Offaly athletes excel in big ultra running challenges

Cappincur and Geashill runners take on tough endurance events

Offaly athletes excel in big ultra running challenges

Eddie Garry, centre on the Kerry Way ultra

TWO Offaly athletes excelled in very testing and challenging ultra running events last weekend. Barry Minnock, a native of Clonmore, Tullamore and Geashill man Eddie Garry competed in gruelling and energy sapping events at opposite ends of the country.

Barry Minnock, the Offaly record holder for the marathon, has returned to his first running love of off-beat endurance athletics events this year and he won the Maurice Mullins Ultra in the Kerry mountains while Eddie Garry competed in a real testing event, the Kerry Way Ultra – a brutal 200km challenge that took place over two days and he was thrilled to finish well up the field, having not finished his first attempt last year.

A former footballer with Cappincur, Minnock took up endurance and mountain running in his late 20s and built up great strength at events in Europe and the USA. A former member of Rathfarnham AC in Dublin, where he lives and work, he then went into conventional athletics events and posted some outstanding times, including an Offaly record of 2.17.40 for the marathon.

He transferred to Tullamore Harriers Athletics Club a couple of years ago and won the 44k level 10 extreme challenge in the Wicklow mountain, covering the severe climbs and tricky descents in a time of 4 hours and 8 minutes. A week earlier, he had finished second in the Wicklow Way half on a challenging course in 1.46.10 while he ran the best time in the Downhill Uphill mile a few days before that in 6.53 minutes.

Eddie Garry is also a member of Tullamore Harriers and he has posted some very good times in conventional running events from the marathon down over the past several years. In recent years, he has began to challenge himself in a different way by taking on more extreme events and this was his toughest challenge yet.

The athletes in Kerry attempted to run the entire length of the Kerry Way over two days and one night, crossing some spectactular mountain ranges and taking in unforgettable coastal and country side views. They went over a mixture of tarred roads, lanes, bogs and mountain passes, covering approximately 200km of roads, lanes, trails, paths and hills, running parallell to the famous Ring of Kerry road.

The race started and ended in Killarney Town and competitors had a maximum of 40 hours to compete it. It was open to runners who had competed at least two marathons, one 50 mile event and one 100km one since September 2021. While athletes had support crews, they spent long periods on their own and it was a huge test of physical and mental fitness.

Runners competed from all over the world and Eddie Garry was thrilled to compete the route in 35.20.22 hours, coming home 47th male – it was won by an Irish man, John McKeogh in 22.25.44 while there were plenty of athletes behind Garry with the last, Denis Bowen from Ireland scraping in under the 40 hour limit in 39.58.35.

It was his second time to attempt this challenge as he didn't finish it last year. Garry is grateful to his support crew of his partner Catherina, daughter Rebecca; and Noel and Jeremy who looked after the fuelling recovery stations.

Meanwhile three Tullamore Harriers Athletes represented Ireland in an International Mountain Running Championships which took place in Newcastle, Co. Down between Irish, Scottish, Welsh and English teams. 

Luke Duffy competed in the U17 Boys race. After running up the left hand side of the valley Luke turned right and had a short sharp climb to the summit of Slieve Meelbeg. Luke led the Irish team all the way and ran strongly down the ridge to the finish. 

Dearbhail Cuddy was next up in the U20 Women’s race. She had prepared well for the international having been selected after racing at the trial event in Wicklow in July. In the fortnight before the international Dearbhail had visited County Down to practice on the course. Her good preparation resulted in an excellent run as she finished as the third Irish runner home. 

Like Dearbhail, Cian Law is an experienced mountain runner and this wasn’t his first time representing Ireland. Cian used his experience well resulting in him being the second Irish athlete to cross the line in the U20 Mens' race. 

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