RAPHOE’S Ed McGroaty enjoyed a weekend to remember at the 13th Espoo 24hr Track Race, hosted in the Ratiopharm Arena, Helsinki,Finland, where he broke Eoin Keith’s Irish record of 248.436 kilometres.
The Lifford Strabane AC clubman completed 249.761 kilometres in 23 hours, 59 minutes and 29 seconds to not only set a new national mark, but he reached the International ‘A’ standard, finished second overall and was first in the M40 category.
“I knew if I ran well I would finish in the top two or three or four, I knew I could finish on the podium but I didn’t go in intending to break Eoin’s record,” Ed explained.
“Eoin is one of the most decorated and successful Irish Ultra runners there is and probably will ever be across multi-distances, so to break his record is what I’m finding hard to sink in because I still admire Eoin because I have so much to learn from the guy. To break his record is special, really special.”
Ahead of the event, Ed had one target, which was to reach 240 kilometres for the ‘A’ standard in order to qualify for the Ireland team at the Anglo Celtic Cup 100km race in England on May 16th.
He managed to achieve that feat with around an hour of the 24 remaining, so his dedicated support crew of wife Louise and Angela McConnell quickly did some arithmatic and spurred him on to the record.
“My wife Louise and Anglea McConnell have been crewing me for the last three or four years in 24 hour running,” Ed added. “I set out all the nutritional stuff and timing splits for them and put down a number of goals, so they are in charge of keeping me on track.
“When I was coming up on 240K they were already working out the maths to keep me going because they knew I could break the Irish record at that stage. Whereas all I wanted to do was reach my A goal and sit back!
“They kept pushing and pushing and only for them telling me exactly the times that I needed to run, to keep going, which is the sort of maths you can’t do when you’ve been running for 24 hours, I wouldn’t have made it.
“They were really, at the very end, the most important cog in the wheel to get me to hit the Irish record. Having them there was fantastic.”
The Bray native competed at the event two years ago when he pulled out after 19.5 hours and around 180km, an experience which taught him plenty but he admits it will take time for him to full appreciate his achievement.
“I learned a lot from that race,” he said. “I hadn’t prepared properly for the indoor, for the hard surface, and I took a lot out of that race and applied it into my training to come back again.
“It’s still sinking in! It seems like a bit of a dream because it just went perfectly. It’s very difficult to finish a 24 hour race and feel that everything went perfectly.
“It’s very, very rare because 24 hours is a long time with plenty of ups and downs and a lot of diffierent things can happen, so for it all to come together almost perfectly to plan doesn’t come around too often.”
FULL STORY IN TODAY’S STRABANE CHRONICLE