DESPITE being a ‘bit disappointed’ at only (it’s all relative!) covering 183 kilometres in just under 20 hours during Endurance Ultrarunning Team Finland’s indoor 24 hour race in Helsinki last week, Ed McGroarty believes the experience will serve him well for the National Championships in Belfast this summer.
The 41-year-old travelled to Helsinki for what was only his fifth ever 24 hour race last week, hoping to break Tony Mangan’s Irish indoor record of 223.133km, but having overstretched himself in the first 17 hours of the run he sadly had to cut short his attempt.
“I was a bit disappointed because I had intended on doing better than I did. I didn’t tell anyone before hand, but I intended on trying to break Tony Mangan’s record and I attacked the race from the start,” explained the Lifford Strabane AC ultrarunner, who lives in Raphoe.
“I was on pace for about 240km in the 24 hours, but it didn’t quite work out. I think I was pushing a bit hard. I decided to go for it because I knew there was a chance I’d slow down at some point and I was on track for the record up to about 16 or 17 hours, but at a little over 19 hours I had to pull out because my legs couldn’t take it.
“I was on track for doing a big distance, but in the end I did 183km, which if it had been a 19 hours and 20 minutes race would have been a very good result, but unfortunately there was still over four hours left!
“I’ve learned a hell of a lot from it that I can take into my next race. I know what I’m capable of and how to do it now.”
Following his experience at the Esport Ratiopharm Arena, Ed will turn his attentions to preparing for what will be his fourth 24 hour National Championships in Belfast during the summer where he is hoping to continuing his annual improvement.
Despite having only taken up running in 2012, the Buncrana Community Hospital chef recorded 196Km on his 24 hour race debut in 2015, a distance he has improved upon with annual personal bests each year since.
“I started running with Strabane Lifford AC in 2012 with my wife and I got addicted to it,” he acknowledged. “Like most people the first aim was to run a marathon, so I did the Dublin Marathon in 2013, but rather than focus on improving my time, I thought ‘I wonder how much further I could run?’.
“So, instead of trying to get faster, I went further and did the Connemarathon, which is a marathon and a half, 39 miles, in April, just a few months after Dublin.
“I did that and did well so again I thought, ‘how much further can I go?’ and I did a 100K race in Tralee, finished fourth and thought ‘I’m doing OK here’, so I then did my first 24 hour race the following year and that was really my first long distance event.
“I went into my first 24 hour race with the goal of 200km but I was delighted with 196 because I stayed on my feet for the whole 24 hours.
“It was then that I decided that the 24 is something to try to improve on. Some people move on to 48 hour races or six day races, but I decided to concentrate on the 24 and I did 213km the second year and then 219 last year,” he concluded.