Running is an increasingly
popular sport in Ireland, it's relatively inexpensive, convenient and almost
anybody can give it a go! However, extreme running is emerging as a challenge
for those who want to push themselves further.
There are many extreme events around the world, from sub-zero running in Alaska to the intense heat of the multi-day Sahara Marathon and now, Kerry (and Ireland!) has its own ultra event.
The Kerry Way Ultra-Marathon is now deemed the toughest ultra in the world. The daunting marathon is over 210k along the most beautiful rugged and coastal Kerry Way.
What sets The Kerry Way Ultra Marathon apart from any other endurance races in the world is its sheer vastness, beauty and untamed landscape.
The Race Starts in Killarney, and meanders across The MacGillycuddy’s Reeks, to the infamous Black Valley, Bridia Valley, across to Glencar, before negotiating the Iveragh Peninsula’s Wild Atlantic Way with its magnificent coastal views.
The challenging ancient mountain tracks, coastal cliff faces, beautiful Lakelands, country lanes, midnight forest tracks, crossing mountains and ancient paths, between Foilmore.
Then to the towns of Waterville, Sneem, Kenmare, and across the natural oak and woodlands of the Old Kenmare Road through Killarney National Park, before returning to Killarney and, of course, the unforgiving Irish weather systems.
Stefaan D’Espallier, won The Kerry Way Ultra Marathon in 2015, he was determined to beat his record, having competed in elite ultra races across the world, he admits this race was- ‘Beautiful but Brutal’.
D'Espallier said: "I loved the race; it was the constant changing of landscape and weather that was most challenging. The scenery was breathtaking. I managed to get lost three times, but thanks to the night marshals who were so helpful.
"The organising team and support crews made the race with constant back-up and support. I will definitely be back next year."
Although The Kerry Way Ultra is very new on the Ultra Marathon circuit, it has already been awarded 4 points by the prestigious The North Face Ultra Tour du Mont Blanc.
wonderful news for the race as it places it right up there with many of the
World’s extreme ultra events, like the races held in The Antarctic, The
Himalayas, Gobi Desert, and now our very own extreme event in Kerry.
There are 'Yellow Men' markers along all the route but remember, these markers are for walkers and for use in daylight so competitors will have to be aware of their intended route and look out for these markers. An ability to navigate would help. Remember, it is YOUR responsibility to follow the trail.
The Kerry Way Ultra is a self-sufficient race so no food will be provided by the committee, there will be emergency water only at Support Crew Stops and this will be strictly adhered to!
1. The course will remain the same unless environmental conditions force a change.
2. Prior knowledge of the route will offer mental and physical advantages, especially the section you would expect to run in the dark.
3. At least one head torch is mandatory with a minimum of 200 lumens strength. Spare batteries/second head torch should be either carried by you, be with your Support Crew or in your Bag Drop.
4. This is Ireland, you will get four seasons in one hour so be prepared for this - change of clothes, warm clothes for night, rain jacket and pants, warm food, sunscreen, midge (Irish mosquitos!) repellent, water and water.
5. The route is on roads, trails, mountain passes, bog, sleepers and stone but is quite close to the N70 so competitors are never too far from car access in case of emergencies.
6. There are eight Support Crew access points and if a competitor accesses his crew at any other point, he/she will be disqualified. The Kerry Way is privately owned by people, who have given permission to use their lands. Access roads, lanes, gates, livestock etc. are not to be abused. The Support Crew Stops are easily accessible, have ample parking, most have toilet facilities and do not infringe on property.
7. If you need to drop out of the event at a point where your crew is unavailable, we will make every effort to get you to the Finish or to your Crew.
8. There will be other users on The Kerry Way so please be courteous.
9. The night time section of The Kerry Way Ultra will be in the south-west section and this area has recently been awarded a Gold Tier Award by the International Dark Sky Association - this is now officially the darkest part of the entire Northern Hemisphere!