15 starters – 9 finishers! For some, a marathon is as far as the imagination runs, but for fifteen athletes the prospect of running one hundred miles in Connemara lay ahead on August 13.
The Connemara 100 Mile Ultra Marathon, now in it’s third year drew the biggest field to date. Starting in Clifden at 6.00am on Saturday and traveling non-stop through the hills and valleys of Connemara, the scenery provided some distraction during the longest single road race in the country. Weather conditions throughout the first day were at times very testing, with driving rain, wind and fluctuating temperatures. Thankfully by night the winds eased and the sun shone on Sunday morning to welcome the last few over the line within the 30 hour cut off. Mick Rice was once again 1st home in a time of 15 hours 41 minutes making it three in a row for the Athenry AC man. He didn’t have it all his own way though as Greame Colhoun pushed him to the line finishing just 16 minutes later in 2nd place – only the second person to dip under the 16 hour mark in this event. George Webb finished a very credible 3rd with 17:37 and was followed home by Maciej Sawicki who broke 18 hours for the first time. Iveagh Jameson recorded a massive PB with 19:18 which was good enough for 5th. Johnny Donnelly’s first attempt at 100 miles was rewarded with a fantastic time of 21:09, while just before dawn, Brian Donnelly became the 7th person to break the 24 hour barrier this year. The persistence of Jim McNiece and Neal Collins was rewarded as the made their way to the finish before the Cut off in 28:41 and 29:31. Neal received the ‘Joanne Fearon Award’ for an extraordinary effort. 15 starters, 9 finishers, 100 miles.