Coleraine ultra runners complete 24-hour challenge in Belfast

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David Sexton and Johnny Goldie from Coleraine have finished 17th and 22nd respectively at the Energia Belfast 24 Hour Race, which was held on July 22nd and 23rd.

David ran an impressive 100.2miles, while Johnny achieved a distance of 90.8miles. Both competitors put in outstanding performances against over 40 competitors, despite the high temperatures on track on the Saturday. John O’Regan, 41, from Leixlip in Co. Kildare set a new track record to be crowned Irish champion at the race.

It was a commanding performance at the Mary Peters track as the Irish international ultra runner completed 132 miles, that’s some 532 laps, beating Thomas Maguire’s distance set last year by some five miles.

This time the very disappointed defending champion Maguire, 38, from Fermanagh dropped out after 16 hours suffering from a torn quad muscle.

Race Director Ed Smith said: “If there is a harder one day event in Ireland I’d like to see it. There were some true heroics going on out there. It’s mind over matter and the miles covered were amazing –especially with a very cold night and a very hot day to cope with. Well done to them all.”

Michael Ringland, from race sponsor Energia congratulated all the runners on completing such an extreme challenge saying: “Each of the athletes has shown incredible stamina to set such impressive distances during the race. This year’s event demonstrated the excellent athletic ability within Northern Ireland with 20 of the competitors originally from here. We hope their determination will inspire others to test their physical and mental strength in next year’s event, against Ultra runners from across Europe.”

Michael Cunningham, 46, from Limerick had set a cracking pace covering the marathon distance of 26.2 miles in three-and-a-half hours. It was the first experience of ultra running for the Cappamore bus driver and by half distance O’Regan had drawn level and went through 100 miles in under 17 hours.

O’Regan stayed on the track right round- the -clock as did the man finishing behind him, Belfast’s Eddie Gallen, 48, who had flown in from his Madrid base for the race.

Gallen was doing his 21st 24-hour race and he was back to his best form finishing second and covering 127 miles – 8 miles more than last year. The powerful Icelandic champion Gunnlauger Juliusson finished third on 120 miles.

But perhaps the most eye-catching performance came from Tipperary’s Deirdre Finn, 44. The Killaloe woman shattered the track record by some 22 miles registering 112 miles which left her in sixth place overall.