles last night, wore my HR strap rather than using the wrist based one on the watch which seemed to give a more accurate reading. HR starting to come back to normal levels which is good. 10 planned for tonight with a mate. Starting to enjoy this running in the sun!
G-Dawg - It's certainly the only time of the year I would even begin to contemplate a run that early. Well done for doing it!
Stevie - Enjoy your 10 miler, I might try do something similar later if I have time.
DT - Yes, I know what you mean but think of Greece in 2004, although Croatia play a much more attractive style of football. It's very open and will start getting serious in the KO stages. Uruguay are tidy too.
Just doing short runs so far this week as I'm flat out in work. 2.5 miles yesterday at 8:55mm then 2 miles today avg 6:18mm, the legs felt surprisingly good after Sunday's 1st proper long run but it was horribly windy, felt like a hard effort. Absolutely Scorchio here too but that blooming wind is a pain . Hoping to get out for another run later.
Birch, I didn't run 2015 so don't have one, however there is currently 1 on ebay on buy it now for £10.85, which doesn't seem a great outlay to tick this off for you.
Gerard, Greece played a very dull brand of football that was effective against the best of teams. Croatia will be taking on the big guns on a like for like basis and are likely to come unstuck with it. The euros have a history of surprise packages. Denmark in 92 being a big example. Even Portugal in 2016, who if you set aside Ronaldo are a team of mid level internationals, were a slight surprise especially as they were woeful in the group stages.
No problem Gerard I was just going to order a pair but thought I should try them first so going in on Tuesday. Good miles in the wind.
Good effort G-Dawg! I woke up at 5.30 but not sure I could drag myself out for a run!
10.5 last night with a mate, first mile was 8.20 and last was 7.30 so pleased with the progression. I feel I'm getting used to the heat, enjoying it now! Had a precision hydration drink before I went out which I think helps
I have done a few morning runs recently, by that I mean 8am and the good thing I find is that it lends itself to more miles in the evening. I could barely move this morning at 7.30 let alone run! This heat is killing my sleep.
Birch, glad you bagged it. I often keep an eye on ebay for London stuff. Last year a guy was selling a full set of 2006 London souvenir stuff so for £11 I got a vest, racing shorts, training shorts, light fleece and a shower jacket, all adidas. I also picked up an adidas marshalls jacket from last year for £4.
In terms of medals, i used to have 3 county ones for team gold x 1 and bronze x2 in the county half champs but my wife somehow binned them when we were decorating, something i've not forgiven her for and still feel disappointed about no longer having!
I am left with a paperweight/trophy from a 10k last October for the v40 prize. Essentially medals I've won are my priority. My other medals all lived in a drawer then last year my wife bought me a medal hanger. I only put on that quite bespoke medals generally from halfs. The tin pot crap medals you get at local 10ks just go in the bin. My marathon medals are my important ones now. After my first London my wife had it framed with a photo and my time. At that point it was a one off. I followed that up for my next two London's in a display with my number and timing chip. The problem is, with 2 other marathons since and 2 more planned, I simply don't have the wall space to keep doing it. I think I just need to save them all up and decide in a few years what I do with them. I cant see me voluntarily stopping now as I am at the point where I can switch to mara training without it being a big leap.
5 miles easy last night. Will keep that theme this week and start my schedule for Yorkshire next week. Gives me 15 weeks of the 16, albeit I will lose a week to an extent whilst on holiday. Though last year I did some really good training whilst away.