The 10th edition of the Connemara 100 took place last weekend (Saturday/Sunday, 11th/12th August) and, as expected, the milestone anniversary of the 100-mile road running event did not disappoint.
Thirty-two courageous runners took to the roads of Connemara at 6am on Saturday morning with 100 miles of road ahead to be completed within 30 hours.
Starting with a lap of Clifden town the runners made their way to Letterfack, Lettergesh, The Inagh Valley, Maam Cross, Leenane, back through the Inagh Valley on to Roundstone, Ballyconeely and finally back to Clifden, where there were magical moments of emotion, elation and celebration for runners, their support crew and event organisers.
Of the 32 daring runners who started the event on Saturday morning, 29 crossed the finish line in Clifden late Saturday night right into Sunday morning, after battling not only their own minds and bodies, but the inclement weather conditions that one can only believe by experiencing in the heart of Connemara.
The fastest of those who started and winner of the 2018 event with an almost three-hour lead was Thomas Kilmas in a time of 15:48:3. Second place was Andrew D’Arcy in 18:12:28, followed by Rex Brillantes in 18:44 to take third place.
The women’s winner who was 11thoverall was Nicola Duffy, finishing in a time of 22:28:42 −an extremely close and exciting finish ahead of second placed female Miriam O’Connor who finished in 22:35:48.
Runners travelled from New Zealand, Finland, Chicago, Italy, Scotland, UK and all over Ireland to complete the 100-mile road race. Amongst those taking part was race founder and event director Ray O’Connor, who completed the course in a time of 23:19:04.
Anto Lee completed the first event in 2009, he ran ten hours quicker this year in 18:56:25. Thirteen of the twenty-eight finishers have previously participated in the event, most notably is John Boyle who has a record five Connemara 100 mile finishes under his belt.
Simon Hallissey was the youngest finisher at just 21 years old, he completed the event in a time of 23:43:37 while Paul Brunnock who finished in 4thplace received his Marathon Club Ireland medal for reaching the milestone of finishing 100 Marathons.
Completing the Connemara 100 is for many, the holy grail of ultra-running.
No matter how many hours of training and preparation you put in, on and off the road, nothing can really prepare you for the hardship that is experienced in making your way through the many, many miles ahead; the up’s and downs of emotion, almost in sync with the undulating hills of the route, the ability to dig deep physically, mentally and emotionally −an essential trait required to conquer the Connemara 100.