Tough going for ultra event

IT could be billed, with great justification, as one of toughest events of its kind in the country but it didn’t stop have-a-go men and women from taking to the hills and valleys around Killarney at the weekend to participate in the remarkably challenging Kerry Way Ultra.

The incredible non-stop endurance race, along the famous walking trail, involved a total distance of 189.05km and 50 supremely fit athletes endured this mammoth event which is the equivalent to four and a half full marathons.

The Kerry Way Ultra started at Killarney Tourist Office on Friday at 6.00am and, over the next 30 hours plus, the participants had to circle the Iveragh Peninsula and traverse one of Ireland’s most spectacular mountain ranges through moorlands, glens, old pathways, grassy lanes, bog and mountain passes.

The extreme event, organised by Eileen Daly of Kerry Outdoor Sports, has already been lauded by the North Face Ultra Tour du Mont Blanc which places it right up there with many of the world’s extreme ultra events.

The first competitor home, in a world record time of 23 hours and 67 minutes, was Stefaan D’Espallier while his partner, Bridget Brady, was the first female athlete to finish in a time of 33 hours and one minute.

* Photographs: Valerie O’Sullivan. Click on images to enlarge and for details