By Annabelle Latz George Webb lopes around his yard with biomechanical ease, feeding his thoroughbred race horses their dinner, stopping to give their necks a friendly rub while putting rugs back on as night draws in.
The love Webb has for his horses is so great he has even followed a footstep or two in their hoofprints.
On a weekly basis you may see the long limbed 52 year-old Webb from Shinrone, Co Offaly, pacing himself for 40 laps or more around his sand track, about 10 miles or more.
“Running on the sand stops me getting sore. I run in bare feet,” he said.
He gallops up to a dozen horses around the track each day.
He ran his first marathon in 1985 in Dublin as a young fit rugby player, who did a bit of extra running for fitness.
“I started running that year with a friend who was recovering from an injury. I’ve been doing it on and off since then,” he said.
His first marathon took him three hours and 20 minutes.
The last 26 years has seen a general progression of both shortened times and lengthened distances for Webb.
His best time for Dublin Marathon was in 1992, with a very tidy time of two hours and 35 minutes.
On June 18 he is running the 100km Portumna Ultra Marathon in Galway; lapping a 5km circuit 20 times, in and around Portumna.
Ultra marathons are not new to Webb.
He first ran the Connemara 39 mile race in 2008, taking five hours and 45 minutes. He has competed in that race since, as well as the 50 mile race in Dingle in 2010, taking seven hours and 28 minutes.
In 1992 he won the Clonliffe 20 in Dublin, a 20 mile race, taking him just one hour and 51 minutes.
But winning is not why Webb runs races. Running for him is a way of life.
“Running is a good way to keep fit and out of trouble,” he said, with a cheeky grin.
His most memorable race would be Comrades Ultra Marathon, dubbed ‘The Ultimate Human Race,’ involving an 89km road race between Pietermaritzburg and Durban in South Africa.
Webb ran it in 2009, in a very impressive time of nine hours and one minute.
“My favourite bit? – It was the friendliness, the atmosphere and all the people lining the roads, all mixed up. There is on apartheid in that run, everyone is mixed up,” said Webb with a reflective expression.
This first Comrades race took place on May 24, 1921, in honour of the South African soldiers who suffered during the Great War.
“Running is a good way to get away from it all, it’s like a holiday,” he said.
Every Tuesday Webb takes off into the Slieve Bloom Mountains near Kinnitty for a long run, sometimes up to 39 miles.
When he sets off he may have a few layers on, and as he passes a friend’s gateway on the way up into the mountains he dumps one or two garments off. He also throws three or four bananas into some bushes up in the mountains; to eat on the return leg home when a bit of extra energy is required.
“I do my long run on a Tuesday just whenever I get a chance. The main thing is to finish the horses first. I would do two runs a week, and stick in some extra miles whenever I have time for it. The horses keep my fit so I get away with less,” he said.
He smiled as he told the story of the time he went up into the mountains one evening, to strategically place some bananas and biscuits in some bushes along a running route he was taking on the following morning. But it was all to no avail, as most of his energy boosters were not there for him the following morning.
“The bananas were still there, but the biscuits were all gone!” he laughed.
He always stops in Kinnitty to buy a bottle of coke to sip on as he runs home.
“I sometimes take breaks when I’m running, and walk for five minutes.
I love running up in the mountains, there’s nobody up there,” he said.
The running scene has grown in popularity over the past couple of years, with races most weekends now and clubs membership numbers are growing.
“Everyone is running now, whereas no one was running before. There’s always a running boom in a recession isn’t there?” said Webb.
He runs for Tullamore Harriers, where he also competes in cross country events. Some believe long distance running tires the body too much for the shorter cross country competitions.
“I have to sneak off quietly and do the ultra marathons,” he said.
But a lack of energy is not a factor Webb seems to be hindered by.
And there is nothing too supplement-filled or technical about Webb’s diet which gives him his ever lasting energy.
He starts each day with a bowl of porridge before heading out to his horses at 6am, followed by a grill a couple of hours later after he’s done some work. The rest of the day will consist of tea, snacks like biscuits and chocolate, a sandwich for lunch and a good dinner with his family; wife Siobhan, and two sons Fred, 10, and Daniel, 5.
“I eat little and often, but I have no special diet. I don’t really like pasta or any of those things,” he said.
Running the ultra marathon in South Africa sowed a seed for more races abroad for Webb.
The Des Sables, a six day run through the Sahara desert, is one of the events on Webb’s conquering list. The mighty long waiting list of runners like Webb wanting to battle this race is the biggest obstacle at this stage.
“And I want to do some of the longer ones in America too,” he said.
With exciting events like these in his sights, in the meantime Webb loves to spend time at his family home, ‘Corolanty,’ where his family has been for nearly 100 years.
For a summer escape Webb and his family head to Westport to enjoy swimming in the sea and climbing Croagh Patrick.
Needless to say, one of the first items to go in Webb’s holiday bag is his running shoes.
“Running is a lifetime thing,” he said.
For more information on the Portumna Ultra Marathon, and the marathon and 50km events on that same day, visit
Or ring Sebastien Locteau from Sebfitness on 0857350850, or email ;